Hey Amro, what’s on your desk?

A mostly wire free desk aimed from the right side showing various work equipment: a large monitor, a small laptop to the right and one behind in a stand, two key lights hovering over the desk, a microphone, webcam, keyboard, mouse, trackpad, volume knob, and a notebook, pen, and more
Amro’s desk

I shared a Tweet with a photo of my current work setup and a few folks asked what I use so I thought I’d put together a blog post with all the hardware on my desk.

I have conflicting goals in choosing the gear I use to do my work. For instance, I want to minimize visible wiring and also want a nice, tactile keyboard. There are decent wireless mechanical keyboards out there, but the ones I’ve tried don’t suit my needs (I have tried many).

I do a lot of video conferencing for work so want my A/V setup to be of high quality. To that end, I use a mirrorless camera, decent lighting, and a good microphone. I keep personal stuff off my work laptop, so my personal laptop needs to be available to me for personal communication.

Anyway, here’s a list of my gear:

Desk: Fully Jarvis Standing Desk – A pretty nice standing desk. It’s fairly stable, though a little wobbly. I’d avoid the black desk top if I bought again as it shows dust easily. Wire management underneath is kind of a pain as the metal frame does not have through holes. I like it a lot otherwise.

Desk mat: Grovemade Wool Felt Desk Pad (Medium/Light) – I like this mat quite a lot: it’s not scratchy, and is a decent mouse pad. My one complaint is it slides around a bit too easily, though my heavy keyboard helps keep it in place. It doesn’t have rubber or silicone on the bottom for friction.

Monitor: Apple XDR Pro Display and stand – overpriced, but sharp image, and aesthetically pleasing. Nice for photo editing, which I do.

Keyboard: GMMK Pro with Kailh Box White switches and these keycaps. Some assembly required, but really nice to type on. Clicky, but not so much actuation force that your fingers feel dead at the end of the day. I like a ten-keyless keyboard for its compact size, and I also like having a function row. The volume knob is a nice addition. I did need to modify the firmware slightly to get key mappings right for the Mac. That was kind of a pain, and also fun.

Mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 – This mouse is comfortable to use for long periods of time and the battery life is great. one downside is the buttons tend to get shiny over time (ABS plastic?). The Mac version lacks Logitech’s Unifying adapter, and Bluetooth support is jumpy in my experience, so you should get the non-Mac version. It works fine with a Mac.

Trackpad: Apple Magic Trackpad 2 in space gray – super nice, and great for switching between desktop spaces. Excellent battery life, but switching between machines is a little annoying. I put mine to the left of my keyboard.

Cameras: Fuji X-T30 + 23mm f/2 lens and Logi 4K Pro Magnetic Webcam for Pro Display XDR – I had the Fuji camera laying around after getting a new mirrorless camera, and I bought the lens second hand off a friend to save money. Note this Fuji camera has been replaced by a newer model. If I were buying from scratch I’d probably look at a less expensive mirrorless camera. The Logitech webcam is decent, but the video quality is just so-so, and there’s no bokeh. It’s a nice backup in case something goes wrong, and I appreciate that it attaches to my monitor magnetically and looks nice.

Camera arm: Elgato Master Mount – A stable camera arm with a nice desk clamp. The side of the clamp is low profile, and the clamp mechanism handle features a ratchet feature that makes it easy to secure in tight places.

Video capture: AVerMedia Live Streamer Cap 4K – An excellent USB video capture device. While Fuji makes software that lets one use their cameras as webcams via USB, it does not yet work with M1-based Macs, the output is limited to 720p, and it only works in some software (e.g. works in Chrome, not in Slack or Safari). Initially I tried an Elgato Cam Link 4K, which mostly worked, but has issues playing nicely with other high-bandwidth USB devices on the same bus. For instance, video output from the Cam Link 4K freezes after a few seconds when using a Thunderbolt hub connected to an M1-based Mac.

Lighting: Elgato Key Light Air x 2 – Proper lighting is important for optimal viewing, and key lights are a good place to start. A three point setup would be great, so do some research/planning.

Headphones:Apple AirPods Max – Expensive, but they sound nice and switch between devices quickly and easily. The battery lasts quite a long time — I burn through about 30% in a typical workday. Amazon sometimes has discounts on these headphones, so I’d check there first.

Headphone hook: Audio-Technica AT-HPH300 – Soft, inexpensive, and won’t ruin your headphones

Microphone and interface: Shure SM7B, Elgato Wave XLR, Cloud Microphones Cloudlifter CL-1 – The SM7B is an iconic microphone that delivers excellent sound, but it’s expensive. Check out the Shure MV7 to get a similar sound at a much lower price. You have to put up with branding on the side though. I like the Wave XLR because the cables plug into the back, it has a large volume knob, and a capacitative mute button on top. The SM7B is a notoriously quiet microphone, and the Cloudlifter amplifies it by 20+ db without increasing noise substantially. You won’t need a Cloudlifter if you go with the MV7, and if you use it via USB you won’t need an XLR interface either. Another popular interface is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. I went with the Elgato over this as cables coming out the back of the unit makes cable management easier.

Boom arm: Rode PSA1 – A classic boom arm. This may seem basic, but the boom arm stays where you put it. Others I’ve used tend to sag, etc. The desk clamp is just okay for me. If I were buying today I’d get the Rode PSA1+ instead, which fixes some minor annoyances with the PSA1. Following the trend, the PSA1+ does have prominent branding on it, which I find mildly off-putting. I’d still buy it though.

Dock: OWC Thunderbolt 4 Dock – A true one-cable solution! All my peripherals plugs into this dock. One cable goes from this dock to my laptop and keeps my laptop charged. This is one of the cheaper Thunderbolt 4 docks on the market, but they all seem to follow the same reference design and OWC makes good hardware in my experience.

Ethernet: Sonnet Technologies Solo 10G – A Thunderbolt 10gbps ethernet adapter. It’s nice, but no longer made. I’d recommend OWC’s current offering instead.

Charging cable: Anker Powerline II 3-in-1 Cable – I use a U2F security key and occasionally need to charge my mouse and trackpad. This cable has the 3 most common plugs I need to charge my peripherals, and I can keep my U2F key attached to the USB-C plug for easy access.

Laptops: Work provided 15″ 2018 Macbook Pro, and a 2020 14″ Macbook Pro for personal use – I won’t bother linking to these. The work machine is getting a bit old/slow, even for my use. The newer personal machine is a dream to use for programming, photo editing, and shitposting on Twitter.

Laptop stand: OMOTON Vertical Laptop Stand – I use this relatively inexpensive, adjustable laptop stand. My Thunderbolt dock sits behind my laptop in the second groove. The logo is only present on one side so turn it around for a cleaner look.

Did I leave something out? Lemme know on Twitter and I’ll add it to this list.