iMovR Under-Desk Steel Reinforcement Plate Review

September 28, 2022
Heavy duty reinforcement plate for large monitor arms

Overview

Review Summary

Modern-day monitors like 49″ panoramic displays and other large and heavy screens are awesome, but when it comes to mounting them ergonomically on a sit-stand workstation (much less a treadmill desk workstation), continuous vibrations and accidental bumps into the desk can weaken the desktop itself over time and result in a nasty crash as the edge clamp of your heavy duty monitor arm snaps the back edge of your desktop off like a KitKat bar. While iMovR uses extremely strong desktops in their own standing desks, they also make an assortment of heavy duty monitor arms that they know customers will be installing on non-iMovR desks with cheaper MDF or particleboard desktops that could at least flex quite a bit under the load of a heavy monitor array, if not break altogether after the prolonged stress. So, they designed this seemingly simple 1/4″-thick steel reinforcement plate that can be installed underneath the desktop where the monitor arm edge clamps to the desk. And the verdict? The iMovR Under-Desk Steel Reinforcement Plate works as advertised.

MSRP / List Price $120
Street Price

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Shipping

Free shipping in the lower 48 states.

Warranty

Lifetime warranty

Construction

1/4″-thick American steel, powder coated black.

Weight Capacity

Although the product doesn’t have a weight rating per se, we tested it with an iMovR EMMA electric monitor arm (40 lbs) holding up 150 lbs of monitors attached to a cheap Chinese-made particleboard desktop and it worked very well.

Dimensions

15” x 7” x 0.25”

Product Weight

7.4 lbs

Where to buy Buy on iMovR.com

Rating

Ease of Assembly
5.0
Stability
5.0
Safety
5.0
Reliability
5.0
Customer Experience
5.0
Quality and Aesthetics
5.0
Innovation
5.0
Value
4.0
Suitability for Treadmill Desking
5.0
Positives So simple, yet an effective solution. Perfectly sized for maximum distribution of weight without running into the crossbar on the most popular standing desk models. Extremely easy to install. High-quality finish and a lifetime warranty.
Negatives A bit pricey, albeit still cheaper than machining your own steel plate, and much cheaper than replacing your entire desktop with a stronger one.

Bottom Line

5.0
Monitors are getting larger and heavier again, and new heavy-duty monitor arms are ready to lift them to an ergonomic viewing height. But with the preponderance of standing desks sold these days being manufactured in China, and most with flimsy commodity-grade MDF or chipboard desktops, the leverage of a monitor arm's edge clamp when holding up one or more heavy monitors could bend and warp the desk and over time break down the fibers to literally snap the desktop like a KitKat bar. Short of replacing the desktop with a higher-quality one that won't snap or excessively flex, this steel plate provides an elegant solution.

How To Install Heavy Display Monitors On a Standing Desk

Some may wonder why they would need the iMovR Under-Desk Steel Reinforcement Plate for the monitor arm they want to install. It’s all about stability and safety. All standing desks have some inherent instability, especially the common 2-leg variety. But even 3-legged L-shaped desks and 4-legged U-shaped desks will move a bit when shaken. This is because all lifting columns exhibit a certain amount of “deflection,” usually in the range of at least 1° to 1.5° on even the highest-performance base frames. Vibrations are induced into the desk simply by typing on a keyboard (especially if you’re on a treadmill desk), and of course bumping into the desk with your hip will give it a good wobble. (For more geeky details see our primer on Why Some Standing Desks Shake More Than Others.)

This reinforcement plate will add strength to the desktop while still looking good even under the desktop.

One of the considerations that should be top of mind when installing a heavy display monitor (e.g. a 49″ panoramic) or an array of monitors (e.g., you can lift of up to six in unison with something like an EMMA electric monitor arm) is how much the monitors will shake even during normal use. After all, you’re placing a large mass up in the air to be held up by a single-pole monitor arm with multiple flexible joints and components. And the entire thing is attached to the back edge of the desktop by a single edge clamp; the desktop itself having a fair amount of flex in this situation. This can even be an issue for dual monitor arms like the Ergotron HX Desk Dual Monitor Arm.

Assuming you’ve gotten the best arm for the job and that it has a good “purchase” on the back edge of your desk, there’s a common problem that most people never think about, which is the integrity and strength of the desktop itself. These days, most standing desks are made in China using cheap MDF or particleboard to keep the cost and weight of the desktops down. Unlike American-made desks which tend to use the highest-density MDF cores (e.g. like iMovR uses on all of their desks), imported desktops can become a single point of failure when you consider the force and stress that 60 lbs of monitor(s) and arm can inflict on that back edge of the desktop when someone bumps into the desk.

Even if catastrophic failure of your desktop snapping like a KitKat bar is unlikely, over long periods of use the fibers in the desktop can get weaker and weaker with each vibration, and the desktop itself may sag in the middle where all that weight is concentrated on just a few square inches of wood. Either way, there are only two ways to address the problem. Method one would be to replace the desktop with something stronger. Several popular standing desk brands now sell their tops standalone; you’ll want to look for an American-made one ideally, such as iMovR’s standalone 3D-laminate or solid wood tops.

Method two would be to fashion a thick steel plate that can attach to the bottom of the desktop and reinforce that entire portion of the desk where the monitor arm edge clamp will attach.

A Surprisingly Simple Solution That Works

iMovR is known for building the most tech-forward ergonomic desks and accessories, so it’s kind of unusual to see a product from them that is seemingly as simple as a sheet of plate steel. No electronics, no software, and nothing more than an installation video for documentation.

low view of heavy-duty monitor arm reinforcement plate
The durable construction of this reinforcement plate is thick and strong enough for the heaviest monitor setups.

Upon closer inspection, perhaps there is a little more that goes into this steel plate than meets the eye. First, it’s made of high-quality American steel that’s 1/4″ thick and weighs a hefty 7.4 lbs. There are 11 screw holes around the perimeter of the plate, and everything is nicely polished and powder coated in protective black paint. Even though this steel plate is going to go under your desk where no one will see it, the plate has a high end finish just as you’d expect on any iMovR product. There is a 12th hole closer to the edge of the place that seems random. We asked iMovR experts why this hole is there and they said it was added because of the manufacturing plant’s requirements for the powder coating process. It might look funky, but again, it will be under the desk where nobody will see it.

We tested the fit on all the standing desks we had in the lab to see how ideal the dimensions are. There was no desk that the plate wouldn’t fit on, meaning that it didn’t run into the crossbar. iMovR claims it was designed to the maximum dimension that would work with all the most popular standing desks, and it certainly seems true to that claim.

We also tested the plate on one of the many standard commodity desks we have reviewed in the past. It did show that with a heavy monitor system, any movement that transfers into the desk can be reduced by using the reinforcement plate.

Installation Couldn’t Be Easier

Most users will probably just get eleven screws of the proper depth, drill some pilot holes using the plate as a template, and drive them in. In their video, however, iMovR also recommends using some Liquid Nails or equivalent adhesive for a “belt and suspenders” installation. For $4 a tube, it seems worth the investment to layer on some Liquid Nails adhesive before screwing the plate down.

Is It Worth The Price?

If you’re a confident DIYer with the right machining tools, you might think for $120 you’ll get your own sheet steel, cut it to size, use your drill press to cut screw holes, grind down the rough edges and powder coat it yourself, but for the average Joe who just plunked down a couple of grand or more for some new monitors and a heavy duty monitor arm, it seems like a decent value proposition to have a quick, surefire solution in hand.

The alternative of buying a new desktop manufactured with a higher quality wood core is probably going to run you a few hundred bucks with shipping, so it’s certainly a cost effective solution in that regard. Perhaps as more and more people buy heavy monitors and iMovR sells more of these plates, they’ll get some better production economics. But given the niche application and the quality of production, the price seems eminently reasonable.


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