Regardless of whether you’re working from home (opens in new tab)or have already returned to the office, the right desk can make all the difference when it comes to productivity. While you could spend your workday sitting at an office desk (opens in new tab), with a standing desk (opens in new tab) you can break up your routine and work while standing or sit down when it’s time to take a break. Unlike manual standing desks that you need to adjust yourself, with an electric standing desk you can simply push a button and the desk raises on its own.
Based in Coppell, Texas, Vari has been making both standing desk converters and standalone standing desks since 2013. While we’ve reviewed a number of the company’s desks in the past, Vari recently released its Essentials Collection which features streamlined versions of its existing products that are perfect for your home office.
Today we’ll be taking a closer look at the packaging, assembly process, ease of use and features of the Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk to see how it compares to other standing desks including the company’s more expensive Vari Electric Standing Desk.
Pricing and availability
The Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk (opens in new tab) is available directly from Vari’s website for $499 though the company is currently running an Essential Sale (opens in new tab) promotion where you can save 20 percent automatically at checkout. Vari also offers free shipping in the contiguous United States and most orders arrive within 2-5 days.
As the name suggests, the Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk takes the best aspects of the Vari Electric Standing Desk and removes several premium features in order to keep the cost down. For instance, this desk features one motor and a single desktop size while the company’s premium offering has dual motors and is available in a variety of sizes. At the same time, it and other products in the company’s Essential Collection have limited certifications and are ineligible for free installation. Still though, if you can get past these omissions, the Vari Electric Standing Desk still has a lot to offer.
The black or white laminate desktop (which is only available in one size) is 48in (122cm) wide and 24in (61cm) deep while the actual work surface is 23.25in (59cm) deep as there is a 22in (56cm) cutout at the back for running cables. It’s worth noting though that this desk is not compatible with the Vari Cable Management Tray so you’ll need to turn to third-party options if you want to mount a surge protector underneath the back of the desk.
Raising the desk to a standing position or lowering it to a seated one is done via the control panel mounted to the right underside of the desk. The black unit features a simple design and is identical to the one that ships with the Vari Electric Standing Desk. It has four programmable buttons to save your preferred sitting and standing heights as well as an up, down and memory button.
The Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk is powered by a single motor in the right leg that connects to the left leg via a transmission shaft that runs through the desk’s frame. Vari also includes a transmission shaft cover to hide it from view.
The desk has two T-style legs (in either black or white) for improved stability that allow it to lower all the way down to 27.5in (70cm) or be raised up to a maximum height of 47.2in (120cm). The Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk can support up to 150lb (68kg) which means you can even use it with a heavy workstation (opens in new tab) and a dual monitor setup (opens in new tab).
Vari may have left out a few features for this desk but overall, the Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk has a pleasing design that will blend in nicely with your home office. While the white model looks great in lighter rooms with hardwood floors, you may want to opt for the black model if you have darker walls.
The Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk sent to TechRadar Pro for review arrived in two boxes. Like with Vari’s other desks, the boxes are wrapped in plastic packaging strips to protect them during shipping.
Once unpacked, the larger box contained the desktop with the frame already preinstalled while the smaller box contained the desk’s legs, feet, the transmission shaft, the transmission shaft cover, the control box, the control panel, a power cord, an instruction manual, all of the nuts, bolts and tools required to put everything together and some extras including cable wraps and a coaster.
To begin putting the Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk together, you first need to flip over the desktop and install the legs. The leg with the motor goes on the left side while the one without a motor goes on the right. Both legs are secured to the frame using four bolts that need to be screwed in using the included Allen key.
From here you need to install the transmission shaft in the middle of the frame and connect it to the hex shafts at the base of each leg. Once this is done, the transmission shaft cover goes over the frame to hide it from view.
The feet then need to be screwed on to the base of both legs using two longer bolts and an Allen key.
Next up, you need to slide the control panel into the bracket on the right side of the desk and plug its cable into the control box behind the frame. You also need to plug in the motor’s power cable and the desk’s power cable into the control box as well.
For the final step, Vari recommends that you have someone help you flip the desk over. Overall, the assembly process was straightforward and putting the desk together took less than thirty minutes. If you’re looking for an electric standing desk that can be set up quickly, Vari should be your first choice as the company’s assembly process is second to none.
Performance and in use
After we finished assembling the Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk, we decided to program our preferred standing and sitting heights. To do so, just raise or lower the desk to the right height, press the “M” button and then press either 1, 2, 3 or 4 to save your height preference.
We first tested out the Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk using the MSI Summit E16 Flip 2-in-1 laptop (opens in new tab) and the Vari Task Chair (opens in new tab). The desk was comfortable to use and even with just a single motor, it was still able to raise from a seated to a standing position in under 10 seconds. It also passed our coffee test, where we put a full cup of coffee on the desk and raise and lower it to see if anything spills, with flying colors. However, the single motor was a bit louder in operation than the dual motors on the Vari Electric Standing Desk which we previously reviewed.
As Vari doesn’t offer its own cable management tray with this desk, you’ll need to buy a third-party one. While we normally screw in an aftermarket cable management tray ourselves, we didn’t want to damage the desk’s laminate top. If you want to use a PC and a monitor with this desk and have a power strip attached to the desk, you’ll just need to buy a cable management tray that uses clamps instead of screws like this one (opens in new tab) from Amazon.
During our second round of testing, we put a MSI Modern MD271QP business monitor at the back of the desk and placed the laptop on a laptop stand (opens in new tab). We chose this monitor since it provides power delivery over USB-C which meant that we only had to deal with one cable running down the back of the desk and could still have a fully charged laptop.
As the Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk is priced at $500, you’ll likely need to spend a bit more on a standing desk if you’re looking for a good alternative.
First off we have the Kana Pro Bamboo (opens in new tab) standing desk from Flexispot. For just $40 more at $540, you get a dual-motor electric standing desk with a very unique look thanks to its rounded legs and desktop made from strips of bamboo. The control panel also features a USB port so you can charge your smartphone or tablet directly from your desk. If you want to use the Kana Pro Bamboo with a monitor and a PC, you’ll likely need to buy a cable management tray but thankfully Flexispot offers one separately for $25.99.
If you need more space, additional customization options and are willing to pay a bit more, the Vari Electric Standing Desk (opens in new tab) is well worth the upgrade. It’s close to $200 more expensive at $695 at the time of writing but for the price, you get a dual motor standing desk and a desktop that is 10in (25.4cm) deeper. You can also pick between five different finishes (white, black, darkwood, butcher block and reclaimed wood) and Vari does make its own cable management tray for this desk. It costs an additional $50 but has holes at either end to run cables and can pivot forwards and backwards which makes it easier to plug cords into a power strip.
Having reviewed the Vari Electric Standing Desk in the past, we were pleasantly surprised with Vari’s more affordable standing desk. The setup process was still very intuitive and putting the desk together took us less than 30 minutes. The Vari Essential Electric Desk raises and lowers quickly while remaining stable without being that much louder than a dual motor desk. The laminate desktop is another great feature as it makes cleaning the desk easy and we found it was quite durable during testing.
While we would like to see Vari offer a cable management tray to go with this desk, there are plenty of third party options that can be attached to the back of the desk without damaging the desktop.
If you’re looking to make the upgrade to a standing desk and want something that’s affordable and simple to put together, the Vari Essential Electric Desk could be a great choice. Since it's part of the company’s Essential Collection, you can also add a matching file cabinet and office chair (opens in new tab) to fully equip your home office for remote work.
We've also featured the best standing desk (opens in new tab)