Working out of home is not a very active process. You sit at a desk all day long without relaxing your body. Standing desks are a great option if you want to stay active and alert during the work day. It may not seem like much, but standing and typing on your computer is a lot better for you than sitting in a chair all day. The best standing desks are adjustable, so you can convert into a sitting desk and vice-versa. That level of adjustability is nice, especially if you were working out your legs and need to give them a break.
Sitting for long stretches isn’t healthy; it’s associated with cardiovascular disease, obesity and other potential health risks. That’s bad news for office workers, but swapping out a regular desk for a standing version can make a difference. Scientists are still studying the extent of the health difference between sitting and standing, but some research shows that an average person burns eight additional calories per hour of standing instead of sitting. Other estimates are significantly higher.
While standing instead of sitting might not lead to weight loss, it is still shown to help moderate blood sugar faster following a meal and reduce the potential for back or shoulder pain (although you might be trading that for leg or foot pain). Check out these tips on how to position your desk forwhether you’re sitting or standing.
I tested eight standing desks of various prices, styles and options to get to this list of favorites. Each model is a little different, but they all share one key feature: the ability to raise or lower on demand to suit your specificneeds.
Megan Wollerton / CNET
At $ 795, the Vari Electric Standing Desk is expensive, but it’s also the best standing desk I tested. Measuring 60 inches wide, with a depth of 30 inches, providing ample desktop area and a weight capacity of 200 pounds, the Vari electric desk can easily hold a dual monitor work setup using monitor arms and pretty much any other office accessories or desktop options you need. This stable standing desk looks nice, too. I got the “reclaimed wood” finish, but the top is really made of plastic (although it doesn’t look cheap). The steel legs are very sturdy and you can adjust the feet if there’s any wobbling.
It was surprisingly easy to install, too, considering it’s the heaviest desk of the bunch. I did need help moving the top of the desk onto a flat surface for the installation (make sure the surface is cushioned to avoid scratching it) – and flipping over the finished desk at the end, but there was minimal hardware and few steps involved overall.
The digital display on the electric control panel makes it easy to see the height of your desk, and it provides four buttons for setting custom desk heights. The adjustable standing desk also comes with an optional storage mount to organize your cables – and a pair of sturdy hooks to hold a bag or headphones. And, it isn’t loud when it’s raising and lowering the adjustable height.
The Vari is too big for my house, but it’s still the best standing desk with an easy installation, an attractive design, simple, quiet controls and tons of space. For the price, I do wish this one included a standing mat, but that’s my only complaint.
Megan Wollerton / CNET
As configured, the Uplift Standing Desk V2 I tested clocked in at a whopping $ 846. Yes, it’s pricey. But if that’s in your budget, this premium standing desk is well worth considering. Not only was this model easier to install than expected (you only need a few tools and Uplift includes accessories for no extra cost to organize all those pesky device cables), it was by far the most customizable standing desk of the bunch.
You have the basic options, including five desk sizes, a handful of frame colors (gray, dark gray, white or black) and over two dozen desktops, ranging from laminate (most affordable) to solid wood. From there, you have the ability to add multiple additional accessories, such as grommet covers that screw into either the size of the desk for additional storage, outlets and more. There are also five different keypads to choose from in a black finish and three different keypad options in gray and white – and an wireless foot switch accessory if you’d like to raise and lower your desk via a pedal at your feet (in addition to the keypad).
I tested the 48 by 30-inch model with a white frame and rubberwood desktop, complete with one cupholder grommet and one power grommet (the power grommet brings two outlets up your your desktop so you can more easily charge your phone or other handheld devices) and a paddle keypad you can press up or down to raise / lower your desk.
Overall it’s an excellent, sturdy desk that seems durable enough to stand up to years of use. Again, if the price doesn’t scare you away, consider adding the Uplift Standing Desk V2 to your short list.
Megan Wollerton / CNET
The Ikea Trotten is an excellent option when you need a larger standing desk, but don’t want to spend too much money. This simple sit-stand desk nails the basics.
This standing desk option is relatively easy to install, but I did need help screwing in some stubborn hardware – and flipping over the completed desk after finishing the setup. The Trotten measures 47.25 by 27.5 inches. It has a sturdy, easy-to-clean work surface made of particleboard and fiberboard, as well as a steel base for a stable standing desk.
While this adjustable standing desk model doesn’t have electric controls to raise or lower the desk height, the manual hand crank (which can be mounted on the right or left side) was easy to turn for adjustments. And when you’re done using it, you can slide it back under the desk.
Megan Wollerton / CNET
The Latitude Run Amilcar was by far the easiest desk to install out of the bunch, with the fewest number of steps and parts – connect the base to the table leg; then connect the table leg to the desk. Done. And with a width of 25 inches and a depth of 18 inches, it’s a fantastic option for smaller spaces. It’s also just 29 pounds, so I was able to install it myself without needing help.
Despite its lighter weight, it’s a sturdy desk that’s easy to raise and lower with the pneumatic lever mounted to the right side of the desk. Minor gripe: Every other desk in this roundup (except for the Seville Classics Airlift Height Adjustable Desk with Glass Top) lets you choose between the left or right side for mounting the electric control panel, lever or hand crank. This one doesn’t. So if you’re a leftie like me, the lever on this desk will be on the wrong side.
That said, the Amilcar is an excellent standing desk overall that’s especially well-suited for small spaces. It also comes with both foot mounts and wheels so you can choose the mobility option that makes the most sense in your space.
How I tested
I selected desks of different sizes and styles. Some are controlled manually, while others have electric motors for height adjustment. To test each standing desk, I started out by building each one and noting the ease or difficulty, including whether I needed help with any of the steps. Then I spent a full day working at each one – switching between sitting and standing – making notes when something worked particularly well or caused a problem.
The good news is that four of the models I tested worked extremely well. The Vari Electric Standing Desk, the Uplift Standing Desk V2, the Ikea Trotten Standing Desk and the Latitude Run Amilcar Height Adjustable Peninsula Standing Desk all earned spots on the best standing desk list above.
The four others I tested – the Seville Classics Airlift Height Adjustable Desk with Glass Top, the Seville Classics Airlift Pro S3 Electric Height Adjustable Standing Desk, the Steelcase Solo Sit-To-Stand Desk and the Fezibo Height Adjustable Electric Standing Desk with Double Drawer – didn’t make the cut. The Airlift with Glass Top came close to earning a spot above. It’s a beautiful, sturdy desk at a midrange price. It also features a small center drawer for holding the basics. Unfortunately, its built-in touchscreen wasn’t very responsive and the two USB-A ports, while a nice tech feature in theory, are outdated for today’s phones and tablets.
The Airlift Pro S3 was a decent desk, too, but it was a little tougher to install than the others in its size range and it had a cheaper-looking finish than the overall winner for best standing desk (the Vari desk).
The Steelcase Solo desk was surprisingly simple to install for its size (the same as the Vari desk). Instead of using screws to install the legs, these simply lock into place. The desk is sturdy, looks nice and is quiet when raising and lowering. But the Vari has a more sophisticated control panel, a nicer-looking finish and comes with desk accessories.
The Fezibo model intrigued me due to its built-in storage, but I found this model more difficult to assemble than many of the others. Still, it’s a reasonable option if you’d like storage compartments integrated into your desk and two levels – one for holding your monitor and the other for your keyboard and related accessories.
As always, consider your specific needs before you buy a sit-stand desk. Do you have a lot of space and a higher budget? Consider the Vari or Uplift models. The Ikea model is a fantastic midsize manual desk at a great price. The Latitude Run Amilcar is the best option when you want a sturdy standing desk that won’t take up a ton of space. Regardless of your home setup, one of these models is bound to suit your needs. But if you aren’t sold on a standing desk, consider afor your existing desk instead.
Standing desks 101: What to know before you buy
As with any new piece of furniture, you’ll want to take a little time to balance your needs with the space and budget you have for it.
Prices range widely for standing desks, but you can find a great one to suit your needs at almost any budget. As noted above, the Latitude Run Amilcar and Ikea Trotten Standing Desk were my favorite options under $ 300.
How much space do you have?
Make sure you have enough space for your standing desk before you make your purchase. Don’t just consider the room it’s going in, either. Also think about the doors, stairwells and other places the box must pass through. It might fit in your planned office space, but if you can’t get it up your third-floor walk-up, you’ll be in trouble.
How tall do you want to go?
All adjustable-height desks have a low and a high range for sitting and standing, but the height adjustment ranges aren’t universal across different styles and brands. If you’re on the shorter or taller end, certain models might not be comfortable for you, so check the specs beforehand to determine if you’ll be comfortable using the desk, both sitting and standing.
Electric standing desks cost more than manual desks, so your budget will absolutely come into play here, but there’s more to consider. Manual desks, which have pneumatic pedals, hand cranks or other manual controls, are lighter and quieter (because there’s no heavy, noise-making motor mounted under your desk). Manual desks also don’t require proximity to an outlet to work. Electric desks allow for easy raising and lowering with the press of a button; some even have digital height readouts so you can always return your desk to the exact same sitting or standing height settings.
Other options: Wheels, left / right options and extra shelves
Some standing desks (typically the smaller ones) come with wheel attachments for better mobility. Others allow you to mount the electric or manual height control to the left or right side, to favor your dominant hand. Some even have two levels so you can put a monitor on the higher level and your keyboard and mouse on the lower one. If any of these sound appealing, factor those into your purchase decisions.