2021 Ultimate Productivity Desk Setup Tour

Ultimate Productivity Desk Tour
Ultimate Productivity Desk Tour

Hey Friends,

Welcome back to another post and in this one we are talking about my 2021 ultimate dream desk setup, desk tour, work from home office tour, productive desk setup, any of those other keywords I should be throwing into the intro of this video.

It’s a question I keep getting, so it’s about time I put one together – so in this post we’re going to talk about everything I have that sits behind me in my videos, from the desk itself to the gear that I use, and the accessories that holds it all together.

As always, links will be in the description below so if you want to built one yourself, just clicky click click.

Now this desk setup is something that I’ve taken a while to get to, and I’m definitely not finished yet, but this is the current 2021 version of where I’ve got to.

So first of all lets just start off with the desk itself, and this is a super basic and affordable desk because what I have is the IKEA Karlby kitchen Worktop, which is very long at 2.5 meters, which I actually absolutely love.

I definitely like space when choosing a desk and in this instance I think size does matter, for me – since the more width and space I have, the more I can use the space, rather than just having a super deep desk where you can’t actually use it, other than resting your arms on it.

And this worktop is sitting on top of 2 IKEA Alex Drawer units. Again, super cheap, pretty good quality and tonnes of storage space for paperwork, and random junk. To be honest I don’t really use the drawers so they usually house random things, but equally – kinda need something to keep the desk up, which they’re really great at!

Speaking of which and because of the length of that worktop, I’ve added an additional leg just to support the weight in the middle as without it, I definitely had some bowing in the middle, and wanted to fix that before it became permanent. Again, all from Ikea.

The shelves are also from Ikea and I bought them to try to tidy this room up a little, these are the Fjallbo shelves, both a single and a double width unit.

Whilst we’re talking about IKEA, a couple of accessories – This table lamp was bought from ikea about 10 years ago, they don’t sell it anymore so you can’t seem to get it, but it serves it’s purpose with just a clean aesthetic, and then on the other side of the desk I just have some fake greenery, you know, things to remind ourselves what the outside world looks like, including a fake Christmas tree to remind ourselves of the one day where we were allowed to socialise before Lockdown v3 happened over here in the UK…. Good times.

Under that I have the little dude, Grogu from Mandalorian. Just a little prop that adds some colour to the desk and probably looks quite creepy in the video’s. But he’s a cute little guy!

Moving on from IKEA, let’s get to the main part of the desk setup which is the machine I’m using to power everything, or rather Machines – because I run a dual Mac and PC Setup right now. HAH! Take that Mac vs PC People!

For my day to day work, I’m using this top spec Apple M1 Mac Mini, which if you check my last post about is a phenomenal machine. This model has the 2TB of storage and 16GB of memory. But we’re talking better performance than a 16″ i9 MacBook Pro with 32GB of Memory, with better power consumption, it’s quiet, and in a test when I exported footage for one of my videos, the M1 Mac Mini finished quicker than my 16″ i9 MacBook Pro AND that was whilst running about 30 other apps in the background, which is just insane when you consider that it’s less than half the price of the 16″ MacBook Pro.

Without going too in depth, on the Mac Mini I’m running all my general day to day apps, but it’s also running my current Home Automation system, Indigo – which let’s me control most of the things in my house. The Lights, security, cctv, window sensors, alarm, water sensors for if the washing machine or sink leaks, light sensors to automatically control the lights when it’s dark, even the lawn mower – which I’ve just replaced with a new one because mine was getting pretty old.

Like I said, I won’t say too much, but if you want a video all about my home automation system and how it’s all tied together then let me know in the comments below and I’ll see what I can line up.

But this isn’t just your typical home automation system, in fact I kinda laugh when I see people post their ‘Ultimate Home Automation Setup’ videos online – since most of them are just, Look at my Philips Hue Bulbs and over here we have my super smart smart Nest Thermostat to keep me toasty when it’s cold outside.

That is not home automation, not really. I’m talking pulling electrics apart and installing modules to control lights, power, heating, checking on the outside weather and making decisions based on what it’s going to be like out there today, like – Are we staying at home today? Yes, yes of course we are staying at home today. On with talking to your fake friends!

Anyway, attached to the M1 Mac Mini is the Caldigit TS3 Plus Dock, and this thing gives me all of the expansion that I need on any mac. On the front that gives me an SD Card slot, audio in and out, a USB C and USB A port.

Then over on the back we have Ethernet, DisplayPort and a tonne of USB C and USB A ports to connect to all of the other gadgets I have  on the desk.

One notable accessory I also have attached to the 10Gb USB C Port on this dock is a 10Gb ethernet adapter which connects me directly to my NAS, which is a very recent edition, which I’ll talk about in just a moment.

And all of this is connected to this beautifully wide, 49″ Ultrawide Samsung G9 1000R Curved Display. Link again in the description for a full review on this but in summary, it’s a fantastic display, which can run up to 240Hz, though they do have some issues. Now the model I bought and then reviewed in my video was fantastic, I had zero issues with it at all. And then black Friday came and they dropped the price by over £200. So I decided I would return my fully working screen and replace it with the exact same model, but at £200 cheaper. Well, this is now my third, fourth monitor? And there are still some issues I have, with this one it’s mainly these weird lines which appear at random times on the screen. I’ve only ever seen it on Mac and it can be fixed immediately by moving a window, but it’s still annoying so I’ll see what the next one brings. Other than that and overall, there just isn’t anything else like it on the market yet. So I’ll be waiting with baited breath to see who next announces a 49″ 1000R Curved display like this. Because that 1000R curve just wraps around you so nicely, something the Dell and LG screens just don’t do.

Ontop of the screen I have the Logitech C920 Pro Webcam for all of those video calls that we’re all used to nowadays. Nothing great about it, nothing bad. Just OK.

Then I have the Elgato Streamdeck, which is basically just a keypad with a tonne of shortcuts and macros. I mostly use this when live streaming and I’ve hooked it into my home automation so I can control things around the room and the house. Great little device and it can be used for so many different things – again, that’s a great little box right there.

Speakers wise, I am still rocking the original Harmon Kardon Soundsticks, they still put out great audio quality for when I’m not using headphones – so when I’m listening to music or watching videos or playing games, they’re really great.

Other accessories I’m using the Logitech MX Keys, which are really great – comfortable to type on and allow you to switch between 3 devices quickly which is super easy to switch between Mac and PC. And then in the mouse department I’m currently using the original Logitech MX Master. I would upgrade to the MX Master 3, but I just can’t find a reason to just yet, and these things can go super cheap on Amazon sometimes so I picked this up for something like £20 or £30 I think?

I have these both sat on the Knodel Desk Pad which just adds a little more comfort and protects the desk from scuffs or scratches.

And I also usually have a knife sat on my desk all the time because I’m supposedly now a YouTuber and all YouTuber’s seem to have a knife. But genuinely, it’s actually been really useful as I seem to be opening boxes every other day here, so this is the Spyderco Delica 4. Love the colour, super sharp and comfortable to use. I’m not a knife guy, it opens boxes. Onto the next thing.

And then lastly the only other accessory to so speak is this Spigen wireless charger that I have in the middle of the desk, which is used to charge my phone, airpods or whatever else needs wirelessly charging.

Speaking of phones, I’m currently running with 2.

My Main Driver for the last year and a bit has been the iPhone 11 Pro Max. It’s huge, beautiful, works flawlessly and I don’t really have any issues with it at all. In fact this is the first year where I haven’t bothered upgrading to the newer iPhone. Something that I normally say, and then a week later I’d go and buy it anyway, but this time around it’s different. I dunno, let’s see what the 12S or 13 brings – Interesting times.

And then next to it, for now, I also have the Google Pixel 4a. A tiny phone in comparison to the 11 Pro Max, light as a feather and it’s interesting. There’ll be a video coming out about this one hopefully on Sunday, so make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel if you want to see that, but yeah.

I’ve been an iPhone user for the last decade, and trying Android on this Pixel 4a has been interesting… and that’s all I’ll give you for now

To finish off the Apple stuff, I’m also rocking the Apple Watch Series 5, again, last years model but I personally see no reason to upgrade just yet. This is super useful as it unlocks my Mac for me when I’m near it and helps me take calls and get only the important notifications on my wrist.

And then lastly I also have the M1 Macbook Air which is the higher spec model and just the upgraded 16Gb memory. Again, this thing absolutely flies, and this is what I use when moving around the house, or relaxing on the sofa in the evening. I chose this over the iPad as to be honest, the cost of this is the same as the cost of an iPad plus their magic smart case thing anyway, and you can just do so much more with this that you can’t yet do on an iPad alone.

Over on PC Land, I’m also running a Ryzen 5 2600, nothing special, but we’ve got 16GB of Memory, a GeForce 2080 and to be honest, I haven’t been using it as much lately as I’ve got the new Xbox Series X which I now mostly play on – I just find it nicer to chill out on the sofa than be sat in the same chair which I’m sat in most days. But it’s due an upgrade anyway, given that I can push up to 240Hz with the Samsung Screen, well, this PC can hit around 100 fps but not really anything higher, so I’ll be looking to upgrade this to a newer gen Ryzen when I get around to it. But it’s a great machine and when it’s not used for gaming, I use it for testing loads of the tech that I review on my channel. Things like the best cloud storage and best password manager video’s. I do actually use all of those products day to day and really test them, so I need to make sure I can give them a proper try on a Windows machine too.

Over to storage now, and this is only a very recent purchase as it’s taken me a while to figure out what I wanted and what I needed. As previously I had everything stored on external USB 3 Storage, because it was fast to transfer data between and archive off video footage and so forth.

Well I’ve now replaced all of those with the brand new QNAP TS-H973AX which is an absolute beast of a NAS for the price.

It has a total of 9 drive bays, with 4 of them for SSDs and 2 of those for NVME storage. Built in 10GB Ethernet as well as dual 2.5Gb ethernet, and 8Gb of memory. Which, when you consider that this thing comes in at around £700 – £800 is super cheap when you look at the alternatives. To get that amount of storage and connectivity, it’s fantastic value.

In terms of what I’ve put into this thing, I have 5x 16TB Seagate EXOs drives, which are enterprise disks typically used for servers, and I’ll link up here and below to the video about how I managed to save a tonne of money when buying these drives. But these 5 drives give me 64TB of usable Storage, as I’m just using this in RAID5 so it can survive a single drive failure without losing any data.

And this is all connected to my Mac Mini via 10Gb to get those fast data transfers when I need to offload footage, and also to the rest of the network via 1Gb so I can get to the data off my laptop or anything else.

And then lastly, because this is a reasonably powerful NAS – you can run virtual machines off this thing. So right now I’m playing with a home automation system called Home Assistant which I’m hoping might replace my Mac version, and that’s running off a virtual Linux box, which would just great to keep this away from other things.

That’s all the computing bits done with, just the last couple of items to go now and firstly let’s talk audio, with the Rodecaster Pro desk.

This thing is basically a podcasting desk – which over the years I’ve used to record interviews for my IT Business, a few solo podcasts for my ‘Not a Business Coach’ podcast, which I should really update soon, and also live streams.

But given where we are now I’m mostly using this for video calls just to level up my audio, and it’s connected to this Rode Procaster Mic which has super clear audio, it’s mounted in the PSM1 shock mount and then onto the PSA1 Boom arm which allows me to swivel this out of the way when not using it.

All of this is wired back to my Mac via USB, to the Caldigit and it just shows up as another audio interface.

For headphones I’m currently switching between a few. The Apple Airpod Pro’s which are great and convenient, they just don’t stay in my ears as well as the original Airpods, which can be frustrating. For any interviews, podcasts or presentations I tend to use my custom moulded In-Ear monitors which are made by ACS Custom here in the UK. The ones I have in here are super old as I used them over a decade ago for playing drums. They basically keep everything, and I mean EVERYTHING out so you can’t hear anything except what’s playing through the headphones. Great for drumming. So I’ve recently bought a new pair and I’m due to see the audiologist in a few days time where they’ll take the moulds of my ears, which then get sent away and made into these custom headphones.

They are expensive, well, to be honest, they’re not as expensive as the Apple Airpod Max headphones I reviewed a couple of weeks back – because why pay over £500 for something when you could spend the same, or a little less, on 100%, custom made headphones which are moulded to your own ears. I can’t tell you how incredible music sounds when you are wearing these things, simply incredible. So if you are looking for the best quality then I would highly recommend getting a paid of custom in ear monitors.

Last one on audio, and a very recent purchase, as in yesterday, I’ve got the Apple Homepod Mini, which I swapped out for the Sonos speaker as I realised that the wall mounted iPad I’m using as the hub to control lots of my home automation is now too old to be used as the Apple Home Bridge. So I can’t use the Apple Home Automation when I’m out of the house anymore. So this was a relatively cheap way to get that working again, and bonuses it’s also a good quality speaker, I just wish it would integrate with Spotify like the Sonos and Amazon’s and Googles of this world do.

For lighting, all of this is being lit by Philips Hue. We have a Bulb in the lamp on the left, one of the older style bulbs which meant I had to buy an adapter to get it to fit, which is why it hangs out a little bit too much. Over on the other side I’m using the Hue Bloom and mounted on the back of the desk I’m using the Hue LED Strip just to add a splash of colour to it all. I also have Hue mounted in the lights above me but since the ceiling is a little wrecked whilst we’re waiting for some work to be done to the house I won’t show you that just yet. But that just means I can tap a button and the light completely changes in this room which is really nice to have.

And lastly, the final thing is the thing that I’m sat in. And right now it’s the Herman Miller Aeron chair, these are super expensive chairs but if you look around you can pick them up at hugely discounted prices. Particularly nowadays where offices are emptying entire floors of furniture as they move to home working, so it’s a great time to pick up one of these chairs at a good discount.

I think that just about wraps it up, hopefully I haven’t missed anything in all of that – but like I said I’ll link to everything below so if you see anything you like then you can jump right to it there.

I’ll also be posting about the other side of my room which is all about the video gear and the studio setup that I’m using so stick around if that’s something you’d like to see. I’ve also been buying some more home automation gadgets so let me know if you want to see a video about that, but otherwise – please do head over to the YouTube channel, like the video if you did, subscribe to the channel if you’re not already, hit the notification bell to be notified when new video’s are posted, and if you want to Join and become a channel member as just a little thanks for putting out this free content, it’s just 99p per month and you can get to that by clicking the Join button below the video.

Thanks for reading, talk to you in the next one. Bye bye!

About the author
Pete Matheson

Pete Matheson

Lifelong Tips, Tricks & Tech Reviews. Sign up to see behind the scenes of a 160k+ Subscriber YouTube Channel.

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