Best standing desks for 2021

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Standing desks come with integrated electric or manual controls to adjust their height. Need deep focus to finish a time-sensitive project? Maybe you want to sit. Feeling restless at your desk? Raise the height and stand to switch things up while staying productive. But there are other benefits to standing desks beyond mixing up your day as you move through your to-do list. 

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. The extent of the health difference between sitting and standing is still being studied, but some research shows that an average person burns eight 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). Check out these tips on how to position your desk for maximum comfort, whether you’re sitting or standing. 

I tested six 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. 

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At $650, the Vari Electric Standing Desk is expensive, but it’s also the best of the six desks I tested. Measuring 60 inches wide, with a depth of 30 inches and a weight capacity of 200 pounds, the Vari 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. 

It’s 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, 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 six desks of different sizes and styles, ranging from under $200 to $650. Some are controlled manually, while others have electric motors. 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

Vari Electric 60×30

Price

$239

$150

$193

$480

$400

$650

Color finish

White

Wood/white

White

Walnut/black

White

Reclaimed wood/gray

Electric or manual lift

Manual

Manual

Manual

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

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

25 to 50.5

Weight, in pounds

63

18.5

29

120

83

126

Weight capacity, in pounds

110

66

50

264

160

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 half 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 list above. 

The three others I tested — the Seville Classics Airlift Height Adjustable Desk with Glass Top, the Seville Classics Airlift Pro S3 Electric Height Adjustable Standing Desk and the Inbox Zero Height Adjustable Standing 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. 

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. 

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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