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The best standing desk for 2021


If you’re getting restless working at your existing desk and are considering investing in a standing desk, you might not know where to even start. Luckily, transforming your desk surface into a standing workstation is not that difficult. You see, the best standing desks allow you to sit or stand, depending on what you’re doing, and today’s standing desks come with integrated electric or manual controls to adjust their height. If you need deep focus to finish a time-sensitive project, you may want to sit. If you’re feeling restless at your desk, but want to remain productive, you can raise the height and stand to switch things up. But that’s not the only benefit to having a standing desk.

There’s also the fact that 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 (or even a treadmill desk) can make a definite difference. Scientists are still studying the extent of the health difference between sitting and standing, but some research shows that an average person burns 8 additional calories per hour of standing instead of sitting. Other estimates are significantly higher


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While standing instead of sitting might not lead to weight loss, it’s 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, unless you invest in a standing desk mat). Check out these tips on how to position your desk for maximum comfort, whether you’re sitting or standing. 

I tested seven 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 specific home office needs. That means it doesn’t matter if you’re a laptop user, a desktop user, prefer a certain standing position or want to sit most of the day at a traditional desk — there is a standing desk for you.

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At $695, 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 and a weight capacity of 200 pounds, the Vari electric desk can easily hold multiple monitors and pretty much any other office accessories you need. It 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. It also comes with an optional storage mount to organize your cables — and a couple of sturdy hooks to hold a bag or headphones. And, it isn’t loud when it’s raising and lowering. 

The Vari is too big for my house, but it’s a fantastic electric 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. 

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The Ikea Skarsta is an excellent option when you need a larger standing desk, but don’t want to spend too much money. At $239 for a white finish, or $249 in beige and white, this simple standing 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 Skarsta 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.

While this 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 the left side), was easy to turn for adjustments. And when you’re done using it, you can slide it back under the desk. 

Ikea also sells a larger Skarsta desk that measures 63 by 31.5 inches if you need even more desk space. That model costs $269 in white and $279 in beige and white. 

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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 seven desks of different sizes and styles, ranging from under $200 to $650. Some are controlled manually, while others have electric motors for height adjustment. Check out the table below to get a quick side-by-side spec comparison of each model I built and tested at home:

Standing desk specs

Ikea Skarsta Inbox Zero Latitude Run Amilcar Seville Classics Airlift Pro S3 Seville Classics Airlift with Glass Top Steelcase Solo Sit-To-Stand Desk Vari Electric 60×30
Price $239 $150 $224 $480 $400 $540 $695
Color finish White Wood/white White Walnut/black White Clear oak/white Reclaimed wood/gray
Electric or manual lift Manual Manual Manual Electric Electric Electric Electric
Width and depth, in inches 47.25 by 27.5 22.5 by 21.5 25 by 18 52 by 28 47.6 by 24 60 by 30 60 by 30
Lift height range (min. and max., in inches) 27.5 to 47.25 27.5 to 40 27.9 to 45.3 25.6 to 51.4 29 to 47 22.6 to 48.7 25 to 50.5
Weight, in pounds 63 18.5 29 120 83 128 126
Weight capacity, in pounds 110 66 50 264 160 286 200

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 among sitting and standing and making notes when something worked particularly well or caused a problem. 

The good news is that three of the models I tested worked extremely well. The Vari Electric Standing Desk, the Ikea Skarsta 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 Inbox Zero Height Adjustable Standing Desk and the Steelcase Solo Sit-To-Stand Desk — 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 (the Vari desk). The Inbox Zero model was pretty wonky, from the initial installation to testing it out for a day. It seemed like a great desk, in theory, due to its dual-sided design. Unfortunately, it was just too complicated. Two of the legs didn’t fit into position correctly and the desktop had strange removable plastic edges that fell off regularly while I worked. 

The $540 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 — at a few bucks less than the pricey Steelcase Solo — has a more sophisticated control panel, a nicer-looking finish and comes with desk accessories. 

As always, consider your specific needs before you buy. Do you have a lot of space and a higher budget? Consider the Vari desk. 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 a standing desk converter 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. 

What’s your budget?

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 Skarsta Standing Desk were my favorite options under $250.

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 or manual?

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.

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