Today we will be taking a closer look at one of the most anticipated electric standing desks to hit the market. The VARIDESK ProDesk 60 Electric is VARIDESK’s first full electric standing desk. With the brand name recognition of VARIDESK and their massive ad spend, this product was almost guaranteed to quickly raise the ranks in popularity. After the product release, the advertising had hit all of the air waves and the ProDesk 60 was center stage. Within the first week of their release we had already began to receive questions on their latest product. How stable was it with the traditional cross support? Were the electronics high quality? So many questions that we didn’t have answers to. Fortunately, we had already ordered one and it wouldn’t be long until we had the answers to all the questions. Let’s take a closer look at what we’ve learned over the last few weeks with the ProDesk 60 Electric.
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VARIDESK ProDesk® 60 Electric Review Snapshot
- Quick assembly process
- Strong five year warranty
- Good stability below 45 inches
- Large height adjustment range
- Programmable switch included
- Easy return policy
- Poor connection of cross support and frame to columns
- Exposed worm drive and gear on motor
- 3D printer upper glides
- High price point for mid-range category
Back Story on My VARIDESK ProDesk 60 Electric Review
To my knowledge, I was one of the first, outside of VARIDESK, to learn about the release of this product. VARIDESK had reached out to me personally in early February, wondering if I would be interested in seeing their latest full standing desk. They sent over details about the new desk, requesting that I keep it quiet until the full release. I was excited to get an opportunity to be one of the first to review the ProDesk 60. After being promised a desk from their marketing team, the line of communication went silent. That was okay. Had I not known about the early release, we still would have eventually purchased one after it was released to the public.
It was a bit disappointing how the process ended up going. We’ve always been fair on our reviews, no matter the brand, and this review would have been no different. Maybe VARIDESK felt different about the situation after a longer consideration. To be honest, it was probably better this way, knowing that I hadn’t been influenced in any way by a free product.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
– Specs / Pricing / Features
– Assembly Process
– Stability Testing
– Column, Foot and Frame
– Motor and Gears
– Glide Systems
– Testing The Specs
– What I Like
– What I Don’t Like
– Final Thoughts
Learning about the OEM manufacturer of larger brands, sourcing from China, can be difficult. A lot of times these companies go to great lengths to hide this information. After opening the ProDesk 60 I was surprised to see the OEM was listed all over the internal components. VARIDESK had partnered with a company called Kaidi.
Kaidi is a vertically integrated Chinese manufacturer based in Changzhou City, Jiangsu Province, China. This basically means that they produce all the components for their products in-house. Kaidi has been in business since 1992 and since that time has grown to approximately 1,500 employees worldwide. They are one of the larger Chinese suppliers of linear actuator systems. Before this review I had heard of Kaidi, but never had an opportunity to take a closer look at their products.
The VARIDESK ProDesk 60 Electric was introduced in early March 2018. Up until this point VARIDESK had only introduced one electric product, their Pro Plus Electric converter. This was fairly recent, so their entry into the electric arena is very new.
Watching a recent video released by VARIDESK, their lead designer talked about meeting a challenge their customers gave them. Their ultimate goal with the ProDesk 60 was to create the most stable standing desk.
Product Specs (per our testing)
Height Adjustable Range: 25.5” – 50.5”
Travel Speed: 1.28” per second
Noise Level: 55-56 dB
Weight Capacity: 250 lbs.
Adjustable Width Base: n/a
Adjustable Foot Glides: .5” adjustment
2019 VariDesk ProDesk Pricing
|30” x 48”||$695.00|
|30” x 60”||$795.00|
- Two stage column with 25” travel range
- Three button programmable switch standard
- 10-20 minute assembly for most
- Anti-collision technology
- 250 lbs. weight capacity
- 1.28” per second adjustment speed
- 5 year warranty on everything
We have had almost every VARIDESK product made come through our office over the last 15 months. They still have some of the best packaging that I have seen. Carrying some of the highest prices in the category, I don’t believe they are overly concerned with any oversize charges they may incur from FedEx or UPS. The ProDesk 60 wasn’t any different, a quick check of the tracking and I was shocked to see the ProDesk 60 was 170 lbs. It arrived in two large boxes, but the surface box was massive. I would highly recommend getting an extra set of hands or a dolly to help move the product from your door or lobby.
The unfortunate part of all this was that even with the best packaging, our desk still arrived with damage on the bottom of the right column. FedEx and UPS test all packages abilities with a lack of care that sometimes is hard to imagine still exists. Fortunately for us, the damage wasn’t bad enough to impact any function of the desk. Knowing as much as we do about VARIDESK, i’m sure a simple call would have had replacements on the way.
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VARIDESK products are known to be some of the easiest to assemble. They were one of the first companies to really pioneer the “no assembly required” with their Pro Plus converter series. They touted a five-minute assembly process for the ProDesk 60, so naturally I was eager to see if I could assemble that quickly with no experience with the product. On my first try, I was able to get the desk together in just over seven minutes, which was hands down the fastest desk I’ve assembled. Everything went together without a hitch and I imagine a second try would get me at or just below the five-minute mark. The biggest issues with the ProDesk 60 is how heavy it is, you will definitely want some help flipping the table upright.
I have to give extra props where they are due. Not only did VARIDESK make sure the assembly process was easy, they included all the tools. This was the third desk I’ve had to use a rubber mallet for the assembly of the cross support. VARIDESK was the first to include one in the box. No surprise, but the rubber mallet was stamped with a VARIDESK logo on the handle.
Stability of VARIDESK ProDesk 60 Electric
The stability of a standing desk is paramount to the overall experience. I always go back to the same story, thinking about that wobbly table in the restaurant. If you are anything like me, you can’t pay attention until you’ve resolved the wobble. Unfortunately, electric standing desks can’t be fixed with a stack of napkins. After testing over 20 different standing desks, I have found that a desk can only be as strong as its weakest link. If there is a design flaw somewhere in the base, you will be able to find it when the desk is raised to standing position.
Left to Right: The ProDesk 60 features a traditional cross support system that has been known to improve lateral stability. Unfortunately, there were some design flaws in the frame that didn’t allow the cross support to help as much as it could. I started to notice some movement at 39”, with it becoming an annoyance by 43”. Once the desk reached 45” the wobble motion became bad enough that it could potentially impact your work efficiency.
Front to Back: The rocking test wasn’t quite as good as the wobble test. I found that motion started around the 37”, albeit very small at this point. Once the desk rose to 42”, the motion became an annoyance and by 44” it was bad enough to impact your work.
Three Reasons for Instability
This section might seem a bit misleading, as the VARIDESK ProDesk 60 Electric was the third most stable desk that we have tested to date. They had a chance to get closer to the top two and maybe even exceed them but missed on three key areas. As mentioned above, standing desks will only be as strong as their weakest links.
1. Plastic In Cross Support Connection
Having the opportunity to develop the VertDesk v3 from the ground up, I know what it’s like to have to give and take on certain aspects of the desk. For VARIDESK, one of their biggest selling points has always been an easy assembly process, or lack thereof. Looking at how the cross support attached to the columns, I knew there was a problem right away. Instead of using a metal to metal wedge system, they decided to put plastic in between the connection. This made the process of connecting the cross support a breeze and I honestly didn’t even need the rubber mallet.
The problem is that if this is easy to slide in, it’s not going to be as solid as it needs to be to prevent wobble in the desk. The plastic had the ability to slide up and down and it’s also a softer material than steel, which is typically used for this type of wedge system. Because of this, the metal in the cross-support wedge can compress the plastic, which creates additional movement in the columns.
I can understand why they did this; when reviewing the Steelcase Series 7 table I had issues getting the cross support attached. If the tolerances for the wedge system aren’t perfect, you likely wouldn’t be able to connect the cross support. VARIDESK customers are not typically required to put forth a ton of effort to assemble their products. I can imagine if they had a similar assembly experience, as I did with the Steelcase product, it would be a nightmare for VARIDESK.
2. Upper Frame Connection to Columns
A continuation of the shortening of their assembly process, the second stability issue arose from the connection of the columns to the upper frame. On the sides of each motor box are four posts that have bearings that rotate around each. These posts slide/roll into place in the upper frame support. You then screw in two bolts on the ends of the upper support to connect each column. So, ultimately you only have two bolts on one side of the leg keeping this connection secure. This is a problem considering before you tighten the two bolts down, there is plenty of play between the motor box and upper frame.
Once you tighten the two bolts for each leg it may appear to be tight, but once the desk is flipped upright that is not the case. With the leverage from the heavy desk surface and upper frame support, the two bolts are not enough to keep the columns firmly planted in place. The best solution would be to use bolts on the sides of the motor box to connect the motor box to the upper frame. This would create a better connection that would counteract the first two bolts holding the columns.
Note: You will want to keep an eye on these bolts over the course of ownership. With all the movement I wouldn’t be surprised if these begin to back out. By checking them every six months you should be able to keep them as tight as possible.
3. Poorly Fit 3D Printed Upper Glides
The last problem I found with the ProDesk 60 was how the upper glides fit in the columns. The ProDesk 60 is a two-stage desk, meaning there are three different sections to each of the columns. There are four points where each of these sections in the columns meet and two of the four had fit issues. As I wobbled or rocked the table you could see the inner columns moving separate from the outer column. This is never a good thing, especially when it is happening in both columns.
After tearing the desk apart, I was able to get a closer look at the glide system in place at the top of the columns. These glides were significantly different than the lower glides found in the columns. They were made from a much cheaper plastic. After cleaning them off I realized they were 3D printed. This was a bad surprise, as 3D printing for the most part is done for rapid prototyping. Once a prototype has been approved, the mass produced glides are made through injection molding, with much higher quality plastics.
The process of fitting glides properly is extremely important when creating a stable desk. Any issues here and you will have the type of movement I found during my stability testing. Just looking at the 3D printed glides you could tell there was no ability to have a consistent product. They were rough on the front and had the inconsistent webbing on the back. The quality of plastic used was also a major concern. You could already see the glides were starting to wear down after my testing. Should these continue to deteriorate, you will find your desk becoming less stable over time.
After reviewing as many of the Chinese made electric standing desks as I have, my expectation is to expect much of the same with new products. But to my surprise the VARIDESK ProDesk 60 had a much-improved control box. Opening the control box, I found a single board system within the control box, which was good to see.
I have talked extensively about the single board versus multiple board systems. Prior to the VARIDESK ProDesk 60 I had only seen single board systems from LogicData and Linak. These are the two leaders in the global market for high quality electronics systems for linear actuator systems. When a single board is used it signifies that the board was made specifically for the product it is being used with. That was the case with the VARIDESK ProDesk 60. After speaking with a Kaidi Electrical rep, they stated that they engineered and manufactured this board in house.
Taking a closer look at the circuit board, the Kaidi Electrical board was a big upgrade from the next closest Chinese alternative from JieCang. For the most part, the board was clean and didn’t use as much caulk to hold components in place.
Unfortunately, some habits are hard to break with Chinese made products, and the board still wasn’t on the same level as LogicData and Linak. Taking a closer look you can see there was still the use of caulk to hold the large capacitors. Secondly, the way the toroid core was wrapped on the Kaidi product, versus the LogicData, was not quite as clean. So while the Kaidi product was a big improvement over Chinese competitors, like JieCang and Timotion, it still had a ways to go to match the likes of LogicData and Linak.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the ProDesk 60 comes with overload protection and a functioning anti-collision system. While most would assume this is included on a desk that is at this price point, we have found plenty of desks without it. VARIDESK was also smart to disable any one-touch functionality on their memory presets. While the anti-collision is good for hard collisions into furniture, it is not designed for soft impacts. There is a major safety concern for products that have one touch system that are using software based anti-collision systems. If you have coworkers, pets or small children around the desk the danger of breaking bones is real.
Column, Foot and Upper Frame Build Quality
With a shipping weight over 170 lbs., the VARIDESK ProDesk 60 was built like an absolute tank. It isn’t often you see a desk come through that weighs more than our VertDesk v3. The foot design and upper frame were a big part of this weight. Each being built with thick gauge steel, all likely to create a stable standing desk. The column wasn’t made from nearly as thick of steel but was still par with most standing desks in the category.
Looking closer at the foot first, I was impressed with the overall design. While it is difficult at this point to break the mold with new foot designs, it was nice to see VARIDESK’s foot was well thought out. The top plate of the foot was very solid at .311″ thick. Formed to fit over the bottom plate, this portion of the foot was also heavy duty. Looking at the bottom of the foot, I noticed that it was stamped to create even more rigidity in the foot. Backing out the adjustable foot glides there was plenty of threading to create a solid connection with the glides. This is important, as we’ve found with cheaper desks, like Autonomous, this can make or break your desks’ stability. Like a home, a standing desk will only be as solid as the foundation it is built on.
Speaking with the rep at Kaidi, I wasn’t surprised that this foot was so heavy. They specifically mentioned one advantage of their product is the use of a heavy foot. One of the main reasons for this was how it impacted the efficiency of their anti-collision system. With the use of a heavier foot, when the desk is being lowered and has a hard impact, it will sense the foot being raised because of the overall weight. They had mentioned that other desks will typically raise the foot for a longer period before recognizing the impact.
I got the same impression from the upper frame as I did the foot. Kaidi was not messing around when they built this product. The work surface supports included the thickest steel that I have seen on upper supports at .135″. My only concern with the upper frame was something we already talked about with the connection system for the columns. I understand the reasoning behind it; however, if they had used bolts to connect the columns to this tank of an upper support it would have fixed the play found here.
Lastly, looking at the column construction, I thought this may have been a bit of a miss. They over-built the foot and upper frame but went with a .062″ thick steel for the tubing. This was significantly thinner than the other components in the leg. While using the same thickness of the foot would have been overkill, going slightly thicker in the columns would help reduce the flexing that occurs when the desk was extended to standing heights.
With Kaidi being vertically integrated, they can manufacture the steel tubes used for their standing desks in house. This gives them full control of their supply chain which is nice should there be a spike in orders. It also gives them full control of the tolerances of the tubes manufactured.
Gear and Motor System
The VARIDESK ProDesk 60 comes with a below average lifting capacity and speed. Rated for only 250 lbs with a 1.28” per second speed, these numbers aren’t too exciting for a desk that includes dual motors. Because of that I was curious to see how the gear and motor system were designed.
After removing the plastic motor box cover, I wasn’t too surprised to find a motor setup that was like the Linak DL4 column found on the UpDesk Elements. This design has been copied by other Chinese manufacturers like JieCang. The VARIDESK ProDesk 60 also included PU molds, like the Linak DL4, that wrap around the motor. This was likely a big reason why the decibel rating was 55-56 during my testing. The PU foam helps to reduce the vibrations normally found with DC motors inside the motor box.
Pulling the motor off the gear, the similarities to the Linak motors in their DL4 column continued. In the OEM Kaidi’s defense, they did create a different system for attaching the motor to the spindle gear system. One of the problems with copying the DL4 motor is that it is a flawed system. With an exposed worm drive, contaminants have no problem working their way into the motor system. While the DL4 motor and motor box were clean, the ProDesk 60 Electric was not. There was plenty of rust, paint and metal flakes working their way into the lubricant on the worm drive and gear motor. It’s this lack of quality control that you find in Chinese made standing desks that create cause for concern with respect to the product’s life cycle.
Going deeper in to the column, I was able to pull the gear system out. Speaking with the Kaidi rep, I was informed that they are using a cold rolled process to manufacturer their gears. This is great, as we’ve found that cold rolling creates the smoothest experience with electric standing desks. These types of gears tend to hold up better over time and require less lubricants to function properly.
Taking a closer look at the ProDesk 60 I was a bit surprised to find they still had as much grease as they did. Pulling it out of the column, the grease was dripping out of the bottom of the gear. Once I started to extend the gear out from the top you could see the build up there as well. While this gear is not close to the problems we’ve seen desk like Jarvis Desk by Fully or Uplift 900 Desk, it still was a bit disappointing to find inside the ProDesk 60. When you look at higher quality gear systems from Linak or Ketterer you won’t see grease unless the product had been cycled thousands of times.
The gear itself appeared to be well built and I didn’t really have a concern for its ability to lift the 250 lbs capacity rated on the ProDesk 60. There weren’t large plastic components used for load bearing components like we’ve seen on lower cost alternatives.
Glide systems are designed for two main reasons. The first is to reduce the friction between two metal columns. The second is create a snug fit between two different columns, reducing play that would create stability issues. With natural variances in steel tubes, different sized glides are required to create a custom fit for each desks columns. Creating a fit that is not too tight or too loose is important. Long term stability is a major concern for me. The impact quality glide systems have on a desk today are equally important five years from now.
The VARIDESK ProDesk 60 Electric had one of the most unique glide setups we’ve had come through the lab. There were sixteen glides per interior column that were clearly engineered for the column. They were made from some type of high stress polymer that appeared to be good quality. I would have preferred to see Delrin Acetal by Dupont here, but some manufacturers use alternatives for various reasons. The outer column included a much different glide, which was 3D printed from lower quality plastic. These glides were rough on the front and inconsistent with their fit throughout the columns.
I have seen a similar glide system to the what was found on the lower sections of the interior columns on the ProDesk 60. ROL Ergo uses top only glide design and it has proven to create a stability nightmare. On the IKEA Bekant tables, this was a major reason for the desk’s wobbling and rocking issues. With knowledge that VARIDESK wanted to create a stable desk, I’m not surprised to see this addition to Kaidi’s existing design.
When speaking with a Kaidi rep, they mentioned that 3D printing in their organization is typically done for rapid prototyping. This is a less expensive alternative to creating molds for prototyping. Unfortunately, it isn’t a great solution for the mass production of glides. The person I spoke with said these upper glides were likely made for stability purposes and not friction like the lower glides.
My concern with the 3D printed glides was that inconsistencies existed on the brand-new desk. Two of the four places they were used had fit issues that allowed for movement in the columns. Because the plastic used was much lower quality than the lower glides, there was already wear marks showing on the glides. Since the glides were not perfect to begin with, there was the concern that they would continue to wear unevenly. This means that as you continue to use the table, the glides will deteriorate even further creating less stability as the table ages.
On March 2nd, 2018 VARIDESK changed their warranty from one year on everything, to various warranties for their wide selection of products. The ProDesk 60 Electric falls under their new five year warranty coverage. This includes all surfaces, hardware, mechanical parts and components, including motors and electric components. Prior to this point they had one of the worst warranties in the industry.
Testing The Specs
Height Adjustment Range: 25.5” to 50.5”
True. I found with the use of the adjustable foot glide you could get the desk up to 50.5” tall
Adjustment Speed: n/a
This was not something that VARIDESK talks about. After multiple cycle tests I was able to average 1.28” per second.
Noise Level: n/a
This was also something that VARIDESK did not advertise with any of their marketing material. During testing I found that the table averaged between 55 and 56 dB. This was one of the quietest tables we have tested.
Weight Capacity: 250 lbs.
True. The VARIDESK has no issues lifting up to its max rated capacity. The ProDesk 60 comes with overload protection that stopped when the desk was loaded beyond 250 lbs.
What I like about the VARIDESK ProDesk 60 Electric
Quick Assembly Process
Even though I couldn’t assemble the ProDesk 60 Electric in five minutes as advertised, it was still the easiest desk I’ve assembled. That is no small feat as I’ve had the opportunity to assemble over twenty different products from the category.
Strong Five-Year Warranty
Up until March 2018, VARIDESK had one of the worst warranties in the industry. With only one-year coverage on their products, even some of the cheapest standing desks offered on Amazon had a better warranty. Their recent change in strategy was a smart one; offering five years on all the components of their standard converters. This warranty also carried over into the new ProDesk 60 Electric. With a five-year warranty on all electrical components, the new VARIDESK warranty is above average.
Stability at Heights Below 45”
VARIDESK made a concerted effort to create a standing desk that was stable. While they are on record saying they wanted the most stable standing desk, they came up a bit short there. That is okay, because below 45” this desk is solid enough that you should be able to work without wobble or rocking impacting your efficiency.
Large Height Adjustment Range
With 25” of overall travel, the VARIDESK ProDesk 60 Electric will be able to fit the masses.
Easy Return Policy
VARIDESK is known to have one of the best return policies in the industry. This is no different with the ProDesk 60, even though the product is massive. Most companies require you to hold onto the original packaging and without it will not allow returns. VARIDESK is happy to send out replacement boxes at no charge and even cover the return shipping if you don’t like your desk. That is tough to beat and should give you peace of mind should you want to try their products.
What I don’t like VARIDESK ProDesk 60 Electric
Connection Cross Support and Upper Frame to Columns
With all desks there is always going to be some give and take. With VARIDESK, the assembly process was more important than top end stability. This is obvious because of their engineering decisions with the connection of the cross support and upper frame. Plastic parts used to connect the cross support make the assembly and disassembly process a breeze. Unfortunately, it also creates a weak point for the connection of the cross support.
The same was true for the upper support, with the motor box sliding into place but only held in place with two additional bolts on one end of the frame. The play that is left here, without additional bolts being used in the opposite direction, cannot be avoided. The good news is the VARIDESK is still one of the most stable desks we’ve tested. The bad news, it could have been even better.
Exposed Worm Drive on Motor
The exposed worm drive found on the motor was a bad move by VARIDESK. Because their OEM decided to use a similar design of Linak, they left themselves susceptible to contaminants entering the motors worm drive and gear. The desk we tested had plenty of rust, paint and metal flakes already building up on the motors gears. This isn’t a question of if the contaminants will be a problem, it’s more a question of when it will impact the function of the gears and motor.
3D Printed Glides
The use of 3D printed glides in the ProDesk 60 Electric was a surprise. This was the first time I have seen a 3D printed part in mass production. These parts were made from lower quality plastic that wasn’t nearly as precise as the glides used in the lower portion of the column. This created inconsistent fits for the columns, which ultimately created stability issues. My second concern was the durability of the plastics used, especially with the high cycle counts on the lifetime of a table. This is something I would hope they address in future product runs.
Price Point at $995 The last thing that I didn’t like about the ProDesk 60 Electric was the price point. While the desk scored well overall, it didn’t score above the ModDesk Pro, UpDesk Elements or the VertDesk v3. These are three alternatives that are available under $1000 that provide a much better value.
VariDesk has recently reduced the pricing on the VariDesk ProDesk 60 and introduced a smaller 48 size option. With both desks available for under $795, including free shipping and free returns, there is good value in the VariDesk series.
I was excited for the launch of the VARIDESK ProDesk 60 Electric. With the exposure the VARIDESK brand has, their latest product release was good for our industry. The ProDesk 60 Electric has a lot good going for it too. With my obsession towards stability in standing desks, the added cross support was the first thing I noticed. In typical VARIDESK fashion, they created a product that was easy to set up. With a large adjustment range that will fit most users and a hassle-free return policy, there isn’t much to worry about if you just want to try their desk. The recent reduction in price opens the opportunity for me people to try the VariDesk ProDesk 48 and 60.
Unfortunately, even with all the good going for it, the ProDesk 60 had some glaring weaknesses. For VARIDESK, their decision to create an easy assembly process negatively impacted their top end stability. If you plan to use the desk at 45” and above, you will have to deal with wobble and rocking motions. The VARIDESK was hands down the best Chinese made desk we’ve tested to date. For those that love the VARIDESK brand, you can’t really go wrong with the ProDesk 60 Electric.