The Best Standing Desks Under $400
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If you’re looking to get a cheap standing desk, the good news is there are many options on the market to choose from. The bad news is that not all of them are of decent quality. This is where our lab tests really serve to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Our experts have lab tested dozens of sit-stand desks over the years (you can see all of them in our Best Sit-Stand Desk Reviews round-up). As we frequently get requests from readers for a short list of the best affordable standing desks to consider, we previously asked our editors to compile their top picks under $700. Now we’ve asked them to compile the best you can buy for under $400.
You should note that the cost of standing desks has gone up almost everywhere in the market ever since the pandemic with the increasing costs of raw materials and shipping globally, so there are fewer options than there used to be in this price range.
What Is The Cheapest Standing Desk?
The cheapest standing desk we’ve reviewed is the IKEA Knotten at $159 (and there are even cheaper options available on Amazon) but options in this ultra-low price range probably won’t be quite what you’re thinking of when you picture a standing desk. They might not be height adjustable (like the Knotten), they might have sketchy crank handles for manually adjusting the desk height (slowly and noisily), or they might have such obvious design flaws that they can’t possibly hold up to regular use.
As for the cheapest standing desk that looks like a standing desk, we’ve reviewed the IKEA Bekant that starts at $199. It has two legs and a top, and adjusts electrically. However, you’ll often find that standing desks like these are even trickier because you’re sacrificing somewhere to make this price fit. You can read our Bekant review for more detail, but put simply: Electric height adjustable desks in this price range tend to be underpowered, poorly made, very hard to assemble, and very quick to fail.
When considering standing desks in this price range, it’s also important to consider the alternative of adding a standing desk converter on top of your existing desk. You can get an excellent converter for the price of a very cheap desk. For more information on making the choice, check out our primer on Standing Desk vs. Sit-Stand Converter and see reviews of our Best Standing Desk Converters.
How Much Does A Stand Up Desk Cost?
Standing desks we’ve reviewed range from $159 to well over $2,000. Desks with solid wood or custom desktops can be much more expensive, the biggest and nicest solid wood L-desks ranging up to $8,000. So there’s quite a range, but to make it simple we split up the desks we’ve reviewed into four tiers:
Ultra Premium (over $1,100) standing desks should offer the best desk you can buy. In this price range you should expect stunning finishes and premium quality components. Go to Ultra Premium standing desks roundup.
Premium (under $1,100) standing desks require a bigger investment, but are feature-loaded, usually feature better build quality and warranties, and are sure to match the décor of the executive suite. Go to Premium standing desks roundup.
Value (under $800) standing desks offer good feature sets and specifications without costing as much as the premium adjustable height desk offerings. This tier is typically where you find your best value for the dollar. Go to Value standing desks roundup.
Budget (under $400) standing desks have been optimized for cost-savings. They have generally lower, though not necessarily poor, performance specs, and come with the smallest price points and shortest warranties.
The Budget category is what we’re discussing in this roundup.
Is A Standing Desk Worth It?
Are standing desks overrated? As with most questions, that depends on context. We know that sitting for long periods of time is terrible for you. We also know most people have to work (often at a computer) for long periods of time. How do you reconcile these two facts? You stand while working.
At the same time, a standing desk is not a panacea for all of your back and neck woes. Alone, it won’t help you lose a lot of weight. A standing desk is worth it if you’ll use it (and some have a very effective “health coach” feature to make sure you do). A standing desk that stays at sitting height is just an overly expensive desk that lacks storage.
We also find standing desks to be an excellent “gateway drug” into the world of ergodynamics. Once they start standing more, most people will be very happy and many of those will then move on to explore monitor arms, keyboard trays and treadmill desks.
How Cheap Is Too Cheap?
As part of assessing which cheap standing desk is best for you, we’d like to point out some other important articles on the subject, which we highly recommend any prospective desk buyer reads before they commit to one brand or model over another. Probably the most important is our primer on Why Some Sit-Stand Desks Shake More Than Others, since reasonable stability is going to be the main thing that will be hard to find in a desk under $400—in fact, only one model meets our experts’ standards in this price range.
Along with stability, any buyer should be concerned about manufacturing quality, ease-of-assembly, ease-of-use, customer support and warranty when buying a product of this complexity and cost. For more detailed criteria, see our article How We Conduct Standing Desk Reviews. For more information on what warranties cover and don’t cover, be sure to read our primer on How to Compare Warranties on Standing Desks.
We have not included any manual sit-stand desks in this round-up because they represent less than 2% of the US market at this point; the electric sit-stand desk has won the game, and at this point, there are numerous electric desks that are less expensive and far more reliable than the few sit-stand crank desks still on the market.
It is also worth noting that there are now fewer cheap standing desk options as a result of the new Chinese tariffs, so we’ve had to drop a few former contenders from the roster below. For example, the Stand Desk which found tremendous success as the first $400 standing desk on Kickstarter in 2014 now starts at $479.95 when configured bare bones.
As you might expect the cheapest standing desks most commonly emanate from China. Learn more about the differences in quality, durability and performance you can expect from Chinese-made Standing Desks versus Made-in-USA.
On to the reviews. To see the detailed reviews behind each of these abstracts just click on the link.
The Best Height Adjustable Desks Under $400
Relative to other products in this price range the iMovR+Eureka i1 Standing Desk offers better reliability, durability, tech features and ease of assembly. Arrives in one box, unlike any other electric standing desk we’ve seen so far. Only one size, only two desktop color options. We’d love to see more options. In terms of overall value in a desk under $400 this Eureka Ergonomic desk sweeps the category. None of the disappointing shortcomings of other desks in this price range, a solid bargain for your money. Read our full review
This desk is made for a laptop user who doesn’t have specific ergonomic needs like a keyboard tray or monitor arm. Options and weight capacity are minimal, and it, unfortunately, comes with a crossbar running between the legs right where your feet want to be. It’s a good value for those who don’t mind the drawbacks because of its price, easy assembly and built-in drawer and USB ports. Read our full review
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and a $299 desk made from the lowest cost components in China is not worth the savings over a desk of reasonable quality and reliability. The SmartDesk 2 Home Edition with its single-motor, single-stage base is weak as a kitten and shaky even at relatively low heights, with a one year warranty that tells you all you need to know-it’s lucky to last a year. The more robust dual-motor, dual-stage Business Edition is a definite improvement worth the $100 but still shakes like a leaf at standing height, and isn’t built to last. For not a lot more money you could upgrade to a quality vendor with better real-world specs and better support. Read our full review
Compared to the Home Edition, the more robust dual-motor, dual-stage Business Edition is a definite improvement worth the $100, but it still shakes like a leaf at standing height, and isn’t built to last. For not a lot more money you could upgrade to a quality vendor with better real-world specs and better support. Plus, with the unadvertised $49 shipping fee, this product doesn’t technically meet the price criteria “under-$400” for this round-up review. Read our full review
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.
While its new reduced $399 price might seem alluring at first glance, its poor specs and low weight make it a weak contender in its category. The Bekant might save you money now, but you may find yourself going through the hassle of replacing the desk in a few weeks or months, based on consistent user reviews. Even on IKEA’s own website curated customer reviews sum up to 1.8 stars, which says it all. Our opinion? You’re better off paying a bit more now for a quality desk that uses sturdier and more reliable components. Read our full review
How About Building Your Own?
The other route to go when searching for a cheap standing desk is to build your desk with an inexpensive base and an inexpensive top. This is slightly more work because you have to make two purchases instead of one, but it shouldn’t add any more assembly since full desks in this price range generally require attaching the desktop as part of the installation. We’ve added abstracts below for all of the standing desk frames we’ve reviewed that are under $400. Be sure to check out our full roundup of electric base frames and our guide to choosing the right desktop for more information about the process of building your own desk.
The Best Standing Desk Frames Under $400
iMovR’s new Freedom Standing Desk Line takes cheaply-made imports to task, combining American-made quality with an impressively low price point.
The Studio 470 was designed for one purpose: to make a high-quality yet inexpensive small-sized standing desk. Supremely light weight design is easy to handle and perfectly suited to the compact footprint. It is not the base to place under a large, heavy desktop, or to be used with a lot of desktop equipment. If you’re looking to make a fast and simple compact standing desk for use with a laptop setup or minimal computer gear this new robotically-manufactured base gives cheap Chinese-made DIY frames a serious run for the money.
One of the cheapest standing desk frames available, we can only barely recommend this frame for a medium-sized user on a super-low budget. It will enable correct ergonomic positions because you can add a keyboard tray and monitor arm, but the experience won’t be pleasant because of persistent and infuriating controller errors and horrible wobbliness at standing height. Overall it is a flawed design with extraordinarily poor quality construction.
The company makes over-the-top marketing claims like “the highest-rated desk in the world” and maintains its bases are of “unparalleled technology.” As far as we can tell, the only things this company is “best in the world” at is their gift for marketing hyperbole, and finding the cheapest possible components to make a standing desk. Customer complaints on public forums number in the hundreds, if not more.
This is about the cheapest electric lifting base desk we’ve ever found in the retail market, and you can count on getting what you pay for in the poor overall quality. If you’re a medium-height user on a super-low budget, this desk should allow you to get into a solid ergonomic position since you can add accessories like a keyboard tray or monitor arm. However, you’re taking a risk with this Chinese-made desk leg kit because it has a track record of poor verified user reviews and zero warranty support.
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.
Full reviews for these products are coming up:
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