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 Patrick Campanale, Writer 9to5Toys. 

For me, a desk setup is never “final.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-done my entire desk setup, whether I changed the I was using (more on that later), the components on top, or even the computer I used, it’s an ever-evolving thing for me.

I consider my current setup “close to completion,” though there’s still quite a bit I want to change before I finally consider it finished. At any rate, my current computing workflow is more than enough for the average bear, and gets the job done for me with no trouble (most of the time), and that’s what really counts in the end.

Nomad Base Station

2016 15-inch MacBook Pro w/ Touch Bar

This is really the heart of the beast. I used to lean on a custom-built gaming desktop as my daily machine (I still have it, and occasionally use it when I want to game on PC or stream), but the heart of my desk is the 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

When I picked out this laptop, I didn’t initially expect to spend near as much as I did. I wanted a MacBook to replace my aging 2012 non-Retina 15-inch MacBook Pro, and wanted to do it in style. Originally, I started out with a base 15-inch MacBook Pro, but had some hardware issues with it.

I went into the Apple Store and wanted to get the step up, but ended up only having the option between the base model and the one I settled on, which is maxed out in every possible way except for SSD storage. 1TB is more than enough for me, and $1,400 for 2TB of SSD storage is outrageous.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

This is crucial to my workflow. The MacBook Pro has a few obvious flaws, one being the glaring lack of normalized I/O. The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock gives me DisplayPort out so I can easily plug my LG UltraWide monitor in, USB-A inputs for things like keyboard and mouse, and also ethernet so I can have access to my NAS and other computers on the network at gigabit speeds.

The biggest benefit to having the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock always being on my desk is the fact it has an SD card slot on the front, so when I take photos or videos for articles like this one, I can easily import them to my computer without the need of extra dongles.

Twelve South Curve for MacBook

I’m a huge fan of Twelve South, as are most of us here at 9to5. The Curve stand is great as it holds my MacBook Pro at the perfect angle for it to sit next to my monitor, and gives it plenty of room underneath to breathe. The Curve stand also looks great, which is an added bonus.

LG 34-inch UltraWide monitor

They say once you go UltraWide, you won’t go back, and that is 100% the case with me. I used to be under the belief that there was no way to get as much done with one UltraWide monitor as two side-by-side monitors, and after diving into UltraWide head-first with the LG 34-inch 1440p curved monitor, I’m nevter looking back.

Being able to have a single display without bezels interfering with my eyesight is amazing, and the quality is superb. My dream setup would involve three UltraWide monitors in a surround formation, but that’s a ways off and for another BTS episode later in the future.

UpDesk BevelUp 70-inch standing desk

I always had a normal desk, that is, until my UpDesk BevelUp arrived. Coming from executive-style desks and regular office equipment, this is now a staple of my workflow these days. Easily being able to transition from standing to sitting and back again is crucial to helping alleviate my back problems I used to get from sitting for hours on end.

My UpDesk is the 70-inch wide model and I have the Bluetooth smart desk controller that ties into an app on my phone for easy programming and reminders. If you’re in the market for a desk, I couldn’t recommend UpDesk enough.

Herman Miller Aeron chair

This is an absolute must. For those times I do need to sit, a proper chair is crucial to help alleviate potential back and leg problems. Herman Miller is the go-to in this area, and though they charge a pretty penny, it’s worth every bit of it in my opinion. I was able to get my Aeron second-hand for a fraction of the new cost, but had I not been able to find one used I would have easily bought it new, no question.

Razer Nommo Chroma Speakers

I recently did a review on these speakers, and they’re still on my desk for a reason. They look fantastic, and sound amazing to boot. I love listening to music while working through the Nommo Chroma’s and it’s always a conversation starter. To find out more about these speakers, check out our full review.

Das Keyboard 4 Professional & Logitech MX Master

This is an area where I’m constantly changing things around. I generally come back to this keyboard and mouse, however. I’ve tried to swap my keyboard out for the Apple Magic Keyboard and mouse for the Apple Magic Mouse 2 or Magic TrackPad, but I always land right back here with the Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac and Logitech MX Master.

I love the MX Master, and have quite a few of them at different workspaces in my house as it’s a must-have in my book. I’ll eventually upgrade to the MX Master 2S once one of these die, but until then, I’ll keep enjoying the ergonomics and features of the original MX Master.

Keyboard-wise, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac is a staple for me. I’ve used mechanical keyboards for years, but when I moved to a Mac full-time, I had to get a Mac-styled keyboard, and this was the obvious option. I opted for the Cherry MX Blue switches, which are loud and clicky, just like I want them to be. The typing experience is bar-none, and I will continue to use this keyboard for years to come as nothing can come close to it. Oh, and the built-in USB-3.0 hub on the back is great for dongles and cables alike.

Lighting

For lighting, I have a few items on my desk. My main light is a Tomons desk lamp with a Philips Hue Color and White Ambiance bulb in it. I also have a salt lamp at the other end of my desk for the unique styling it gives.

Behind the desk, I have a Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus, and this ties right into the Nanoleaf Aurora Rhythm panels I’ll talk about a bit later. I’m a gamer at heart, and recently Philips Hue and Razer announced a partnership to tie lighting into Razer’s Synapse software. This means that all of my desk peripherals, from keyboards and mice, to wall and desk lighting can all be in sync.

Nanoleaf Aurora Rhythm

This is the newest addition to my setup, but one of the prettiest in my opinion. I’ve always loved the design of Nanoleaf, and when they announced integration with Razer Synapse, my gaming peripheral of choice, I knew it was time to finally get some on the wall.

These unique light panels add a feel of elegance to any workspace and pair well with just about anything, I think. I love that they tie in with Razer and can’t wait to start some intense gaming sessions with them on the wall.

Elgato Stream Deck

This is for some stuff I have planned in the future. I love Elgato and have used their products for years, and the Steam Deck is slowly becoming a must-have desk accessory for me. Why? Well, it works with every application I use.

This isn’t limited to streaming uses, but can be used with apps like Photoshop and Lightroom just the same. I have profiles set up for when I launch Lightroom it gives me specific folders, and specific actions inside of each folder. Using this can really help my workflow when going through large photo shoots to pick and reject photos, and even get some of my editing done.

What’s next?

For me, I’d love to upgrade to some new gear down the road. Adding an extra UltraWide monitor is high on my “want” list, though likely won’t happen anytime soon. More likely, I’ll upgrade peripherals here and there, like swapping out my MX Master for a MX Master 2S in the near future.

This is still very much a work in progress, and there are many areas to improve on the desk. I’m constantly making changes, like the little green IKEA plant that you see there was recently added.

Eventually, I’d love to have two UltraWide monitors powered by Apple’s hopefully soon-to-be-announced Mac Pro, whenever they decide to release it.

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