Best Compact Standing Desk Reviews
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When Only a Small Standing Desk Will Do
While 95% of standing desks sold are 30 inches deep there are times when that’s just too big for your available space, and what you really need is a desk with 28 inches of depth or even less. Whether for a small Manhattan apartment, a dorm room or a “hot desk” area, these smaller desks are ideal for the laptop user who doesn’t plan to have a lot of external monitors (for focal depth, users with multiple LCDs will likely want that full 30″ depth in all likelihood).
Our staff review experts have gathered here all the commonly available standing desk options with shallow depths of 23.5″ to 28″, to make your hunt for the perfect compact standing workstation a little easier. You can click on each compact desk in the roundup to go read the full review. We also added the Notadesk Elsewhere at the bottom of the roundup and, while it’s not a standard standing desk, it’s a portable standing workspace with an interesting design that will work in compact spaces.
Key Considerations When Buying A Small Adjustable Height Desk
No question, there are a lot fewer options available when shopping for a shallow desk than a standard sized one, but there are a few important things to keep in mind that are unique to the smaller format.
First and foremost is actually the number of options for desktop width. Since you’re already going to have less surface area by virtue of having less depth, you want to make sure you can get the widest desktop to fit your space. Depending on the model this can be limited to anywhere from 30″ to 71″ wide.
And don’t forget to consider the desk warranties. For more information on warranties, be sure to read our primer on How to Compare Warranties on Standing Desks.
Top Standing Desks for Small Spaces
It’s hard to say what we like the most about the Jaxson desk, it has so many distinguishing features over the dozens of “ordinary” commodity-grade standing desks we’ve lab tested over the years. The ultra-reliable brushless motor technology in the base is obviously a standout, the Jaxson being the first standing desk in 24 years not to be built with brushed motors. The unobtrusive yet sleekly contoured handset is as “space age” as it gets in standing desk controls, with built-in Bluetooth, an infrared presence sensor and NFC. But it’s the overall styling that really grabs us, from the chamfered square columns to the ergo-contoured 3D-laminated tops, there are no hard edges to this desk. Where many standing desks have an industrial equipment aesthetic, the Jaxson with its warm colors and softened edges just looks nicer in any home or commercial office environment. And the industry-leading 15 year “top to bottom” warranty and 100-day satisfaction guarantee is classic iMovR. At only a slight premium in price to the most popular standing desks out there today (all of which are made in China), this American beauty is likely to massively disrupt the competitive landscape and finally give consumers the impetus to ditch the cheaply-made foreign goods.
When you need a desk as fast as possible, and are willing to pay a little bit more to not have to worry about product quality, reliability, durability or lack of cutting edge features. What you trade off is size and color personalization, but those desks take longer to built-to-order and ship.
Perfected ergonomics and designer furniture panache combined? This desk brings it all together like no other we’ve seen because it allows you to pick the configuration that best fits both your sense of style and your ergonomic needs at the same time. The Scandanavian-styled Red River or Baltic birch top, curved edge option and optional Fly Deck monitor stand together to form one of the most beautiful standing desks we’ve seen. Plus, it has the trusty Lander Lite base beneath it. It’s a desk that forces you to make very few compromises.
iMovR has managed to take the industry’s No. 1-rated, premium-technology standing desk, the original Lander, keep 90 percent of the technology features and significantly lower the entry price with this new Lander Lite offering. It’s a winner because of features like factory pre-assembly, Bluetooth-enabled height control paddle and smartphone app, built-in health coach, and the choice of over 50 colors of Surf(x) 3D-laminated or solid wood desktops resulting in superior value to consumers.
If you’re tired of the typical “two legs and a slab of wood” standing desk design, the Captain’s Desk is a breath of fresh air. Packaging that design with the technological features of the Lander Lite base makes for an exceptional desk. You get the warranty, assembly, stability, height range and quality you would expect from a premium, American-made iMovR desk, plus a stunning design and the strong Baltic or Red River birch desktop.
iMovR’s Freedom Standing Desk Line takes cheaply-made imports to task (when it was still in production), combining American-made quality with an impressively low price point. The Energize model (reviewed here) features iMovR’s standard ergo-contoured, 3D-laminated tabletop while the Cascade model includes iMovR’s built-in SteadyType™ keyboard tray.
The bottom line is that the Ergonofis Sway solid wood standing desk is a quality product with one of the best bases money can buy and Canadian-sourced wood that will add a touch of class to any upscale office space. They don’t have a ton of options, opting for a more curated listing typical of many businesses trying to streamline the purchasing process. The desktop quality isn’t quite up to the standard of our favorite American-made standing desks from iMovR, but is better than all the other commodity-grade desks coming out of China. While the price is a bit higher than those more common desks, it is meant for shoppers wanting a superior product, and they will learn that the cost is worth it.
($3.5B+) Steelcase is the biggest brand in commercial office furniture but this new Solo standing desk is targeting the home office user, and the jury is still out on whether the company can eventually learn how to sell to and support the residential customer. The Solo desk aims to hit a $600-$700 price point with stripped-down basics and limited size and color offerings, but a much easier assembly process than their other desk lines that they’ve repositioned and repriced for the home office. Based on a new Linak base made in a new Thai factory, it circumvents the higher cost of American-made or Danish-made Linak bases while avoiding Chinese tariffs and quality issues. The desktop, however, is very basic, not of the highest quality, and at 55 dB it may be one of the noisiest electric frames out there.
An exclusive private-label desk offered only through a single ergonomics products retailer, Fully, the Jarvis is built on a commodity base frame made by Jiecang of China (see our separate lab test review of the Jiecang base). A minor modification of a heavier foot distinguishes it slightly from direct competitor UpLift Desk. Fully offers many choices for its desktops, including very cheap Chinese-made options and very pricey American-made alternatives. The standalone Jarvis base gets high review marks on Amazon from DIYers who use their own tabletops. Compares favorably against other Chinese-sourced bases like Uplift, S2S and Conset. For slightly more you can get an American-made base, if not an entirely made-in-America desk from makers like iMovR.
The ModTable desk was once the king of low-cost stand up desk. Its quick-adjusting crank mechanism is simple to use and wasn’t tethered to a power outlet the way motorized desks are. But changes in the stand up desk marketplace have resulted in cheaper, more powerful electric desks, and ModTable has since lost its main advantage over other desk options.
With only a quick look, you can tell the only reason to buy this desk over another is if you love the birch top. Unfortunately for Floyd, there are a variety of birch standing desks (with even higher quality tops) out there that have better lifting bases, especially for that much money. This being their only sit-stand desk option, it would be smarter to go with a manufacturer that specializes in ergonomic office furniture.
The glass top on the ApexDesk Lumi Standing Desk may sound like it will give your office a stylish upgrade, and on the surface, an undamaged version of the desk could do that, at least until you start using it. The glass easily picks up highly visible prints. The controller can be annoying to use before you get the presets established. Lack of safety features in the controller can be dangerous. And that isn’t mentioning the flaws that are overlooked by quality control or damage that happens in transit. But the USB port is a nice addition, and controller being in the glass desktop will protect it from bumps from office chair arms. It is also pretty easy to assemble, if not the fastest we have seen. But those perks are probably not enough to make up for something that is supposed to look stylish but likely won’t arrive that way, even at its low price point.
As commercial office furniture sales plummeted with the pandemic, Knoll and its Big Furniture peers (Steelcase, Herman Miller, et al) all scrambled to get a “WFH” (work from home) desk line in the market. These are not digitally-native companies and all their offerings have been artificially constrained so as not to cannibalize sales from their historically exclusive commercial furniture dealer channels. It seems Knoll tried the least to make a viable offering, likely to also avoid channel conflict with Fully, which it acquired in 2019. The Hipso may have hip branding, but the offering is so constrained in height range, sizes and colors offered, warranty length, etc., that even at this price point it is completely uncompetitive.
If you’re searching for the cheapest standing desk you could possibly buy while still getting decent support, the Remi is worth a look. But you have to accept its limitations in height adjustment range (only good for medium-height users), sizes (only three non-standard desktop sizes offered), finishes (only three desktop colors and two frame colors offered), and quality (really cheap particleboard desktop and flimsy TFL finishes). Still, it’s a better bet than other Chinese-made desks sold on Amazon that might cost $100-$200 less but be worthless in durability, with challenging customer support and returns.
With the collapse of office furniture sales as a result of the pandemic, Herman Miller and its peers are scrambling to re-position, re-price and re-box a tiny subset of their commercial office furniture products to market through retail and e-commerce channels to the new Work From Home (WFH) army of consumers. In alien territory that is dominated by online brands like UpLift, Fully, iMovR and countless Chinese brands on Amazon, these multi-billion dollar companies are like elephants in the duck pond, trying to figure out how to float and fly. Despite their resources, they cannot have too much channel conflict with their decades-old, protected dealer network, so they took only a very limited number of products, severely cut back the options selections, and started selling direct-to-consumer, working around their costly dealer channel. As with offerings from Steelcase, Knoll, and other commercial office behemoths, what Herman Miller has delivered here is a vastly overpriced, severely limited offering with a sketchy delivery and installation experience for users at best. It is so overly limited in desktop shapes, sizes and finishes that you’d have to be pretty lucky to get a good match with your home office space. And you better not be too short or too tall because this hacked-back Renew standing desk doesn’t even meet ANSI/BIFMA G1 standards for ergonomic height adjustment range.
With the collapse of office furniture sales as a result of the pandemic, Herman Miller and its peers are scrambling to re-position, re-price and re-box a tiny subset of their commercial office furniture products to market through retail and e-commerce channels to the new Work From Home (WFH) army of consumers. In alien territory that is dominated by online brands like UpLift, Fully, iMovR and countless Chinese brands on Amazon, these multi-billion dollar companies are like elephants in the duck pond, trying to figure out how to float and fly. Despite their resources, they cannot have too much channel conflict with their decades-old, protected dealer network, so they took only a very limited number of products, severely cut back the options selections, and started selling direct-to-consumer, working around their costly dealer channel. As with offerings from Steelcase, Knoll, and other commercial office behemoths, what Herman Miller has delivered here is a vastly overpriced, severely limited offering with a sketchy delivery and installation experience for users at best. It is so overly limited in desktop shapes, sizes and finishes that you’d have to be pretty lucky to get a good match with your home office space. And you better not be too short or too tall because this hacked-back Motia standing desk doesn’t even meet ANSI/BIFMA G1 standards for ergonomic height adjustment range.
Although well-made and well-priced, MultiTable’s Mod-E has been slowly superseded by new entrants into the electric desk category. Lack of sit-walk capacity and other premium features have dropped the Mod-E’s rating.
Like the other two standing desks in the Herman Miller work-from-home line-up, the Nevi is severely overpriced, barely configurable, and of poor quality. With a weak warranty and the most spartan of features, it tries to compete with standing desks that cost half as much and pack a lot more value. The $199-$299 delivery and install cost seems incongruous with a bottom-end standing desk, where most consumers would rather make a DIY project out of assembling it, but apparently that would entail too much of a redesign job for a desk meant to be put together by professional furniture installers. The one user review of the Nevi on the Herman Miller website is a 1-star where the customer wished they could leave “negative stars,” which kind of says it all.
This Northread adjustable-height desk is a low-cost addition to the available compact standing desk and those with quick installations (relative to other commodity-grade standing desks in this price range). It does have some nice features, like the extra power ports built into the controller and pencil drawer. On the other hand, the manufacturing quality is quite low, resulting in short warranties, open gaps to the inner mechanics, misaligned parts, and shaky stability. However, that is basically what you will get when paying that little for a product you are going to use almost every day.
FlexiSpot uses the very use cheapest actuator mechanisms and a single-drive motor to make the Vici a bottom-dollar offering, and they only use only a single-stage base that won’t go low enough for very short people or high enough for very tall people. The Vici’s warranty is not great either (5 years for the frame, motor and other mechanisms, 2 years for the electronics, and zero on the desktop), which tells you about how much confidence they have in their own product. As for the promise of being “quick assembled” that is perhaps the most specious claim of all of FlexiSpot’s hyperbolic marketing copy (they literally put this in the product name).
The IKEA Knotten is great at what it is: A piece of furniture designed for storage in a foyer. The issue is when IKEA calls it a standing desk. It comes in one size and can’t handle either monitor arm or keyboard tray installation, so it’s in an ergonomic barren space. The desktop surface is very small. It is still an IKEA product, so installation is going to be a chore.
The ecotribe Standing Desk is a unique form of workstation that is primarily meant for working while standing. It offers slots for inserting different working surfaces at a variety of heights.
The SHW Memory Preset Standing Desk is a cheap option for a sit-stand workstation with a standard laminated tabletop and has a decent number of options in color and a few sizes.
This FAMISKY Dual Motor Standing Desk is a sit-stand workstation option in a low price tier with a few color and size options that you can get through Amazon.
The Humanscale eFloat One is a compact standing desk with a bamboo top and a single leg design that is meant to provide a sit-stand workstation for smaller areas.
The Humanscale Float Mini is a compact standing desk with such a small footprint that it can fit in any small space, though it limits your working surface.
The Airtouch from Steelcase is another in their growing selection of standing desks they design for more ergonomic office environments. A single pneumatic lifting certainly makes it unique among sit-to-stand table options on the market.
This Up-Rite mobile desk provides a standing desk option for anyone that needs to be on the move in their office or working around the home. With brakes on two of the caster wheels, you can keep your workstation in place while you type.
This Northread electric standing desk is a cheap option for basic functionality of a standing desk. It has a glass top and comes in either black or white, to fit various décor. Glass tops might be difficult to keep clean, but are pretty when they are spotless. It isn’t ideal for the tallest or shortest users because the height range is limited with a single-stage design. Having a power strip, pencil drawer, and USB ports are nice bonuses, but if you want to mount anything with a clamp, the frame will get in the way. In general, this Northread glass top standing desk is a low-cost addition to the available compact standing desk and those with quick installations (relative to other commodity-grade standing desks in this price range).
Alternative Option for Small Spaces
We started the review process knowing the Notadesk Elsewhere wasn’t suitable as your sole work surface in a single position for a long period of time due to its ergonomics, but we left the review process surprised and impressed by the product’s versatility and novelty. It truly is not a desk, but instead a portable popup standing workspace.
Completing Your Ergonomic Workstation
Acquiring the best standing desk for your decor, budget and performance requirements is Step One. But making it a true ergonomic workstation involves adding the appropriate accessories you’ll need to keep your body in a correct posture, and have a neat and tidy setup. Check out our comprehensive guides to monitor arms, keyboard trays, anti-fatigue mats, ergonomic seats, cable management kits, power management modules, foot rests and under-desk treadmills for both expert advice and lab-tested product reviews of options in each of these categories.
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