I went through a period of life being a Mac user, most of my early to mid-twenties, so hardware wasn't much of a thing to me. I had the best Mac I could afford, which was usually the cheapest, but those days are gone now.
Since having my son I've had to relinquish the space I used to inhabit and condense where I work, which was no easy task. I'm now in a place where I'm comfortable with what I'm using and so I thought it'd be a good time to share with everyone what I use.
PC: Alienware X51 R2 and Dell Inspiron 15 7559
In getting a desktop PC one of the things I was looking for was small form factor. I looked at building my own PC for so long I got bored of it and picked up the X51 when I found a pre-owned model locally for a great price.
I've written about it a little previously, but essentially I've added a bunch of things to make it much better than when I bought it, still without spending a lot. The processor is the same Haswell Core i5 it came with but it's now got an AMD Radeon RX480 4GB graphics card, 16GB of RAM and an upgraded 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth card.
It also has LED case lighting. Which is most important. I love this PC and I'm a little sad to see it discontinued.
When things need to be more mobile, or moved to the couch, there's my current laptop of choice which is the Dell Inspiron 15 7559. Bought mostly because of Xbox Play Anywhere it's bigger and heavier than I've been used to, but gets every job done for a ridiculous price.
I got this from the Dell Outlet for £200 below list price with a Core i7 6700HQ, 8GB of RAM and 4GB GTX 960M graphics. I've since slapped in a 500GB SSD because good lord is the stock HDD slow, and another 8GB RAM stick. I'm so happy with it for the price.
Monitor: BenQ RL2455HM and GL955
I don't really like using more than one monitor for work, purely because my brain works better when it's focused in one place. Less distractions the better. And since my consoles are also hooked up to the monitor, I went with the well-priced and highly regarded RL2455HM from BenQ, a monitor used in the past by MLG at its pro tournaments.
It's a 24-inch TN display, so the colors are a little lacking, but it's got a terrifically low 1ms response time and a bunch of customizations to get things just to your liking. The only thing I'd swap it for right now is something with Freesync.
I have, however, added a second monitor purely for some convenience. When using my console, especially for streaming (hit us up on Beam by the way!) I'll need to be able to see some PC functions. But since I use it literally for ancillary stuff, I picked up a 19-inch BenQ GL955 from Amazon Warehouse Deals for like £30. It does the job and was ridiculously cheap, even if it is terribly basic.
There's some interesting and not so interesting stuff that features in the rest of my daily grind, so I'll hit each quickly.
First, consoles. Yes, plural, because as I've written before I now have a PlayStation 4 as well as an Xbox One. I've owned every generation of each now, but mainly I'm ready for Playstation VR, the Xbox One is still by far my favorite current generation machine.
Which is why it sits at the front while the PS4 is tucked away behind my PC. Well, that and the PS4 stands vertically. My Xbox One is the original 1TB style. Since the Xbox is a key work tool these days, it's close at hand.
Since most of the day is spent typing, the keyboard is important. I've tried many over the years and I'm now settled with a Turtle Beach Impact 500 with Cherry MX Blue mechanical switches. I was getting a lot of wrist strain with other keyboards and gave a mechanical a shot to see if it made any difference, and truly it did. I got this Turtle Beach setup on a flash deal and it's been worth every penny.
You can't beat the clackety-clack of a mechanical keyboard, either. It's paired with a Trust GXT 120 mouse because I don't really PC game (except with a controller) and this was about £13 and wireless when I got it. I don't like wires everywhere, which is why I drilled a hole in the desk to run the keyboard cable underneath. The added bonus is that this mouse turns itself off when not being used, so the battery life is terrific.
For the odd streaming, voiceover and frequent conference calls I'm pairing currently a Blue Nessie with a Logitech C920. Easily the best webcam for its current price, and likewise Amazon UK reduced the Blue Nessie by 60% this one time which is why I got it. But it's a terrific microphone, with a built-in shock mount and true plug-and-play functionality with great sound quality.
You may also notice no speakers. Anything I care about I use headphones for anyway, currently the HyperX CloudX headset I previously reviewed, for everything else I use the Anker SoundCore hooked up over Bluetooth. Truth is I ran out of space and nearby power outlets for powered speakers, and the SoundCore charges over Micro-USB.
That's about the size of what sits in front of me all day for both work and for play. I'm pretty happy for now, and aside from possibly swapping in a newer processor for my PC, I think I'll be set for a while. But if anything does change, there'll be a revisit in the future!
Also, be sure to check out what Rich Edmonds uses in his own office!
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