A year of effort goes into a clean and balanced look [Setups]

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Chris Reed's dual-monitor M1 MacBook Pro setup was a long time in the making.
Chris Reed's dual-monitor M1 MacBook Pro setup was a long time in the making.
Photo: Chris Reed

Working student Chris Reed told Cult of Mac he put a year of work into his “slow build” home office and computer setup. In that year he strove to achieve a clean and balanced look, and, judging by his pics and comments, it seems he got there.

Reed said he wanted to go with dual monitors rather than a wide screen display to save some money. He’s pleased with his choice of 32-inch Samsung 1080p curved monitors, run along with his 2020 MacBook Pro and his iPad Pro.

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Clean and balanced setup for work, school and play

“My work station is primarily used for work and school with a little play mixed in. Work consists of email, Teams and Zoom meetings, document review and spreadsheets, [and] school is much of the same,” he said. “So it was not critical to have 4K monitors. I think the best way to summarize my approach would be balanced.”

Reed emphasized a need for good performance, easy connectivity to the workstation and the ability to use multiple devices with the setup.

“The area that I could not sacrifice was having a clean look. I wanted the wires and any hardware that did not need to be visible to be well hidden,” he explained.

The iPad Pro is "allowed" to be on the clean and balanced desktop sometimes, Reed said.
The iPad Pro is “allowed” to be on the clean and balanced desktop sometimes, Reed said.
Photo: Chris Reed

His “must-haves” on the desktop included monitors, speakers, webcam, mouse and keyboard. Everything else had to be neatly tucked away, from the laptop and docking station to the power strip tower and cables.

“The only other devices allowed on the desk periodically is my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil,” he added.

Smooth connectivity and ready power

Reed’s  2020 M1 MacBook Pro is connected to a Targus DOCK190 docking station with a nine-pin magnetic USB-C adapter, which makes it easy to connect and disconnect the laptop. The dock also feeds video to the two Samsung monitors. They’re attached to the desk with an Atdec dual monitor desktop mount.

The dual-monitor mount holds the two Samsung displays fast, but there is a little wobble, Reed said.
The dual-monitor mount holds the two Samsung displays fast, though the desk wobbles a little, Reed said.
Photo: Chris Reed

Reed said he “enjoys great sound” through his Creative Pebble v2 desktop speakers or, when he wants to “be a little more discrete,” through a pair of Bose SoundLink headphones or AirPods.

Everything gets power from an Aukey 12-outlet power strip tower. It supplies power for everything with outlets to spare for future add-ons, he said. The towers also has two USB-C and three USB-A charging ports to charge up devices, such as his iPad, iPhone, bluetooth headphones, AirPods and more.

Tidy cable management

Reed worked pretty hard to keep his setup neat and tidy.

“All the cables for the montitors and speakers run through custom-cut grommet holes to give the appearance that there are little to no wires or cables,” he said. “All the wire management is neatly tucked up under the desk and out of sight.”
A handy tray mounted under the desk keep the iPad Pro out of the way.
A handy tray mounted under the desk keep the iPad Pro out of the way.
Photo: Chris Reed
Under the desk he keeps his MacBook Pro, the Targus docking station, the Aukey power strip tower and a hanging hook for the Bose headphones.
“The MacBook Pro is easy to access, but hard to see, which really fits the theme here,” he said.

Rigged for standing or sitting

Reed set his desk to a comfortable standing height. When he wants to sit, he has a cast iron tractor seat stool “which is far more comfortable than it looks,” he said.
“The desk and stool are both adjustable, so I could lower the height to be a sitting desk, but over the course of a year and a half using the work station I have not seen the need to do that,” he added.

Two dislikes

Reed said there are two things that he does not like about his home office situation.
First, the desk wobbles a little bit. It’s not a big deal, he said — it’s more what he would call a slight annoyance.
An Aukey power strip tower and headphone hook under the desk also help keep things neat and tidy.
An Aukey power strip tower and headphone hook under the desk also help keep things neat and tidy.
Photo: Chris Reed
The second issue isn’t really the setup’s fault, but it’s a much bigger issue, he said.
“In September I may need to return to the office. If that happens I will be relegated to working in a crowded cubicle and have to downsize from the dual 32” monitors to a set of 19” monitors. To me, the latter will be unbearable,” he said.

In the meantime, all’s well

“The setup could not have turned out any better for me,” Reed said. “I absolutely love everything about it. I wouldn’t say that any one piece of hardware or accessory is the best in it’s category, but in my opinion everything paired together makes the perfect package for my home office.”

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