You, too, can achieve pleasing symmetry and soft lighting [Setups]

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A desk with a metal frame and a bunch or clips and magnets help make a great setup.
A desk with a metal frame and a bunch of clips and magnets help make a great setup.
Photo: QasimZafaraYouTube@Reddit

Quasim Zafar’s neatly laid out computer setup serves as his filming area for YouTube product reviews, his general workstation using a 2020 M1 Mac mini and his Xbox Series S gaming station where he plays Call of Duty.

But that’s only incidental to what you’ll probably love about it and want for your own setup.

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He talked about the setup in a well-made YouTube video. It may have you jonesin’ for the visual symmetry and light-driven ambiance he manages to achieve.

M1 Mac mini and 38-inch curved widescreen

Until recently, Zafar used a 16-inch MacBook Pro with a 27-inch high-def monitor. But, as he said in his video, he’s much happier and more productive with the M1 Mac mini and a 38-inch curved LG monitor.

“I had a 16-inch MacBook Pro that was decked out with specs, but this M1 Mac mini is a whole other experience,” he said. “I really love it. I use it for all of my computer work and it’s been a pleasure. It seriously has no trouble doing anything.”

He’s also over the moon about the monitor, praising its clarity and color.

“I love the ultrawide aspect ratio,” he said. “For doing things like video editing, it’s awesome. It’s only a QHD display. I could have gone for 4K, but 4K in this size is really, really expensive.”

Similarly – despite being a gamer — he did not go for the maximum refresh rate you can get in that LG model.

“They make 70 HZ and 144 HZ in terms of refresh rate. I went with 70 HZ because I thought that’s more than enough in terms of the amount of gaming I’m going to be doing,” he said

Pleasing symmetry: Making the most of a smaller, older desk

What did not change recently is the desk hosting his gear. From 2009, it’s kind of old and not very big. He may get a bigger one soon. But certain aspects of it make the setup what it is.

To make the best use of the smallish desktop, he replaced the monitor stand with a Vivo arm mount.

“What’s nice about this mount is that it just clamps to your desk. You can clamp it in the middle, off to the side as I’ve done – I wanted to get that floating look,” he said. “Now that bottom area of the monitor isn’t, any longer, a wasted space.”

In fact, that space is where he keeps his beloved AirPods Max and an Xbox controller.

With the monitor mount, he can tilt the display and move it forward and back. Another favorite aspect of the mount is that it helps with managing cables from gear like lights bars, the Mac mini and the Xbox.

“What I really like about his monitor mount is that it comes with all these clips to channel all your cables. That makes for a very clean and simple setup,” he said.

A magnetic allure

Perforated metal pillars flank the warm, wooden desktop and have a pleasing industrial look to them. They also take hooks and magnets, and that’s key.

Zafar uses his own brand of Tekmomo Magnet Mounts to accommodate many of his setup’s bits and pieces.

One the pillar to the left of the monitor, you can see his Apple magsafe wallet for iPhone stuck to the pillar. Above it, a Microsoft Elite Controller for Xbox is invisibly held in place with one of the magnetic mounts.

In the corners of the framework above the monitor are twin mounted Homepod minis, pointed downward. They lend both symmetry and sound to the setup.

Thoughtfully soft lighting

Zafar is big on lighting. To fill in more RGB lighting on and around his desktop, he added two Phillips Hue Play Bars behind the display, pointed down. After reviewing Govee light bars recently, he added two of those pointed to the sides.

“I love Philips Hue products and I think [they] just give this space a nice ambiance,” he said. “Honestly, in terms of RGB lighting, I am good to go.”

More cable management tricks

In the photo, notice the M1 Mac mini stacked, along with the Xbox, on their sides to the right of the monitor arm. The small plant in between serves to hide a small hard drive and all the cables going into the hardware.

Under the desk, a metal beam hides cables on its back side and supports two magnet-mounted hard drives. One stores his product shots and the other holds all his finished videos.

Generally, Zafar channels cables to the right side of the desk, zip-ties them underneath and lets them hang behind the beam. Magnetic mounts hold two power strips, the power supply for his monitor and his USB hub. Everything but his microphone and an SSD are connected to the hub.

A few inches more keyboard, and … perfect!

With Zafar’s setup, even the difference between a regular Magic Keyboard and an extended one with a numeric keypad plays a role. Not only does he like having the numbers handy, he said, but the longer keyboard fills a little more space on the desk, making it a better visual match for his ultrawide monitor.

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If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to info+setups@cultofmac.com. Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or dislike about your setup, and fill us in on any special touches or challenges.