The Ultimate Gaming Desk Buying Guide

Written by Thao Tran
Last updated Nov 4, 2019

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Is finding the right desk for your gaming setup all that important? We think so.

If you don’t find the right desk, how will you fit your multiple monitors, studio speakers, and other peripherals? Plus, there’s more to a great desk than its size. A lot more.

This comprehensive guide will help you figure out exactly the type of desk you want and where you can get it.

What to look for in a gaming desk

Understanding your preferences is the first and most important step. For example, I’m a sucker for aesthetics. So I’ll sacrifice some functionality if the desk is absolutely stunning.

Think about the following factors as it relates to your needs:

Size

First, measure your room
Before you decide what size desk you want, you need to know how much space you’re working with. Measure your allotted desk area and leave room for a chair. Desk chairs take up around 5 Sq ft.

baby sitting on deskSome chairs actually fit on top of your desk.

By mapping out exactly how much space you have, desk specs become much more meaningful.

Desk height
The height of your desk is more important than you think. Unless you purchase an adjustable sit/stand desk (we’ll talk about those later), the ergonomics of your setup is limited by your desk height.

Ergotron has a great free tool you can use to estimate the proper height of your desk and seat:
https://www.ergotron.com/tools/workspace-planner

Ergotron's workspace planner

Just input your height, and you’ll get good idea of how high your chair and desk need to be to promote good posture.

Surface Area
Not all desks list their surface area, but you can calculate it by doing some maths with their listed dimensions. The importance of surface area is self-explanatory. You can’t fit triple monitor setups on all tables, so figure out how much space you need beforehand.

Shape

Desk shape is important because it makes a big impact on size and style. Let’s take a look at all the different shapes they come in.

L-shapedl-shaped cubicle desk

When I think L-shaped computer desk, I think “professional”. These desks look mature and provide plenty of surface area. They’re also space-efficient because you can set them up in the corner of your room (or cubicle).

U-Shaped

sad man at desk

AKA L-shaped desks on steroids. This configuration is great for multiple workspaces, but does require a lot of room.

Cornersmall corner desk

Corner desks are clutch if you don’t have much space; but you’ll lack surface area too. You’d have to rock a minimal setup or get creative with mounts.

Rectangular
The classic rectangular-shaped desk is the most common and in many cases, all you need.

rectangular desk

Functionality

How many functions can a desk possibly have? You’d be surprised. Some desks come equipped with unnecessary doodads like cupholders and CD slots. We’ll just focus on the important stuff.

Compartments & Drawers
Don’t clutter your desktop with non essential items like stray papers and pens, stuff it in your desk drawer instead.

Some desks come with keyboard trays and compartments to hold your tower, but we’d advise against those. We’ve found keyboard trays to be limiting and computer compartments to restrict airflow.

Cable management

pc gaming setup with beautiful cable managementUmm…how does that thing turn on? (SBR-88’s Setup)

If there’s one thing in common with all of the battlestations we feature, it’s superb cable management. There’s just something so satisfying about perfectly hidden cables—and many desks have built-in features to help with that.

Desks with built-in cable management often have:

  • Cable trays
  • Cable nets
  • Holes & grommets
  • Slots

And they all help you hide your cables.

You can still manage cables without these built-in features, but you’d have to buy something like this.

Ergonomics & Health
Managing the height of your monitor, desk, keyboard, and chair does wonders for your posture and health. Certain fancy desks nowadays handle all of that for you.

The most obvious example is the adjustable-height desk AKA the sit/stand desk. More and more modern companies now have them to promote a healthier work environment. A healthy gaming environment sounds like a good idea too.

Other ergo/health desk features to look out for include:

  • Built-in monitor arms
  • Built-in monitor platforms
  • Curved table edges so you don’t have to hunch over and reach

Materials & Quality

They make desks out of all types of materials. There’s wood, particleboard (fake wood), plastic, glass, and steel to name a few. Regardless of which material you opt for, keep the following factors in mind.

Feel
How the furniture feels to the touch is often overlooked. If you find yourself leaning your arms on your desk often, you’ll most likely prefer a wooden or plastic desk. They tend to be more temperature neutral than say, glass or steel.

Construction Quality
We know you don’t want to shell out serious cash for a desk when your PC already cost you a fortune. But you don’t want your desk peeling away after a week either.

The number one giveaway that your desk was made poorly is its finish. Take a close look and if you notice something looking off, stay away.

unfinished wood deskIf it can give you splinters, that’s bad too.

Weight Capacity
If you plan to put an extensive gaming setup on your desk, you should be mindful of weight capacity. Thankfully, most sellers list it in their specs. You just want to know your desk is sturdy enough to hold all your equipment without collapsing.

You may also want to research if it can handle monitor arms if that’s something you’re interested in.

Style

Last but not least, your desk has to look good too right? We suggest you keep your furniture simple and let the rest of your equipment shine.

You know where to look if you need inspiration.

Where to buy your desk

So many physical and online retailers would love to take your money; so don’t look there first. You can get your gaming desk for a steal if you know where to look.

Buy/Sell Websites

1. Craigslist
Check out both the “furniture” and “free” sections on your local listings. You’ll often find a business closing down who’s looking to get rid of their furniture quickly.

I just went to my local “free stuff” section on Craigslist and found a badass U-shaped desk.

free u-shaped desk on craigslist
Not in perfect condition but it’s free!

2. OfferUp
Yes, there are buy/sell sites other than Craigslist. OfferUp reinvents the Craigslist experience in a less shady and more high-tech way with their website and mobile app.

searching for desks on offerup

3. letgo
Letgo is another cool buy/sell website and app. It doesn’t seem to be as popular as OfferUp but there’s no harm in checking.

4. Facebook Marketplace
search results for

Did you know Facebook had its own buy/sell ecosystem? I didn’t. But I did know about…

Local Buy/Sell Facebook Groups

There are tons of people selling their stuff through Facebook groups. Just type in “buy/sell [your city or county name]” in the search bar on Facebook. Scouring through these listings won’t be as streamlined as the options above, but you can find great deals.

Thrift Stores

In the theme of saving money, you could also check out your local thrift stores and consignment shops. You’ll want to call ahead of time to verify they have desks in stock.

Furniture & Office Supply Stores

Both furniture and office supply stores have a good collection of tables and desks you could look at. IKEA is a favorite amongst our little community for its afordability. Make sure to check it out if you have one nearby.

Online Retailers

No surprise here. There’s Amazon and about a million other websites you can buy stuff from…

Our Favorites

If you’re in the “Shut up and take my money” mood, we understand. Just remember the right desk for you is largely up to your personal preferences. Use our tips above to figure that out first.

Here are our curated favorites:

IKEA BEKANTPicture of my personal IKEA Bekant setup

This baby is what I’m currently using for my setup. It’s sturdy, the finish is durable and easy to clean, and the desk height is adjustable. It’s a rather manual process, but doable.

The BEKANT also comes with its own cable net that spans the underside of the taple top. For under $200, it looks lovely and does the job well.

It also comes in a variety of different shapes and colors. Check it out here.

IKEA KARLBY + ALEXBeautiful IKEA KARLBY

The KARLBY is technically a countertop. But if it’s nice enough for your kitchen, doesn’t that take your gaming setup to a whole ‘nother level? This beautiful plank of wood provides plenty of surface area for your equipment and comes in a variety of attractive wood finishes.

Pair it with an IKEA ALEX drawer or two and you have yourself a legitimate desk. Why not buy a premade, actual desk? Most desks don’t provide enough space to satisfy our needs. The KARLBY does.

You also have a lot of versatility going this route. Some people combine two KARLBY countertops with ALEX drawers and ADILS legs to make their own massive L-shaped desk. Look into the wonderful world of IKEA if you have DIY blood in you. And while you’re there, grab the SIGNUM to manage your cables.

UPLIFT Deskeco corner uplift desk

The words healthy and gamer don’t usually go together, but that won’t stop us from trying. If you want a sit/stand desk that can support your battlestation, we recommend the UPLIFT desk.

Not only does it have all of the ergonomics, programming, and cable management features you can ask for, it has great stability all throughout its range of motion—essential to support your expensive gaming setup.

TOPSKY L-Shaped Desk
topsky's l-shaped desk

If you want an L-shaped desk without having to put countertops together, check out TOPSKY’s L-shaped desk.

We found most premade L-shaped desks on Amazon to be too small for our liking. But the TOPSKY provides a whole lot of surface area and depth for its price range.

double workstations on the topsky desk

That’s a lot of space! (photo source: customer review)

You’ve Only Just Begun

We hope that after reading this, you’re well on your way to finding a great gaming desk. Whatever you end up buying, make sure it’s stable, spacious, and shareworthy. But don’t dwell on it for too long. Finding the right desk is only the beginning to building the perfect pc gaming setup.

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