Whether you’re working from home or have already returned to the office, the right desk can make all the difference in productivity. While you might spend your workday sitting at a desk, with a standing desk you can break your routine and work standing or sitting when it’s time for a break. Unlike manual standing desks that you have to adjust yourself, with an electric standing desk you can just press a button and the desk lifts up on its own.
Based in Coppell, Texas, Vari has been manufacturing both standing desk converters and freestanding standing desks since 2013. While we’ve reviewed a number of desks from the company in the past, Vari recently released its Essentials collection which offers simplified versions of its existing products. which are perfect for your home office.
Today we’re going to take 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 Standing Desk the company’s most expensive electric Vari.
Price and availability
the Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk is available directly from Vari’s website for $499 although the company currently runs a essential sale promotion where you can save 20% automatically at checkout. Vari also offers free shipping to 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 strips out several high-end features to cut costs. For example, this desktop features a single motor and desktop size, while the company’s top-of-the-line offering features two motors and comes in a variety of sizes. At the same time, it and other products in the company’s Essential collection have limited certifications and are not eligible for free installation. However, if you can overcome these omissions, the Vari Electric standing desk still has a lot to offer.
The black or white laminate desktop (which only comes in one size) is 48 inches (122 cm) wide and 24 inches (61 cm) deep while the actual work surface measures 23.25 inches (59cm) deep as there is a 22 inch (56cm) cutout in the back to run the cables through. It’s worth noting though that this desk isn’t compatible with the Vari cable management tray, so you’ll have to look to third-party options if you want to mount a surge protector under the back of the desk.
Raising the desk to a standing position or lowering it to a seated position is done via the control panel mounted on the lower right side of the desk. The black unit has a simple design and is identical to the unit that comes with the Vari electric standing desk. It has four programmable buttons to save your favorite 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 which connects to the left leg via a driveshaft that runs through the desk frame. Vari also includes a driveshaft cover to hide it from view.
The desk has two T-legs (in black or white) for added stability that allow it to lower down to 27.5 inches (70 cm) or raise up to a maximum height of 47.2 inches (120 cm). The Vari Essential electric standing desk can support up to 150 lbs (68 kg), which means you can even use it with a heavy weight workplace and one dual monitor setup.
Vari may have left out a few features for this desk, but overall the Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk has a nice design that will fit right into your home office. While the white model looks great in lighter rooms with hardwood floors, you can 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. As with other Vari desks, the boxes are wrapped in plastic packing strips to protect them during transport.
When unpacked, the larger box contained the desk with the frame already pre-installed while the smaller box contained the legs, feet, driveshaft, driveshaft cover, control box, control panel, a power cord, an instruction manual, all the nuts, bolts and tools needed to put everything together and a few extras including cable reels and a coaster.
To begin assembling the Vari Essential electric standing desk, you must first turn the desk over and install the legs. The leg with the engine goes on the left side while the one without the engine goes on the right side. The two legs are fixed to the frame using four bolts which must be screwed in using the supplied Allen key.
From there, you should install the driveshaft in the middle of the frame and connect it to the hex shafts at the base of each leg. Once done, the driveshaft cover goes over the frame to hide it from view.
The legs should then be screwed to the base of the two legs using two longer bolts and an Allen key.
Next, 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 must also plug the motor power cable and the console power cable into the control box.
For the final step, Vari recommends having someone help you flip the desktop. 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 because the company’s assembly process is second to none.
Performance and use
After completing the assembly of the Vari Essential electric standing desk, we decided to program our preferred standing and sitting heights. To do this, simply raise or lower the desk to the correct height, press the “M” button, then press 1, 2, 3 or 4 to save your height preference.
We first tested the Vari Essential Electric Standing Desk using the MSI Summit E16 Flip 2-in-1 Laptop and the Vari task chair. The desk was comfortable to use and even with just one motor it was still able to go from sitting to standing in less than 10 seconds. It also passed our coffee test, where we put a full cup of coffee on the desk and raised and lowered it to see if anything spilled, with flying colors. However, the single motor ran a bit louder than the dual motors in the Vari Electric standing desk we previously reviewed.
Since Vari doesn’t offer its own cable management tray with this desk, you’ll need to purchase a third-party one. Although we normally screw on a spare cable management tray ourselves, we didn’t want to damage the laminate top of the desk. If you want to use a PC and monitor with this desk and have a power strip attached to the desk, you’ll just need to purchase a cable management tray that uses clamps instead of screws like this one from Amazon.
In our second round of testing, we placed an MSI Modern MD271QP business monitor on the back of the desk and placed the laptop on a laptop stand. We chose this monitor because it provides power over USB-C, which meant we only had to manage one cable in the back of the desk and could always have a fully charged laptop.
Since the Vari Essential electric standing desk is priced at $500, you’ll probably have to spend a bit more on a standing desk if you’re looking for a good alternative.
First of all we have the Kana Pro Bamboo Flexispot standing desk. For just $40 more at $540, you get a dual-motor electric standing desk that looks very unique thanks to its rounded legs and desktop made of bamboo slats. The control panel also has a USB port so you can charge your smartphone or tablet right from your desk. If you want to use the Kana Pro Bamboo with a monitor and a PC, you’ll probably need to purchase a cable management tray, but luckily Flexispot offers one separately for $25.99.
If you need more space, additional customization options, and are willing to pay a little more, the Vari Electric Standing Desk well worth the upgrade. It costs nearly $200 more at $695 at the time of writing, but for the price you get a dual-motor standing desk and a 10-inch (25.4 cm) deeper desk. You can also choose from five different finishes (white, black, dark wood, butcher block, and reclaimed wood) and Vari makes its own cable management tray for this desk. It costs $50 more, but has holes on each end to run cables through and can swivel forward and back, making it easy to plug cords into a power strip.
Having reviewed the Vari electric standing desk in the past, we were pleasantly surprised by the more affordable standing desk from Vari. The installation process was still very intuitive and assembling the desk took us less than 30 minutes. The Vari Essential Electric Desk moves up and down quickly while remaining stable without being much louder than a dual motor desk. The laminate desk is another nice feature as it makes the desk easy to clean and we found it to be quite durable in testing.
While we’d 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 desk.
If you’re looking to upgrade to a standing desk and want something affordable and simple to assemble, 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 desk chair to fully outfit your home office for remote working.
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