Great Desks And Where to Buy Them

Alright, I am deep in consideration as

  1. My continual imprisonment at home looms before me and my present desk buckles under the weight of 3 monitors, a rock-solid mechanical keyboard, the really nice bookshelf speakers my gf got me, the fabulous boom arm + shockmount that @SadleyBradley snagged me for my Blue Yeti, an ancient and decript lamp, and my own ponderous flesh-arms, and

  2. As a brand new spiffy Xmas-present Better Chair is assembled by enslaved children at a faceless Chinese factory and then has the brand label for the particular variety of overpriced gaming chair claiming to have made it for me applied, and

  3. As my partner and I try to spiff up our living space to look marginally more adult and functional with a few well-spaced furniture purchases this year,

I recognize it is in my best interest to explore the possibility of a new desk.

As I’m working with my partner to re-do our living room setup, we’ll be moving me to the opposite corner, and I think an L-shaped desk would probably be best for that. Given the three monitor thing going on and the fact that I’m not completely sold on spending all my time in the “elbow” of an L-desk, I’d ideally like one in the ballpark of 60" to a side, and ideally deep enough to accommodate bulky monitor feet, bulky speakers, kb, wrist rest, and ideally, a big ol honkin food plate sometimes (we don’t have space for a proper dining table, so I just eat at my computer desk).

I can’t afford to drop a grand, or probably even $500 on this, so solid wood is sadly right out. On the flipside, I want something ideally a little more durable than a thin sheet of vinyl and particle board applied over a hollow interior of cardboard hexagons, like some of the Ikeas apparently rock, hah. Amazon is flooded by 4,000 no-name lookalike brands all produced from the same slave factories as the gamer chairs, and I don’t have a ton of interest in giving one of those my business unless it’s legitimately good.

So, I recognize that Sturdy, Sizable L-Shaped Desk under $500 is asking a lot. But I believe in you, Qt3! Tell me what desk to buy!

(And feel free to use this thread for your own future Desking endeavors, OR feel free to consign it to a swift death after a mere two replies telling me to buy, in order, a cardboard Ikea desk and a Chinese knockoff $100 deal from Amazon

edit, jokingly, and with all love to @Matt_W, check one ;-) )

Current setup, for comparison:

I know it’s not an L, but I recently replaced my aging Ikea desk with… a table. Yes, just a table. No keyboard tray, no cabinets, no compartments or monitor shelves. It’s just a table. This one:

And I love it. I bought a $15 printer cart that fits underneath, and a $15 monitor stand that holds my screen at eye level. It’s comfortable and functional and flexible and doesn’t look half bad. Now that my kids do Zoom school from home, I bought them table-desks too. Everyone is pleased.

Genuinely, I don’t need anything fancy. The shit on my current desk’s hilarious little half-oval shelves is basically garbage, covered in a thick layer of dust and untouched since I moved it to this side of the room 3 years ago. “Basically a table” is, in many ways, even more ideal for me :)

How do you find the stability/capacity to hold weight? Any issues with immediate scratching/denting/laminate peeling off? I’ve been genuinely impressed at how well the fake wood vinyl coating on this Big Lots special has survived, compared to the horror stories I read in desk reviews online nowadays.

I don’t know how useful this will be for you, but I’ll mention what we’re doing with my wife’s home office. She’s been working from home and sitting in front of a pretty standard 60 x 30" desk at just about the right height for her. The problem is that endlessly sitting for all these Zoom meetings was giving her “numb butt” and causing some sciatica pain.

So we decided to go with an adjustable “standing desk” setup where she could either sit or stand as she chose. At my work I have a great adjustable desk with motors in the legs where with a touch of a button I can raise and lower the entire platform. Those are pretty pricy.


You can actually buy the legs and motors (alone) for a reasonably cheap price from Amazon:

The one above is actually one of the pricier ones; you can get a more basic model for under $200. Then you can buy a sheet of some type of wood at whatever size you are interested in for a desk surface for a couple hundred, e.g.:

So for about $500 you get a nice sturdy adjustable-height standing desk. The major down-side is that there are no drawers or storage areas.

It’s pretty sturdy. I would stand on it and I have no doubts about its ability to hold my 200+ lb weight.

Nope. I’ve had it almost a year and moved house during that time and it still looks new. It’s pretty durable.

I’m also all in on the table approach. Looked into dedicated desks, but didn’t find that I cared for any of the features they offered, and a simple table was more convenient and flexible. Can always add self-contained storage for whatever your needs are, but you can’t easily remove extra stuff like keyboard trays that just get in my way.

I’ve been using this kind of table for a few years now (as has the rest of the family) and we have no complaints. They feel plenty sturdy for typing on, and don’t scratch or stain. I’ve wall-mounted all my displays, which saves weight and desk space, but I have a receiver and speakers on mine that probably weigh more than those monitors.

Definitely recommend wall-mounting the displays though.You can put them on arms and easily reposition them if you want to shift position or stand.

Obnoxiously not an option I can probably explore, given that we’re renting and liable to move the room around at least one or two more times before we move. I wouldn’t say no to a three-monitor mounting arm type solution for the desk itself, but A) that needs a particularly sturdy sort of particle board to survive, and B) I’ll have to buy these doofy $50 adapters for my two cheapo old Acer monitors that lack VESA mounting options :(

Good to know! Consider it added to the possibility list :)

I’ll be honest, I’ve almost immediately discounted the possibility of a standing desk because my abysmal physical health/stamina makes the idea of standing for any halfway reasonable amount of time seem crazy to me, even if it is healthier in the long run. Also, after years of janky wobbly desk, the idea of repeatedly ratcheting my typing surface covered in expensive electronics up and down makes me feel crazy nervous. But. . . it really is better in the long run, so, I dunno :(

Consider looking into craigslist or similar things, sometimes you can find some really good values that way.

Not sure how helpful this will be, but here’s how I have things set up for my own area:

Work on the left, fun on the right, and the secondary monitor, speakers, chair, etc. are shared for both. Cheap plastic Lifetime tables and cheap Ikea carts for storage.

I never got comfortable typing while standing, but I do like that my display is high enough up that I can easily stand while reading a document or for a meeting or something.

I’m going to make a weird suggestion, which may not fit with your capabilities… But with a pretty limited set of tools, you could potentially build yourself a desk out of lumber.

It would be cheap, and even with cheap lumber it’d be better than most pre made stuff.

Simple carpentry is really quite easy, and a desk which is essentially just an L shaped table is not a complex build at all.

You could do it with a hand saw and an impact driver.

You would need to lean into a rustic design though, and embrace that aesthetic.

If you’re okay with an IKEA desk, I can highly recommend this one. I’ve been using mine for almost 4 years and it’s still going strong:

I had a triple monitor setup on it for a couple of years, but right now I’m only rocking 2. I’ve actually taken it apart to move several times and it’s a breeze to put back together. And at $250 it’ll let you spend money on other things. Like games for the backlog.

Your current desk looks very small! I can’t seem to have a desk without surrounding the monitor with all sorts of papers, pens, and general stuff.

If I had to replace my desk I’d go with an IDEA table. My wife is using one as a sewing table and it’s been great for 2+ years. I wouldn’t jump and down on it but I’d stand on it if I needed to so I wouldn’t worry about the strength. I have no idea what they called it but it was the type where you buy the top and four separate legs. It’s not stunningly attractive but it isn’t hideous either.

When I’m back in a more permanent home I’ll probably either build a desk like Timex suggests. For years I wanted the huge old wooden office desk that my dad had taken when they shut down the plant he was managing 30+ years ago. But when they moved to a retirement (independent living) apartment recently it was clear that that desk was simply too humungous for anyone’s current situation.

My big vehicle is still undriveable, so I’m limited to the folks willing to delivery, but this was a great suggestion that totally slipped my mind, so I’m scoping a couple of local-ish options in addition to stuff from above.

God those giant monitors sure are purdy.

Probably outside of my capabilities, but my gf’s actually been working on her handyperson skills as of late. Not quite to “build a desk,” yet, but my dad definitely built my old computer desk I used all through the 90s and early 00s. It was pretty janky looking and wound up getting real wobbly after a few years, but I was impressed!

Sadly, in addition to my doubts over their materials, I’m also outside of a delivery radius, and the nearest stores are 3+ hours away; not something I’m able to do during the pandemic. Which sucks; I’d love to pick up some of their stuff for side tables or coffee tables at the least.

It is, uh, not large, haha. I’ve somehow survived a decade on it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone if I even know the name/model number :)

Well, if you are interested, Google is your friend. There are tons of plans of various degrees of complexity you can find online.

Enterprise should rent you a cargo van for a day super cheap. Just as an option. Sometimes people just want something nice out of their house. Here in Chicago we just put them in the alley and someone more industrious will pick them up within hours and resell them.

I would second @Tin_Wisdom’s idea on a sit stand desk setup. Once you have it, you’ll never give it up.

The thing is - you can buy that stand that he linked, and get a good piece of cabinet grade plywood for about $80 and make the desk the size you want. Later on down the line if you want to redo it, it will be a simple unscrew and bolt a new top to it. Maybe a full wide slab of something really cool. Here’s one I did a couple of years ago (it’s now in my son’s house)

I can give you a easy finish to apply to the plywood and it will last and you can always reapply if you scratch it.

So you get ultimate flexibility, with a minimal investment.

Agreed. Even if you don’t ever move it up and down, it can still be cost effective. I bought a frame and put the top pic my son‘a old desk on it. I stand at it 99% of the time. They do make L-shaped frames too.

I’m using something similar, but with a more rounded elbow and extensions to both sides. Effectively, this creates an L-shaped desk of about 2 x 3 meters in length, which houses my large curved screen (in the rounded elbow) and the two smaller screens of my wife’s pc, a printer and loads of assorted mess (books, small stuff etcetera). I have had this desk for about 16 years now, and it is still rock-solid… I don’t know if the current desks are as good though…

Now I know you said you can’t go and pick something like this up at the moment. However, in how much of a hurry are you? If you can wait a while for this lockdown to clear up, perhaps you can get it delivered then? It really is good value for money, IMO…

I hate to pile on with IKEA when it’s already been politely rejected more than once… but that’s all I really got because I’ve had the corner-right side version of this as my primary desk since 2012. (Technically mine is a GALANT, the old name for the line.) It’s survived being disassembled and reassembled for a couple of moves, and it handles two large monitors + bookshelf speakers + a laptop + all accessories + a large lunch with room to spare and no stability issues. I am looking to upgrade to a nicer forever-desk now that I’m done with moving for a good while, but no complaints at all about the GALANT/BEKANT unless they’ve somehow made it shittier in the last few years.

I bought these legs on Amazon and have been happy with them. It’s been about a year of work from home and they go up and down at least twice a day.