You probably spend more time than you’d like to at a desk, and you should spend your money where you spend time. Today we’re recommending the best upgrades for your office, with the help of Lifehacker’s huge catalog of tips and your recommendations.
First you need to decide whether you want a standard desk, a standing desk, or something that can transform into both. Lifehacker has a great guide to choosing the perfect desk for yourself, while gamers will want to check out our Best Gaming Desk Co-op.
There’s no one-size fits all for standard desks. Your space, the way you work, whether you’re using a laptop or desktop, aesthetic preferences, and many other factors will help determine your choice.
If you go the standing route you’re going to want an anti-fatigue mat, and Lifehacker readers recommendations are right here.
But there are more options. Perhaps you’d like to walk on a treadmill while you work, or cycle. I grabbed the FitDesk on a whim when we ran a deal, and its surprisingly comfortable, while forcing good posture and being easy to work on. If you don’t have the space or the discipline for all that, another great option is an under-desk Elliptical, which doubles as an ergonomic footrest. Your feet should at least be flat on the floor, but a footrest is even better.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to office chair pricing. Lifehacker readers voted the famous Herman Miller Aeron as best office chair, and if you can afford one, it’s worth it. Both Lifehacker and Kotaku readers gave high praise to the Ikea Markus, a much more affordable option. I picked up the Lifehacker-recommended ~$300 Tempur-Pedic T9000 for my home office, and have nothing but good things to say. Check out the rest of the nominations from Lifehacker and Kotaku, and don’t forget about those ergonomics.
You stare at your monitor a lot, so you should buy the best one you can afford and make the most of it. Lifehacker’s best monitor Hive-Five is dated at this point, so we’ll be running a Kinja Co-Op on the subject in the near future. Samsung’s aggressively-priced 4K Monitor has been a huge hit in our deals segments, while normal humans should check out the Monoprice 27" IPS and the rest of the budget nominees from our readers. We have more up to date reader-voted options for gamers, and everyone can boost their productivity even more with multiple monitors.
Whatever screen you choose, elevate the top of it to around eye level, either with its built-in stand or a monitor riser.
We’re pretty obsessed with mechanical keyboards around here, but let’s cover the options most people will go for first. The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard delivers extreme comfort, bluetooth, and a quality typing experience. For those wanting to skip the ergonomic form factor, Lifehacker readers love Apple’s design. Logitech also makes a competitive offering to Apple’s that adds backlighting and a rechargeable battery.
Moving on to mechanicals, the venerable Das Keyboard took the Lifehacker reader vote for best in the category, and is on the desks of two out of three Commerce Team members. We prefer our clicky blue switches, but it turns out our readers lean slightly toward the quieter Cherry MX browns. Check out Lifehacker’s excellent guide to determine whether a mechanical keyboard is for you, and if you aren’t sure which switch to get, this mechanical keyboard switch sampler can help.
Gamers should check out our Best Gaming Keyboard Co-Op.
There’s more to typing ergonomics than the height of your chair or the form factor of your keyboard. If your desk doesn’t have a keyboard tray, adding one is pretty simple.
There are a ton of mice to choose from, but Lifehacker has you covered with Sunday Showdown.
Similarly, your wireless mouse or braided cable have likely ameliorated issues with your mouse cable getting in your way, but if you’re still having trouble, you may want to consider a mouse bungee.
Those with recurring mouse-caused wrist pain should check out vertical/ergonomic mice.
Depending on what you’re doing at your computer, the bad speakers built in to your laptop or monitor might very well be enough. For those looking for better sound and/or more volume, take in our Best Desktop Computer Speakers Hive Five, where the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 came out on top. When we ran the same vote two years later, the Klipsch won again.
Lifehacker has great guides on how to choose the right pair of headphones, and picks for the best headphones under $20. Additionally, we’ve run our best headphone vote twice now (2012/2014), with the Commerce Team’s favorites, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s taking second and first place respectively. If the pricing on those seems ridiculous, pick up the Monoprice Hi-Fi Headphones, which offer an incredible bang for the buck.
Modem and Router
To some degree, which ISP you have will dictate which modem you buy, but if your ISP charges a modem rental fee, you should buy your own immediately and stop giving them any more money than you have to. The Motorola SB6141 is the right option for most people.
Apple’s Airport Extreme took second place, and while it lags behind the fastest routers out there in terms of sheer speed, it wins on ease of use and aesthetics. The Time Capsule line’s built-in external hard drives are also pretty damn convenient.
The cable management tag on Lifehacker is basically endless, so dig in there, and into this guide to help get your unique mess under control. Quirky’s Cordies are ubiquitous at our home and work offices.
You’re also going to need somewhere to plug all those devices in, and ideally protect them in the process. Pick up the Hive Five-winning Belkin 12-Outlet to handle pretty much anything, or the ridiculously popular Belkin SurgePlus for minimalists setups or travel.
You’re likely using at least something in your office that requires batteries. Save some money by investing in a set of Eneloop rechargeables, which you voted best in the category, and an accompanying La Crosse charger, which you also gave the win to.
A quality comparison of air purifiers was one of the biggest holes in the Internet product recommendation sphere until The Sweethome finally took on the task. They chose the Coway Mighty Air Purifier with True HEPA, a fairly compact and refreshingly affordable model, as their pick for most people. I’ve been using it since October with nothing but good things to say.
For those dealing with dry air, check out our Best Humidifier Co-Op for some great recommendations.
See our Coffee Guide (update coming soon), and our Tea Recommendations, for the best ways to make the beverages that keep you awake at your desk, and our Travel Mug Co-Op for the best way to bring said beverages to the office. The water drinkers among you (good for you) should give our Water Bottle Co-Op a once over.
What are your favorite office upgrades and what are you hoping to upgrade in the future? Tell us in the comments below.