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Sitting at a desk all day can be uncomfortable, and it can also be dangerous to your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting for long periods of time can increase your chances of being obese, contribute to high blood pressure and high blood sugar, and increase the chances of dying from cancer and cardiovascular disease.
A kneeling chair can help improve your posture and reduce muscle fatigue. In addition, a standing desk allows you to alternate between sitting and standing, which can contribute to a healthier work environment. However, you may not have the budget to purchase a standing desk. Also, you may like your current desk—especially if it’s really nice or you paid a lot for it—and have no desire to get rid of it.
A standing desk converter (also known as a desk riser) is one way to enjoy the best of both worlds. Depending on design, it lifts the keyboard or laptop and up to two monitors above the desk surface until they're high enough for you to use standing up. “Standing desk converters are a low-cost and convenient solution for those who don’t want to replace an existing desk, but still want the benefits of changing up their workstation to accommodate sitting and standing,” Dr. Sapna Sriram, chiropractor and injury expert at Integra Health Centre in Toronto, tells Investopedia. “Standing converters are a lower investment and should be an easier-to-implement solution.” She says the key is to look for a solution that is quick and easy to convert back from sitting to standing.
After extensive research, and incorporating advice from Dr. Sriram and two other experts, we arrived at this list of the nine best standing desk converters.
Best Overall: VariDesk Electric Pro Plus 32
Increases height almost 20 inches
Holds 2 monitors
50 pound maximum load
No assembly required
Desktop size: 28.25 x 32 inches | Item Weight: 78.3 pounds | Height Adjustment: 19 1/8 inches | Lift Mechanism: Electric push-button | Maximum Load: 50 pounds
The VariDesk Electric Pro Plus 32 Electric is our top pick for best standing desk converter. There’s no assembly required, so it’s ready to go out of the box. The VariDesk is also easy to adjust: The touch button operation consists of an “up” button that raises the height up to 19 1/8 inches, and a “down” button to easily lower it. This means there’s no pulling or lifting on your part. There’s an upper tier (32 x 15 1/8 inches) that’s spacious enough to hold two monitors. The lower tier provides enough room to hold a keyboard and mouse. The sturdy desktop converter is made of commercial grade materials and supports up to 50 pounds.
Best Budget: FlexiSpot AlcoveRiser Standing Desk Converter (M7B)
2nd tier has cut-out to hold laptop
Integrated grommet for mounting monitors
Requires some assembly
Is not electric
Desktop size: 28.4 x 16.3 inches | Item Weight: 34 pounds | Height Adjustment: 15 inches | Lift Mechanism: Gas spring | Maximum Load: 33 pounds
If you want a good standing desk converter that won’t break the bank, the Flexispot Standing Desk Converter fits the bill. It has two tiers, with a spacious desktop that can hold two monitors, and the lower tier can accommodate a keyboard and mouse. The integrated grommet also allows you to mount a monitor to save more space. The Flexispot uses a gas spring operation to raise and lower the desk converter up to 15 inches higher. In addition, the desktop can hold up to 33 pounds.
Best for Short People: Readydesk 2 Adjustable Standing Desk
Supports up to 75 pounds
Made of sustainable Birch wood
Option to purchase a 3rd shelf
Shelves not as big as other standing desk converters
Desktop size: 31 x 11.5 inches | Item Weight: 14.9 pounds | Height Adjustment: 18.5 inches | Lift Mechanism: Manual-remove shelves | Maximum Load: 75 pounds
If you’re looking for an adjustable desk converter that’s comfortable for a shorter height, consider the Readydesk 2 Adjustable Standing Desk. Most desk converters offer a variety of height selections, but the vertical space between the two tiers can’t be adjusted. However, the Readydesk 2 has 10 different shelf notches, so you can position both the keyboard shelf and monitor shelf as low as you need them. There are also built-in slots to hold cables out of the way. In addition, you can purchase an additional shelf on the company’s website and create three workspace tiers. The Readydesk 2 can support up to 75 pounds.
Best Wide: Mount-It! Height Adjustable Standing Desk
Slot for tablets and smartphone
Rubber foot pads
Is not electric
Requires (simple) assembly
Desktop size: 30.3 x 19.6 inches | Item Weight: 31.5 pounds | Height Adjustment: 14.4 inches | Lift Mechanism: Gas spring | Maximum Load: 33 pounds
If you need a large desktop, the Mount-It! Height Adjustable Standing Desk Converter is 48 inches wide, providing plenty of space for multiple monitors. It also has a built-in slot to hold tablets and smartphones upright. The desk uses a gas spring mechanism to raise it from 6 to 19.25 inches, a total height adjustment of 14.4 inches. There’s also a separate tray for your keyboard and mouse. The desktop converter supports up to 33 pounds.
Best Compact: Seville Classics airLift Workstation (30 in.)
Lifts vertically (instead of vertically and diagonally)
Built-in phone/tablet holder
Requires (simple) assembly
Desktop size: 30.3 x 20 inches | Item Weight: 31.5 pounds | Height Adjustment: 14.4 inches | Lift Mechanism: Gas spring | Maximum Load: 33 pounds
If space is at a premium, the Seville Classics AirLift Workstation is designed to fit into small spaces. It’s 30 inches wide, and unlike some standing desk converters that expand horizontally and diagonally when lifted (which takes up more desk space), this one only rises horizontally. It increases in height by 14.4 inches using a gas spring mechanism. Although it’s compact, the Seville Classics has two tiers, and provides more than enough space for a large monitor and accessories, a keyboard, and mouse. It weighs 31.5 pounds, and can support up to 33 pounds.
Best With Whiteboard: Fluidstance Lift Laptop Riser with Integrated Whiteboard
Integrated whiteboard for notes
Multifunctional for use in the kitchen, garage, etc.
Doesn’t take up much space
Height is not adjustable
Can’t hold monitor
Desktop size: 11.5 x 10.5 inches | Item Weight: 5.4 pounds | Height Adjustment: 9 inches/back and 6.25 inches/front | Lift Mechanism: N/A | Maximum Load: Not available
If you keep a lot of sticky notes on your desk, the Fluidstance Lift Laptop Riser with Integrated Whiteboard can help declutter your desk area. The integrated reusable whiteboard surface (and included whiteboard marker and eraser), allows you to write notes right on the laptop riser. This eliminates the need for paper and pens – and the whiteboard marker attaches to the riser so you won’t lose it. Also, since the laptop is tilted (9 inches in the back and 6.25 inches in the front), it’s at a more ergonomic angle. The base is sturdy enough to keep your laptop stable, so you don’t have to worry about it slipping. In addition, since it’s so lightweight and easy to manage, you can use the riser in the kitchen, garage, and other types of environments.
Best Portable: SIMBR Standing Desk Converter
No assembly required
Doesn’t take up much space
Doesn’t have two tiers
Expensive for lack of functions
Desktop size: 30 x 18.5 inches | Item Weight: 18.9 pounds | Height Adjustment: 13.9 inches | Lift Mechanism: Gas spring | Maximum Load: 22 pounds
If you prefer a portable option that is easy to store, the SIMBR Standing Desk Converter doesn’t take up much space. It’s ultra-thin (2.2 inches when folded), so you can slide it out of the way, and easily transport it from one location to the other. The desktop space is 30 inches by 18.5 inches, so there’s plenty of room for a computer monitor, laptop, and mouse. It can also be raised in height by a total of 13.9 inches using the gas spring mechanism. The SIMBR weighs 18.9 pounds and can hold up to 22 pounds.
Best for Tall People: Fully Cooper Standing Desk Converter
Adjusts height by 22 inches
More comfortable for tall people
Sustainable bamboo desktop
Desktop size: 35.4 x 20.7 inches | Item Weight: N/A | Height Adjustment: 22 inches | Lift Mechanism: Hydraulic lift | Maximum Load: 35 pounds
When you’re tall, it can be difficult to find an adjustable standing desk that’s ergonomic enough to meet your needs. The Fully Cooper Standing Desk Converter uses a hydraulic lift to increase the desk’s height by 22 inches, making it ideal for people who need a taller option. The desktop is made of sustainably grown and harvested Moso bamboo and is 35.4-by-20.7 inches, which provides plenty of room for a monitor and desktop. There’s also a keyboard tray. The standing desk converter supports up to 35 pounds.
Best with Desk Clamp: Uplift Clamp Standing Desk Converter
Securely attaches to back of desk
Keyboard can be lower than desk
Ideas for desks without a lot of depth
Also available in a freestyle version (without clamp)
Not much desktop space
Desktop size: 23.6 x 15.7 inches | Item Weight: 49 pounds | Height Adjustment: 16.7 inches | Lift Mechanism: Manual-pneumatic | Maximum Load: 28.6 pounds
If you want a standing desk converter that can security clamp to the back of your desk, the Uplift Standing Desk Converter provides a stable fit. It also allows you to position the keyboard tray 32 inches below your desktop. This is ideal for desk spaces that are shallower than 23.5 inches that don’t provide enough room for a regular standing desk converter. A lower keyboard tray can also be more comfortable. The Uplift uses a manual pneumatic lift mechanism that can increase in height by 16.7 inches. It weighs 49 pounds, and can support up to 28.6 pounds.
The VariDesk Electric Pro Plus 32 Electric (view on Amazon) is our top pick for best standing desk converter. Since it's electric, it uses touch buttons to increase and decrease the height—and what can be easier than that? The VariDesk has two tiers and plenty of room for two monitors, a keyboard, and a mouse. It also supports up to 50 pounds and requires no assembly. If you want a totally adjustable desk converter (that also looks unique), we recommend the Readydesk 2 (view on Amazon), which allows you to customize both the monitor/laptop shelf and the keyboard shelf, and has an option to buy an additional shelf for a total of three tiers.
What are the advantages and limitations of using a standing desk converter?
“Standing desk converters are a low-cost, convenient solution for those who don’t want to replace an existing desk, but still want the benefits of changing up their workstation to accommodate sitting and standing,” Dr. Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS at the Montgomery County Chiropractor Center in North Wales, Pennsylvania, tells Investopedia. He says they’re a good option since they don’t require a huge investment, and provide an easy-to-implement solution. “But be sure to look for one that is quick and easy to convert back from sitting to standing,” he recommends.
Ariana Ince is an ergonomics consultant at State Compensation Insurance Fund and a Certified Personal Ergonomist (CPE) who works with policyholders to make workplaces safer and protect workers from injury. “Standing desk converters make the most sense if you have very limited space, are in a temporary working location, or if you already have an existing desk height that is slightly too short for you,” she tells Investopedia. “However, if your desk is already too high, a standing desk converter will actually make your seated posture even more uncomfortable, so take that into consideration.”
How important is keyboard placement?
Some standing desk converters have a retractable keyboard option, and Dr. Conrad says this is helpful for people who want to stand either further away or closer to the screen. “Also, using a standing desk with a retractable keyboard will help prevent eye strain, and allow more flexibility for those who have a multi-person computer set up,” he explains. “A standard stationary keyboard location may not work if people of different heights are using the same keyboard, and that is why this is an important quality to consider.”
In fact, Ince says there’s a tendency to place the keyboard at the wrong height. “Most people need to have their keyboard lower than the standard office desk height of 29 ½ inches,” she warns. If your desk is already too high, she says a desk converter will further ensure that the keyboard and mouse are not at the correct height.
What are some tips for choosing a standing desk converter?
According to Dr. Conrad, the ability to adjust the standing desk converter is an important consideration for most people. “Adjustability means the height can be raised or lowered, depending on what feels comfortable for you,” he says.
However, space can sometimes determine which type of standing desk converter is best. “Some motorized standing desks can go from sitting to standing at the push of a button, but require a lot more space to function, which many people may not have available due to office size constraints,” Dr. Conrad explains. “This is why knowing how much space is available where you want the standing desk is an important factor.”
Also, Ince advises always having plenty of space for your keyboard and mouse. “And if you are someone who prefers to work with your arms supported by the desk, make sure you take into account the height of the base, as this can cause contact stress on your forearms and wrists if it is too high,” she says. “Look for a desk converter that has a keyboard tray pull-out which could bring the system lower than your current desk.”
Weight is another important factor, since you’re placing the standing desk converter on an existing desk, so you don’t want to get a converter that is too heavy for your desk.
In addition, you also need to consider the desk’s weight limit. If you’re using a heavy monitor, make sure you know how much it weighs, in addition to how much the desk converter weighs. If you add too much weight, not only can the converter fail to rise, you could actually break the height-adjustment mechanism.
Why Trust Investopedia?
After researching dozens of highly-rated standing desk converters, and consulting with our experts, we narrowed down our picks using several factors, including height adjustment and lift mechanism. Other important factors included the size of the desktop, as well as the item’s weight and maximum weight capacity. Quality of build was another criterion. Finally, realizing that different people have different needs (for example, some people want a large desktop while others don’t), we provided a variety of selections at a range of price points.
Terri Williams is a professional writer who has tested hundreds of products. She has written product reviews for Tom’s Guide, The Spruce, Bob Vila, Apartment Therapy, The Daily Beast, and more. She also has personal finance bylines at Time, Yahoo, The Balance, Realtor.com, and Investopedia.