The Best Standing-Desk Converters 2024

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Photo: Marcus McDonald

If you’re wondering why you have a persistent ache in the back of your neck, your poor posture (or leaning over your keyboard for hours on end) could be the culprit. As someone who has reported on the topic of ergonomic office supplies for over four years, here is my advice: Invest in your desk setup. “Sitting for prolonged periods of time in front of a computer can cause significant upper-back and neck pain,” says chiropractor David Perna of Back & Body Medical. Jan Lefkowitz, a chiropractor at New York’s Body in Balance Chiropractic, agrees that “posture is a worsening problem.” He explains, “I have noticed that younger people are getting much more back pain and neck pain than they used to, and I feel it’s from the fact that screen time starts at a much earlier age than it did for older generations.” Both experts agree that one solution to worsening posture is to invest in a standing desk, which allows for shifts of sitting and standing throughout the day. However, you might be pretty attached to your existing desk, or you simply don’t have room for a bulky mechanical standing desk at home. That’s where finding the best standing-desk converters come in: They can be plonked on any existing workspace to instantly create a more ergonomic one. Below, I chatted with Perna and Lefkowitz as well as other posture experts and work-from-homers about their favorite standing-desk converters.

Finding the right converter design for your desk is all about aesthetics (how it will work in your space) and practicality (how tall you are). You will definitely need to consider how tall your desk converter can rise, how much height it will add to your current desk, and how those measurements will work with your height. Standing-desk converters top out at around 20 inches; the shortest recommended converter below tops out at 15 inches. You’re aiming to have your desktop or keyboard tray at elbow height, so you can use a keyboard and mouse with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle for better ergonomics and your screen at eye level. A good rule of thumb is to try testing out a stack of books on your current table. See how many you need to get to your laptop keyboard to elbow height and use that measurement as a guide. Most converters should be suitable for a variety of heights, but that depends on the desk you already own and how tall it is.

Think about what you’ll be putting on top of the standing-desk converter, and pay attention to the maximum weight it can hold. All of the options in this guide can hold 20 pounds, which should be plenty for a laptop and a monitor, and many hold 30 pounds or more, which is typically sufficient for dual-monitor setups.

To position your converter at the right height, whether you’re sitting or standing, it will have either manual or motorized controls, though motorized controls are rarer. Adjusting your standing-desk converter may require using a handle to lift it with one or both hands or simply putting a little oomph into raising it to your desired height. Manually adjustable standing-desk converters are the most affordable option and don’t require a power source.

Standing-desk converters are not exactly known for their sleekness — many have cumbersome designs with keyboard trays and legs that protrude from your desk like scaffolding around a skyscraper. There are more minimal and sleeker converters that can be easily stowed away when you’re not using them, and larger ones that tend to be sturdier, hold more weight, and rise higher but take up a lot of space on the desk. I’ve listed the approximate surface area required on your desktop for each converter below.

Standing-desk converters can easily cost just as much as — or more than — a basic standing desk, so the best setup will come down to the furniture in your existing workspace, how much you want to spend, and the features you’re looking for. More expensive standing-desk converters will usually offer a sturdier build, higher maximum weight, and smoother lift controls. In this guide, a price ranking of $ denotes converters under $200, $$ is a range of $201 to $400, and $$$ is $401 and up.

VariDesk Essential 36

Max height: 17.5” | Max weight: 25 pounds | Lift: Manual | Surface size: 36” wide | $$

The Varidesk is a great option because it easily switches between sitting and standing heights with a spring-lift mechanism so you can slowly ease into working-from-standing. You can choose between 11 height settings, which max out at 17.5 inches, and it also arrives fully assembled. The Varidesk has a weighted base to add stability and will easily hold a monitor and a laptop, supporting up to 25 pounds. It also has a two-tier design, with an integrated keyboard and mouse tray to make using it more ergonomic and comfortable — when it’s lowered to the desktop while you’re sitting, it still functions as a monitor riser, and when it’s raised while you’re standing, it can keep your screen at eye level and your keyboard at your elbows. “I found the two levels especially useful when using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse,” says Strategist writer Rachael Griffiths, who tested the Varidesk out. “I didn’t have to hunch up and stand awkwardly to reach up and use everything at the same time (which would have defeated the purpose of a standing desk).” A bonus: As someone who also uses their desk as a place to do makeup, Griffiths says she utilized the lower shelf by laying makeup brushes along it. The converter also comes in a 36-inch Pro model with a higher weight limit that can easily hold a dual-monitor setup, as well as a 48-inch width if you prefer an extra-large workspace.

Vivo Adjustable 32-Inch Desk Riser

Max height: 20” | Max weight: 33 pounds | Lift: Manual | Surface area: 32” wide by 15.7” deep or 26” wide by 11.8” deep | $ 

The Vivo is one of the best-rated standing-desk converters available on Amazon with thousands of five-star reviews. Reviewers report that it is easy to set up and use and suitable for all kinds of work situations. One person called it a “game changer for at-home work flow,” writing that the “quality is outstanding, super easy to adjust to my height, and goes up and down super smooth.” Another says using it has helped to resolve their “back, neck, and shoulder issues.” The Vivo reaches a maximum height of 20 inches, and it can hold up to 33 pounds. In describing its adjustability, one reviewer says, “You can raise and lower the shelf with one hand,” because it “has a piston-operated lift (so no lifting) and goes up and down very gently — even with two monitors.” Although it’s considerably cheaper than the VariDesk, it has similar useful features, like the keyboard and mouse shelf with space for other accessories, and it comes in four colors and two widths for anyone who needs to fit it on a smaller or larger desk.

VariDesk Pro Plus 36 Height-Adjustable Standing Desk

Max height: 17.5” | Max weight: 35 pounds | Lift: Manual spring-assisted lift | Surface area: 36” wide by 30” deep | $$$

If you have two screens, VariDesk’s larger model is a good option. This desk’s size can easily accommodate two screens with a separate curved shelf for a keyboard, mouse, and other accessories. Chiropractor Steven Shoshany owns this model and likes that you can “slap it on” your existing desk “and go from sitting to standing,” he says. Shoshany’s final piece of advice is to invest in a standing desk mat or yoga mat to protect your feet from hard flooring.

AlcoveRiser Standing Desk Converters
Very Good Deal

Max height: 19.7” | Max weight: 33 pounds | Lift: Manual | Surface area: 28” wide by 16.3” deep | $$ 

The AlcoveRiser has a clever removable keyboard stand with a cutout on the upper level of the converter, so you can use the tray for either a stand-alone keyboard or a laptop. You can adjust it with one hand via a handle on one side. It has a maximum height just shy of 20 inches and can hold up to 33 pounds. Rae Wellness co-founder Angie Tebbe told us that she likes this particular standing-desk converter because it helps her to “stay active and stretch my legs between meetings.”

Ergotron WorkFit-T Desk Converter

Max height: 15” | Max weight: 35 pounds | Lift: Manual | Surface area: 35” wide by 23.3” deep | $$$

If your workspace requires a more low-profile option, this one from Ergotron reaches a maximum height of 15 inches (the lowest of the non-portable converters in this list) and can hold a maximum of 35 pounds. “I’m very particular about the aesthetics of my workspace and have had to change the layout and dimensions of my desk several times over the years to accommodate shifting spaces,” says Helen Hou-Sandí, lead developer for WordPress. She initially tried the VariDesk standing-desk converter, but it unfortunately “moves forward when you go into lift mode, so in my workspace, it backed me into a wall, and I didn’t like that,” Hou-Sandí says. She appreciates that the Ergotron easily adjusts straight up and down and has “a perfectly sized keyboard and mouse area for my needs.” It is available in black or a “sleeker white,” according to Hou-Sandí.

MOFT Z Sit-Stand Desk

Max height: 10” | Max weight: 22 pounds | Surface area: 9.4” wide by 11” deep | Lift: Manual | $

If you tend to work on the go but still want to experiment with standing while Slacking, I suggest this unassuming converter. Strategist contributor Charlotte Klein says it sits “somewhere between a traditional standing-desk converter and a laptop stand.” It’s also easy to fold and weighs less than a pound, and “when folded up, it’s the size of a magazine and a half-inch thick.” That makes it compact enough to slot on a bookshelf when you’re not using it.

• Alexa Buckley, co-founder of Margaux
• Rachael Griffiths, Strategist writer
• Helen Hou-Sandí, lead developer at WordPress
• Charlotte Klein, Strategist contributor
• Jan Lefkowitz, chiropractor at New York’s Body in Balance Chiropractic
• Benjamin Okyere, data engineer
• David Perna, chiropractor at Back & Body Medical
• Steven Shoshany, chiropractor and clinic director
• Joe Tatta, integrative pain expert
• Angie Tebbe, co-founder of Rae Wellness

Additional reporting by Jordan Bowman and Rachael Griffiths.

Update on June 27, 2024: Removed the SHW 36-Inch Height Adjustable Standing Desk Converter and Feelin’ Homey 100% Bamboo Lap Desk; updated prices and checked stock for all other products. 

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