After almost 16 months of testing electric standing desks, I finally have four electric standing desks that are worthy of making the top stability list. This has been the hardest post to write, because stability in standing desks is something that has apparently been ignored by most manufacturers. Being in the industry as long as we have, we know that this is a major mistake. Most standing desk users do care about how stable their desk is. If you are one of those people, then this post is exactly what you need to find the perfect desk for your stability needs. While all standing desks will exhibit movement at some point, this post will show you which desks do the best at minimizing that motion.
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After 12 months of testing 20+ electric standing desks the results are in!
Why trust The Breakroom Blog?
Simply put, we are experts. We have been selling office furniture for 12 years and have seen the standing 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.
What makes a stable standing desk?
The suggestions below will not guarantee the new desk you select is stable. I have said this over and over throughout my posts; a standing desk will only be as stable as its weakest point. Even if you check the box with six out of seven requirements outlined for a stable desk, the seventh requirement could prove to be a problem for stability. The information provided in the lists below are more of a guideline of what to look for. Armed with knowledge, you will know how to avoid problems that exist in many of the brands available.
Traditional Cross Support
One of the most overlooked components of a standing desk is a traditional cross support system. Simple physics should explain the need for this, especially when a desk is raised beyond sitting height. What was once a staple to the design of a standing desk has since gone away for many of the products available today. There are a host of reasons why this is possible. While some users might not love the look of a cross support, the benefit is impossible to ignore. When done correctly, the traditional cross support can significantly reduce lateral wobble on most frames.
Proper Cross Support Design
Unfortunately, not all cross supports were created equal. Just because the brand you like included one, doesn’t mean it will add stability to the frame. One of the biggest problems we’ve found is with expandable cross supports. While this might minimize inventory, it also opens the door for unnecessary movement. With the leverage of the entire desk, these weak points become glaring issues. Once that happens, the benefits of a cross support will be significantly reduced.
It’s also important that the cross support has a good connection to the frame. Movement here will mean your desk will still exhibit some wobble issues.
Last the cross support needs to be tall enough to be effective. Our OEM K&A Mfg. Inc wrote a post explaining why standing desks wobble. Their second illustration shows how a well-designed cross support acts like the X-brace design found on many bridges. When a cross support is not tall enough, the X is not well defined and will not create the strength required to work effectively.
Permanent Frame Connections
The ultimate solution, when it comes to stability, is fewer moving parts. When a desk comes with the feet and upper supports pre-assembled to the columns, this can be a perk. When the feet and upper supports are welded to the columns you can’t get much more permanent. When these parts are welded, it significantly reduces the chance for them to loosen over time.
Locking Washers and/or Loctite For Bolts
Most of the frames that we have tested require users to attach the feet and upper supports to the column with bolts included in the packaging. This makes sense, since most are trying to minimize shipping costs domestically and sourcing the products globally. Unfortunately, we have only had a handful of brands include loctite and locking washers for these bolted connections. The issue is that as a desk moves up and down, over time, the bolts start to back out on their own.
High Quality Glide Systems
Understanding how glide systems function within the standing desk is important. There are two main functions; the first is related to reducing friction between metal columns and the second is to fill the gap between the columns. The use of high quality glides is essential to a standing desks’ ability to function at a high level over the course of its lifetime. The standard in the industry for material used to manufacturer high quality glides is known as Delrin Acetal from Dupont. The material is best known for its ability to hold up well over high cycle counts.
As glide systems begin to wear down the fit between each column will change. This change will not only create stability issues as additional play between the columns, but also has the potential to create binding problems. Binding can be a massive headache for manufacturers, since it is the leading cause of fall positives found with anti-collision safety functions in electric standing desks. When this happens, manufacturers have two options. They can send new columns to the customer, or reduce the sensitivity in the control box for the anti-collision mechanism.
Properly Fit Glide Systems
Having properly fit glides is almost as important as the quality of the glides themselves. Pairing the two creates a high functioning system. We’ve found that desks that don’t do a good job with glide fit, have stability issues at mid to high ranges. The problem is that the glide fitting process requires adequate training. When glides are too tight, binding issues are created. When they are too loose, stability issues occur. Getting the perfect fit can be an intricate process. If a desk starts out with poorly fit glides, they also tend to wear unevenly. This brings us full circle back to binding issues that create problems within the anti-collision systems. While these small plastic components are often overlooked by consumers, they are important if you want your desk to last for years to come.
Top and Bottom Glides Required
Standing desks without glides on both top and bottom are a stability nightmare. When you think about how these components fill the gap between the columns, it seems obvious they are needed on the top and bottom of the frame. Without it, there is no way to counteract the movement in the frame when rocked or wobbled. This additional play in the columns is only exaggerated as the desk is raised to standing heights.
Good Connection Between Top and Frame
The connection between the frame and your desktop is important. We’ve found that some desks attempt to create easier assembly processes, which leave this connection with too much play. Considering the weight of the top alone, this leverage can create awkward twisting and rocking motions. Products like the IKEA Bekant only use cheap plastic fasteners to connect their surface and frame. If you add a lot of weight to your desk surfaces, this would be a major cause for concern.
Quality Column Construction
From the outside, most of the electric standing desks that we have tested look similar. Rectangular or rounded tubes are the most commonly used style of legs (columns). When you open the frames up, you get a better idea of how solid each of these columns really is. Even if steel is used, the thickness of the steel is important to how much flexing can occur at standing heights. Some desks we’ve tested use more expensive materials like extruded aluminum. Aluminum is more susceptible to flexing; the thickness of the tube and added ribbing inside the tube are important to reduce this flexing. Unfortunately, all aluminum extruded columns we’ve seen exhibit some amount of flexing. Because of this, it reduced the desks’ stability scores that utilize this material.
Adequate Overlap within Columns
The amount of overlap left inside a column can either make or break a standing desks’ front to back stability at tall heights. When manufacturers try to maximize the range of motion, they tend to leave less of the column overlapped inside the outer column. When this happens, there isn’t enough distance between the outer column glides and the inner column glides to counteract the leverage created from a top heavy standing desk. This is where many standing desks’ front to back rocking motions come from.
Good Connection From Foot and Adjustable Glide
To account for uneven floors, most standing desks have adjustable foot glides to level out the desk. How these glides attach to the foot are crucial to the desks’ stability. We have seen frames that tap the bottom foot plate, but the steel was too thin for more than two or three lines of threading to screw the glide into. Some tapped solutions we have seen were better than others, mostly because a thicker piece of steel was used for the foot. The preferred methods are the use a threaded rivnut or welding a nut inside the foot. These options have proven to create a more secure connection for the glide.
Strong Foot Design
Much like the foundation of a home, a standing desk will only be as stable as the feet they are built on. Utilizing materials that provide a good amount of rigidity is a must for the foot design. With the leverage of the entire frame, weak feet designs have shown to flex and create bad rocking or wobble motions. Formed steel and molded aluminum have proven to be the best solutions to create a stable foot design.
1. VertDesk v3 – 90/100 Stability Rating
Stability Test Results
Front to Back: The desk is sturdy through almost the entire travel motion. Once you get to 46” you begin to notice the front the back motion. It isn’t dramatic, but it is noticeable and gets more noticeable at max height. If you are taller than 6’3”, this could potentially be a problem.
Left to Right: The wobble, or left to right motion, is one of the most prevalent problems with standing desks. The VertDesk v3 excels here and has almost zero movement when fully extended.
Why it’s stable?
It’s never good to rank your own products first in any list. But truth is, stability is the VertDesk’s claim to fame and this is list for it to shine. The VertDesk v3 was literally designed with stability as the number one concern. An area we knew was lacking in the modern standing desk category. Over the two years of development, each time we tested the frame, we continued to make sure design changes didn’t impact the stability of the frame. In fact, we even made sacrifices to things like top-end range to ensure rocking didn’t become an issue from a lack of overlap in the columns.
From the traditional cross support design, to the welded upper supports and feet, the VertDesk v3 includes everything in our list for what makes a stable standing desk above. Again, this isn’t by chance as it was our main focus. The permanent frame connections are at the foundation of what makes the VertDesk v3 so stable. Parts that are bolted versus permanently welded include locking star washers and Loctite. This is done to ensure even after thousands of height adjustments have been made, the VertDesk will remain solid.
When you take a closer look at the thickness of the steel tubes used for our columns, you know the VertDesk v3 was built like a tank. Almost 35% thicker than most of our competitor’s steel columns, the VertDesk v3 has only a small amount of flexing when fully extended. The formed steel foot creates a strong foundation that also prevents flexing found in alternative materials like aluminum.
Inside the columns you’ll find high quality Delrin Acetal glides from Dupont. These glides allow for us to create a custom fit for each column and ensure the desk functions with a high level of stability for years to come. Even after our cycle testing that lasted 21,375 full up and down cycles, the VertDesk remained solid at standing height.
What could improve its stability?
The only real weakness we’ve found with the VertDesk v3 is at top-end heights from 46” to 47” tall. This is caused by the lack of overlap in the column at the last inch of adjustment range. The movement isn’t so bad that it will impact your work, but I’m very picky with stability in standing desks. If you’re over 6’3 you will notice the front to back movement at the top-end range.
2. NewHeights XT – 85/100 Stability Rating
Stability Test Results
Left to Right: As mentioned, the NewHeights XT cross support allowed the desk to remain stable through most heights in our test. Only when we raised the desk beyond 48” was there a small amount of motion noticed. From 49” to about 51” the wobble motion was more noticeable, but much better than desks we have tested without an additional cross support. Only beyond 50″ do I think this motion might impact your work.
Front to Back: The front to back test for the NewHeights XT wasn’t quite as strong as the left to right test. While the XT was stable through 43”, it started to show rocking signs beyond that point. Once the desk reached 47” the motion became more noticeable with less force required. By 49″, the motion was significant and could potentially impact your work efficiency. Overlap within the columns and flexing from the aluminum appeared to be the biggest issue.
Why it’s stable?
Like the VertDesk v3, the NewHeights XT was manufactured by K&A Mfg., out of Weston WI. This factory is owned by my father, Bill Knighton. The NewHeights XT is the fourth version of the NewHeights series and like all of the other models he’s engineered, stability is a big focus. Bill is tall, at 6’5” he knows the stability problems that exist for taller users. The NewHeights XT is the most stable standing desk that we have tested that goes above 47” tall.
Bill’s experience spans over 32 years building ergonomic office furniture. Over the last 15 years, he has been directly involved in engineering and manufacturing height adjustable desks. The series four NewHeights XT is the byproduct of all this experience. Like the other products in this list, the NewHeights features a traditional cross support system. When implemented correctly, this design can drastically improve lateral stability.
Just underneath the worksurface is an additional frame component. This is in place because the NewHeights XT can be used without a cross support as well. The addition of this frame section improves the lateral stability when paired with the cross support.
The NewHeights XT doesn’t utilize permanent frame connections, but they do use loctite and locking star washers throughout the frame. Through testing we have found this does a good job holding the bolts in place over long term usage. With the combination of aluminum extruded columns, steel feet and steel upper supports, bolting these components provides better assembly flexibility with the various components.
Like the VertDesk v3, the NewHeights XT uses Derlin Acetal plastics for the glide systems as well. These have proven to hold up well over high cycle counts. The NewHeights XT uses the most unique glide system we have seen to date. With the custom extrusions, they created a wedge or notched system, that utilizes a V shaped glide. While only two glides are used on each end of the columns, the V shape acts as four.
The NewHeights XT is constructed from custom extruded aluminum tubes. Because aluminum is more susceptible to flexing than steel, the NewHeights columns have varying thicknesses of aluminum throughout the columns. They have also made sure to add a good amount of additional ribbing to improve the overall stability of the columns. One of the benefits of the additional flexibility of aluminum is the ability to create an extra tight fit between columns. Steel tubes do not provide as much flex and binding will occur when columns are fit together too tightly. That’s not the case with aluminum columns, so the XT frames are able to have an even tighter fit than a steel tube alternative.
The foot design of the NewHeights XT is similar to that of the VertDesk v3. With a formed steel design, there aren’t any flexing issues with the foot. Threaded rivnuts are inserted in the foot to allow for a solid connection with the adjustable foot glides.
What could improve its stability?
While the NewHeights XT is the most stable standing desk we’ve tested that goes above 47” tall, it isn’t perfect. One of the biggest drawbacks to aluminum is the flexing that occurs in the material. Even with the varying thicknesses and additional ribbing in the tube, the flexing creates noticeable movement above 43” tall. By the time the frame reaches 47” the flexing is more noticeable and by 49” the motion is significant. Once you reach the 49” mark, overlap in the column is in play and only exaggerates the motion.
The two stage standing desks are at a disadvantage from the single stage, with an added frame section that has the potential for movement.
We have also found that once overlap becomes an issue in the two stage column, the motion becomes worse than a single stage alternative.
3. VariDesk ProDesk 60 Electric – 80/100 Stability Rating
Stability Test Results
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.
Why it’s stable?
Like the first two desks in the list, the VariDesk ProDesk 60 Electric was designed with stability at the forefront. They are even on record saying that their goal with the ProDesk 60 Electric was to create the most stable standing desk on the market.
The VariDesk ProDesk 60 Electric features a traditional cross support system that helps with its lateral stability. The cross support isn’t made to expand which helps add the needed rigidity between the legs. Like the NewHeights XT, underneath the frame is an additional frame section that runs between the columns. This provides additional lateral support for the desk when at taller heights.
The glide system on the VariDesk was interesting, while it has top and bottom glides, they are polar opposites of each other. The bottom glides were mass produced with an injection molding process. These glides were well fit on the bottom, but the glides on the top were not the same. These were made from a 3D printer which created a less consistent fit.
The frame components on the ProDesk 60 Electric were really good. Everything was solid and overall the product was built well. The use of steel tubing for the columns provided a stable frame that didn’t show a lot of flexing from low to tall heights.
Looking close at the design of the foot, it was an absolute beast. This was one of the heaviest feet that we have found on a product yet. With a .311” thick top plate and stamped bottom plate, there was zero flex found in the foot. This solid design helped to prevent front to back rocking that can originate in the foot when the desk is at all heights.
On the underside of the foot you can see it is complete with the proper threading for VariDesk’s adjustable foot glides. Too little threading here and stability issues can occur in all directions.
What could improve its stability?
The Varidesk Pro had a lot of good things going for it with regards to stability. You can tell they put a lot of thought into it and that is why it landed in our top four list for stability. Unfortunately, there were some areas they missed and had they not, it could have leap frogged the NewHeights XT into the number two position. VariDesk is known for zero assembly or at the very least, quick assembly. This focus on the assembly process was the reason that some of their desks’ stability was impacted.
There were three main areas that could use some improvement to increase the overall stability of the VariDesk ProDesk 60. The first was the plastic component that we found in the wedge system for attaching the cross support. While this made for an easy attachment process for the cross support, plastic is weaker than having a stronger metal to metal connection. As the desk rose into taller positions, you could see the leverage of the desk impacted this connection.
The second issue with the VariDesk ProDesk frame was the connection of the upper frame to the columns. The upper frame and desk surface were two very heavy components. The problem is that their only connection was through four posts and two bolts per column. The posts were not tight fitting and the bolts only secured the column from one side of the upper frame. This allowed for some play between these two parts.
The last thing that VariDesk could improve upon was their upper glide system. After speaking with a Kaidi rep, it came to our attention that this glide placement wasn’t normal for their columns. This was likely an additional part that VariDesk requested to improve the fit between each of the columns. The problem was that the desk we received had different glides used at the upper position of the column. They were clearly made from a 3D printing process, which is normally used for rapid prototyping and no mass production. Because of this, a lower quality plastic was used and the fit was inconsistent throughout the columns. This fit issue created movement between the columns that was easy to pick up on film.
4. GeekDesk v3 – 78/100 Stability Rating
Stability Test Results
Left to Right: The first test that I performed was the wobble test. The GeekDesk excelled through almost all of the heights, with only a small amount of wobble beyond 46”. This was minimal and wouldn’t impact your work.
Front to Back: The front to back, or rocking test for the GeekDesk v3 was about average. Once I raised it above 38” it began to show small signs of a rocking motion. It wasn’t until you reached 40” to 41″ tall that the motion became significant and could potentially impact your work.
Why it’s stable?
Like the other three desks in the list, GeekDesk v3’s concern for stability was their main reason for including the traditional cross support. They understood that this simple addition to their GeekDesk v3 standing desk would have a major impact on lateral stability. This is something they made sure to mention in the “Why GeekDesk” section of their website.
The traditional cross support wasn’t the only item they added for lateral stability. Like the VariDesk and NewHeights, they have included an additional upper frame support that acts as an additional cross support. Having this additional piece can only bolster a frames lateral stability.
The frame components on the GeekDesk v3 were very good. Using rectangular steel tubes, they were able to create a solid frame structure for their two stage design. This helped to prevent most flexing, that didn’t really show up until we got towards the top end of the range.
The use of top and bottom glides is a must for consistent stability. While the GeekDesk v3 didn’t have quite as good of precision with their glide fit, they had glides on all sides of the top and bottom of the columns. This helps to reduce play that is sometimes found in frames, like IKEA Bekants’, that only utilized glides on one end of the column.
The GeekDesk v3 came with a solid built foot that was made from formed steel. It wasn’t quite as heavy as the foot found on the VariDesk, but it didn’t show any signs of flexing throughout the different height ranges. This foot design prevented any flexing issues which was a big help to the low to mid standing height stability tests.
Lastly, the threading that was used to connect the adjustable foot glide was good enough to provide a solid connection. This prevented any motion from a loose connection.
What could improve its stability?
Overall, the GeekDesk v3 did a good job at minimizing the motion associated with most standing desks. Like the other desks in the list, there were some improvements that could be made to increase the stability at taller heights.
The first improvement for the GeekDesk would reduce the amount of bolts used to connect the columns to the feet and upper supports. This is somewhere that we noticed the GeekDesk v3 would show motion, especially after extended use. If you have already purchased one of these desks, we highly recommend looking at locking washers and/or loctite. This will help to keep the bolts tight over time as you cycle the desk up and down.
The GeekDesk v3 is manufactured by JieCang, one of the leading electric standing desk manufacturers in China. These columns are known for having some inconsistencies linked to proper fit of their glide systems. This problem creates movement at random points through their two stage column design. Better fit here would help to further improve the GeekDesk’s overall stability.
After reviewing this list you can see that all of desks in our most stable list show some signs of motion. The difference is these brands have done the best job minimizing this motion through the mid to tall heights. Without a direct focus on stability in a standing desk, you get a pretty good idea how hard it is for standing desks to be stable.
Having been directly involved in the development of a standing desk (VertDesk v3), I can tell you there is a give and take that goes on with the design of a standing desk. The same will be true for you as a consumer as well. If stability is a main concern there is a good chance you’ll have to overlook aesthetics and select a desk with a cross support. If you’re over 6’4”, there isn’t a really a rock solid option available at the moment. Picking from the NewHeights, VariDesk ProDesk 60 or GeekDesk v3 will be your best option, as most of the alternatives will be highly unstable.