Over the course of the last six months I have had the opportunity to review 13 desks from the mid-range category. Desks within this range generally start out at $500 and can go up to $1,000. While these products are not considered to be top of the line, in 2017, there are some really nice options available. My original goal was to get this list up to five desks total; unfortunately, I could only find four that I felt are worthy of the “best” title. While I have said these desks are the best, please keep in mind that none of them are perfect. I have yet to find a desk within the mid-range or even the high-end that I would consider perfect. The good news, between the four options I have selected, there should be something for everyone. With that, let’s take a closer look at the four best electric standing desks under $1,000.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Requirements For This List
Selecting the four desks for this list was easy. There were only four that met my requirements to even make a consideration for the list. Using the ratings I have created in my reviews, desks that fell below 75 out of 100 were not included. This left four options: The VertDesk v3, ModDesk Pro, UpDesk Elements and the Uplift Desk. All four options were the best of the best through the last six months of my testing process.
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Simply put, we are experts. We have been selling office furniture for 12 years and have seen the sit to stand desk market grow from the beginning. We are not a company that is simply dedicated to writing reviews on emerging markets in hopes of making a quick buck. Office furniture is our life and we have gained extensive knowledge about the products within our space. We know what to look for and what to avoid. Our goal is to share this knowledge so that customers are better informed when making their buying decision.
One thing that really separates The Breakroom Blog from almost every other review site is that we bring in all of the products that we review. We do not do forensic reviews or reviews based on what other customers have said about the product. We order the product for ourselves so that we know how it performs. Some of the products we sell on BTOD.com, but many of them we do not. Regardless, we have tested every product we have reviewed.
Things To Consider
When making the transition to a full electric standing desk there are factors you must consider. This is a new product for many customers, so getting it right the first time will make your experience much more pleasant. Based on my own experience, I put stability as the most important aspect of the standing desk. Wobbly standing desks create inefficient workspaces and can lead to discontinued use of the desk at standing height. There is a lot involved with creating a stable standing desk. It’s important to look at how a frame is constructed from the bottom up. Also, the use of a traditional cross support and proper fit glides are the foundation of a solid standing desk.
Because the desks in my list use electronics, finding a product with a good warranty and strong track record is also important. Finally, making sure that your new standing desk can lift the load you put on it everyday shouldn’t be overlooked. Is it consistent when it moves from sitting to standing? Below I will take a closer look at these factors and explain why each is important. Through this process, you will be able to better understand what you truly care about with your new standing desk. Again, none of the desks in the list are perfect, it truly is a give and take situation.
One of the first things you’ll notice when shopping for a standing desk is that all brands say their desks are stable. Many of the product reviews on their sites will also make a mention of this. The problem, these users typically have only had experience with one desk. Looking at over 13 desks in the mid-range and more from the bottom and top-end, I can assure you they are not all created equal. We have even taken this one step further and provided stability videos for almost all brands I have personally tested. Until you have put all of these standing desks next to each other, it is difficult to get a good sense of what stable really is.
One of the most important parts in creating a stable standing desk is the traditional cross support. Every desk we sell has one for that exact reason. While some products without cross supports performed better than others, the only product through testing that was rock solid included a cross support.
Front to back rocking motions are also something to consider with stability. Standing desks that have a traditional column design, with the biggest column on the bottom and smallest on top are typically the most stable front to back. This is true with the desks we have listed below.
Because there are so many moving parts on a standing desk, just adding a cross support and traditional column setup won’t always solve all stability issues. Bad engineering and cheaply made components make it difficult to eliminate wobble and rocking. Our test of the StandDesk Simple was a prime example of this. Because they had so many bolts holding the frame together, there was no way to put a bandaid (cheap cross support) on it to eliminate the wobble problems.
The second most important aspect of an electric standing desk is the electronics themselves. After all, if your desks electronics fail, you can’t move the desk from the current position it’s in. Depending on the height it stopped working, this could be a serious problem. Currently there are two major players producing high quality electronics for standing desks. LogicData and Linak are both well respected in the industry and are what you will find on almost all premium standing desks. Three of the four desks that we selected under $1000 include these two brands. Having been involved in the standing desk market for over twelve years, I am confident these are two of the best brands available. Each has a long track record of producing consistent electronics that hold up well in the field, well beyond their warranty periods.
Gears & Glides
Inside the columns (legs) of your new standing desk are very important components. The gears and glides are two aspects of a standing desk that most users likely don’t consider. I’d be willing to bet that most of the brands offered online don’t know much about them either. After opening all 13 of the desks I have reviewed, I have to say this feels like a standing desks skeleton in the closet. There was a lot inside of the cheap columns that I’m willing to bet the manufacturers would prefer you not see.
When I opened the columns for each desk and pulled the spindle gears out it became fairly obvious what was good and what was not. Lower quality gears are typically over lubricated and include a lot of plastic components. Using cheap plastic components for the gear creates an opportunity for a weak point. Unfortunately, this appears to be a common theme with most of the gears I saw coming from Chinese brands.
Looking at the higher-end gears, products made by Linak and Ketterer, you could see the attention to detail with each. Cold rolled for better durability and to improve overall efficiency, these gears were noticeably nicer. Just moving the gears with your hands when they were pulled out, the difference was obvious.
Finding a desk that will lift the items on your desk efficiently is important. While most users won’t require a desk that lifts more than 150 to 200 lbs, it should be able to lift that weight without slowing significantly. It’s important to note that these weight capacities include the weight of your desktop as well. Generally, a desk that is 30” x 60” will have a top that weighs between 50 and 60 lbs. Most of the desks that we have tested from the mid-range have been consistent with their lifting speeds. However, some models have had serious issues lifting loads between 150 and 200 lbs. When desks start to function differently with loads similar to this it should be a cause for concern. The motors themselves are likely being strained and this could impact the lifecycle of your product. Expectations in 2017 are for your desk to move quickly enough that it doesn’t interrupt your work.
It’s important to factor the height adjustment range into your decision. Some of the cheapest desks will include the smallest adjustment ranges. Look at the bottom height first, sitting at the proper height is just as important as standing at the correct height. The standard office desk is between 29” to 30” tall. For many short users, this height is too tall and can potentially create ergonomic issues. The standing desks on our list will give you the opportunity to start sitting from 24” to 28” tall.
Next, you want to consider the proper standing height. We have created a standing desk height calculator that will help you find the best height for standing. For most users, you should look for a height that allows your elbows to rest at your sides comfortably. In this posture, your hands should be at elbow height or just below. Users that select a height taller than this run the risk of causing neck and shoulder issues from too much reaching. Also, using your standing desk below this height can create issues as your wrists are bent awkwardly while typing or mousing. To give you an idea what height is good, users that are 5’6” should set their desk height to 40” to 40.5” tall. Users that are 6’0” should look at heights from 43.5” to 44” tall. If you are 6’6”, you will likely need a desk that allows you to stand at 48” tall.
Adjustment speed is important, after all we don’t want to be waiting forever to make an adjustment from sitting to standing. Looking at all of the desks we tested, I would consider anything above 1.3” per second a good place to start. During testing we found speed inconsistencies with desks that offered speeds greater than 1.6” per second. Once you start to add more than 150 pounds of weight, they start to slow down significantly. Meanwhile, desks that offer more conservative numbers are typically better at maintaining something close to the original speed. Depending on the load you will be putting on your desk, the fastest advertised desk might actually end up being one of the slowest options. It’s important to pay attention to the speed/load testing results. Most brands won’t offer this information, but our reviews have broken down most of these numbers.
The last thing that I recommend considering is the warranty of the desk, more importantly, the warranty on the standing desks electronics. While issues with the gears, glides and frame can occur, faulty electronics are the number one warranty issue with electric standing desks. This is especially true with brands that use Chinese made electronics. The electronics will include the motors, switch and control box system. This is something we have experienced ourselves, specifically when we used the TiMotion brand of electronics. For more than two years we had constant electronics failures on our VertDesk v1.
If you buy something with low quality electronics, that come with a one or two year warranty, you are likely to purchase a replacement. Because so many new brands are entering the market, the product you currently own could potentially change as well. This means the opportunity for replacement electronics on your current desk might not exist after your one year warranty has expired. If they do, it could require you to buy a new complete electronics package. This includes motors, control boxes and switches. All of the products in my list either include premium electronics or have a warranty to cover issues with these components free of charge for a minimum of five years.
1. The VertDesk v3 – 81/100 Rating
Height Adjustment Range: 27” – 47.5” (with leveler glides)
Travel Speed: 1.55” Per Second
Noise Level: 59 Decibels While in Motion
Weight Capacity: 275 lbs.
Adjustable Foot Glides: 1/2” Adjustment
- Premium electronics from LogicData
- Single stage legs with 20” of adjustment range
- Steel center cross support to prevent desk wobble
- Overload protection to prevent burning out electronics
- Container stop to customize height range of desk
- Collision avoidance system
- 5 year warranty on electronics and 10 years on structure
Reason For Inclusion
After testing thirteen standing desks from the mid range, I have found the VertDesk v3 to be the best overall standing desk under $1,000. The VertDesk v3 is good at just about everything and great at one thing, overall stability. Depending on your needs, this product has the potential to be a really good fit.
Looking at the other three desks selected in this list, each has something they do better than the VertDesk v3. As you look closer at the ratings though, you’ll notice that the VertDesk v3 scored 80-90 in almost every category. The exceptions being the assembly (78) and adjustment range (75). It doesn’t really have a glaring weakness and with the highest stability rating, it stands out amongst other products in the mid-range.
During stability tests we found that the VertDesk v3 showed almost no wobble or rocking motions. Only when the desk was raised about 46” did it start to show slight signs of rocking. This rocking started as the overlap in the columns started to become very small. In order to provide this stability the VertDesk was designed with a traditional cross support. We also shortened the overall stroke to 20” reducing overlap issues within the columns. We weren’t willing to sacrifice the stability for an additional inch of travel.
Looking at the electronic components, the VertDesk v3 also scored high with a LogicData control box and Ketterer motor. Both of these are considered to be premium electronics from Austrian and German manufacturers. They are also backed by a five year warranty. While this isn’t the best in class, it is still above average for the mid-range.
Inside the columns are quality gear and glide systems, each designed to hold up to long lifecycles. During our cycle testing, we found that each held up well with over 21,375 full up/down cycles completed on the VertDesk v3. German manufactured Ketterer gears are used within the VertDesk v3 frame. Because of their cold rolled manufacturing process, they almost looked and felt new after cycle testing that amounted to over 20 years of normal use. The use of Acetal Delrin for the glide systems on the VertDesk v3 also proved to be a good choice for durability. With minimal wearing on the glides, the VertDesk v3 was able to maintain most of it’s stability by the end of the cycle testing.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the positives of the VertDesk v3, it isn’t perfect for everyone. As mentioned above, the desk is really good at a lot of things, but great at only one. Because we limited the stroke to 20” and used single stage columns, the range might not be enough for some users. Starting at 27” tall and going up to 47.5” (with extended foot glides), the VertDesk v3 will not hit the bottom 5% or top 95% percentile of the population. While a keyboard tray can be added to lower the height at which you use your keyboard and mouse, out of the box it isn’t great for short or very tall users.
The second thing to consider is the 275 lbs max load capacity. While this might be enough for a lot of users, it won’t be enough for customers that want 300 lbs. on their desk. Through testing we verified the desk can lift that weight; however, with overload protection engaged to extend the lifecycle of the product, the VertDesk v3 has it’s limitations.
Lastly, the VertDesk v3 scored 78 out of 100 on the assembly process. This rates lower than all of the other desks by about two points. While this might seem like a small number, the pain point during assembly involves inserting the hex rod into the legs. For most users this won’t be an issue, but we have had customers unhappy with the process. It’s important that we bring this up, because if you feel uncomfortable assembling furniture, this could pose a problem. Overall, everyone that has purchased the desk has been able to assemble it.
2. MultiTable ModDesk Pro – 78/100 Rating
Product Specs :
Height Adjustment Range: 24.25” to 50.25” (no top)
Travel Speed:1.78” Per Second
Weight Capacity: 300 lbs.
Adjustable Foot Glides: .5”
Noise Level: 64-65 dB
- 26” height adjustment range
- Will fit users that are taller than 6’6”
- Width adjustable frame with adjust from 43.3” to 67” wide
- Collision avoidance system
- 5 year warranty on all components
Reason For Inclusion
The second rated desk in our top four list is the ModDesk Pro by MultiTable. Like the VertDesk v3, the ModDesk Pro is above average in almost every category. However, its low rating (50) in stability drops it below the top spot.
With 26” of overall travel, the ModDesk Pro has enough range to fit the bottom 5% and top 95% of the population. Starting as low as 25” and going up to 51”, the ModDesk Pro has one of the best adjustment ranges available.
The ModDesk Pro also uses premium electronics from LogicData for their control box and switch. While they are on the slightly dated version, the Compact-eco, it has proven to be a highly reliable system. This is the same control box found on the high-end NewHeights XT that we currently sell on BTOD.com. The ModDesk Pro would have scored a higher rating for electronics (85) had they not used the Bosch motors also found on the IKEA Bekant and iMovR Energize.
The ModDesk Pro is the second fastest desk we have tested to date, with an adjustment speed of 1.78” per second. The only desk that have had in our lab that was faster was the Autonomous SmartDesk, which clocked in at 2.09” per second. Like the Autonomous, the ModDesk Pro isn’t able to maintain these speeds with heavy loads on the desk. For everyday use, loads of 150 to 200 lbs are recommended and will cause no issues. With this amount of weight, the desk will average 1.48” per second.
The frame build quality on the ModDesk Pro was well put together. Similar to the quality of the VertDesk v3 and Uplift Desk, the paint and welds were consistent throughout the frame. Inside the columns were two stage gears from Ketterer, the same brand found in the VertDesk v3. The ModDesk Pro’s gears are considered to be premium quality and based on our experience will hold up well over the lifecycle of the desk.
The glide system used on the ModDesk also appears to be high quality. Unfortunately, MultiTable was unwilling to comment on this portion of the desk. We also reached out to the OEM Actiforce, but didn’t receive a response from them either. This isn’t uncommon, as most manufacturers have pushed back on these questions. While I haven’t been able to cycle test this desk yet, based on their other components I would be surprised if the glides don’t hold up well.
One of the flaws of the ModDesk Pro became obvious during the stability testing. With it’s properly fit glides and traditional column setup, the ModDesk performed well with the front to back rocking test. Unfortunately, the lack of a cross support created wobble issues for the desk very early on. In fact, by 36” the desk started to show small signs of wobble. By the time I reached 40’ tall, the ModDesk Pro had significant wobble issues that would likely impact your work. This is at a height that would affect users 5”6” and up.
While the ModDesk Pro was technically able to lift the 300 pound capacity advertised, it isn’t something I would recommend doing on a daily basis. The Bosch motors that are used on this desk are underpowered and required a lot to move that load. During the test, the speed dropped from 1.78” to 1.11” per second with the full 300 pound load. The motors were very loud during the test and you could tell they were being stressed. I would recommend you keep the desk at 150 to 200 lbs for daily use.
The last thing I want to touch on is the price. While the ModDesk Pro definitely offers a lot for the price, it is one of the most expensive options in the category. With a price tag that is 20-30% higher than the VertDesk v3 and Uplift Desk, the price has the potential to be a deal breaker.
3. UpDesk Elements – 78/100 Rating
Height Adjustment Range: 28.25″ to 48″
Travel Speed: n/a
Weight Capacity: +300 lbs.
Adjustable Foot Glides: .5″
Noise Level: n/a
- Durable 1.25″ thick high-pressure laminate desk with trim
- Two 27″ reinforced steel footings with adjustable “levelers”
- Augmented column and balanced dual motors for extra strength and stability
- Standard mounting brackets for easy assembly
- Control box & necessary cabling
- Stylized up/down arrow electric controller
- 5-year limited warranty
- Low noise level
Reason For Inclusion
The third desk on our list is the UpDesk Elements series. The UpDesk scored the same as the ModDesk Pro with an overall of 78 of out 100. The UpDesk features high quality components from Linak, but also carries the highest price tag of the four desks in our list.
The UpDesk Elements series features a single stage design, similar to the VertDesk v3. The single stage columns are the cause for a somewhat limited height range starting at 28.25” and up to 48”. Because of this, the UpDesk Elements will suit users slightly taller than the VertDesk v3, or users up to 6’7” tall.
With a dual motor system, the UpDesk was the most powerful desk we have tested. While the Uplift Desk was able to lift the 380 lbs we put on it, the UpDesk lifted 400 lbs at 1.24” per second. The motors on the UpDesk are manufactured by Italian manufacturer, Electro-Parts SpA based in Bossolasco, Italy. Electro-Parts produces most of their motor gears in house with injection moulding machines to guarantee the level of quality across all motors. This was obvious by how well their motors performed, especially when compared to the other two motor systems in the mid-range.
UpDesk’s choice to go with Linak as their provider for their columns was a smart one. Linak is know around the globe as a leading manufacturer of electronics for standing desks. The CBD6S control box system used on the UpDesk Elements was no exception to this. With a compact design, it includes a standard .1 watt standby power rating. Unfortunately, this high-end control box was paired with Linak’s DL5 columns, which meant the collision avoidance system wasn’t activated. Overall, this electronics pack was solid and included a five year warranty on all the electronic components.
The build quality of the UpDesk column was very good, with a paint finish that was the best overall in the class. While you could see the seam where the column was joined together, the actual paint finish was perfect. Inside the columns, Linak had also opted to use a cold rolled spindle gear. This gear system looked very similar to the Ketterer product and in my opinion was about the same quality.
Taking a closer look at their glide system, it was obvious they used high quality plastics. While they wouldn’t confirm or deny this fact, the look and feel of them was impressive. There was a minimal amount of lubricant used for the glides which kept the outside of the columns clean. This only confirmed my thoughts on the quality of the plastic glides, especially with how long of a lifecycle the Linak products are known to have.
Unfortunately, like the ModDesk Pro, the UpDesk had stability issues without the use of a traditional cross support. The UpDesk also performed well with the front to back rocking test, likely due to the traditional column set up. While it didn’t perform as well as the VertDesk v3 or Uplift Desk in the wobble test, it was better than the ModDesk. In fact, you didn’t start to notice wobble motions until 40” tall. Once you raised the desk beyond 43”, the wobble motions became bad and would impact your work.
Because of the single stage column design, the UpDesk will have fit issues similar to the VertDesk v3. While it will still fit a wide variety of users, a starting height of 28.25” definitely poses a problem for short people. Because of this, the use of a keyboard tray will almost always be recommended for these users.
The last downside to the UpDesk is the price tag. At 20-30% more than the VertDesk v3 and Uplift Desk, it could potentially move out of some users budgets. While the components are significantly nicer than the Uplift Desk, the VertDesk v3 and ModDesk Pro are equal in my opinion.
4. The Uplift 900 Desk – 76/100 Rating
Height Adjustment Range: 25.25” – 51.25”
Travel Speed: 1.33” Per Second
Noise Level: 59 Decibels While in Motion
Weight Capacity: 355 lbs.
Adjustable Width Base: 42.25” – 70” W
Adjustable Foot Glides: 3/8” 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
- 7 year warranty on all parts including electronics
Reason For Inclusion
Our final desk, in our top four list, is the Uplift Desk by TheHumanSolution. The Uplift Desk is the least expensive option. It is also the most stable standing desk that we have tested that doesn’t include a traditional cross support. While the Uplift Desk has a lot going for it, one major drawback is the lower quality components used by their Chinese OEM JieCang.
The Uplift Desk features a two stage column which offers 26” of overall travel. With a similar range of motion to the ModDesk, the Uplift starts as low as 25.25” and raises up to 51.25” tall. This is enough to fit the vast majority of the population comfortably.
While going through spec testing on the Uplift Desk, I have to say I was impressed with the desks ability to lift large loads. We put as much as 380 lbs on the desktop and it lifted it without an issue. The adjustment speed dropped some, but overall it was very consistent no matter the load we put on the desk. During my testing I stopped loading it up in fear I would burn the motors out. While the OEM Manufacturer JieCang rates this desk with less weight capacity, the motors clearly had no issues exceeding any limits they have set.
One thing that the Uplift Desk has done differently than the other desks on this list was use a non traditional column setup. This puts the smallest section of the column on the bottom, with the largest at the top. This has allowed them to add wedges into the upper motor box, where the column meets the upper work surface support. By doing this they have greatly improved the lateral stability found on other JieCang made frames. Left to right, it didn’t start to show signs of wobble until 43.5”, and it wasn’t until 46” that the wobble became a problem. This is the best performance we have seen on the wobble test for a desk without a cross support.
While I’m not overly impressed with the quality of the Uplift Desk electronics, including the motors, I have to say they offer a really good warranty. With seven years coverage on the electronics and the opportunity to extend it for an additional cost, Uplift Desk has one of the better warranties available.
The last place that the Uplift Desk excels in is their selection of desk top materials. While a lot of brands will claim they have a ton of options, Uplift Desk does have a lot of options. They offer standard laminate tops for customers who are looking for the best durability. For customers that want an ergo edge design, they have a powder coated version and also a bamboo option. Finally, they offer reclaimed wood and solid wood options; each includes a longer lead time than the in-stock options. Overall, they have some of the most options we have seen when looking at different types of surface materials available.
Unfortunately, the design of the non traditional columns created front to back stability issues. While the desk was solid below 43.5”, once it rose above this point the rocking motions increased quickly. Once the desk was beyond 44” it was bad and would impact your work.
Overall ,I was not impressed with the level of quality with the Uplift Desk’s electronics. The first example of this was with the motor, when compared to the product it attempted to copy (Linak motors) there was clear difference. With excessive lubricant on the circuit board and wires attached to the circuit board with a white epoxy. When I opened the control box these same issues were prevalent, the Uplift Desk was clearly missing attention to detail on these important components. The good news is they include a seven year warranty on these components and based on what I found, you will likely will need it.
The last potential problem that I found, when pulling apart the columns on the Uplift Desk, was over lubrication. Because multiple brands use the same JieCang technology, I have had the chance to open four different frames to date. In each I have found issues with over lubrication on their cheap plastic glides and the spindle gears. I can only assume it is because of one of two reasons. The first being the plastic glides and gears require a lot of lubrication to function smoothly for the lifecycle of the product. The second reason could be an oversight with quality control. While the over lubrication might ensure you desk functions well over time, it creates a messy experience. On all of the JieCang columns there is white lubricant that builds up on the outside of the columns. Inside the columns, the white lubricant used on the glides was cross contaminating with the yellow lubricant found on the gear.