A laptop stand might not seem like a particularly exciting purchase, but the right stand can greatly improve your experience when using your computer at a desk. Here’s what makes them great, and how to pick the right one for you.
Why Bother With a Laptop Stand?
A laptop stand can make the experience of using a portable computer at a desk more comfortable. The stand achieves this by elevating the laptop into a position less likely to cause posture-related issues like a sore neck or back.
The optimal way of using a display at a desk is to look straight forward, but laptops require that you crane your neck downwards. This isn’t usually an issue for short sessions, but over several hours (or whole days) it can cause neck pain. Over time, this could lead to posture issues. At best, it makes for an uncomfortable experience that doesn’t feel as natural as it should.
Elevating a laptop can also help improve airflow. While most models exhaust hot air at the back and sides, providing an air gap at the bottom of the laptop can help better regulate temperature. This can help if you use your laptop for CPU or GPU-intensive tasks like gaming or video editing. It also forces you to use an external keyboard, which won’t be hot to the touch when your machine is under load.
Some stands aren’t designed for elevation and instead provide a safe space to store your laptop while using it with external peripherals and a desktop monitor. This can help save space on a cluttered desk and keep your laptop out of harm’s way. Others can expand the range of ports you have available, or provide a simple dock-and-charge solution.
Which Types of Laptop Stand Are Available?
The most common type of laptop stand is designed to be used when your laptop is open and at a desk. This makes full use of the laptop display, speakers, and even webcam. You can still access the keyboard and trackpad if you need to, but these setups are dependent on external peripherals. You’ll need a keyboard and mouse (or trackpad) to make proper use of these laptop stands.
Since this design is the most popular, there are lots to choose from on the market. This includes a sub-set of portable stands that collapse down, perfect for traveling (again, don’t forget to bring your keyboard and mouse too). Stands that are designed with this purpose in mind often favor portability over stability. They may wobble a bit more in use, but this shouldn’t be a huge issue if your desk is sturdy.
The ElfAnt Portable Aluminum Laptop Stand uses an all-metal design with non-slip silicone pads to keep your laptop in place. It also collapses down nice and small so that it fits snuggly in a bag alongside your laptop. If you want something a little less portable but still collapsible and sturdy give the UPRYZE Ergonomic Stand a shot.
ElfAnt Portable Aluminum Laptop Stand
If you’re after a more permanent desk setup, you might want to opt for something a little more sturdy that’s designed to live on your desk. These are heavier and designed to be left in place once you’ve set them up to your liking. You’ll also have more choice in terms of aesthetics, with many looking like statement pieces that can fit the theme of your desk or office.
These are generally made of metal and wood, and some may even have additional space for placing a smartphone or tablet. Some come with built-in wireless charging pads which can be powered by your laptop or an external USB power adapter. There’s a stand of this type for every budget.
On the cheaper end of the spectrum you might want to look at the Besign LSX3. The stand is fully adjustable in terms of both height and angle and is made from sturdy aluminum and weighs 4 kg (8.8 lb).
If looks are important and you don’t mind spending a bit more, check out the Twelve South Curve or Twelve South HiRise. For a walnut finish that matches your desk, the HumanCentric Laptop Stand won’t disappoint. Keep in mind that despite its sharp looks, wood doesn’t dissipate heat as well as an all-metal or open construction.
HumanCentric Laptop Stand
If cooling is your number one priority, a laptop stand with an integrated cooler might be a good idea. The AMZPILOT Adjustable Laptop Stand with Cooling Fan is one such example, with aluminum construction and silver finish. It’s one of the few stands with integrated coolers that don’t embrace the “gamer aesthetic” with RGB everywhere.
AMZPILOT Adjustable Laptop Stand with Cooler
Then there are upright stands, some of which also function as docking stations. These stands are designed to save space on your desk by mounting your laptop vertically, in the closed position. You can’t use your laptop screen or keyboard with these, since they’re designed to be used alongside external displays and peripherals.
A basic “dumb” stand will simply keep your laptop out of the way, allowing you to place it behind your computer monitor or in another useful position. You can mount your laptop in a manner that still provides access to charging ports and any outputs you may need. They solve the issue of where to put your laptop on a small desk when using an external display.
The most important thing to keep in mind when buying a vertical stand (besides making sure it’s safe to run it with the lid closed) is to make sure your laptop fits. The cheap and cheerful Psitek Aluminum Vertical Stand adjusts from 10mm to 30mm, and features a silicone padding. If you prefer the wooden look, the HumanCentric Laptop Holder is also adjustable and adequately weighted to keep your notebook secure while docked.
Psitek Aluminum Vertical Stand
Docking Stations Go a Step Further
USB-C and Thunderbolt docking stations provide a dock-and-go solution for desktop use. These can be model-specific (many of which are built with specific MacBook models in mind) or make use of a short cable. They can be used to charge your laptop and add additional connectivity like HDMI and ethernet ports, while still keeping your machine out of the way.
Which you choose depends on your laptop, but MacBook Pro users might want to look at something like the Aestoria MacBook Pro Docking Station. It more closely resembles a vertical stand with a bolt-on docking station and USB hub, which means that compatibility is good whether you have a 2020 M1 model, a newer M1 Max or M1 Pro model, or even an older Intel MacBook.
Aestoria MacBook Pro Docking Station
If you’re looking for a space-saving USB-C docking station in vertical stand format with broader support for Windows laptops, there’s also the Aestoria Windows USB-C Docking Station. There’s a list of compatible models including specific Dell, Lenovo, and HP.
Aestoria Windows USB-C Docking Station
Consider a Standing Desk Converter Too
Finally, there are standing desk conversion stands that elevate your entire setup. They’re far cheaper than replacing your desk with one that can be raised or lowered, but they’re usually not as stable as a native desk solution. They’re much wider than regular laptop stands since they provide additional space for peripherals like keyboards and mice.
Since your standing desk must accommodate your specific height, standing desk conversion kits are usually adjustable. Check out the Monoprice Ultra Slim Desk Converter for a smart-looking mid-price standing desk converter with good reviews.
Monoprice Ultra Slim Desk Converter
If the idea of a standing desk has piqued your interest, learn more about the different types of standing desks available and how to get started using one. You can then choose to buy or even build your own standing desk, which provides more stability than a converter that sits on your existing sit-down desk.