Gaming and work collide on this dude's desk. I do all my Windows Central work and all my gaming right from this rickety antique desk (that I really should probably replace at some point) armed with a ton of tech and Microsoft services. It has all served me well, and with a few adaptations, it houses all of the gadgets I use to get through my daily workload and my evening gaming sessions. Here's a quick run down of everything I have (and totally recommend).
Quite possibly the best device I've ever owned, my 15-inch Surface Book 2 is as powerful as it is sleek, rocking a GTX 1060 d-GPU and a stunning display. I use it for everything from Adobe CC video editing to 1080p gaming, as well as streaming on Mixer. I've owned a lot of laptops, but this has been, for me, by far the best.
I recently upgraded to the new Samsung Q60R QLED TV, and I couldn't possibly be happier with my purchase. With a speedy interface, integration with Samsung SmartThings, and an absolutely stunning display with rapid response rates, this is perhaps the best-value 43-inch gaming TV you can get right now.
The Xbox One X sits upright on my desk, faithfully ready to serve me 4K games at a mere, "Alexa, tell Xbox to turn on." The Xbox One X is the world's most powerful console, and although it doesn't have as many blockbuster exclusives as the competition, third-party multiplatform games perform best on the X.
The Surface Dock expands the toolset of the Surface Book 2 (or any Surface) by adding a bunch of extra USB ports, mini display ports, additional audio out, as well as power. The Dock is also heavy enough to remain put even when it's plugged into several additional devices.
For streaming and recording game footage, I use the Elgato HD60S. The Elgato HD60S is the cheapest, most painless way to capture a game console's video stream via HDMI, as it passes through to your TV. It works with all major streaming software too.
The Elgato Stream Deck is an essential streamer tool, integrating with Mixer, StreamLabs, and various other streamer services and software. The Stream Deck grants 15 programmable buttons for various functions and features, including chat messages, gifs, other events, and much more.
Easy HDMI splitting
Since I stream at 1080p rather than 4K due to upload speed limitations, I keep an HDMI splitter attached to my Xbox One X so I can quickly switch between my 1080p capture card feed or split out to a 4K signal for recreational gaming. This is also handy if you want to hook up multiple devices to your TV or monitor, but don't have enough sockets.
I have a ton of headsets of all shapes and sizes, but the Elite Atlas from Turtle Beach remains my preferred choice for my current setup. With premium materials, a sleek design, and a stunning sound scape, the Elite Atlas is a big step up for Turtle Beach, and it's also inexplicably cheap, beating out more expensive competitors.
The Astro MixAmp contains the Xbox One's security chip required to properly split audio between multiple devices. It's also the best solution I've found yet that allows you to combine and mix game audio from Xbox and voice comms from PC if you prefer using Discord to Xbox party chat for streaming or simply gaming. The 2019 version has improved design over its predecessors, too.
RIP Windows Phone
I always thought I'd be the last person using Windows Phone, but after Microsoft abandoned the platform and certain apps started chewing up my Lumia 950 XL's battery, I felt it was time to call it quits. After a brief fling with BlackBerry's Android line, I've jumped over to a Galaxy Note 9 for its system-level customizability, inking support for OneNote, and beefy specs.
Charge 'em up
I go through a lot of AA batteries with my Xbox One controller. The Eneloop range from Panasonic is among the best rechargeable battery packs on the market, able to hold a charge for longer than standard cells. This charging bundle also comes with a dock, as well as LED lights that let you know when the batteries are ready to go.
I never thought I'd be nostalgic for a mouse, but here we are in 2019, and Microsoft has renewed and refined its classic 90s Intellimouse design. I'm lucky in that I get to play with a lot of tech, and the Intellimouse has always been my go-to cursor solution, despite the fact the rubber edges seem to have worn down quite rapidly. It's simply great.
While I do have an Elite controller, I don't really find myself using its extra features so much (plus I'm scared of breaking the grips). As such, my go-to controller tends to be the eerily sexy Phantom Black controller, which is arguably the best-looking special edition Xbox controller ever (in my opinion).
I have very little idea what I'm doing when it comes to photography. Thankfully this camera from Olympus does all of the heavy lifting, so my review shots look at least somewhat presentable. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II makes up for its verbose name with great imaging features, making it a pretty great accessible pro camera.
For taking some shots I use this awesome Manfrotto tripod. The central column can be extended and angled for serious product-shot versatility, and with a maximum payload of 9kg, it pretty much ensures even heavier camera rigs won't cause it to flinch.
Mei is bae
No office space would be complete without some nerdy ornaments. In the West, Funko POP! figures tend to be the go-to video game figurine brand of choice, but the (more expensive) Japanese Nendoroid line from Good Smile boasts far better quality and accessories. Mei from Overwatch has graced my desk for quite a while.
Paying homage to my on-off Warcraft addiction, my murloc plushie is here to remind me that no matter how many dragons, ancient gods, or trans-dimensional horrors I slay in WoW, 14 years ago I still got ganked to hell by murlocs in Tirisfal Glades. Never forget where you come from folks.
Vault Boy, as he's affectionately known, is pretty much Fallout's de-facto mascot, and in-game, the collectible bobbleheads reward stat upgrades for finding them. You can collect an entire set to match the ones you can find in the game, but I grabbed this single Perception bobblehead to sit on my desk. His smiling face motivates me to caffeine up, strap in, and grind on. Probably.
I have a huge array of tech that I use here and there, but these are by far what I consider the "essentials," especially my Mei Nendo.
It's pricey, for sure, but the Surface Book 2 I believe truly represents the best of Windows, and while it can crush 1080p gaming pretty well, for the best visuals I defer to my Xbox One X. The new 4K Samsung QLED has added an extra dimension to my gaming too, owing to true HDR versus the clunky gen-1 HDR implementation on my previous 4K TV.
The Surface Book 2 is my favorite piece of tech for the simple reason that I use it the most, and it is the most versatile device for the job that I have to do on a day to day basis. If my TV or my Xbox fails for some reason, I can still game and work on the Surface Book 2, owing to its adequately powerful GTX 1060 GPU and Core i7 processor. The display is crisp and stunning with a 3:2 aspect ratio, complete with inking support and touch, and a precision trackpad that is the best money can buy. There's simply nothing to really dislike about this laptop, besides the price perhaps, but I feel as though I've gotten more than what I paid for out of it.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!