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If you're going to get the full benefits of a stand up desk, it has to be something you largely ignore — so you have to be confident it's well made and properly balanced. It is possible to buy a standing desk for under a hundred dollars, but none of those have made it into our top five ratings because of concerns about stability and durability.
That doesn't mean we've only chosen high-end desks or workstations. As you'll discover, some are very affordable. At BestReviews, we want to help you pick the standing desk!
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Although it's a piece of working furniture, you still want it to be reasonably attractive and to fit in with its surroundings. You also want your desk to be of good quality so that it handles the rigors of daily use.
Standard sit-down desktops vary widely in size, and stand up desks are no different - it's important to know that there's space for what you need and that you won't have to change your working practices to accommodate your workstation.
Matthew has led IT departments and tech teams in a variety of industries. Currently, he works in the sports gaming industry. He has written reviews and been involved with electronics procurement decisions for a number of players at the business and individual level for over a decade. In his spare time, you may find Matthew playing frisbee, golf, or reading a good novel.
Not all standing desks are created equal. Some are manually powered, some electrical, and some have other options that can make them easier to live with.
Deciding to change the way you work is quite a step. Office furniture can be expensive, but choosing a cheap stand up desk could lead to disappointment. Having said that, several of our selection prove you don't have to make a huge investment for something both good-looking and functional.
The Safco Products Muv Stand-up Workstation is a smart, modern-looking unit. It's available in three color choices, so there's a good chance one will fit in with your existing decor. The metal frame is powder coated, a finish known for its durability. Although at first glance it appears quite slender, owners are keen to point out that it's actually very stable. This desk does need to be assembled, and some people were unhappy with the instructions and found it a little difficult to put together. If you are wiling to bear with it, though, you will be rewarded with a very aesthetically-pleasing workstation.
The metal parts of the 40'' Black Shelves Mobile Ergonomic Workstation are also powder coated - and on this desk they seem a much more prominent part of the design. There's something very sturdy and well engineered about the appearance, as if wooden planks have been attached to construction girders. Again, some assembly is required and, although one person could manage, owners said it's much easier with two.
While many doctors recommend standing desks for health benefits, be sure to maintain good posture while working at them, otherwise they can be detrimental in the long run.
Ergotron have taken a different approach with the Ergotron WorkFit-C Sit/Stand Workstation, designing a much more compact, cart-based unit. It has a smaller footprint and is very easy to move around. The appearance is quite utilitarian, and indeed your monitor and keyboard are the items that give the dominant visual impact, rather than the desk itself.
In terms of appearance, little will match the LifeSpan TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk. It's truly a work of art, and it's obvious that the manufacturers have put significant thought into every aspect of the design. If you're keen to change how you work at your desk because of the fitness benefits, what better way to achieve that by walking instead of standing! It does need considerable space, of course, but it's a sleek, attractive and well-designed piece of furniture. There's minimal assembly required for the desk section, which owners find very solid and stable.
Having said that little would match the LifeSpan Treadmill Desk visually, the Elevate II Adjusta Plus Electric Sit Stand Desk does come close. At 60 inches wide, it's a substantial slab of working area. The powder-coated frame manages to look slender yet purposeful at the same time. Although definitely impressive when it's all put together (and with excellent component quality), some owners were disappointed that assembly was required. The manufacturer suggests it will take two people an hour or more to complete, but we found that to be a bit of an overestimate.
If you are new to standing desks, we recommend looking at options that can be used for both standing and sitting.
The upper work surface of the Safco Products Muv Stand-up Workstation is 29 1/2 inches by 19 3/4 inches - which is more than adequate for a monitor and a telephone - and will carry up to 100 pounds in weight. There's a sliding keyboard shelf underneath and two further shelves below that. The top one of these is fixed and would be useful for a printer, scanner, or as somewhere to keep a few office consumables. The lower one can be moved up or down and could support a computer. The height of the desk top can be set at between 35 and 49 inches. Unfortunately, this is not easily adjustable - you have to undo four screws to move it. It's not the most difficult job, but a bit awkward. That, combined with a lowest possible height of 35 inches, does not really make it practical as a combination sit/stand desk, so we recommend sticking with it purely as a stand up workstation.
With this versatile desk, you are able to either sit or stand. There's a crank handle to position the upper surface anywhere between 33 1/2 inches and 47 1/2 inches - and it's quite quick and easy to do so. Using it as a sitting desk wouldn't be recommended for long periods, as most standard desks are around 29 or 30 inches tall, but it would be acceptable for short periods. The upper surface is 39.4 inches wide by 14 inches deep and the keyboard shelf - which is fixed - is 16 inches deep. There is also a lower rack for a computer so that it doesn't take up valuable space in the main working area.
Proper ergonomic setups for your standing desk will save you from chronic back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, RSI, and even more serious health issues like blood clots.
At 24 inches by 23 inches, the Ergotron WorkFit-C Sit/Stand Workstation has sufficient workspace, but a large working area is not what this stand up desk is about. It has been designed to be a very mobile, highly adjustable workstation and much more of an integrated solution. There are 5 inches of adjustment in the LCD stand, which will take a monitor of up to 30 inches. The desktop itself has 20 inches of movement and the keyboard tray tilts for maximum working comfort and to help reduce repetitive strain. The whole thing is cleverly counterbalanced, so raising and lowering the height is extremely easy - just what you want from a true sit/stand desk.
The LifeSpan TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk takes the standing desk idea and adds a whole extra level of exercise - but it certainly doesn't mean you have to walk all day! In fact while the treadmill part fits snugly under the desk element, the two are separate and the treadmill can be stopped whenever you like, or it will do so automatically if you step off for more than 20 seconds. The desktop itself is 31 by 46 1/2 inches - which is a good sized surface - and the height can be set between 36 and 52 inches. Adjustment is by way of two large, tactile knobs, which make the job fairly easy but don't offer the rapid variation you get with the Ergotron or the 40'' Mobile Ergonomic Workstation.
Available working surface is obviously the strong point with the Elevate II Adjusta Plus Electric Sit Stand Desk: it's just plain huge. It's also robust. The top surface will take 150 pounds in weight, and the keyboard section will take another 47 pounds. Despite this considerable structural bulk, it's easy to adjust (anywhere between 28 and 47 inches high) thanks to electric motors in the legs. The desk also provides additional flexibility by giving you the ability to have the keyboard either below (as you would normally) or above the main desktop - perfect for ergonomics and user comfort.
Some standing desks can be adjusted using built in motors, while others are more labor-intensive.
The Safco Products Muv Stand-up Workstation is quite a basic product and, apart from the useful extra shelves, the only other feature of note is the locking wheels. The wheels make the desk easy to transport when you need to move it around but are also easily lockable when you want it stationary.
Another unit aimed at the lower end of the market, this workstation is also wheeled (with two of them braked), although we're not sure you would want to move it often - most owners we surveyed tended to "set it and forget it" once they got used to a particular arrangement.
If you begin to feel fatigued while standing, try to take a walk or even sit down for a moment to change your pose.
With the Ergotron WorkFit-C Sit/Stand Workstation, the neat and tidy theme continues beyond the actual frame and work top. The monitor mount frees up valuable desk space and it features a special carrier for your computer which keeps it tucked behind the main support frame. The desk also has an invaluable cable management system which can really save you from having a spider's web of cables in the back of the workstation.
The LifeSpan TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk comes with a number of useful extras. For the treadmill section there's a digital control console that displays your progress and allows you to vary speed between 0.4 and 4 mph. The front edge of the desk itself has foam pads molded in so you can rest your forearms. That upper surface also has rounded corners that look good and offer additional safety in the unlikely event that you should slip, or that someone passing by should bump into it. A final nice touch is the cable management tray under the rear of the work top. As with the aesthetic design, the manufacturers have really thought of everything when it comes to perfecting this product.
A cable management tray is also provided with the Elevate II Adjusta Plus Electric Sit Stand Desk, and a 12 outlet power bar ensures that there's no danger of getting cables snagged in the mechanism. To make doubly sure it's all neat, an inboard computer rack is included. Although working space is already substantial, the Elevate also comes with a side mounting cup holder, so not even your favorite beverage can get in the way!
The Occupational Health and Safety Association released tips and standards for workers who use standing desks – it’s worth looking over when you switch over to standing.
At $281 (list is $474), the Safco Products Muv Stand-up Workstation is the cheapest of the stand up desks in our ratings, but it certainly shouldn't be considered "cheap," in terms of workmanship or quality of construction. If you want a cost-effective, practical introduction to the world of working standing up, it's a very good product. Comments from owners like "best stand up table for the price," are common, and in general both home and office users seem very satisfied with their purchase.
This stand up desk is aimed at a crowded part of the market, and at a list price of $333, it has an awful lot of competition. However, it's currently on offer at $199, which is a massive saving. It's a sturdy unit, with a fair bit of workspace, but a couple of owners mentioned a slight fault with the central bolt supplied, commenting that it is too long and could potentially damage the top surface if it is tightened too much. However, we suspect the problem was with a particular batch and ought now to have been resolved as we weren't able to reproduce it.
Many standing desk users lose weight in the first few weeks of use, thanks to the increased activity.
At the moment the Ergotron WorkFit-C Sit/Stand Workstation is down from $799 to $839. That's a considerably larger investment than the Safco, but they're not really targeted at the same market. The Ergotron is a really well thought-out solution, is very neat, and gives a lot more working flexibility. It's also a true sit-stand desk - and changing between the two is fast and hassle free.
Naturally you would expect to pay more for a desk that comes with a treadmill, and the LifeSpan TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk currently costs $1249 (reduced from $1999). To some extent it's a niche product, but a check of the reviews will show hundreds of very happy owners and a negligible number of complaints. People are particularly impressed by the solidity of the treadmill and the stability of the desktop. Quite a few also found that they quickly adapted to walking and working at the same time. If you're up for making a radical shift away from your sedentary work-day, this is the desk for you.
The Elevate II Adjusta Plus Electric Sit Stand Desk is a bit of a monster - and we mean that in a good way. It's also quite an investment at $3198. That's a lot of money for any kind of desk, but it's very well made, has tremendous flexibility in terms of layout, and has the advantage of electric motors, so raising and lowering it is effortless. While not everyone is pleased about having to put together a desk that costs this much, once assembled it should provide years and years of service and may end up saving you money in the long run.
It's the stand up desk that gives the most health benefits to potential owners.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.