Last updated March, 2017
If you decide not to go with a fully adjustable sit-to-stand desk, the next best choice is of course a standing desk converter. This is something that you place on your current desk that allows you to move it up and down and adjust the height of your workspace as necessary.
Here are some reasons why I didn’t just buy an adjustable height work platform but instead went for a motorized standing desk:
- I don’t have a super nice desk and didn’t mind starting fresh
- I liked the idea of having everything up high. I have 2 monitors, a laptop, fullsize keyboard and mouse, and wanted to be able to have a coffee cup, my notepad, and other accessories at my work height. If I went with an adjustable desktop converter, some of my stuff would have to stay at sitting height when I went to standing.
- The height of my desk, while sitting on an exercise ball and my knees and elbows at 90 degrees, was already at the top limit. To add a desk computer riser would add another inch (more like 2 or 3 inches for a large platform) to that which would make it too tall for an ideal sitting height.
- Some of the computer risers I looked that addressed the reason #3 issue had a lower keyboard tray that would hang in front of the desktop. The problem with that is it extends the depth of your desk 10 or 12 inches, and I didn’t want that. Plus, the tray didn’t look large enough for my keyboard and mouse so it didn’t seem like a good solution to have to move my whole arm forward to the desk (or up to the monitor platform height) to reach the mouse.
- Stability when raising and lowering. My 24″ computer monitors are tippy and I didn’t want something wobbly that could make things tip when I raised and lowered. I already did that for about 6 months with my homemade adjustable height platform hack, and I was ready for something that would be quick and easy and wouldn’t wreck my flow of work when I adjusted.
- Cost – for not much more, I could get a whole desk instead of an add-on standing desktop converter. It turns out for about $200 less than the best desktop standing desks I was able to get a motorized frame that would raise my whole desktop with the push of a button! No, I’m not lazy, check out reason #5 above.
Those reasons aside, depending on the type of work you do and how you like to work, a sit stand workstation converter may be exactly what you need. I’ve seen these at my chiropractors office because it just wouldn’t work to raise their custom granite counter/reception/desk area so they added a standing desk for laptop on top of the granite slab.
Here are some of the top rated standing desk converters.
Best Stand Up Desk Converters
Top Choice: VersaDesk Best Sit To Stand Electric Standing Desk Converter
VersaDesk bills itself as the only electronically controlled standing desk converter that converts any desk to an ergonomic workstation. So far, we have to agree. All the other options are manually operated, and, while some are spring or gas assisted, electric adjustment is just awesome!
This is a top of the line desk conversion that has all the features:
- Quiet push button design that raises and lowers the platform
- Grommets on the desk surface for mounting single or dual monitors
- a keyboard platform that is at a different height than the monitor platform
The platform raises from 5 inches to 20 inches, and although 5 inches seems a little high for the lowest position, the keyboard platform extends below that and is pretty much resting on the desktop.
We like that it comes in 2 colors and 2 sizes – a 36 inch wide platform, and a 48 inch wide platform. Total depth is 24 inches, with the keyboard tray being about 8.5 inches and the desk platform about 16 inches deep.
VersaDesk can support up to 80 pounds, and weighs only 40 lbs itself.
To top it all off, the VersaDesk comes fully assembled and has a 30-day full refund guarantee backed by a Lifetime Warranty! These are all reasons the VersaDesk is our top pick for standing desk converters.
FlexiSpot Height Adjustable Standing Desk Riser
FlexiSpot has a gas spring hovering system that allows you to adjust the workstation platform up or down smoothly with a light squeeze on the handles. Another bonus is that the FlexiSpot desk converter moves straight up and down – it doesn’t move towards you (out away from the front of the desk) as it raises like some of the other competition.
Another plus is that there aren’t preset heights like some of the cheaper versions – the FlexiSpot is infinitely adjustable to any height you or your coworkers might need.
With a 35″ wide platform and a 35 lbs weight rating, the FlexiSpot should have enough space for your needs. Plus – the company used a robot machine and tested the balance, stability, and movement with a fatigue test of 6,000 height adjustments.
It does require assembly, but a minimal amount that the company calls ‘simple one-step assembly’.
We like the separate height keyboard tray that’s 12 inches deep and the full width of the platform (35″).
If 35″ is too wide, the FlexiSpot comes in a 27″ wide version too.
Standing Desk – X-Elite Pro Height Adjustable Desk Converter
With the X-Elite Pro, easily and instantly convert any desk to a sit stand desk. With the pull of a lever, a pressurized pump assist lifts the platform with ease anywhere from 7 to 16 inches higher than your desk height.
What I like about this height adjustable convertible desktop is that it comes fully assembled in the box. Simply open the box, put it on your desk, put your stuff on top of it and get right to work!
Platform size is 28 by 20 inches. This wouldn’t work for me because I have 2 monitors and a laptop and this platform is too small. Also, the rated weight capacity is only 20 pounds so make sure your gear doesn’t weigh more than that.
Make sure this lifts high enough for you. The max height is 16 inches above your desk surface, and sitting height is 2.5 inches (another reason I chose an electric sit stand desk frame instead of a desk converter)
Those 2 issues aside, this is a top selling sit stand desk converter and is relatively well priced. Plus, it comes in 4 colors so you can spice up your desk or choose to match your existing desktop.
Earlier versions of the X-Elite Pro didn’t work well to slowly lower things, but the current version has been updated with a helper spring that allows it to lower slowly, keeping your things from crashing off of it. Also, the older versions ‘lowest’ setting was 5 inches, but that is now only 2.5 inches above desk height.
Overall, 76% of people that purchased this best desktop standing desk gave it a 5 star rating, and another 18% rated it as 4 out of 5 stars.
Rocelco Height Adjustable Sit/Stand Desk Computer Riser
It’s ready to go right out of the box, with no assembly required. It isn’t infinitely adjustable, but has 5 different height settings. The lowest, every 4 inches, and then the highest setting of 16.3″ above the height of your work surface.
Another great feature is the keyboard drawer that is retractable. At the ‘full out’ setting, a laptop can be set on the platform.
The Rocelco has a decent weight rating, supporting up to 50 lbs of work gear. Even when loaded up with 50 lbs, the gas spring design makes raising and lowering fairly simple.
Where it falls short, however, is in the ease of use. With 2 locking levers on the back corners of the platform, it takes a decent length of arm to reach both – especially depending on what you have on the platform (tall monitors near the front edge make it more difficult).
At the same time, however, the positive ‘lock’ into position means that leaning on the platform won’t accidentally cause it to collapse/lower.
Things to keep in mind when choosing an adjustable sit stand desk converter
- Some desktop converters move outward as they go up, which requires you to back up to use the desktop in the standing position. This might not be an issue, but make sure you have the space before you purchase
- Sit to stand desktop converters that are manually operated (which is all of them, for now, except the VersiDesk) require you to pull a lever and then lift. Some also require 2 hands as there is a lever on each side. If you have some strength and 2 working hands, then great! If you don’t, check out the VersiDesk push button option (or a full desk, not just a desktop converter)
- Standing desk converters are typically smaller than a multi-monitor setup requires. Make sure the one you purchase has the space you need for the work you want to perform on it! Also, make sure it has the weight capacity for all of your gear and a buffer for a cup of coffee 🙂
DIY Standing Desk – Should you make your own, or buy and adjustable desk?
If price is a concern, and you’re thinking of making your own DIY standing desk, here are some budget options to convert your desk to a sit stand desk. They’re priced so low you’d be hard pressed to spend hours building your own when you can just buy one of these cheap adjustable standing desks. Trust me, that’s the path I took, and 3 designs and 4 years later, I spent some money and am super happy with it!
Stand Up Desk Air Rise Standing Desk ConverterThis desk converter comes with a stable steel base and a pneumatic air cylinder for stable and seamless raising and lowering. It's infinitely adjustable to any height between the 2.75 inch minimum height and 15.75 inch maximum height.
With a 32 inch wide base, and pricing well under $200 (at the time of writing), this cheap desk converter is our top choice for those on a budget.
Plus, the edges of the platform are chamfered to keep your wrists comfortable while typing.
Things to keep in mind: Make sure the 2.75inch minimum height doesn't make your desk too tall for comfortable, and proper, sitting arm position. Remember, your elbows should be at 90 degree angles or lower (straighter arm with a lower desk position).
Vertical Vitality Slider - Adjustable Height Standing Desk
For even less money, you can still have a platform that moves up and down, but what you save could cost you in the long run. This platform requires some assembly, and looks tricky to raise and lower. Plus, it has a fairly small platform and can only support 25 lbs.
This looks like it would be an ideal solution for someone with a small space and a laptop workstation without any additional monitors, or full size keyboard and mouse.
Even so, my opinion may be biased (which is possible since I decided I needed a whole desk that raised and lowered). Out of 31 user reviews, the average rating was 4.4 out of 5 stars. And, of the 3 ratings that were 3 stars or less, they didn't work and where returned without hassle.
Overall, this could be the cheapest way to get into the standing desk market and at least test if a desk converter works for you before spending more money.
Are standing desks healthier?
A recent study by the journal of Preventative Medicine showed that in general, standing desks are healthier. However, simply standing in a stationary position all day long is not any better than sitting in a stationary position all day, which is why we recommend a hybrid sit stand desk vs just a straight standing desk.
If standing desks are good, are treadmill desks better?
A treadmill desk is a simple as sliding a walking treadmill under a standing desk. This allows you to be ‘walking’ while you’re working. The same study by Preventative Medicine journal showed that the increased physical activity did lead to weight loss but at the trade-off of slightly higher typing and mouse errors.
A newer study states that walking while working with the use of a treadmill desk has a beneficial delayed effect on attention and memory, and participants perceived themselves to be more attentive. It concluded that treadmill desks are even more beneficial at increasing workforce performance than just standing desks can. Watch for an upcoming review of treadmill desk options!
Should I get a desk converter or a complete adjustable height desk?
This comes down mostly to personal preference, and slightly to work location. If your boss won’t let you get a whole new desk, or if you’re in a cubical then you’ll likely need to get a sit stand desk converter. However, if you have the option, we recommend (and I decided) to get a complete electric adjustable height standing desk. It can lift more weight, can allow you to have the exact size of tabletop/desktop that you require.
More importantly, in many cases, an adjustable desk allows your desk to go lower than you could if you placed a desk converter on top of a standard desk. I am 6’2″, and sitting down, my standard height desk was at the upper limit of what would be ‘allowable’ to maintain 90 degree angles in my knees and elbows. If I added 2-3 inches on top of that for a desk converter, it would’ve been too high. With my sit-stand adjustable desk frame, I can actually get the same desktop lower by about an inch!