×

TSG HQ - My Home Office Setup

By Chris Newman •  Updated: 07/17/19 •  15 min read
Home+Office+Setup

Today I’m going to give you behind-the-scenes access to all the equipment I use here at the TSG headquarters (aka the office space in my basement). I have put hours of research into finding the best gear for my money and will share with you the exact products I have purchased over the past couple years to create the productivity monster that is my workspace! If you are looking to upgrade your work area in any way, hopefully, this article with give you a few ideas of what you may want to purchase.

Disclaimer: I have personally purchased all of this equipment with my own money with no discounts. I am using Amazon affiliate links to bring you to Amazon (when applicable), which means if you end up buying anything within the same day (even toilet paper), TheSpreadsheetGuru will receive commission from Amazon on the sale. This does not affect you in any way in terms of what you would be paying. If you do decide to make a purchase through one of the affiliate links, I would like to thank you for supporting this website! - Chris, Founder of TheSpreadsheetGuru

My Home Office Desk

I desperately wanted to purchase a standing desk in 2019. I had a Vari desk modifier on top of my work desk at my day job and enjoyed being able to get out of my seat throughout the day and stand around a bit. For my home office, I wanted this luxury too but also noticed I project my voice much better in the microphone while I’m standing. Those were reasons that very much contributed to me moving forward and searching for the best standing desk out there. This new purchase would ultimately be replacing the L-shaped desk I had been using for nearly 8 years.

Desk

I ended up going with a desk from a company out in Texas called Uplift Desk. The model I purchased was a full electronic stand/sit desk with a commercial-grade steel frame and real wood top. I couldn’t be happier with the quality of the desk and definitely see myself using this desk for many years to come!

My exact Uplift build is as follows:

  • Pheasantwood Solid Wood Desktop (80” x 30”)
  • Uplift V2 Commerical Frame (black)
  • Advanced Digital Memory Keypad (black)
  • Bamboo Motion-X Board with Comfort Mat

UPDATE: With COVID 19 allowing me to work from home full-time, I ended up purchasing a second Uplift Desk for my day job setup in 2020. I purchased the same wood top (Pheasantwood) but went for a smaller size (60x30). Quality is still excellent and I couldn’t be happier with my purchases!

If you’ve ever used a standing desk before, you know how vital it is to have padding beneath your feet. While I did get the Motion Board with my Uplift Standing Desk, I also wanted some padding to stand on when I needed to be static (think recording videos or vocals).

Mat

I ended up purchasing a high-quality anti-fatigue mat by Ergodriven called the Topo Mat. What’s amazing about this mat is it is super-thick and has a bunch of different raised areas within the padding to stretch your feet out in various ways. I actually prefer using this mat over the Motion Board and mainly use it while standing. While there are cheaper mats out there, I think this mat’s thickness/quality is going to give me a lot’s of years of use.

I received a free drawing mat with my Uplift desk. These mats are great to stick your keyboard on top of in order to prevent scratching. However, there ended up being a couple things I didn’t like about this mat:

  1. It had a very large footprint on my desktop and was running into my equipment
  2. After a couple of months of light use (only my keyboard laid on top of it), it left this weird stick residue caked onto my wood desktop. I used every chemical imaginable to remove it, but I couldn’t get it completely off.

So needless to say, the Uplift mat is in the junkyard!

I found a great little desk mat by Satechi with a felt backing (no more residue risk!). The synthetic leather material feels great and the size is perfect for my keyboard. My only annoyance is it slides pretty easily, but I am willing to live with it as long as my beautiful desktop stays nice.

Draw Mat

To clear some space off my desk, I picked up this extremely well-made walnut headphone holder from Yunshow. It was fairly close in color to my standing desk and the quality/look definitely jived well with my desk’s aesthetics, especially for $15! Just one little screw to the bottom of my desk and this headphone holder was installed and easily held my wireless headphones.

Headphone holder

Computer Equipment

I have been using my Dell XPS 15 laptop for about 3 years now (purchased June 2016). This has by far been the best laptop I have EVER owned. It has a quality build, amazing screen, and most importantly has been extremely reliable. I spent around $1,500 on this laptop, but there are cheaper build options.

Laptop

In terms of power, it came with an Intel Core i7 Quad Core processor (6th gen), 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB solid-state drive. Due to my needs and the poor quality of the wireless card that Dell uses, I did install a few updates to this laptop (which were super easy for me to install and cheap to purchase - see following sections). With these upgrades, I’ve been able to prolong the need to purchase a new laptop to keep up with current demands from the software I’m using (even though those 9th gen Intel chips are tempting!).

Upgraded RAM (Link)

As a developer for Excel, I sometimes need to troubleshoot an error occurring on an older version of Excel. I use virtual machines to store various older versions of Microsoft Excel and they need RAM. So I upgraded my RAM from 8GBs to 32GBs. I purchased a Crucial 32GB kit with two 16GB sticks. I’m no expert with computers, so I did a bunch of research and found Crucial to be a reliable brand, so I went with them. No complaints from me with this upgrade!

Upgraded Wireless Card (Link)

Starting in 2018, I noticed I was starting to have very poor WiFi connectivity within my home. I did a little research and it seems that Dell uses really bad wireless cards in their builds. Luckily, it ended up being extremely easy to exchange out the Dell wireless card for a new Intel Wireless AC9260 card. I used this tutorial video to show me how easy it was to swap out.

Pro Tip: If you are ever upgrading your wireless card, make sure you download the new card drivers before you install it (since it controls your internet connection).

After making the switch, my wireless connection worked beautifully and as an added bonus, my Bluetooth worked much better since the Intel card also upgraded my Bluetooth to v5.0.

External Drive (Link)

Obviously, with this laptop being purchased back in 2016, I definitely need more memory. Instead of upgrading the internal solid state drive, I opted to just purchase an external hard drive. There are a bunch of opinions out there on which brands are the most reliable in terms of not crashing. I’ve had really good success with Toshiba over the years, so I currently am using the Toshiba Canvio Basics 4TB External Hard Drive. This drive is extremely small and has more than enough space for my needs (at this time).

I recently jumped on the mechanical keyboard bandwagon and I must say I’m really loving my experience with them so far! I went for a more budget-friendly model from Logitech since I wasn’t sure if I would like this form of keyboard. I ended up purchasing the Logitech K840 Mechanical Keyboard from Amazon. My only real requirements were that it needed to have a Windows key and a 10-key number pad.

Keyboard

The nice thing about mechanical keyboards, is they function much better with the movements of your fingers than the cheap, massively produced membrane keyboards most of us use. I have noticed my typing speed drastically increase and it is just more fun to type with these bad boys!

I’m not too snobby with mice. My main requirements are that they have a center wheel and are wireless. I use the Logitech M705 Marathon wireless mouse mainly because the battery life is insanely long. I have grown to like the indentation on the left side of the mouse for your thumb to ergonomically rest. Another great feature is the center wheel has two modes for scrolling (one that is more tactile and the other that is smooth). This is an all-around great mouse for the price and I have not seen another mouse that has given me a reason to switch.

Mouse

There’s not too much to say about flash drives, they store data and hopefully won’t crash or be incompatible being plugged into a variety of PCs. My go-to flash drive at the moment has been the SanDisk Extreme CZ80 USB 3.0 flash drive. I have a 32GB version which serves as a partial backup to my important files and also allows me to store a plethora of files that I like to have at my fingertips. This flash drive has been extremely reliable over the 3 years I’ve used it and it also comes with embedded software to password protect access to your files. It’s not the prettiest flash drive out there, but I initially went for pretty before this drive and got screwed within a few months! So, I’m sticking with reliability.

Flash+Drive

I don’t use my webcam too often, but I have a Logitech C920 HD 1080p (I’m linking to the C920S which is the latest model). The only thing I would recommend with any webcam purchase is to get one that has a privacy shutter, so you can ensure the government isn’t spying on you 🙂

Webcam

For my docking station, I run all my equipment through a Dell WD15 with a 180-watt adapter. It’s really nice being able to plug everything (monitors, keyboard, mouse, etc…) into one central location not attached to my PC. It’s extremely convenient to only have to plug a USB-C cord into my laptop and be instantly connected to everything and also be able to charge my laptop’s battery.

Docking+Station

My only annoyance with Dell Laptops and their docks is that the USB-C port for the laptop and the USB-C cord for the docking station are both on the left side. This means you have to wrap the already short USB-C (which is not removable) around the back of the docking station which makes cord organization not very appealing. I have no idea why Dell designs their docks this way, but they have been doing this for quite some time (much to the dismay of Dell customers).

Monitors

Screens (Link)

I have two 24” monitors from Dell that I purchased back in 2015. They are part of the UltraSharp series (specifically U2412M) and look great. I liked this model because it has an aspect ratio of 16:10 (instead of the standard 16:9), this gives me extra vertical pixel space on the screen. There are a lot of various monitor options, so to give you an idea of what I spent, each monitor cost me approximately $250.

Mointor

The only complaint I have about the monitors is their color didn’t match exactly and I tried everything I could to get them to be balanced (even professional calibration tools). That is one annoyance that has left me contemplating moving to an ultrawide screen, however, I’m not sure if I would miss having two completely self-contained screen environments. For now, I’m sticking with this setup.

Monitor Stand (Link)

When you have a sit/stand desk setup, it is vitally important to easily adjust your monitor heights. This is because in most cases your monitors will need to be raised higher when you are standing versus when you are sitting. When I purchased my Uplift desk, I very quickly found out I needed to upgrade my dual monitor stand.

Monitor+Stand

After some research, I found the AmazonBasics Dual Arm Monitor Stand to be the best quality for the price. This stand is very well built (many believe it is made by Ergotron, which is a high-end stand producer). The installation was extremely easy and the arms move all over the place with ease.

My only qualm is the stand height. I would have liked the stand to raise my monitors slightly more based on how tall I am. I initially was under the impression I could replace the piping with a longer pipe from the hardware store, however, the pipe’s threads were sealed (assuming glued) into the base. I let it be for the time being but may come back to trying to dislodge the pipe when I have some free time.


Branded Swag

If you own your own business as I do, you may want to pick up some branded gear to place around your office. Whether it’s a t-shirt to wear at your desk, pens to write with, or a coffee mug to get you going in the morning, having my logo around the office gives me a little bit more motivation when I’m working late into the night or early in the morning.

TheSpreadsheetGuru+Tshirt

I received a sample from a Philadelphia company called RushOrderTees and really liked the quality of their product. They got my logo transferred perfectly and the coloring was an exact match (and if you know anything about me, I’m very keen on even the slightest color difference). They offer many different types of apparel brands to pick from and I especially liked the slimmer fit provided to me with the Gildan Adult Softstyle brand.

They offer all sorts of apparel options (polos, hoodies, shirts, etc…) and even do hats and bags. If you’re looking to get your own branded gear or have a bunch of shirts made for an outing, this company is definitely worth checking out!


What’s In Your Workspace?

Now that I’ve shared the specs of my office space, I’d love to hear about the equipment you use and could not live without. Let me know in the comments section below!

Keep Learning

Chris Newman

Chris Newman

Chris is a finance professional and Excel MVP recognized by Microsoft since 2016. With his expertise, he founded TheSpreadsheetGuru blog to help fellow Excel users, where he shares his vast creative solutions & expertise. In addition, he has developed over 7 widely-used Excel Add-ins that have been embraced by individuals and companies worldwide.