Nicholas A. Danes

A long-winded look into my battlestation

Date:

tags: linux, technology, minimalism

I’ve always enjoyed looking at and setting up my desk. Whether it was from various expensive YouTuber setups or scrolling through /r/battlestations, these setups always drew inspiration for myself to improve my own. I hope this post about my setup inspires you in some way as well! Before, I can talk about my setup, I wanted to briefly describe my mindset when it comes to setting up my battlestation.

A “Minimalist” Mindset

The downside of looking at other battlestations can turn into a needless spending trap, so I try my best to be mindful when adding something to my setup. Back in September 2020, I moved back to Denver after living in Albuquerque, NM for almost a year. During that year in Albuquerque, as well as my prior years in Colorado as a graduate student, I had issues holding on to things and had an unhealthy “anti-packrat” mentality, where I would get rid of things compulsively. Now that I am in a better place both financially and mentally, I’ve been trying to be more mindful with technology purchases in general, and trying to curate these purchases intentionally. I believe this is beneficial from a mental, financial and environmental perspective.

Even though I love the principles of “minimalism”, I put it in quotes because it has become a loaded term with a variety of meanings, especially when it comes to technology. To me, minimalism is a consequence of being intentional, which I proposed as my 2021 Yearly Theme. I don’ve agree with the “minimalist” aesethetic being restrictled to Mac only hardware/peripherals with nothing else on the desk. Therefore, my goal with every piece of my battlestation was hopefully chosen with a purpose, without excess, as much as possible.

I should note that many of my battlestation choices had to be purchased recently due to my house being broken into right when I moved back to Denver in September. This includes my main peripherals, monitor and desktop PC. With that said, let’s take a look at my desk and my PC!

My Battlestation

An overview of my full desk setup (Large Photo). Wallpaper by Damiano Baschiera

Summary

Type Item
Desk Ikea Arkelstorp
Router Google Wifi (replacing eventually)
USB-C Dock Station Kensington “The Task Master” USB-C Dock Station
Lamp Ottlite W5 LED Desk Lamp with Qi Wireless Charging
Work Laptop 2020 Macbook Pro 13”
Laptop Stand Lvyinyin Vertical Laptop Stand
Headphones Takstar Pro 82
Monitor Stand Hastings Home Bamboo Monitor Stand
Monitor Asus ProArt PA248QV 24.1” 75 Hz (1920 x 1200)
Webcam Logitech C920S HD Webcam
Speaker Insignia 2.0-Channel Mini Soundbar
External Drive (Hidden) WD EasyStore 8 TB
Keyboard Keychron K2 Mechanical Keyboard (Gateron Red Switches)
Keyboard Wrist Rest Glorious Gaming Wooden Wrist Rest - Compact (Onyx/Black)
Mouse Logitech G305
Mousepad Logitech G240
USB Switch (Hidden) UGreen USB 3.0 USB Switch Selector
Office Chair Bayside Furnishings Mesh Office Chair
PC Chassis BitFenix Prodigy

I will highlight various parts of the setup below!

Desk

The desk itself is an Ikea Arkelstorp which I was able to pick up used on my local Craigslist. There are some imperfections and stripped wood under the drawer, but overall I am very happy with the desk. The size is more than enough for what I need it for both personal and work usage.

Peripherals

An overhead photo of my peripherals (Large Photo)

Keyboard

I’ve always liked using mechanical keyboards and have used a variety of different switches (mostly Cherry Reds/Browns/Blues and Logitech) from various manufacturers (Leopold, Ducky, etc). I ended up narrowing down to the Keychron K2 due to its affordable price, value switches, 75% size, and bluetooth functionality. The keyboard board itself is quite tall, so I paired it with the Glorious Gaming Compact Wooden Wrist Rest for better ergonomics. The keyboard keycaps are not stock, but some cheap doubleshot PBT keycaps from HK Gaming in the Pegaso color scheme. If you end up buying the Keychron K2, I recommend swapping out the stock cheap ABS keycaps, as the typing experience greatly improves.

Mouse

When I used to game a lot more, I always prefered Logitech mices. Hence, the choice to continue using one was no different here. I ended up picking the Logitech G305 due to its great sensor, wireless capability, and replaceable AA battery. Not much else to say here!

Headphones

I used to be somewhat of a pseudo-audiophile, but I always preferred the value headphone options, such as the Audio Technica M40x’s, Senheisser HD 558’s, and the Phillips SHP9500’s. I had owned the Takstar Pro 80’s in the past, and found out that there was an update for them called the Takstar Pro 82. They are incredibly comfortable, sound “good”, and the headphone cable is easily replaceable. You can usually find them for under $100 on eBay.

Monitor Stand Area

Zoomed-in photo of my monitor stand area (Large Photo)

I had an unused Insignia Mini Soundbar lying around in our house and wanted to utilize for my desk without looking cluttered. I ended up finding this Hastings Home Bamboo Monitor Stand on Best Buy’s website which was a perfect fit for my desk. I was then able to put the sound bar under the stand, along with hiding my external drive under it as well.

Monitor

The monitor is an Asus ProArt PA248QV which notably has a 16:10 aspect ratio. I grew quite fond of this aspect ratio when I got my work Macbook Pro and wish it was more widespread with higher resolutions. It simply allows you to see more vertical content, reducing the amount of scrolling you have to do on a webpage or while looking at code. I am not a designer or anything, but the colors on the display are really nice and the 75 Hz comes in handy in the small instances where I do play games. Almost all my USB peripherals are plugged into the built-in USB on the monitor, which means I rarely have to plug into something into my desktop PC that is under the desk.

USB Setup

The UGreen USB switch mounted via command strip behind my monitor (Large Photo)

When I have to switch to my from my desktop to work laptop, I have a UGreen USB switch mounted with a command strip behind the monitor, which is plugged into my mouse, keyboard and webcam. The USB switch itself allows two different options, one plugged into my desktop, while other is plugged into my USB-C dock. Switching to my work laptop simply requires switching the display mode from DisplayPort to HDMI!

My Desktop PC

Front view of my very dirty PC (Large Photo)

My previous stolen PC was a recently purchased HP Omen 25L which was an absolute beast; It had a AMD Ryzen 7 3700X and a Radeon RX 5700. As a replacement, I ended up looking locally and luckily found a good deal on a used ITX system with the following specs below.

Specifications

Type Part
CPU Intel i5-8400 Hex-Core Processor
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo
Motherboard Gigabyte Z370N WIFI Mini ITX LGA1151 Motherboard
GPU Sapphire Pulse AMD RX 580 8 GB
Memory Crucial Ballistics DDR4 16 GB RAM @ 2666 MHz
Storage SAMSUNG MZVLB256HAHQ-000L2 256 GB NVME M.2 Drive (Boot)
  WDC WDS500G2B0B 500 GB SATA M.2 Drive (Secondary)
PSU Rosewill ARC 450 W 80+ Bronze ATX
Case BitFeniX Prodigy
OS Gentoo Linux

Not really much to say other than the PC has been working great for me and I don’ve have any immediate plans for component upgrades. That said, the case itself wasn’t in the greatest condition at purchase and I do eventually plan to move the system into a smaller ITX case.

Side view of my very dirty PC with the side pandel removed (Large Photo)

Conclusions and Future To-Do

Thanks for checking out my battlestation! I feel like it is almost complete, with a few minor things to complete:

  • Cable Management: This was a glaring omission with this post as I’m currently not happy with where it’s at with my setup.
  • ITX case: Like I mentioned above, the case that this used system came with is not my favorite. Ideally Iaboutd like to able to pick a small enough chassis to keep the PC on the top of the desk, but it is not an urgent purchase. At the very least, I’d like to thoroughly clean the interior of the case.
  • New router: this has been on my Now page for a while, but I am currently waiting for a good price on a Wifi-6 router to replace my Google Wifi router. Functionally, the Google Wifi router works great but I would like to look for something more privacy respecting.

Thanks for reading!