Your PC battlestation says a lot about you, how you work, and your interests. It can be a zone of productivity with few distractions or a den of geek memorabilia. We examine three PC battlestations and talk to their designers about what they get out of their setup.
Each battlestation owner has their own unique take on how a battlestation should be set up. One surrounds his with a large collection of vintage items he enjoys; another maximizes screen real estate to be more productive, and the last decided to emphasize the human-to-computer interaction. In the end, all three have found what wanted from a workspace.
Collecting Vintage Computers
Welcome to the Byte Cellar, Blake Patterson’s office and homage to old school computing and video games. His workspace occupies an entire room and has taken him several years to set up. Many can only dream of having such a carefully curated collection, which includes a Vectrex, Mac Plus, Amiga 2000, Apple IIe, and TRS-80 just to name a few.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that these computers are for display-only; they are fully functional and can be used. “It may be worth noting that I collect to use. I’ve never purchased an item to ‘have’ and just shelf it,” says Blake. He goes on, “I know a lot of collectors that have stacks of this computer and that computer, just sitting there. I don’t see the appeal in that. All of my systems are fully setup and can be switched on.”
In the Byte Cellar, Blake does more than just work on his day-to-day. He also he uses the space for gaming and educational purposes as well. In regards to actually using the systems, Blake explains, “I’ve spent time programming several of the machines in recent years, to learn a new skill just for fun.“ As for his primary day-to-day workstation, he uses a mid-2011 Intel Core i7 iMac.
Being and IT geek myself, I also asked him what current systems he thought will eventually be considered collectable vintage computers. He volunteered the original Apple iPad, “When the iPad debuted, I viewed it as a hugely transformative device. It seems I was correct. I almost purchased a second one to set aside, unopened, to mark what I saw as the point of a major shift in computing.” The message is clear. If you want to start a modern vintage computer collection, start buying first gen iPad tablets.
More Monitors, More Productivity
Like Blake’s office, Status.io founder Joe Nicosia’s battlestation also features plenty of screens. Except in Joe’s case, they’re all connected to a single computer. As the founder of Status.io, a hosted system that allows companies to create their own status pages, Joe constantly monitors metrics on his screens. Being multi-monitor proponents ourselves, we wanted to know more about his workspace.
Joe organized his screens so that he knows exactly what type of information he will find on each display. “Three of the displays are my main focus areas. The two top displays are primarily for systems monitoring purposes (graphs, logs, alerts, etc.) and the left vertical display is more monitoring plus communications,” Joe explains. In Joe’s office, we see productivity and efficiency prioritized over the distractions of an old video game.
He admits however, that sometimes he does get overloaded with information. “I still do struggle with finding a balance. Sometimes I need to focus and I’ll turn off the extra displays,” he says. Still, he enjoys being able to consult multiple monitors at once rather than having to constantly shuffle windows.
Powering his workstation is a six-core Mac Pro with 64 GB of system memory, which he explains was chosen because he needed to drive six displays while at the same time staying with an Apple operating system. What’s next for his battlestation? A better chair it seems: “I’m starting to learn that posture is very important, especially when you’re trying to look at six different displays.” If you want to maximize productivity, invest in a comfortable chair in addition to the screens.
The Barebones Approach
NeweggBusiness’ own marketing professional and Twitch streamer Tony Stein also has his own unique take on a PC battlestation. Rather than surrounding himself with a collection or getting more screens, he settled on a cleaner and more minimalistic approach. He prefers to place his focus on the input/output devices in his workspace.
Central to his setup is a Razer DeathAdder mouse, a Rosewill RK-9000V2 mechanical keyboard, Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones, a Blue Snowball mic with a pop filter attachment, and a Logitech HD Pro C920 webcam. As a budding streamer, Tony wants a simplified battlestation free of clutter.
However, it isn’t completely bare of geek decor as Tony explains they help him unwind a little. “I think the decorations provided much needed distraction. It’s always nice to rest your focus a little bit by watering your desk plant or thinking about a specific memory a desk toy brings up.” Still though, function dictates most of his battlestation setup
We asked Tony what he’d like to change about his current setup and it seems at the top of the list is his monitor. Not adding another, but rather replacing his main screen with something higher resolution. “My biggest piece of advice to PC enthusiasts in general is to upgrade your IO devices first,” advises Tony.
Your PC Battlestation
Now that you’ve seen what three professionals and enthusiasts have chosen as their battlestation, let us know how you set yours up. Whether you prefer plenty of screens or collecting computing history, show off your PC battlestations in the comments below!