Updated July 13, 2018: New peripherals
Smarter nerds than I have extolled the virtues of The Cave.
I moved to Malta in the beginning of December. It was a move that was swiftly planned and executed, and brought with it a lot of chaos. It has taken me nearly a month and a half to settle in, and I think part of that is because I did not yet have my desk set up in my cave.
In my apartment my cave is a nook in the living room. I live here by myself, so I have no need for it to be in a room by itself. It’s enough that it is here.
I also have very specific needs, and my desk is a space for both work and play. As such I need it to support both my Mac (for work) and my gaming rig (for, well, gaming).
My work machine is a 2017 Retina MacBook Pro (I have the 15″ Touchbar version, which I love, btw). It’s a 2.8GHz quadcore i7, with 16 gigs of RAM and the “large” Radeon Pro 560 with 4 gigs of RAM. It has 512GB of fast NVMe Flash storage.
I absolutely love this machine, with one notable exception … the keyboard is a massive dumpster fire. It’s an embarrassment, but it’s also something I think Apple will address in future revisions in what I would otherwise consider the best laptop I have ever owned.
I recently built myself a gaming rig. I haven’t owned a Windows machine in more than a decade.
But after getting a game company as a client it was harder and harder for me to justify not trying their games, and so I dipped my toe in and bought a ready made system. That annoyed the snot out of me in no time, so I decided to build a rig for myself.
If there’s one thing I learned during this build it is that the naming of parts and pieces for gaming PC’s is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.
I chose the Cooler Master MasterBox Lite 5 case for my rig. It has plenty of space so I can upgrade later if I want to. For a motherboard I went with a budget option of an MSI B250 Pro-VD. It supports NVMe drives, has six SATA connectors, one PCIe x16 slot for a GPU and supports up to 32GB of DDR4 memory.
For a CPU I chose a Kaby Lake i5-7400 processor. It seems like a decent compromise between price and performance. It’s a quadcore 3.0GHz. No hyperthreading, though, but so far it has taken everything I’ve thrown at it with gusto.
I also fitted the rig with 16GB of RAM (Kingston Fury HyperX DDR4), in the shape of two sticks of 8GB each.
For storage I have a 256GB NVMe drive from Samsung (an Evo 850 if I remember correctly), as well as one 1TB WD Green and one 1.5TB WD Green spinning platter drives.
I chose a Geforce GTX 1070 for the GPU. It seems, again, as a decent compromise between price and performance.
Tieing it all together
For work I have found that I really work best with two monitors. For gaming I have fallen in love with the ultrawide variety of monitors. My primary monitor is an Acer Predator X34. It has an astonishing 3440×1440 pixel resolution, and it supports G-Sync and 100hz refresh rate.
My secondary monitor is a Dell U2515H. It’s a 2560×1440 pixel resolution monitor. Both monitors sport USB3.0 hubs for attaching a variety of peripherals.
The two machines share the Predator X34 via an ATEN CS782DP KVM switch. It took a bit of finagling to hook up and get working reliably, but now it’s pretty sweet.
And the MacBook talks to both monitors via a CalDigit Thunderstation 3. That’s also a pretty cool piece of kit that works as a breakout box for the MacBook Pro, as well as power delivery. So via one Thunderbolt 3 cable I can connect my Mac to two monitors, Ethernet and more.
As for peripherals I have separate devices for both machines, primarily because I want them to be mission oriented. So the gaming rig has a Razer BlackWidow X Chroma keyboard, a Logitech G502 gaming mouse, a Logitech G430 headset and a Logitech X52 HOTAS setup. The Mac is using a Logitech MX Master mouse (I haven’t upgraded to the second version, yet), an Apple Magic Keyboard and a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium tablet.
UPDATED, July 13, 2018:
I am now using a Logitech Craft keyboard with a Logitech MX Master 2S. The Logitech Options software makes it supereasy for me to switch between three devices (where I am only using two right now), without having to move keyboards and mice around. It’s made for a much cleaner desk.