#TechCribs: A tour of my WFH/Productivity setup
After being inspired by Hiroko Nishimura and Emma Bostian, I wanted to share the result of months of research and investments in what I (currently) consider my perfect work from home and productivity setup. Dive with me in my little corner of tech hardware!
My fiancee and I share an IKEA Linnmon table with Adils legs. Given that we always planned on having a shared workspace when we moved in our current apartment, the 72" length was perfect for our needs, but apparently it is not available anymore for purchase. It is not an amazing desk, but for the price it was a great budget option.
I LOVE multi-monitor setups. The productivity boost from having more screen real estate is unlike any single other piece of hardware on my list. I am almost unable to work on a single laptop at this point. Even during my times when I was working in a cafe or in a library, I used to have a small, USB-C-powered monitor with me at all times.
The satellite monitor is held up by a swiveling gas spring VESA arm from Huanuo I got from Amazon on a flash sale.
The pièce de résistance of the whole setup is my recently assembled custom built PC. This was built with a few purposes in mind
I work in data science and data analytics, and often find myself running considerable ETL or model training workloads locally. I wanted to make sure that my workflow was not bottlenecked by hardware for the foreseeable future.
I enjoy playing games in my free time and always wanted to move to PC gaming. I am not an MLG Pro at all but more of a casual player of mostly demanding 3xA titles.
I started live coding sessions on Twitch and I wanted a computer able to handle stream encoding and my regular workflow at the same time, possibly avoiding a dual-system setup.
Months of research led me to define my component list is as follows:
The only current bottleneck is my GPU. I hoped to snag a RTX 3080 on or close to launch day but, as we all know, it was an impossible endeavor. I plan on upgrading as they become more widely available.
While I used to have a full-size keyboard for a long time, I started to find it too bulky for the space I was in, especially during gaming sessions. I decided to land on a Ducky One 2 SF RGB with Cherry MX Blue switches (I will always love Blues even if they are loud as hell).
This is a 65% keyboard that checks every single mark on my list. I have discrete arrow keys, easily accessible function keys and RGB backlit keys (no unicorn puke fest for me, thank you). It is small enough to leave space for my mouse to move freely, even while I program, which I realized was more of a problem than I though.
The mouse itself is a Razer Basilisk X Hyperspeed, a really solid wireless mouse that fits perfectly the size of my hand. It has no RGB (which is a plus for me!) and, although it's a Razer product, it does not have a major gamer-y feeling. It connects both via Bluetooth and USB receiver and this allows me to control a second computer when I need to work on an occasional laptop.
Given that I am still experimenting with video and audio content creation, I opted for more budget-friendly options in terms of microphone and headphones. I am currently using my Razer Kraken X wired headphones that I used to use to chat while playing on my PS4 as my daily drivers. These are absolutely no-frills headphones that sound well enough and have a serviceable microphone for a quick game chat or a phone call.
My microphone is a USB condenser mic kit from FiFine on Amazon. The kit came with the microphone (duh!), a boom arm with shockmount, a desk mini-tripod, a pop filter, and a foam shield. It honestly sounds really great, and for the price I am more than happy. It definitely makes for the best microphone audio on my team's daily virtual scrum session! If my podcast/streaming/video life goes well, I am thinking about updating to a Shure SM7B, which would require also an external USB audio interface.
After tinkering with budget webcam options, my fiancee and I decided to invest in a more versatile camera solution for all our video conferencing needs. We landed on the streamer's staple Sony A5100, a mirrorless camera that shoots in 1080p 60FPS (if you think you need 4K or above, either you are Marques Brownlee or you probably don't) and has a clean HDMI output that I can feed to an HDMI capture card and use as a video input. This improved my Zoom call game to a new level and still wows new colleagues as days go by. The camera is powered by an AC adapter that I got from Amazon. The official Sony one is ~4x more expensive and they are exactly the same, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
I stayed budget friendly with my LED lights and got a 2-pack dimmable, USB-powered LED lights from Neewer. They came with their own tripods and are working pretty well so far. I actually repurposed one of those tripods to hold my camera more at eye-level and used a flexible tripod that came with my camera kit to use the second LED light as an accent light on the side of my desk.
I really enjoy the final result and my fiancee's army of plushies makes for a great background!
We have gone through all of the current iteration of my setup! A lot of this is very expensive and most of the budget options are bound to be replaced by better solutions.