I was very excited to get the opportunity to try the Jarvis electric standing desk. It has been the reigning champion of the The Wirecutter’s Best Standing Desk award three straight years. With all of the hype surrounding it, I definitely had high expectations. The Wirecutter was even quoted as saying this about Jarvis (and Uplift), “Both desks show more polish in their details and are far more stable than anything else in their price range.” Of course, like most things in life, if you set expectations too high you’re bound to be disappointed. Now that we’ve tempered those expectations, let’s take a closer look at the Jarvis desk.
Jarvis Review Snapshot
- 26 Inch Adjustment Range
- 281 lbs. Lifting Capacity
- 1.52 Inch Per Second Adjustment Speed
- 7 Year Warranty On Electronics
- Stability Issues Starting At 36 Inches
- White Grease Build-up On Legs
- Continued Motion After Button Released
- Electronics Made in China
Jarvis Review Update (11/21/17)
Recently it was brought to our attention that the Jarvis Desk had been updated, per a comment from the official Fully account on Reddit. Ryan is very active in the Reddit standing desk community. We decided it would be in our best interest to bring in the latest model to see what has changed.
@RyanBald’s comparison of the Jarvis and Autonomous desk was incredibly detailed, and very well researched. The only addition I could offer to his in-depth research, is that we’ve since beefed up our electronics, with a remodeled control box and our hardware with a new motor that has an attached cog (rather than the plastic one you see in the picture on that review). The investments we’ve made in both these items have paid off exponentially and we’re experiencing far fewer glitches with these new models, in addition to quieter and faster operation.
Contacting JieCang Rep in the USA
In addition to ordering the updated desk, I personally reached out to the local rep for JieCang. I wanted to find out more about the changes directly from the source. During my call I found out that there were changes made to the control box; however, these were changes made to the actual programming. The actual control box itself had remained exactly the same. Secondly, there was a change to the motor design. The change to the motor reduced the desks’ sound slightly and improved the adjustment speed. Knowing that there were some real changes I was excited to see them first hand.
Control Box Electronics
Knowing that the hardware in the control box hadn’t been updated was a little disappointing. Since the person from Fully specifically mentioned they “beefed up our electronics, with a remodeled control box”.
After receiving the newest version of the Jarvis Desk, I first checked the control box. As expected, it was an exact replica to the previous version. While JieCang made changes to some of the programming, to include what they called “High-End Functionality”, the board itself needed the update. The same problems with excessive use of caulk to hold components in place and loose connections between the two boards were found. While the JieCang control box is what I call the “best of the worst”, it still has a long way to go to reach the level of quality found on LogicData and Linak control boxes.
The second change that was made to the JieCang product was linked to the motor. Per conversations with a JieCang rep, the changes improved speed and lowered the noise level of the desk.
Opening the motor box, I was able to access the new motor. Right away you could tell there was a change to the design of the motor. On the earlier version, the large gear and worm drive on the motor were now internalized inside an encasement. This was a smart move, as the previous version was a lubrication mess, left exposed to contaminants such as dust and dirt. They also changed where the hall sensor was located, moving it inside the motors encasement. Previously, this had been external with excessive amounts of lubricant visible on it. This was an improvement over the previous version.
Looking closer at the large gear on the motor, there was a noticeable change here as well. On their previous motor, the large gear had a cog wheel inside of it. This is how it transmitted the torque from the motor to the spindle gear inside the column. This change was likely due to the fact it was an exact replica of the Linak motor found on their DL5S column. Instead the Jarvis desk now uses a different connection to the gear with a more similar setup to Autonomous Desk or IKEA Bekant. This is a hex shaped post that slides through the inside of the motor gear. I don’t believe there is a performance benefit to either one.
After pulling the motor encasement apart on the new Jarvis motor, I was able to access the motor gear and worm drive. The first thing I noticed doing this was the change to bearing system that the motor gear used to turn. The old version used a sleeve bearing and the new version used a ball bearing. Again, this was an improvement over the the old version. While the sleeve bearing will function properly, they tend to have a shorter lifetime than a ball bearing setup. Pulling apart the bottom of each motor, I found the same change here as well. The old version used a sleeve bearing on the bottom of the axle, while the newest version had made the change to a ball bearing.
Weight Capacity Rating From JieCang
Weight capacity is something I want to bring attention to since it wasn’t talked about enough in the original version of the Jarvis review. The weight capacity that is advertised by JieCang, the manufacturer of the frame for Jarvis, is 1250 Newtons (281 lbs.). This is important, because Jarvis has decided to rate their desk for 350 lbs. There are many reasons why a manufacturer decides to rate their desks at a certain capacity. It mainly falls on the motor and the gears efficiency. Most manufacturers have a good grasp on what load their desk can handle through the engineering process and testing that typically follows. There is a lot involved with gear systems that will impact a desks ability to consistently lift a heavy load safely. The torque rating of the motor, pitch of the spindle gear and the strength of the load bearing components within the gear system all play a big role in this.
While both the Jarvis and Uplift desks can lift 350+ lbs., it isn’t recommended by the actual manufacturer of these desk frames. In my opinion, it is reckless for these brands to advertise significantly heavier capacities than what JieCang has tested and warrants their products for. I would proceed with caution knowing that the only reason they have done it is to advertise a heavier weight capacity than one another. They essentially one-upped each other to the point they are at now, with Uplift advertising a 355 lbs. capacity and Jarvis a 350 lbs. capacity.
If you are looking for a desk that can lift that much weight, we suggest the UpDesk Elements or NewHeights XT. The UpDesk features Linak DL5 columns that have been rated to 359 lbs. The NewHeights XT has been rated to 325 lbs. Each are backed by the manufacturer’s warranty.
Testing The Desk
After the changes to the desk were made, I wanted to find out how the desk performed with the updated components.
The first test I performed was the sound test. The original sound test with only the desktop averaged to 59 decibels. The newest version did improve on the sound level, moving to 56-57 decibels with only the weight of the desktop. I decided to test a couple more loads, to see how it impacted the sound. With a 150 pound load that included the desktop, the new Jarvis Desk averaged 62 decibels. When we loaded the desk to 350 lbs., the sound jumped up to 72 decibels. At this point you could tell the desk was working very hard to lift the load. The change in sound from the motors is common. Most desks will experience a bump in decibels the more that is added to the desktop.
I performed three different speed tests. The first was with only the weight of the desktop. The desk improved from 1.33”/second on the original desk to 1.52”/second on the most current. When loaded to 350 lbs., the adjustment speed dropped to 1.11”/second. Finally, I loaded the desk with 380 lbs. and it faulted. With only one leg moving, the second leg remained still.
End of update (11/21/17)
OEM Manufacturer for Jarvis Desks
Like many of the other standing desks on the market, Jarvis is not being produced by the actual brand itself. All of the Jarvis desks are currently manufactured by the popular Chinese company, JieCang Linear Motion. This is the same company that produces the Uplift 900 Standing Desk and The Evo Standing Desk. They have been producing linear actuators for hospital beds and accessories since early 2000 and in 2011 they saw an opportunity to produce adjustable bases. Using their linear actuator technology within metal desk frames, the JieCang standing desk was born. They are currently the leading Chinese manufacturer of electric standing desks.
Jarvis Desk History
The Jarvis desk brand was introduced in 2013. Fully (formally ErgoDepot) has made multiple changes to the product, including a switch from the T-base to the C-base now being used. They have also updated their foot design to include a more robust steel foot design.
After Testing 13 Desks We Have Selected The Top 4!
Product Specifications (per Fully.com)
Height Adjustment Range: 22.25” – 48.75” (no top)
Travel Speed: 1.5” Per Second
Noise Level: 50 Decibels While in Motion (no top)
Weight Capacity: 350 lbs.
Adjustable Width Base: 24” – 74” W
Adjustable Foot Glides: .25” Adjustment
- Two stage legs (three piece) for 26” overall adjustment range
- Telescoping base to adjust to multiple width tops
- Sensor for auto-syncing leg speed
- Anti-collision stop function
- Seven year warranty on all parts including electronics
Jarvis Desk Packaging
The overall packaging was very good, with cut foam used for extra protection. The box itself was heavy, which means there was a solid product inside. The Jarvis came in the same box as the Uplift Desk, but with different logos.
Assembly (30-90 Minutes)
The assembly for the Jarvis Desk was fairly straightforward. Similar to other JieCang bases, there are a lot of screws. Some screws can be difficult to insert and tighten. Jarvis included a small booklet with a link to a video on their website for assistance. Because you have to assemble the upper frame, upper desk top supports and attach the feet to the columns (legs), assembly of the base took approximately 30 minutes. Attaching the upper supports to the column (leg) might require an extra pair of hands; make sure not to fully tighten these screws until all of them have been inserted properly. After all screws have been inserted you will want to make sure the screws are very tight.
The screws to assemble the steel feet to the base were very easy to access and fully tighten. Unfortunately, the way the feet are attached with four screws and no lock washers means they will likely become loose over time. If you notice movement coming from the bottom of the leg/foot, this is likely to be the cause. Be sure to tighten as much as you can for stability. We recommend the use of a product like Loctite Threadlocker for a better hold.
Attaching the base to a desk top took another 15 minutes, which included the electronic components and standard wire management (included free). Depending on your skill level the complete assembly could require a bit more time.
The Jarvis has a sleek look without the use of a traditional cross support. The movement was smooth and while in operation there is a low humming sound that comes from the two motors encased within each leg. The motors had the capacity to move heavy weights with ease; however, the desk became very wobbly left to right when raised above 40”. I also noticed that the grease they use to lubricate the legs started to leave a white residue on the columns after the first cycle. As the desk continued to cycle it started to show quite a bit more. Similar to the other JieCang bases, the Jarvis desk also stays in motion for about .5 seconds after the up/down button was released.
The Jarvis desk was the second JieCang base I tested, after the seeing the Uplift I had expected similar stability from their base. I quickly found out this was not the case and the design of each base made them polar opposites. The Jarvis was much less stable than the Uplift, specifically left to right when moved above 40”. I must be honest. We don’t have a scientific test that we perform on each desk; however, we are able to get a good idea of stability by feel and visual.
Front to Back: The desk was very solid below 44”. Once it rose above that point, I could see the entire base starting to flex forward and backward. This allowed the desk to have a noticeable movement. It became more so the higher you went with the desk, and after 47” the lack of overlap from the three columns was obvious. This is a common issue with adjustable standing desks and each desk has a different height at which you will begin to notice it.
Left to Right: This movement was something to be expected without a traditional cross support; however, I was surprised that it started to wobble as early as 36”. Once it was raised to 40” it became an annoyance. The lack of the wedge found in the upper portion of the column (between the motor and leg) make this version of the JieCang frame much less stable.
Note: It’s very important with all adjustable standing desks to fully tighten all hardware. If there is hardware that is not completely tight the movement experienced when extended to standing height will be exaggerated.
Popular Jarvis Standing Desk Comparisons
Testing the Specifications
Listed Height Adjustment Range: 22.25” – 48.75”
True. The height range with the leveler glides and various thicknesses of tops was accurate.
Travel Speed: 1.5” Per Second (Claimed)
True. I was able to average 1.52” per second over 10 cycles with a 50 lbs. desk top attached. This is with the updated version of the desk.
Noise Level: 50 Decibels While in Motion
False. I found this reading to be close, but I averaged 56-57 decibels. While it is noticeable in a quiet room, it isn’t an annoyance and wouldn’t be an issue for most people.
Weight Capacity: 350 lbs.
True. It had no problem lifting 350 lbs. It only slightly affected its performance, slowing to 1.25” per second. Unfortunately, the lack of stability left to right would be a concern with a lot of weight on the desk.
What I Like About the Jarvis Desk
Range of Motion: The 26” of travel allows the Jarvis Desk to be used by a wider range of people. Because the column goes into the foot, as opposed to being mounted on top, it allows the desk to go as low as 23.25” without a top. Depending on the thickness of your desk top, this will allow users 5’4” to sit comfortably at this desk. While this reduces the top end height to 48.75” without a top, it will still fit most users up to 6’8” comfortably.
Lifting Capacity: With a 350 lbs. rating, the Jarvis Desk has plenty of capacity. Most users will require 150-200 lbs. capacity, including the desk top and all accessories.
7 Year Warranty: Jarvis’s 7 year warranty that includes electronics and structural components is very good. It is an industry leading warranty that requires tremendous trust in their product. We commend them for offering this to customers.
What Could Be Improved Upon
Traditional Cross Support: I was very surprised how the Jarvis desk began to wobble at only 36”. The left to right swaying became an annoyance at 40”. Unfortunately, the frame that runs below the desk top is too high up on the columns and the lack of a wedge like the one found on Uplift really impacts its stability.
White Grease on Columns: This isn’t something that will affect the function of the desk; however, if you were to bump into the desk at the office in dress clothes it would be a problem. There are alternatives that are much less messy and provide a more finished look.
Continued Motion after Releasing Button: This is a safety concern, as the desk should stop when you release the button. Things like fingers, children and furniture all come to mind when watching the desks continued movement.
Additional Questions I Have
Why This is The Wirecutters Top Pick: It’s hard to understand why Wirecutter continues to pick the Jarvis. After only a few minutes with both Jarvis and Uplift our findings were completely opposite. The Uplift desk is the clear winner when comparing these two JieCang desks.
Weight Rating JieCang Recommends: The manufacturer lists two separate weights for this particular product. One weight is for a single column, which is listed at 800N (179.847 lbs.); however, when two are combined the capacity is only 1000N (224.808 lbs.). This leads us to believe that while the motors are strong enough to lift 360 lbs., they do not recommend it with the current configuration. This is supported by the amount of left to right wobble experienced during my testing.
After getting a chance to take a closer look at the Jarvis Desk, my perception of the desk has changed a lot. Unfortunately, its large adjustment range of 26” and all-inclusive 7 year warranty are not enough to eliminate my concern for stability above 40”. The lack of attention to detail with regards to the white grease, and additional safety concerns that exist with the movement that occurs after releasing the buttons, push it further down the list. Overall I feel that when compared to its direct competitor, the Uplift Desk has a clear edge with these two top selling JieCang products.
Additional Standing Desk Resources
- The 4 Best Electric Standing Desks Under $1000
- Top 6 Reasons Why Standing Desks Wobble
- Jarvis Desk vs. VertDesk v3: Which is the best standing desk?
- GeekDesk v3 vs. VertDesk v3: Standing Desk Comparison
- VertDesk v3 Electric Standing Desk (Review / Rating)
- The Uplift 900 vs. The Jarvis Standing Desk
- The Uplift 900 Standing Desk C-leg (Review / Rating)