When you spend a lot of time doing anything, it’s good to get the right equipment to make the most of your time there. You wouldn’t do your daily run in sandals. Professional athletes don’t get their gear from big-box stores. If you spend a lot of time in front of your computer, it shouldn’t be done with your feet up on the table and your back slumped on the couch. It shouldn’t be on two of those dinner tray tables pushed together with a white plastic lawn chair pulled up. Get your battlestation in order. Here are a few ways to shore up your defenses against fatigue, pain, strain, and all the other bad stuff that comes with time at the computer.
Get an Actual Computer Chair ($300 – $1,200)
Herman Miller Embody ($1,200)
We spend hours and hours in front of our computers between work and home. If you work from home, it might be even more than that if you’re also a PC gamer. When you boil it down hour by hour, after just a year of use even this wildly expensive chair ends up costing less than a dollar an hour to use. And for that low, low price, you get a comfortable sitting experience that you can expect to last years. These things have 12-year warranties. Dang. Oh, and they’re available in 16 different colors.
Steelcase Leap V2 ($545)
For a little less than half the price of that Herman Miller, you can get the Steelcase Leap V2, another high-end chair that will cradle your bum for hours on end. This chair will adjust with you as you move around in it. If Herman is asking too much but you still need that support, this is a great choice.
DXRacer Formula Series ($300)
But maybe you’re a Gamer with a capital G. Streaming is your life, and more of your stuff has RGB LED lights on it than not. Then you need a gaming chair. These chairs offer a bunch of colors and racecar styling, along with breathable materials and optional cushions for back support.
You’re not going to get the same full body support, but they come in the color of your favorite supercar. Or brown.
Support Those Knees ($25-$30)
I learned the hard way that not every computer chair and desk combination work out to put your footsies flat on the ground. If you’re sitting and your feet aren’t flat, at least get a dictionary out, look up “thrombosis” and then put the dictionary under your feet. Or get a proper footrest.
I can vouch for this unassuming guy. It’s been sitting under my desk for two years and it hasn’t lost shape. Meanwhile, it’s made sitting at my desk for long work sessions or longer gaming sessions way more comfortable.
There are tons of other options out there. Don’t discount this as a way to massively improve your time in front of your computer.
Sit up, Stand Up, Stand Up For Your Work ($350 – $600)
Even if you do have a dope computer chair, sitting all the time is a bad idea (unless you have a cat on your lap, in which case it’s all worth it). We’d all be better off if we stood up more often. An adjustable desk that allows you to sit and stand is the best of both worlds.
The ApexDesk Elite raises up to 48-inches off the ground and can hold up to 225 pounds of monitors, computers, and elbows. You can also set four different height settings so that you just have to press a button once your heights are dialed in.
If you like getting into woodworking, you can also pick up just the frame, like this one from Autonomous, which raises up to 50-inches and lifts 350 pounds. You can pick up a desktop at IKEA or hit the lumberyard for a sheet of your favorite hardwood, a few packs of sandpaper, and some stain and have a desk that isn’t like anybody else’s.
Pick Your Height ($200 – $250)
If you’re a stalwart worshipper at the altar of IKEA, there are plenty of options like the Bekant corner desk, or the utilitarian-looking Hilver/Gerton combo. Both models have adjustable legs that you can set when you build the desk to fit your setup. And it’s good ol’ reliable IKEA.
Elevate Your Viewing Experience ($50 – $200)
Your butt is comfy. Your knees are up. Your elbows are at the right height. But something is off. It’s the monitor. A lot of monitors these days cheap out on the stand, and we end up looking at barely-adjustable stands that go for a best-fit height. Many monitors use a mounting standard called VESA. If your monitor is VESA compatible – look for the square of screw-holes on the back of your panel – then you’re in business.
If you want to just lift your screen but not make it float like you’re hacking the IP addresses in NCIS or NTSF:SD:SUV, you can pick up something like Nixeus’ VESA-standard LCD Monitor stand, which brings height, tilt, swivel, and portrait-mode options to any monitor mounted onto it.
But if you are an elite hacker or just like to be able to adjust your monitor at will, full-on monitor arms are the next step. I can personally vouch for ECHOGEAR’s gas-spring mounts, which were easy to assemble and, once tightened to fit the weight of my screen, just worked. I could move my monitor to a spot, and it would just float, no further adjustment needed. There are a bunch of other reputable outfits out there, but this one happens to be based a town over from me, so it’s the one I went with, and I’ve been very happy with the results. These arms are available as desk-mount and wall-mount options, so using an adjustable desk or living in an apartment doesn’t have to stop you.
Don’t Twist Your Wrist: Get a Vertical Mouse ($80 – $120)
If you’re doing more working than gaming at your PC, a vertical mouse is worth the investment. They let you keep working without twisting your wrist into an unnatural position. After a year with vertical mice, going back to the standard horizontal orientation feels uncomfortable. The two I’ve had experiences with are:
Evoluent has been in the vertical-mouse game for decades and has all the bases covered. If you want a right-handed wireless version, they’ve got your back. If batteries drive you bonkers, bring the wire back. Lefties are all set, too.
I’m about 20 years into a love affair with Logitech, though, and I’m a fan of the MX Vertical. It’s pretty, incredibly comfortable to hold, and has a sturdy feeling that the Evoluent mice just haven’t nailed. But the Evoluent mice are super configurable. Check out our rundown.
If vertical mice aren’t a good fit, Logitech’s MX Ergo trackball gets you partway there with its adjustable angle. Getting used to the trackball takes a bit, but it can be done.
Keep in mind that these are all terrible for gaming, though. These are work mice.
Mouse in Comfort ($15 – $60)
Razer Sphex V2 ($15)
There are a ton of different mouse pads out there, but my favorite is Razer’s Sphex pad. It’s hardly a pad and more of a surface. It’s paper thin and the backing can be peeled off to adhere it to any flat, clean surface. I haven’t peeled mine off, though, and it sticks to my desk just fine, so it can be used either way. The surface makes mousing smooth without elevating your arms off your desk. I’ve been using the Sphex for at least half a decade and haven’t switched away.
ASUS ROG Scabbard ($30)
But maybe you have one of those DXRacer chairs and you want a Gaming mousepad to go with it. The Scabbard will sit under your mouse and your keyboard at 35-inches long and comes in both standard and water-resistant models. At 0.12-inches thick, it’s about as thick as a MacBook Air.
My phone sits on my mousepad for much of the day. If I wasn’t so attached to my Sphex pad, Corsair’s Qi-compatible mousepad would be next on my list. Why get a dedicated charging pad when the place you leave your phone half the day could take care of that for you?
Manage and Hide Your Cords ($10 – $50)
Managing computer cables might be the most boring thing some of us can imagine. Or if you’re me, apparently it makes you literally light-headed for some reason. But it’s important. Nothing is worse than your good, good pupper stepping on your powerstrip’s power switch, or catching your foot on a monitor cable during a crucial gaming moment. There are ways to hide and organize computer cords that will make your desk easier to look at and to sit at.
Yamazaki’s Web Cable Box will hide your cables but it also offers a lot of room for the cables to escape out to the devices they power.
The PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One use the same power cord. Desktop PCs and monitors use a common cable, too. Not to mention HDMI and DisplayPort cables all being pretty much identical. Label your cables with cable labels to save next year’s you a few headaches.
Cables can be hidden under your desk using something like a Cocoon Grid-It, or IKEA’s Signum cable cradle. The Grid-It wasn’t designed to go under a desk, but that’s not something a drill and a few carefully-placed screws can’t fix.
Cables can be bundled with zippable nylon sleeves, into which you can slice escapes for cables of different lengths. These are great for containing cords that all end up going from one destination to another. A more labor-intensive but simpler option is to use phone-cord-style wraps, which look a little less elegant but still help clean up cables and keep them out of the way of wandering feet or pets with a case of the zoomies.
You can’t go wrong with velcro cable ties. They’re reusable, cats love’em, and if you labeled your cables, the fancy ties can even do color-matching.
Light Up Your Life ($50+)
And of those of us spending a lot of time in front of our computers in the dark winter months, especially without any nearby windows, a Day Light isn’t a bad idea, either. It can make spending time at the computer a lot more pleasant and, if you’re susceptible to Seasonal Affect Disorder, these lights really can help.
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