Navigate back to the homepage

Setup build series: ideas and choosing a desk

Top Setup Magazine
November 10th, 2016 · 2 min read

Welcome to the first post of our setup building series.

In this series we will be trying to build a productivity setup for a laptop (a Macbook in or case). If you find yourself doing light work that doesn’t demand the power of custom PC or a pro machine, a laptop based setup is perfect for you since you can have a static setup, while having the portability of a laptop.

The challenge is to get it right, having to deal with both: the static aspect and the portability aspect of the setup is difficult when it comes to laying out other setup components, that’s what we will be showing you how to deal with.

In this series we want to think out-loud and let you know how we made every choice, we want you to know what you should be thinking of before making purchase decisions.


First step in any setup is that slab of wood that we will put everything on, the desk.


Alex units + KARLBY

We love Ikea, for quality and prices it can’t be beaten, so we started thinking inside Ikea’s box.

Some products aren’t very good but they’re really cheap which makes sense, therefore we immediately rolled out cheap tables like LINNMON, and cheap legs like ADIL because we want something that will last.

While we really love the Alex/KARLBY combo for looks and durability, it’s not practical for many reasons:

  • Very wide, which is space consuming
  • Hard to fill, unless you want a huge workspace and a multiple monitors setup with speakers and other stuff on the desk, it will be difficult to fill the void.
  • Low, as we saw in Randomfrankp’s case, he needed to add metallic legs to get some height, that’s an issue with most Ikea products, 70cm seems like the standard in most cases.

Go for sit/stand

After further thinking we found that motorized desks are the best for us, for the following reasons:

  • Easily adjustable to any height
  • You can switch between sitting and standing, which is proven to be healthy
  • We won’t thing much about the chair choice because we’re not limited to a specific height
  • Anyone can use the desk and adjust it to his chair, height or whatever

BUT here comes the but, such desks are very expensive ! we generally have a rule: “If an expensive thing is high quality, will last for long and have huge benefits, it’s probably worth it”. Another BUT, you should make sure you don’t pay too much for the brand, if your money is going directly to the actual value then it’s great.

We started our research, we found many great desks in US and Europe, we explored Chinese products they’re much much cheaper and some US/Europe sellers just re-brand them and sell them for way higher prices. Next comes a huge problem, these desks are heavy and where we’re based we couldn’t find a good shipping option, in many instances shipping is higher than the desk itself.

Sit/Stand desk

IKEA to the rescue

Back to Ikea’s thinking box, we found the SKARSTA, it’s a no-brainer we made the decision instantly:

  • Good quality
  • Relatively cheap
  • White which is great for the theme we have in mind
  • Manual but we have plans to make it motorized (hacks soon)
  • We can buy it without a top, because we don’t like the top designed for it which can be purchased separately


Since we have a trip to IKEA, we have a few things to pick which we will talk about afterwards. Among them a counter-top for the desk. Looking through the products list the GERTON looks like the right choice for us, compact, massive wood which is high quality and very very durable. The only inconvenience is it’s not treated so we have to do that ourselves, details in the next post.

Join our email list and get notified about new content

Be the first to receive our latest content with the ability to opt-out at anytime. We promise to not spam your inbox or share your email with any third parties.

More articles from Top Setup Magazine

An intro to setups culture

An introduction to the setups culture

October 9th, 2016 · 3 min read

Randomfrankp's new setup

Randomfrankp's updated setup

October 7th, 2016 · 2 min read
© 2016–2021 Top Setup Magazine
Link to $ to $ to $