How to Select a Gaming Desk

30 October 2018

Clutter.  It’s a real problem for PC gamers.  Between computer towers, hard drives, peripherals, extra monitors and all the snacks and drinks you need to enjoy a good gaming session, it’s easy to find yourself strapped for space.  If that sounds familiar, it might be time to consider upgrading your desk.

It’s true that gamers are creatures of the digital realm.  We live vicariously through huge monitors, mouse clicks, and keyboard shortcuts -- but the truth is, no matter how virtual our lives, the hardware we use is very real.  Selecting the proper foundation for your gaming battlestation can be a challenge, so here’s a quick guide to help you select a new gaming desk.

Step 1:  Assess your needs

The best place to start when selecting a gaming desk is to figure out your own needs.  What is it about your current setup that you’re just not happy with, and why are you interested in making a change?  Maybe you just need more space.  Maybe you just picked up a second monitor and you don’t have room for it.

Consider your equipment and how you like to use it.  For the keyboard and mouse, do you prefer to keep those on the desktop, or would you prefer a sliding tray mounted beneath the desk?  If you have a tower with an external cooling solution or an external graphics card mounted near your tower, take those considerations into account before you start your quest for a better gaming desk.  Maybe a wall mount for your screen would be better than a setting them up side by side on the desktop.

Lastly, where are you planning to put the desk?  If it’s in a dark corner of the room, maybe an L-shape or a corner desk is a better fit.  If you’re displaying the desk front and center, a flat, open-concept standing desk without a flat back might be the better way to go.

Knowing what you need long before you seek the sage advice of your favorite search engine will save you from falling into an endless hunt for desks that won’t suit your needs.

Step 2:  Let’s talk hardware

Once you know your needs, it’s time to consider the desk itself.  We’ve already touched on the design and shape, based on where you intend to place the desk, but let’s talk materials.

Glass top?  Wood?  Brushed metal?  There are a ton of options on the market today, and a lot of them come down to user preference.  Most modern desks require some assembly (more on that below), but older, sturdier pieces might be all-in-one constructions like your grandma’s old roll-top desk.  Antique behemoths like that last a lifetime, but you won’t find much by way of flexibility when it comes to modification.

When considering your new gaming desk, matching your needs with the desk itself is a great way to get started.  If you need shelving space, look for desks that might provide it.  If you like glass desks, maybe you can rule out wood.

If you’re looking for the perfect desk, you may not find one that suits your exact needs.  If that’s the case, consider one that will give you the space you need to build a custom solution around the desk itself.  Maybe you can use portable storage instead of built-in shelving or a small, rolling caddy for your DVD collection -- but you’ll only be able to do that and tuck it neatly under the desk if the desk has the clearance to allow for it.

Step 3:  Construction time, logistics, and budget

Okay, home stretch.

You’ve taken the time to factor in your own needs, what’s not working, and what you should look for in a desk.  You’ve scoped out a desk or two that seems to be the right fit.  So what’s left?

Quite a bit, actually.

Before you press that purchase button and your favorite online shipping company arrives at your doorstep in two days with the desk of your dreams, take a moment to consider a few additional factors in your purchasing decision.

Your new gaming desk will likely require some assembly.  Do you have the tools -- and, most importantly, the patience -- to endure this challenge?  Some desks are easier than others, and if you’re looking for minimum hassle, flat desktops are much easier to deal with than those with a lot of bells and whistles.

It’s worth making a final check, based on the measurements of your new desk, to make absolutely sure that it’s compatible with your existing equipment.  You’ll be frustrated to no end if you construct your new desk and sit down only to discover that your gaming chair can’t roll under your desk because the keyboard caddy collides with the armrest.

The very last factor to consider is budget.  If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably been shopping with a price in mind the entire time.  It’s worth pressing pause on your purchase one final time and weighing the price against what you’re getting and the trouble you’ll deal with in setting up the desk in the first place.

If everything looks good and you’re happy with your decision: congrats!  You’ve got a new gaming desk.  If not, make another pass over our guide for some guidance around what might be tripping you up.

The right desk is out there.  Don’t stop searching until you find it.