Interested in a standing desk?

It’s all the rage. All the cool kids and techies have them, and they’re finally affordable!

Right?

Well…

Make no doubt there are a TON of standing desk options out there, and a wide range of prices. But it’s easy to be hypnotized by low prices. I spent months deciding on which desk I would ultimately buy, and along the way I did a lot of research and investigation on these brands and the different styles of desks.

Let me walk you through what I found and what the right desk for you might cost.

You have a few different options, Adjustable Height Desk Conversion Kits, Hand Cranked Adjustable Height Desks, and Electric Standing Desks which come in a lot of variations and that’s what we’ll spend most time on but let’s run through the options for a moment.

Adjustable Height Desk Conversion Kits

Varidesk Desk Riser
Varidesk Desk Riser

Here’s a few options on Amazon and their current price.

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The VariDesk Series is extremely popular. I’ve had the chance to see it in real life, but never for an extended amount of time.

This is a popular option due to its price, and it has its place, but maybe not the best option for most. Though you can see there are some off-brand options for under $200, the VariDesk branded desk risers cost between $300-$500. That’s fairly expensive for what you are getting, more expensive than many full desks. Though the under $200 versions exist, I wouldn’t touch them, they are visibly lighter and cheaply made in comparison.

If you are interested in a “cheap” solution the off-brands may look attractive to you, but remember that it needs to support the weight of everything on top of it as well as the pressure you put on it, and you are trusting it to support some fancy electronics. If you are only working with a laptop and you don’t mind the riser on your desk, this may work for you.

Is a VariDesk worth it?

Probably not. It’s obviously a well-built, quality desk riser, but it’s hard to justify the price tag for what you get. You are not getting a rising desk, you are plopping a large piece of equipment on your existing desk (which raises everything quite a bit on its own, so I hope your desk is low) to gain 3-4 feet in vertical height, and the work area is fairly small, enough for one or two monitors and a small mouse pad area next to the keyboard.

Great if you work in an office and want to bring in your own standing solution, but I can’t see much other reason to get one. Comment below if you have one.

Hand Cranked Adjustable Height Desks

 

Ikea Skarsta Hand Crank Standing Desk
IKEA Skarsta Hand Crank Standing Desk

This is one of the most popular cheap solutions, and honestly, I can get behind it. There’s a few options here but the most popular is the IKEA Skarsta desk, currently $240.

You can find hand crank desks between $150 and $300. If you aren’t sold on switching between standing and sitting too often, and don’t want your desk to have a wire taking up an outlet, this is the way to go. You can also find a lot of similar products on Amazon that aren’t very dissimilar in build quality. You can even buy just the legs to get your own desktop, which I nearly did as IKEA doesn’t have the best table-top options for these desks.

They do of course have their drawbacks, besides the obvious hand crank. First of all, the crank, if not properly made may not survive too many uses, so absolutely be sure to check the reviews on the quality of the crank. These desks are always going to be two leg designs, which inherently are just not that stable. The weight distribution on the top of the desk with the monitor at the back will cause the desk to lean in that direction. Speaking of, these desks are not meant to hold a ton of weight! Notice the laptop in the image. If you are an ultimate gamer, this is not the setup to hold your beastly tower and accessories.

Is A Hand Crank Desk Worth It?

That depends. If you are on a lower budget and don’t plan on having a lot of weight on your desk, like if you are a laptop user, this could be perfect. They are generally a little less stable but you get a full size desk and it moves up and down. They are honestly not even that much more expensive than regular desks in some instances.

Here’s how I’d make it work.

Mount your monitors to the wall. Get that weight off the desk. If you want to really do it right, get full motion monitor mounts so you can move them up and down with your desk. It might not get the same travel distance, so experiment with wall placement before locking it down. This will make the desk significantly more stable and put less stress on the crank. Same goes for the desktop tower, that has to go. Getting it on the floor might be a little far, you’ll likely need some kind of small shelf or cabinet to lay it on top of, off the ground and closer to the height of the desk. If you leave your tower on the ground, say goodbye to your mouse and keyboard when you bring the desk up.

 

Electric Standing Desks

 

This is the real deal, and there are SO MANY options and price ranges.

Most of these brands you are not going to find on Amazon.com, they like to keep their “premium” status and high-markup value, and it can get EXPENSIVE. I know, because I spent $1000 on my electric standing desk.

I had originally planned to buy the legs on Amazon and build my own desk, and it wasn’t a bad option and if you have a truck and can easily go get a custom table-top, it’s a bit more realistic than what I had to work with.

One of the key things to watch out for is weight capacity. The wood you use will end up taking the majority of the weight, and I wouldn’t want to cut it too close, just in case.

There are too many brands to name, you can find detailed comparisons online, I just want to explain what I would recommend looking for in this desk.

Weight capacity:

Calculate the weight of everything that might be on your desk and double it. That’s what I would feel comfortable with my setup, which came to about 160 pounds. You’d be shocked at how low the weight capacity of most desks can be.

Stability:

Two leg designs have a ton of inherent flaws we covered above and in the video. The most stable desk will have 4 legs, like any other table. You don’t often see 4 leg desks because they require 4 separate motors and that can get expensive.

Size:

Used to a large desk? Well good luck finding a massive standing desk. The larger the desk, the more weight it will need to hold and the less stable it would be. Not to mention the shipping costs are likely a limiting factor.

Motors:

Not something you might think of right away but this can matter quite a bit. Most two leg designs feature a single motor. A single motor will be cheaper but will support less weight, be slower, louder, and won’t last as long.

 

Which Standing Desk I Chose

uplift 900

Let me start off by saying that this company has never contacted me in any way, I simply purchased their product and am now writing about it (and there are no affiliate links for this product).

The UpLift 900 4-Leg Desk by UpLift Desk

This desk starts at $900 (easily $1000 with essential accessories). This is NOT a cheap standing desk, and it certainly doesn’t feel cheap when using it either.

Four legs is the only way to get a truly stable desk and I feel this desk is as stable as I could ask for. While typing I can notice the slight wobble of my microphone’s boom arm, and maybe a slight wobble when I really slam on the keys. I don’t believe a non-electric 4 leg desk would be any more stable than this without being nailed to the wall.

What really drew me to this desk was the size. This was the largest desk I could find at 80″x30″. Though technically some frames claim to be able to support larger desk tops with more overhang. A little extra overhang wouldn’t have hurt but I’m good with this size. If I went for a third monitor horizontally, I do think I would need a deeper desk. In that case I may have even checked out their L-shaped desk.

The construction is rock solid, the motors are smooth and quiet, I personally could have opted for a slightly larger size still if it was available, but this is the biggest I’ve found. The desk is also incredibly modular, so when I need to take it apart to move out of this apartment it’ll be possible.

Not fun. But possible.