Behind the Screens is a weekly 9to5Toys series that takes you through our writers’ setups, be it mobile, desktop, gaming or home theater. Next up is Justin Duino, a 9to5Google writer.
Until recently, despite having a desk and full-sized PC, most of my work was done on my MacBook primarily because it is portable and I could work from anywhere. It wasn’t until I moved my desk away from my TV and purchased a new UltraWide monitor that I actually found this set up to be beneficial.
Despite primarily using my Windows 10 PC while sitting at my desk, I still keep my MacBook and Google Pixelbook nearby if I feel the need to get up and move. All of this together makes for a great at-home workplace that I can use for work as well as play.
The PC |
As the center of this Behind the Screens is my custom PC, so we might as well start there. I built this machine near the start of 2017 when my MacBook Pro started to give me problems. With help from Ben Schoon and Patrick Campanale, I was able to get the pieces together that would allow me to game online (primarily Rocket League), using Google Chrome with countless tabs open, and edit photos and videos using Adobe Creative Cloud.
Starting with the motherboard, this PC build focuses around the ASUS ROG Strix B250F gaming motherboard. Next, I am using an Intel Core i7-7700 CPU, 16GBs of Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM with white LEDs, and an ASUS GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card which all put out enough horsepower to get me through my daily tasks.
As this PC was meant to be fast as well as powerful, I am using a SanDisk Ultra II 240GB SATA III 2.5-inch solid-state drive to boot Windows 10 and run various applications. I have a Western Digital Red 3TB NAS hard drive to store files, pictures, videos, and everything else. All of this resides in the NZXT S340 computer case.
If I have one complaint with my build, it’s that not all of the LEDs work with the Asus lighting controls. While my motherboard and GPU have lights that are synchronized, the randomly flashing white LEDs on my RAM and Corsair Air Series White LED fans just throws off the mix.
The Monitor |
As I mentioned above, one of the reasons why I’ve moved back to my desktop is because of a new monitor. I recently purchased the LG 34UC80-B 34-Inch curved UltraWide QHD monitor and I don’t know how I lived/worked without it.
I typically have four to five windows open at a time which usually meant having multiple monitors. But with an UltraWide, the 21:9 aspect ratio provides more than enough screen real estate to work with. Now, instead of turning my head to look at a separate screen, everything I need is right in front of me.
The Keyboard & Mouse |
Just like most who work from a computer all day, I have a pretty standard mouse and keyboard setup. First, I am using the Logitech MX Master 2S Wireless Mouse after my first-gen began to give me issues about a month back. I have yet to find a better mouse when it comes to comfort, features, and ease of use.
Under it, I show my love for Google’s mobile OS with an Android Foundry cloth mouse pad. Not sure if I can really recommend this item though as the odd shape doesn’t give a lot of room for your wrist to rest on or to move the mouse around.
Lastly, as a writer, I have to use keyboards that I love. And if there’s one thing I love, it’s the loud clicky noise of a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Blue Switches. Thankfully, I found the perfect combination in the Rosewill Apollo Blue Backlit Mechanical Gaming Keyboard which I purchased almost six years ago.
The Secondary Laptops |
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am always switching between computers depending on the situation. Before moving to this PC, the majority of my work was done on a fully specced out 15-inch 2014 MacBook Pro with retina display that I bought back when I was still in college. Not only did it handle all of my tasks without issue, but it also runs MacOS which I absolutely love.
But now my beloved MacBook mainly sits in a Twelve South BookArc but is plugged into my monitor if I ever want to do any Android development in my free time.
My go-to laptop now is a Google Pixelbook with 128GB of storage. While I hadn’t been a huge fan of Chrome OS in the past, I absolutely love this laptop because of its all-day battery life, fantastic keyboard, and its capability to get me through a workday.
Also, I am rocking a dbrand skin on both laptops (not sponsored).
The Desk |
My desk is pretty simple: I wanted a standing desk but didn’t want to spend a fortune on it. The standing desk is called Skarsta and can be bought from Ikea. It’s relatively inexpensive because it has a hand crank instead of a motorized one.
Lastly, I have a Lifx Z smart LED light strip attached to the back and side of the desk to add a bit of ambient light. I honestly hardly use it, but the option to change the color for article photos does come in handy.
The Chair & Standing Mat |
I didn’t even bother taking a photo of my desk chair because of how old and outdated it is. I currently have a discontinued AmazonBasics chair that I will be replacing soon, I hope.
On the floor, I have a Gorilla Grip standing desk mat. Even with carpet, standing and working at my desk for extended periods of time can be tiring on feet. With this mat, I feel more comfortable with the added padding. It’s definitely an excellent purchase for anyone standing for long periods of time.
The Gaming Stuff |
While my PC is mainly used for writing, I do game on it occasionally. First, I have the TONOR Pro Condenser PC Microphone Kit which I use when communicating with my party and even sometimes for podcasts. It isn’t perfect enough for doing voice-overs, but it can be used in a pinch.
As someone who has always been a console gamer, I just can get used to using a mouse and keyboard. Because of this, I try and use my Ocean Shadow Xbox controller whenever possible because it just feels more natural.
Also, because some of my friends and family are still rocking the console life, I keep my PlayStation 4 on my desk. Unfortunately, Sony doesn’t allow the console to properly work with ultrawide monitors, so the image does get majorly stretched.
The Accessories |
As you’ve probably noticed throughout the other sections, I have a lot of knick-knacks, figures, and other items around my desk. The things that perhaps stand out the most are all of my figurines. These include a Funko Batman Pop, a Funko BB-8, other Marvel figures from Marvel Collector Corps, and, of course, my Hipster Mickey.
My most useful item would have to be my USB-C phone dock. Not only does the dock keep my primary phone charged, but it also keeps it propped up so I can check notifications and access it at any time. While my unit is no longer available, Amazon sells a bunch of USB-C charging docks looks like they would get the job done.
Also on my desk is a Moto Mods carrying case which doubles as a storage unit for any phone I have in for review, my Kershaw pocket knife for open any boxes I may receive, and a pair of Gunnars which I have in for review.
Lastly, I have several other little goodies around my desk. These include Bose QC 35 II wireless headphones for when I need to just tune out the outside world, Logitech dual computer speakers for listening to YouTube videos, a Kindle Paperwhite for some light reading between articles, and a Logitech HD Pro webcam for Hangout calls.
What’s Next |
If all goes as planned, I should be moving to the other side of the US in the next couple of months so my entire setup will most likely change. When doing so, I will hopefully have a full-sized room to use as an office which means I will have more area to place additional tables, mount shelves to display my collectibles, and just expand my workspace.
In the meantime, my goal is to get much better at cable management. As you can see from most of the photos, I have a bunch of random cables just dangling behind the desk. I recently picked up 1,000 Tach-It 4-inch cable ties which I hope will help achieve this task.