December 06, 2020

State of My Desk 2020

A Picture of My Desk

The set of hardware on my desk has changed pretty dramatically this year. I’ll attribute a decent part of that change to COVID-19 and working from home for most of this year; I’ve had to care a lot more about my working space as a result. I’m putting together this post as a way of reviewing the hardware I’m using and to capture this point in history of my working space, as I anticipate that it will continue to change in the coming year.

The Basics

Users of Reddit’s r/battlestations will likely recognize my desk. I assembled it at the beinning of the year from a handful of IKEA parts. It’s large enough to fit everything that I’d like without being completely gigantic.

You can find a build guide for it here.

The chair is a Steelcase Criterion I picked up from a local used office supplies store. I would highly recommend getting a used office chair, the Criterion retails for something like $800 and I got it for just $100. I also bought it right at the start of the quarantine and the shop owner was kind enough to arrange for me to pick up the chair outside the shop when it was closed.

The Desktop

I built a desktop this past year after a long series of issues with the laptops I used in college. It’s not like building a desktop is a fool-proof endeavor, but it’s not far off from building a lego set. I’m finding that it’s a lot easier to diagnose issues when they come up in my desktop and it has been running smoothly since I built it.

One important factor in my choice of hardware for the desktop was actually my choice in software. Driver support in Linux has come a long way in recent years but the AMD CPU and GPU driver support seem to still outperform others. I’m using Pop!_OS as my daily driver and, while it has excellent support for NVIDIA GPUs, I figured the safest option for reliability would be AMD. The AMD RX580 8GB GPU is an incredible value and fit well with my needs. The most intense task for my GPU is running Factorio on an ultrawide monitor and it easily does that at 60fps.

I primarily use this computer for writing software and chose the CPU accordingly. The AMD Ryzen 3700X has good single core speeds and packs 16 threads so it’s incredibly quick to compile my code. 16GB of RAM seems to be enough for now, but I can always fill in the other two motherboard slots if I need to.

I’m able to run everything I want on this machine and it doesn’t break a sweat. I’m pretty sure this is the longest I’ve owned a computer without some part of it breaking, so that’s pretty nice too.

Peripherals

I’m using two vertically stacked monitors. There’s an ultrawide as the main monitor and a 27” monitor above for reference material. Both are 1440p, which I find to be a happy medium between the standard 1080p and 4k. The width of the ultrawide allows me to keep three files open side by side. I tend to do the vast majority of my work on that monitor and then keep docs and a terminal window on the top monitor. Looking at the top monitor for a long period of time gets uncomfortable but it works great as a reference.

I’ve written a lot about my keyboards, most recently about my Gergoplex. Unfortunately this keyboard isn’t present in the photo of my desk thanks to my lovely cat and a tipped over glass of water. So I’m back to using the Hot Dox for a while. The Hot Dox is fine, but I’m looking forward to getting back to a Gergoplex or similar in the future.

Sitting between the HotDox halves is the Logitech MX Ergo trackball mouse. It’s the perfect companion to a split keyboard. It is ergonomic, compact, and quicker than a mouse. I’m always eager to try out new keyboards but I am content to stick with the Ergo trackball.

One other fun addition to my desk, sitting under the banana mug, is a coffee mug warmer. I like to keep a cup of coffee or tea with me when working and this prolongs the time it takes for the cup to get cold. I would recommend moving the mug around fairly frequently though, otherwise the coffee at the bottom will get burnt.