Whether you’re a professional, a student or somewhere in between, the “new normal” has meant trading in a proper desk for a work-from-home space. It could be your kitchen tablet, a small hallway turned into an office or even tossing together something in the bedroom. But what about a standing desk or convertor desk? The trend that has taken the professional industry by storm is now readily available — with literally countless options — and could be the perfect solution for working from home.
That’s why we’ve been testing a handful of standing desks for weeks, no months, on end — from assembly to entire days spent on each, we’ve found four that rise to the top.
Best overall standing desk: Branch Adjustable Standing Desk ($699; branchfurniture.com)
Branch’s standing desk might only come in two sizes and a handful of colors, but it doesn’t corner the product into oblivion. Instead, it keeps a high level of craftsmanship in a standing desk that ultimately rises above the best with seamless motion, a sturdy build and a design that doesn’t distract.
It starts with the desktop — in this case, a 48-inch wide by 30-inch depth particle board laminate. You can also opt for white or a dark walnut finish. Either route, though, you’re stuck with a set of legs in white. What’s especially lovely about the Branch option is that the depth is wider than the average desk. This makes it easy for multiple monitors, a laptop (maybe a tablet as well), a notebook with plenty of room to spare.
Furthermore, the desk isn’t entirely flat, with a slightly diagonally cut finish in the front, making it comfortable to rest your arms on or even lean into it without being stuck with a piece of wood jutting into your abdomen. During our testing, spills of water, coffee and never stained the finish, nor did the tabletop scratch. The side edges did peel a bit and showed some scuffs — but from pretty unnatural, heavy bangs.
The Branch also features a metal plate in the center rear of the desk that can either tilt backward or forward to reveal a brush system, through which you can snugly run cables to keep them tidy — and it even kept loose Lightning and USB-C cables from falling through.
While it’s not curved with an ergonomic cutout in the front like our previous overall pick — the ApexDesk Elite Series — we feel the Branch Standing Desk is a better overall package. Setup as a whole took about 20 minutes, and found a drill sped things up a bit. Branch does include all the necessary tools in the box and can be done with ease. The desk comes in two boxes — one with the legs and one that’s the desktop, and the directions were clear and thorough.
Heights range from 25 to 52 inches, and you can make adjustments by the centimeter at most heights. Whether adjusting up or down, the transition was one of the smoothest we tested no matter how heavy the items we had atop the desk. The Branch comes standard with a control switch that’s on the left-hand side that features an LED dot display showing the exact height, an up and a down switch and four presets. Those presets are easy to set and one touch to operate.
The Branch was also one of the sturdiest desks we tested, never rocking side to side or back and forth.
Best custom standing desk: Uplift V2-Commercial Standing Desk (starting at $549.99, originally $599.99 for 42×30; upliftdesk.com)
The Uplift V2-Commercial Standing Desk is a handsome desk that we found supremely sturdy, easy to use, relatively straightforward to assemble, and as ergonomic at all heights as any of the other electric standing desks in our pool. When it came to wobble factor, we found it a tad less sturdy than the ApexDesk, particularly at higher heights, but nothing that interfered with our ability to use it comfortably. Where it truly shines, however, is in its many options for customization.
We tested the smallest available desktop size, 42×30”, a perfect option for tighter office spaces or cramped city apartments with but a corner to spare. We found it more than comfortable for a monitor and laptop setup, though if you’re working with multiple monitors and other equipment, you’ll probably want to opt for a larger size. Good news: Uplift’s got four more to choose from. The 48×30” will cost you an extra $50, the more standard 60×30” desktop size an extra $110, 72×30” will run you an extra $210, and the massive 80×30” desktop brings you to a total starting price of $849.
Then, you’ve got a staggering 22 desktop finishes to choose from (including a whiteboard option, which could be fun for the kiddos). We tested the walnut laminate, and couldn’t be more pleased with its quality and appearance. Solid wood and bamboo options are also available, as well as a contoured shape in four finishes; that will run the price tag up a bit more than the contoured ApexDesk at the same size, which is why the latter ultimately took top honors. You also choose from four finishes for the desk’s legs, select the color of the grommets, plus you can add on a power grommet (i.e., one with two outlets) for an additional $39 or add two for $69.
As for the keypad, there are options here too (colors being one of them): The standard desk provides a no-frills keypad with just an up and down arrow. You can upgrade to the “advanced comfort keypad” — akin to what the ApexDesk comes standard with — or splurge for the advanced paddle keypad, at an extra $59.
To determine the extent of this desk’s functionality, we chose the advanced paddle keypad and were wholly impressed by its breadth of features. In addition to displaying heights within 0.1-inch increments, from 22.6” to 48.7”, the largest range of all desks we tested, the advanced paddle includes a standing reminder, which can be set to 30-, 60 and 120-minute intervals, plus a child lock feature, the ability to set minimum and maximum heights and, of course, memory presets. We found there is a bit of a learning curve with this keypad. We had some trouble lowering it from an elevated position, resetting it and setting up the memory presets. But after some tinkering and regular use, we did get the hang of it. TL;DR: You’ll definitely need to consult the instruction manual for how to use this keypad, and possibly reset it a few times.
Like our top pick, the Uplift arrived in four separate boxes, and assembly took nearly an hour due to all the parts required. Note that the instructions provided include those for two different models of the desk, so you’ll just want to make sure you follow the instructions for the particular model you’ve purchased. A Phillips screwdriver is necessary, and again, because of how heavy-duty its parts are, it’s definitely helpful to borrow a second set of hands and tackle assembly together. The desk comes standard with two grommets at the back corners as well as a cable management tray, though we found the tray to be a bit flimsy once installed.
The Uplift also comes with one of the best warranties of all the desks we tested, which is 10 years for the frame components, mechanical parts, motors and electrical components, and five years for the desktop.
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line standing desk designed exactly to your specifications that will last years to come, the Uplift V2-Commercial Standing Desk is the desk for you.
Best budget electric standing desk: SHW Electric Height-Adjustable Computer Desk ($228.87; amazon.com)
If you’re on a tight budget — or you’re just looking for a standing desk to use temporarily or infrequently — there is not a better option under $250 than the SHW Electric Height-Adjustable Computer Desk.
First off, we were surprised by just how sturdy this affordable desk was once assembled, with minimal wobble from front to back and side to side at all heights. Assembly was easy-breezy, clocking it at roughly 25 minutes when all was said and done (note that you’ll need a Phillips screwdriver). The desk is lightweight enough to move around a room with one set of hands, and building it solo is more than feasible, even for the furniture-assembly-averse.
This desk comes standard with a digital keypad featuring four memory presets; while programming the memory presets was not as intuitive as it was with some of the other desks we tested, once you know how to do so, it’s a breeze. Adjustable from 28” to 46” high in round-number increments (though reflected on the LED screen as 69 to 114, which we can only explain as being a roughly accurate conversion from inches to centimeters), this desk moves smoothly up and down without a hitch. It also comes standard with one small, uncovered grommet at the left back corner as well as an under-desk mesh tray at the front.
We should note that the desktop is actually two planks of wood rather than one solid piece as the product photos may lead you to believe.
This desk efficiently supported our monitor, laptop, books, desk plants and more — including a spry cat frequently jumping on and off of it — without issue. It’s offered in just one size, 47.25×24”, a bonus for anyone working with limited space for their office setup. The desktop is available in black, oak, light cherry and walnut finishes, and while we found that the black desk easily showed smudges, you get, as they say, what you pay for.
While a few customer reviews mention the motor slowing down over time, we experienced no such issues; we’ll report back and update this piece should we notice any failure in that regard. The desk offers only a one-year warranty, but for an additional $30, an extended three-year warranty will cover any motor issues.
Sure, it looks and feels a bit cheaper than the $500+ models in our pool, and, well, that’s because it is. But if you’re looking for the best electric standing desk at an under-$250 price point that’s sturdy and easily goes up and down as promised, with presets for multiple users — and particularly if you’re a fan of the metric system — you can’t go wrong with this SHW desk.
Best standing desk converter: Flexispot Height-Adjustable Standing Desk Converter (starting at $169.99 for 28” or 31”; amazon.com)
If you’re in the market for a riser that will convert your standard desk into a standing one, we recommend the Flexispot Height-Adjustable Standing Desk Converter for several reasons.
With a standard converter design, this riser is pretty much ready to be used right out of the box. Assembly only requires attaching the keyboard tray to the desktop, no tools needed. It takes a little maneuvering to align around the preinstalled screws, but within a few minutes we had it ready to roll. At just under 37 pounds, it’s lightweight enough to be moved if need be, but we were also impressed by the solid construction, experiencing minimal, if any, wobble while in use. It also arrived with cable ties to help with cord management.
This converter is available in eight widths, from 27” to 47” (you can find the larger models here) to accommodate a variety of workspace sizes. Note, however, that it is only available in black. We tested the 35” model, which can comfortably fit two small monitors, or a monitor and a laptop, and measured the depth of the desktop to be 18.75” and the keyboard tray to be 12”. Like any standard riser, a simple lever attached to a hydraulic device is used to raise it up or down, with a maximum height, from top to bottom, of 18.5”.
The only place the Flexispot converter lost major points was in ease of adjustments; while it moved smoothly upward with a press of the lever, pushing it back down proved a bit more difficult, and some elbow grease was necessary. For that reason, it might not be the best choice if the intention is to share it between people of varying heights. That caveat aside, we were more than pleased with our experience using this product, which we found ergonomically designed and comfortable to use in every way.
The converter comes with a five-year warranty for the frame and desktop, and a three-year warranty for the gas spring system and other mechanisms, which seems more than fair for such an affordably priced item.
How we tested
The testing process for these desks lasted nearly two months. We unboxed and assembled each desk, paying special attention to the amount of time each unboxing and building process took. We noted how long it took to put each one together, how clear the product’s instructions were and if any special tools were needed. Once each electric standing desk was fully built, we used it at both sitting and standing heights; desk converters, of course, were used only in standing positions. We used each product for at least three full workdays and carefully noted how each desk performed in terms of ease of adjustments and ergonomics. Overall, we evaluated them on what we considered the most important factors: function, build and length of warranty. After tallying up scores for each product, we also took value into consideration, factoring the starting price of each desk with regard to the features it delivered on, to determine our final winners.
We broke the testing into the following categories and subcategories:
- Comfort: We made note of whether the desk provided proper ergonomics at all heights, and, where applicable, in both sitting and standing positions.
- Number of different height adjustments: We noted the range of heights the desk was capable of reaching.
- Ease of adjustments: We considered how easy it was to adjust the height of the desk, noting how smoothly it was able to move up and down as well as how easy and intuitive the keypad, if there was one, was to operate.
- Sturdiness from front to back: We noted how much the desk wobbled, if it all, from front to back.
- Sturdiness from side to side: We noted how much the desk wobbled, if it all, from side to side.
- Organization: We noted if the desk came standard with any slots/grommets to organize wires, cable management trays, extra outlets. etc.
- Build quality: We looked at the quality of the desk’s materials, assessing whether it felt cheap or flimsy, as well as whether the desktop was prone to scratches and/or smudges.
- Ease of assembly: We considered the time it took to unbox and fully assemble the desk, how clear the instructions were, if any special tools were necessary as well as if the included tools were efficient in the building process.
- Appearance: We assessed the aesthetics of the desk — how it looked in a room/home office, if it was available in different colors and if so, how many.
- Size: We noted how much equipment could fit on the desk, how much room it took up and whether it was available in more than one size and if so, how many.
- We looked into the warranty for each product and noted the length of coverage and what parts were covered.
Other standing desks we tested
Fully Jarvis EcoTop Standing Desk (starting at $519 for 30×24”; fully.com)
Let it be known that we adored this desk, for myriad reasons. A newer model produced by Fully’s Jarvis line, the EcoTop is the brand’s most eco-friendly design to date, crafted from locally sourced fiber in Oregon that’s a minimum 92% pre-consumer, recycled or recovered, meeting the Eco-Certified Composites (ECC) Sustainability Standard. Beyond this new desktop, it’s identical in build and function to the customer-favorite (and also earth-friendly) Jarvis Fully Bamboo Standing Desk — and it’s easy to see why it’s so beloved. It scored top marks for its range of sitting and standing heights (25.5” to 51.1”, the second largest range of all desks we tested, displayed in increments of 0.1”) as well as its ease of adjustments, with the industry-standard four memory presets being intuitive to program. This desk felt high-quality — according to Fully, it can support upwards of 350 pounds — though a bit more wobbly from side to side at higher heights than our best overall pick. Similar to the Uplift’s warranty, Jarvis desks are covered by an impressive all-inclusive 10-year warranty on all frame components, including motors and electronics, and a five-year warranty on desktop surfaces, excluding normal wear and tear, and damage caused by improper assembly, disassembly or repair.
Ultimately, this desk lost points when it came to assembly. It was one of the most complicated builds of our pool, taking the most time and clocking in at a bit over an hour; particularly we found that the giant allen key, with prongs of equal lengths, made things clumsy to assemble. While the EcoTop features two uncovered grommets at the back corners for your cables, if you’d like to attach cord organizer, you’ll need a power drill to do so, as there are no pre-drilled holes. (We did appreciate that it came packaged with a surge protector, however.) The EcoTop is available in six sizes, and in black and white finishes.
This is a solid desk — and was indeed a solid contender for winner — particularly if you value sustainable, earth-friendly materials.
Another one of our favorites, the Vari is a classic electric standing desk, and there’s a reason — well, many reasons — why you may have seen it in myriad office spaces throughout the country as the standing desk du jour. For one, it’s impossibly sturdy, racking up top marks in that category during our testing. And despite its heavyweight build, it was by far the easiest of the non-budget-priced electric standing desks to assemble, taking approximately 20 minutes to do so. The Vari moves up and down smoothly, from a minimum height of 25” to a maximum of 50.2” (the highest maximum height of all desks we tested), and its LED keypad displays increments of 0.1. Programming the four memory presets is easy as pie; we didn’t even need to consult an instruction manual for that. And while there wasn’t much difference among all our standing desks in terms of motor noise, we’d contend that the Vari was noticeably quieter than the others in our pool. It has a five-year warranty for all components.
The Vari Electric Standing Desk is available in two sizes, 60×30”, 48×30” (starting at $550 at Amazon and Office Depot for the latter) as well as five finishes. Really the only place where it lost major points was in the category of organization. It features no grommets to contain wires, but rather a slightly indented back should you want to place it flush against the wall, so you’ll still have space for all your cables to comfortably hang; an additional wire tray is sold separately. (We did appreciate the complimentary bag hook that was included with our shipment.) The Vari came in just one point behind our overall winner, the ApexDesk Elite, so suffice it to say that we would recommend this desk in a heartbeat, so long as you can make do with that caveat.
Readydesk 2 Adjustable Standing Desk ($154.99; amazon.com)
While we were fans of this converter’s artsy, minimalist design, constructed from sustainable birchwood (it just screams “Brooklyn architect,” does it not?), admittedly we can understand how not everyone might be — and how it may not necessarily vibe with your decor scheme. Aesthetics aside, we appreciated how easily this converter assembles: Literally, it took just five minutes to unbox and slot the shelves into the base, no tools necessary. Because of this, it’s a good option for students living in dorms, or anyone else who may be moving around a lot and have minimal desktop space to work with. Disassembling is just as simple if you need to quickly get it out of the way and store it in a corner without taking up much space at all. Despite its lightweight build (it weighs in at less than 15 pounds), we found the Readydesk 2 to be impressively sturdy, both from front to back and side to side. It’s also designed with two keyhole-esque slots on each ledge to manage wires. The product has a one-year warranty free of defects in craftsmanship and material and a generous 100-day free return policy in the US.
It fell short in a few categories, however: It’s available in just one size and color, and doesn’t provide as much room for equipment as other converters in our testing pool did. Its unfinished edges had us worried we might snag the fabric of our sleeve on it (a valid concern among reviewers as well, as we later learned). Because of the lack of grips at the base, depending on the surface beneath it, it could be prone to sliding, although we had no issues in this regard. And, given its unique design, it’s not the most ideal product if two or more people of different heights are sharing use of it, as you have remove the piece of wood and manually move it to a different slot if you’d like to change up the adjustments, which is easy enough, but obviously not as simple as raising or lowering a lever.
Flexispot Standing Desk 48×30” ($249.99; amazon.com)
The Flexispot Standing Desk is another budget-priced standing desk model, similar to the SHW. It’s available in black, white and mahogany finishes, and while it does look quite sleek, and the desktop is indeed one solid piece rather than two narrow pieces assembled side by side, for the same price as our best budget winner, it comes with some noticeable downfalls. For one, the basic model includes a keypad with only an up and down button; the desk has a standing range from 28–47.6”, but in order to know what height you’re standing at (if that’s important to you), you’ll have to tack on another $90 for the “standard” model, which is 55” long and includes a digital LED keypad with memory presets. There’s also a smaller, 42×24” model, for $244.99.
We also noticed significant wobble once fully assembled, mostly from side to side but also from back to front. And on the topic of assembly: this desk arrives in two boxes, both pretty lightweight, but the instructions were confusing at times. A particularly baffling example: One step was to loosen bolts and stretch a rod, but the instructions didn’t specify to what length to stretch it. So we guessed, and when it came time to add the desktop, we had to loosen the bolts once again and then measure it to the correct length. Another step also required backtracking and unscrewing screws from a previous step. This desk comes with a five-year warranty for the frame, motor and other mechanisms, and a two-year warranty for the controller and switch, electronics.
Seville Classics 27.8” Tilting Sit-Stand Height Adjustable Mobile Laptop Computer Desk Cart with Mouse Side Ergonomic Table ($44.99; homedepot.com)
If you’re looking for a simple sit-stand option with enough room for your laptop and a mouse, and a laptop and a mouse alone, this Seville Classics desk is one worth considering. At just a hair under $50, unsurprisingly, you’re not getting a super-sturdy, smart standing desk option — but you are getting a product that gets the job done (the job being: providing the option to stand while at your computer), and on wheels to boot. Assembly was easy enough, as the desk is lightweight, and though the flimsy hexagon key wrench proved a bit difficult to use, we were able to build it in approximately 25 minutes. It comes with a one-year limited warranty.
The desk adjusts from a minimum of 27.9” to a maximum of 40.7”, so if you’re above, say, 5’9”, we can’t imagine you’d find this the most ergonomic product to use. We should also note that the desktop’s tilt is not adjustable, i.e, you cannot position it parallel with the floor, and the manual twist-lock knob can be a bit annoying to use to make adjustments to heights. Bottom line: If you’re on a tight budget and looking for something that’ll allow you to take standing breaks from time to time, this is a perfectly adequate solution. It’s a desk that’s perhaps best suited to students, children, and those with minimal space.
Vivo Height Adjustable 32-Inch Standing Desk Converter (starting at $109.95, originally $119.95; amazon.com)
This Vivo converter was quite similar in both build and function to the Flexispot converter. Assembly required only attaching the keyboard tray to the base, which was simple enough, and adjustment is controlled via lever. It’s a standard desk riser, and we found its sturdiness to rival Flexispot’s as well, but ultimately we didn’t select it as a winner for a few reasons: We took value into consideration, and the Vivo is available only in one size, at a starting price of $119.99, versus Flexispot’s $99.99 for its 31-inch option. (For $159.99, you can snag the Vivo in light wood or white finishes, or dark wood for $179.99.) The width of both the keyboard and desktop are a bit smaller than the Flexispot converter we tested, at 10” and 15.75”, respectively, though it does rise to a maximum height of 19.5,” one inch higher than our winning converter does. It comes with two cable clips to stick to the underside of the product, and it has a three-year warranty. If you’re seeking a finish that isn’t solid black, could make use of another inch of height as a tradeoff for some desktop space, and you’re willing to shell out a bit more cash, we think the Vivo is a fine option.
Ergo Desktop Kangaroo Pro Junior ($399; amazon.com)
This desktop converter is unique in its design, and we appreciated the dual ergonomics at play here: Basically, the desktop work surface and your attached monitor adjust separately, allowing you to customize the setup more so than typically possible with a traditional desk riser. The desktop surface, which measures 24×18” — enough to fit a laptop, or a keyboard and mouse — is adjustable to 14.5” above your desk. You’ll have to mount your monitor, and though it took us a bit to figure out the twist-knob situation in order to adjust our monitor, we no sooner got the hang of it. However, we found the removable stabilization leg to, initially, be quite confusing, and ultimately, a crucial design flaw; while the adjustable rod is meant to provide extra stability to your desktop at all heights, we found it difficult to stay put, and ultimately not a reliable source of stability after all. The Kangaroo Pro Junior does, however, take up minimal space, and if you’re working with a single monitor and a keyboard, we could see why you might be interested in this product.
High Rise Height Adjustable Electric Full Standing Desk DC840B (starting at $499.99, originally $609.99; victortech.com)
The highlight of the Victor Technology’s High Rise standing — available in 4-foot top or 3-foot top versions — features a deep work space paired with various height levels. All of this allowed us to comfortably fit a laptop, phone, papers, water bottle and iPad with space to spare. Made from materials including wood and metal, the build is sturdy no matter the height at which it’s set. Taking less than 20 minutes to assemble, the desk came with tools to put it together and straightforward directions.
There’s a memory function which lets you save four preferable heights — just tap the button and it adjusts to that exact height, ranging between 28.7 to 48 inches. Better yet, for anyone who works around other people, the desk is quiet when moving between heights.
The High Rise does lack additional perks, like desktop customization, options for additional accessories or a curved design like the ApexDesk. The price is very similar to our top-ranked standing desks, but for the same price, many of those desks offer unique features that create an individualized experience for customers, including white board and laminate desktops.
Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing: