*The Steelcase Series 7 was discontinued by Steelcase. The DL4 column from Linak with chain drive is no longer being manufactured
Today we are going to be taking a closer look at a high-end standing desk, the Series 7 by Steelcase. This was one of the most anticipated desks to arrive, as I have been trying to build a list of the top four most stable standing desks. Built with the DL4 column from Linak, a traditional cross support and stout feet; the Series 7 had all of the makings to be a solid contender. Let’s take a close look at this electric standing desk from Steelcase to see how it fared during my review.
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Steelcase Series 7 Review Snapshot
- Fast adjustment speed
- Premium electronics
- Overload protection
- High quality glides
- Traditional cross support system
- 5 year warranty on electronics
- Old DL4 Linak column
- Aluminum foot design
- Hard to attach cross support
- Stability issues starting at 38 inches
Like most of the brands we have reviewed to date, the Steelcase Series 7 uses an OEM for the columns and electronics. Steelcase has chosen to partner with Linak for the series 7 product. Linak was founded in 1907 as a flat and V-belt manufacturer. Changes to management in 1976 would ultimately bring Bent Jensen on as CEO and owner of Linak. He would later introduce his first linear actuator in 1979. By 1986, Linak added an electronics department to produce their control boxes. Over the last 38 years, Linak has positioned themselves as one of the leading suppliers for high quality linear actuator systems and control box mechanisms. Because they only produce the columns and electronics, companies that use them as a supplier are required to produce their own feet and desktops.
Steelcase Series 7 Review Links
Product Specs (Based on our testing)
Height Adjustment Range: 24.25″ to 51”
Travel Speed: 1.68” per second
Weight Capacity: 295 lbs.
Adjustable Foot Glides: .5″
Noise Level: 55-57 dB
$1,533.00 + Free Shipping
Options: 29″ x 46″ Black Frame & Natural Cherry Top
Three button programmable switch
Traditional cross support system
Extruded aluminum foot design
Linak DL4 column with chain drive
295 lbs. weight capacity
1.68″ per second adjustment speed
5 year warranty on electronics
The Steelcase Series 7 desk comes via freight carrier, which is an 18-wheel semi-truck. The desk we ordered was one of the smallest options at only 30 x 48”, but it still arrived shipped on a pallet. If you are ordering this desk, it’s important to note that this type of delivery will default to the back of the truck or to your loading dock. When we received it we requested to have the pallet “broke”, which means to cut the straps. From there each box was easily managed, with the heaviest boxes being the legs and top.
The top was packed very well, with foam edging around all of the edges. All of the other components came in separate boxes and were also packed well. One of the benefits of shipping with a freight carrier is the ability to pack everything onto a pallet. This acts as an insurance policy and as long as the carrier doesn’t stack pallets, your items should arrive in good condition. Everything that we ordered arrived in good condition.
The assembly process for the Steelcase Series 7 had the chance to be one of the easiest yet. The feet were preassembled to the columns, and for the frame assembly you only had to attach the cross support and two upper work surface supports. Easy enough, except the assembly of the cross support ended up being an absolute beast. The Series 7 uses the older DL4 column from Linak, which had a wedge system for attaching the cross support. This requires use of a rubber mallet, with you having to work the cross support onto each wedge ¼” to 1/2” at a time. It’s important to take your time so that you connect both wedges at the same pace. If not you can create awkward leverage and it will make it impossible to attach. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the cross support to fully attach to the wedges. There was always about ¼” left, which functionally was fine, but aesthetically it wasn’t what you’d expect from a $1500 desk.
After about five attempts to get the cross support fully seated in the wedge system I gave up. I could tell that the connection was solid so it would be fine for testing. Next I attached the two upper supports with four bolts each. Then I flipped the frame onto the desk surface, and started to mount them together. There were predrilled holes for the frame, button and control box. My only gripe was that there were only four predrilled holes for each upper support, but there were 20 holes n the upper support bracket. There was enough hardware to complete the assembly as well. Steelcase includes self-tapping screws with a square bit tip required. This made driving the screws with a cordless drill easy. Without a cordless drill you will likely have some trouble since the screws were fairly long.
Last, it was time to mount the electronic components. Steelcase has elected to mount the control box in an odd place. Positioned in front of the cross support, close enough to it that the power wire and one of the motor plugs were difficult to access. My recommendation here would be to plug the desk in, then raise the legs slightly before trying to mount the actual control box. I did it the other way around and had to remove the control box to plug it in. The other part of mounting the control box, in the position Steelcase has predrilled for you, is that you don’t get to take advantage of the control boxes’ motor plugs. Linak has done a good job offering plugs on both ends, one for each motor, which allows you to center mount the control box.
In total, this assembly should have really taken me about 15-20 minutes. Instead it took about 45 minutes to complete everything. Depending on your skill level and if you skip the headaches I did, it should take most 15-30 minutes to put together.
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After months of testing 20+ stand up desks, the results are in!
As I have mentioned in many of my reviews, stability is one of the most important parts of a standing desk. The problem is that most manufacturers miss the ball completely.
Left to Right: The Steelcase Series 7 features a traditional cross support system that would typically provide excellent lateral stability. Unfortunately, during my test I found that the desk started to show signs of wobble as early as 40”. By 46” the motion became bad and would likely impact your work.
Front to Back: The rocking test was even worse for the Series 7. It started to show signs of rocking as early at 38” tall. By 44”, the motion was so bad that it barely required any effort to get the desk to rock. By this point it would significantly impact your work efficiency.
Note: As I mentioned in all of my reviews, you have to make sure to fully tighten all hardware. As standing desks become extended the motion will become exaggerated. If your hardware is loose, your standing desk will have bad wobble and rocking motions.
Reasons for Stability Issues
I don’t include the reasons for stability issues in all of my reviews. For products that I am genuinely surprised by their instability or glaring issues that need to be discussed, I always make sure to include this section.
The stability test for the Steelcase Series 7 didn’t go as planned. I have been working towards building a list of at least four stable desks to write “the most stable standing desk post.” The problem, I haven’t been able to find four desks that are stable enough to write about. It’s disappointing to say the least. I have purchased two four leg standing desks, hoping that would solve the issue. Unfortunately, both the Uplift 900 4 Leg desk and Vivistand Quattro ended up being less stable that most of the two leg options.
For the Steelcase Series 7, I was surprised by the instability during the testing process. The only reason I decided to buy the desk was because I thought it would be stable. It isn’t the most popular product and it comes with a high price tag. The first problem that I noticed was the left to right wobble. This was a bit confusing because the last DL4 column (NextDesk Terra) I reviewed was much more stable during the wobble test.
Looking closer at the desk I noticed there were three areas of concern. The first was the cross support itself. It wasn’t a single piece, instead it had brackets that were connected to the center support. These brackets were held to the main cross support section with two bolts. Any time there are multiple components combined and held together with screws we have issues. The other issue was that the brackets were made of aluminum which we have found to show signs of flexing through other reviews.
Continuing on, I found that the aluminum components didn’t stop at the brackets and cross support. The feet were actually manufactured from an extruded aluminum tube. Taking off the foot I was able to look closer at the foot. The steel column was connected to the bottom of the aluminum foot with four bolts. The entire desk was supported by this week piece of aluminum on the bottom of the foot. This created a poor connection that was an issue during both front to back and left to right tests. In fact, during the front to back testing, you could really see the flexing that was occurring in the foot. This was the same issue that we found when reviewing the NextDesk Terra. The problem, there was no real structure to the extruded tube created for the foot. A better alternative would have been a molded aluminum foot that provided ribbing to create additional strength to significantly reduce the flexing that was occurring.
The last issue that I found to be glaring was linked to the front to back rocking test. The upper supports used to connect the frame to the work surface were only 10” deep. This was way too small to be connecting the 30” deep surface to the frame. This left a significant amount of the surface extended beyond the steel support. This made it much easier to create leverage with the surface and exaggerated the rocking motion.
The Steelcase Series 7 features the CBD6S smart control box from Linak. This is the most compact control box from the Linak DESKLINE series. At only 38 mm high and 210 mm long, it is small enough to fit within most desk frames. The control box design is more intuitive than most, with motor plugs on both sides of the control box. This allows for less wire to be used when stretching from the columns to the control box.
The CBD6S control box system features very low power consumption when in standby mode. At only .1w, the CBD6S is one of the most energy efficient control boxes available.
Opening the control box to take a closer look at the circuit board, I was happy to see a single board. The Linak CBD6S’s board was made specifically for this series and was impressive. There weren’t poorly wrapped toroid cores or excessive use of glues and epoxies. Unlike all of their Chinese competitors, the Linak system was as close to perfection as you will find.
The Steelcase Series 7 features the same control box as the UpDesk Elements and Xdesk Terra, but it was the first to include overload protection. This is important, since it will eliminate the need to worry about breaking gears from overloading the desk. The two other brands are okay with you overloading the desk, which will run until there is so much weight that it can’t lift anymore. Since this could void a warranty, it could be an expensive mistake.
Unfortunately, Steelcase decided not to use the anti-collision function with their Series 7 product. This means that there is not collision avoidance system to protect furniture in your office.
The Series 7 comes standard with the DP1CS three button programmable switch. While this series of switches didn’t feel as nice as the DPF series, it still functions the same. The DP1CS included the full digital read out to let you know the height you have selected. To use the programmable switch you must press and hold the preset to reach your programmed height. This is a built in safety feature to avoid any injuries or damage to your space in case of a collision. Even when anti-collision functions are enabled, there hasn’t been a system developed to detect soft collision. This includes things like your fingers, arms, pets, etc.
Foot and Upper Frame Build Quality
Steelcase is the manufacturer of the foot and upper frame supports. All manufacturers who use Linak as their OEM for height adjustable columns have to either produce or source these components. Unfortunately, all of the electric standing desks that we have tested, that include Linak, fail here.
The first desk we tested to include Linak was the UpDesk Elements. They created what I called the “Frankenfoot”, which was an over built foot with excessive steel plates and weld marks that showed through the paint. What I didn’t realize until reviewing two additional desks that included Linak columns, is that these would be the most stable feet I have reviewed yet. The XDesk and now the Series 7 from Steelcase used aluminum for their foot construction. While they were better looking options, they lacked the required stability for a solid foundation.
The Steelcase Series 7’s extruded aluminum foot design was nice looking. They decided to paint the aluminum instead of anodizing, which provided an exact match to the Linak column. The biggest issue was how the column attached to the foot. With only the bottom section of the foot holding the rest of the desk in place, there was a ton of flexing created. This left the Steelcase Series 7 desk with significant stability issues. Because they originated at the base of the foot, they were noticeable right away.
Column Build Quality
The column on the Steelcase Series 7 was from the original DL4 from Linak. This column is still being produced; however, the new series name is the DL4S. The major change was internal, switching from a chain driven system to a more modern linear actuator system.
After speaking with a rep at Linak I was told that the DL4 production has stopped completely. This means that the Steelcase Series 7 desk that I received was from older inventory. Having just reviewed the XDesk Terra, I was able to get a closer look at the newest version, the DL4S setup.
The Steelcase Series 7 includes five years coverage on all electronics and ten years on the structure of the desk.
Testing the Specs
Height Adjustment Range: 24.25” to 52”
True. With the use of the adjustable foot glides you can get pretty close to 52”. The only issue I have with this is the desk because very unstable with the adjustable foot glides fully extended. I would plan on 51” for maximum stability with this particular model.
Adjustment Speed: 1.7” Per Second
True. The Steelcase Series 7 was also one of the most consistent desks we tested as well. With a load from 100 lbs. to 250 lbs., the speed remained consistent at 1.68” per second.
Noise Level: N/A
The Steelcase Series 7 was one of the quieted models that we have tested. It averaged 55-57 decibels when in motion.
Weight Capacity: 295 lbs.
True. I was able to lift a load of 295 lbs. Just slightly more than that engaged the overload protection system. This is a great sign, as it was built to protect your desk from user error with load capacities. During our load testing, we found that the Steelcase Series 7 was consistent with its adjustment speed up to about 275 lbs. Beyond that point it started to slow down quite a bit. This was still very good and rated as one of our most consistent desks tested.
What I like about the Steelcase Series 7
Fast Adjustment Speed
Clocking it at almost 1.7” per second, the Steelcase Series 7 is one of the fastest desks we’ve tested to date. Not only was it fast, it was also consistent with its ability to lift at that speed with loads up to 275 lbs.
While the Linak electronics are manufactured in China, there is a clear difference in the quality coming out of their factories. With a single board system that was designed specifically for the CBD6S smart control box, the Linak electronics are much cleaner than other Chinese made circuit boards.
The Steelcase Series 7 was the first Linak desk that we’ve tested to turn on the overload protection. This is a smart choice and to be honest I’m surprised the other brands haven’t done the same. Eliminating the opportunity for human error with overloading your desk is a no brainer.
High Quality Glides
The column design from Linak includes high quality glides made from DuPont’s Delrin plastics. This material is the preferred choice when it comes to creating a glide system that is capable of holding up well over high cycle counts.
Traditional Cross Support
The Steelcase Series 7 utilizes a traditional cross support system which is important for two reasons. First it helps to provide lateral stability when the desk is raised to standing height. The second is that it keeps the legs of the desk square through all heights. This eliminates the awkward wearing that can occur if the columns because slightly tweaked when they are extended to a standing height. Maintaining a square frame can extend the life of your desk and ensure that it operates smoothly for years to come.
While the warranty on the Steelcase Series 7 isn’t the best in the industry, it is in line with other premium products. It includes five years coverage on all electronics and ten years on the structure of the desk. With Linak technology, you are likely to have a desk that will outlast this warranty period.
What I don’t like about the Steelcase Series 7
Using the DL4 Column
I was a little disappointed to find out we received the DL4 column from Steelcase. This column includes the now discontinued chain driven motor and gear system. Linak has made the transition to the DL4S column which includes an inline linear actuator system. This is a smoother operating lifting system.
Aluminum Foot Design
The Steelcase Series 7 decision to use an extruded aluminum tube for the foot was a big mistake. The entire stability of the desk is riding on a weak connection to the bottom of the aluminum tube. Because of this, there are flexing issues that impact the stability of the desk during front to back and left to right testing. The front to back rocking motion was most impacted, with issues starting as early as 38”.
Attaching the Cross Support
What could have easily been a top three desk for assembly, turned into one of the most frustrating I have encountered. Having the pleasure of assembling close to 20 electric standing desks, I have my fair share of experience assembling these desks. The Steelcase Series 7 uses an interlocking wedge system to connect the cross support to the column. This requires you to use a rubber mallet and even work the cross support into the wedges. No matter how precise I was, the cross support would not fully seat itself into the wedges. This required me to remove the cross support and reattempt the process five times before settling with it about ¼” short of being fully seated in the wedge. While the connection was strong, it created an unfinished look that I wouldn’t expect from a $1500 desk.
With stability issues starting as early as 38”, the Steelcase Series 7 ranks in the bottom half for stable standing desks. With aluminum extruded feet, moving parts in the cross support and short upper supports, the Series 7 has plenty of areas for improvement. If you are looking for a desk that is stable at standing heights, this is not the product.
From the outside, the Steelcase Series 7 looked like a really nice electric standing desk option. Their decision to partner with Linak for the column design was definitely a smart choice. Unfortunately, the current model is still being shipped with the discontinued DL4 column. This dated design utilizes the chain drive system which didn’t offer as smooth of adjustments as their newest inline linear actuator system on the DL4S column. Hopefully they will be making a switch to the newer design soon.
The Series 7 included a traditional cross support system, but unfortunately it only improved the stability of the desk frame slightly. With a weak foot design, made from extruded aluminum tubes, stability issues started as early as 38”. Unless Steelcase decides to update this foot design, the Series 7 will continue to be one of the least stable desks available. For $1500 you are better off looking at the NewHeights XT, with a similar adjustment range and load capacity, this is a better alternative for those wanting a stable standing desk.
As always, companies that have decided to rely on Linak for their column manufacturer will have the benefit of high end electronics and well-made columns. The problem we have found is that these brands ruin the overall experience after adding in their own components. This was again the case with the Steelcase Series 7. With a handful of better options that retail for 50% less money than the Steelcase Series 7, I have a hard time recommending this product.