The standing desk: How to build a healthier PC gaming table for under $200

By Luke Plunkett on May 31, 2013, 7:00 AM
how to, pc gaming, kotaku, standing desk

You love your PC. It's a place you can work at, but more importantly, it's a place you can game at. The thing is, if you're using a traditional desk-and-chair setup, the more you game on the PC, the bigger the problem you're creating for yourself.

I don't want to sound like your mother here, but sitting - or, as many of you probably do, slouching - in a chair at a desk for a massive session of DOTA 2, or Skyrim, or whatever, isn't exactly the healthiest thing for you. Especially if you're doing it for hours at a time.

That's why workplaces give you breaks. It's why airlines recommend you move around every few hours. Indeed, in terms of everything from blood circulation to food digestion to calorie-burning, sitting down for extended periods of time is one of the worst things you can be doing to your body short of putting poison in it or having something hit you very hard.

But it's OK. I'm here to help. You don't need to stop your ten-hour gaming sessions to save your body. You just need to change the way you're sitting. Or, well, stop sitting altogether.

Sure, you could just get a really good chair and remember to take breaks, but good chairs are expensive, and taking breaks is for cowards (or, more seriously, something even those with the best intentions can easily forget if they're immersed in a game). So last year, I went a little further and jumped on the standing office bandwagon, partly because I was about to lose my office to a newborn child, but mostly because I was finding it detrimental to my health. Because I work 9-10 hour days, then spend most of my gaming time at the same PC afterwards, I'd get a sore back, a sore neck and pain in my hips. I wasn't overweight, per se, but let's say that despite being fairly active outside of work hours, I wasn't exactly fighting fit.

Worst of all, sitting down all day just made me feel horrible. Like I was ending my day in a thick fog, having been in the same position, in the same room, for most of my waking hours.

Having looked at various internet guides, I found most to be either too crummy for my needs (more suited to the occasional user) or prohibitively expensive.

Ignore those guides. If you feel like getting a little more active and trying this out, you can go to IKEA and get a kickass desk for under $200 (around $170), meaning most of you, regardless of where you live, can easily do the same. Below you'll find the various components for the desk I put together a few months back which you can see above. It's a Frankenstein's Monster approach, I know, but it still looks pretty good!

Desk

Vika Kaj adjustable legs ($15 ea.)

The only way you can get a standing desk this cheap is to improvise, and the only way to do that at IKEA is to get these legs, which extend enough to accommodate all but the tallest of you.

Linmon Table ($25)

Because you're just putting a piece of wood on some legs, you can opt for any tabletop, really, but I liked the Linmon because despite the gloosy white finish, it was super cheap.

Storage

Ekby Alex ($55)

Pricey for what it is, since it's really just a little box with some shelves inside, but you need somewhere to put a monitor and speakers, so you may as well put them somewhere you can also store miscellaneous crap inside as well.

Signum ($10)

This standing setup doesn't have the luxury of letting you dump 17 cables and power adapters in the corner, so you need something tidier. This does the trick. Just bolt it underneath the tabletop.

Summera ($20)

Basically a cradle for your PC, it lets you sling your computer under the table and keep it off the ground. Not a necessity, but it sure makes cleaning the area - and accessing your PC - a lot easier than most traditional setups.

One more thing you can't get from IKEA, but which you'll definitely need, is a mat. They'll be called different things depending on where you live, but you know those thick rubber mats security guards stand on? Yeah, you'll want one of those.

All the pieces attach easily to the main tabletop, either with framed bolts or, in the case of the legs, there are pre-drilled holes already under the table. So there's minimal "DIY" work to be done aside from a whole lot of screwing in screws.

—-

An important thing to note is that this isn't for everyone. Maybe you've got a bad ankle. Maybe you've got nowhere else to put that fancy office chair but under a desk. That's OK! Nobody is forcing you to do this. I'm just saying it's something you could totally just try.

Another thing is that if you do try this out, as my colleague Kirk Hamilton's butt will attest, there is a little adjustment period. Usually around two weeks, while your legs and back get used to all the standing. Once that's done, though, as insane as this sounds, your body really won't mind. You should be able to stand for hours at a time and be totally fine, because you will have guns, only not on your arms. On your legs.

And your body will thank you for it.

Republished with permission. Luke Plunkett is a contributing editor at Kotaku.




User Comments: 24

Got something to say? Post a comment
2 people like this | VitalyT VitalyT said:

A good gaming desk would have enough space to accommodate 3 monitors. But if it is health you are after, go for a bicycle instead, because gaming and health aren't friends.

2 people like this | yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

A good gaming desk is one that allows you to play the games you enjoy without causing unnecessary stress on your back. I work all day in a seated position in front of a computer and I don't game in the evenings because recently I have felt uncomfortable and it hasn't felt like I have been giving my back a rest. A standing desk is an alternative that I have been considering and its good to see an article that gives some pointers and advice in regards to this.

Sorry but suggesting someone stops gaming and rides a bike is just.. infuriating. and utter ****.

2 people like this | VitalyT VitalyT said:

A good gaming desk is one that allows you to play the games you enjoy without causing unnecessary stress on your back.
A good choice of chair and the way you sit in it will contribute more to your health than a desk

Sorry but suggesting someone stops gaming and rides a bike is just.. infuriating. and utter ****.
Games and prolonged sitting at a PC are known to provoke anger and antisocial behavior. Your post only proves my previous post's correctness. The best advise is to take as much break as possible.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I understand the appeal of doing something like this if your job requires you to sit all day, which I've done and agree by the end of the day you feel really bad getting home and big surprise sit some more, part of the reason I stop a lot of my gaming. But on the other side I've worked retail at a computer store which required you to use PCs in the standing position all day long and that was bad for other reasons, the worse being my wrist due to its almost constant 45 degree angle or worse and my neck and upper back from constantly looking down to the screen (doesn't help I'm 6'3" I guess) and after a long a day the last thing I would of wanted to do is stand to game, I'd take a lazy boy any day. Nice list of materials, some of those things can be handy without building such a setup. The only thing I'd add is some wire grommet to tie the wires together linking the upper and lower sections of the desks.

1 person liked this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

A good gaming desk would have enough space to accommodate 3 monitors. But if it is health you are after, go for a bicycle instead, because gaming and health aren't friends.

I used to have a bike computer on my bicycle which I cracked to play GTA while cycling but I was arrested by the cops for trying to shoot my competitors.

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

.. or you could could stop facilitating a sedentary lifestyle by hiding inactivity behind silly ' healthy' systems like standing still and staring at a screen for hrs. Go tot he gym, work out, do cardio, swim. whatever. AND play games.. balanced , HEALTHY lifestyle. all standing is going to do is burn ~5% more calories over the period as opposed to sitting, ( unless your a truly obese waste of air, then it's allot more, but you now have to worry about joint wear in the knees, hips and lumbar )...

1 person liked this | Guest said:

I use a stationary bicycle while playing with my wireless xbox 360 controller (for pc of course) One of my friends just laughed at me when I told him about it, but I didn't gave a sh*t, I make a lot of exercise without even notice since I get very focused on my games. After 40-50 minutes IĀ'm pretty sweaty and I actually did something else than playing games!

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

Very cool article and a nice new kind of info we don't get to see very often.

He's not telling us how to use gaming to be healthy he's trying to help us improve our health while gaming. There's a difference.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

You mean to tell me it's healthier to be standing up for 2 hours?

stevek95 stevek95 said:

What type of keyboard rest is in the picture?

psycros psycros said:

You mean to tell me it's healthier to be standing up for 2 hours?

I'll assume that's a serious question and answer it accordingly. Yes, its healthier. You'll burn around 10% more calories per hour and have more strength in the legs and thighs. Sure, your dogs will be barking for the first 10-14 days but then your body totally adjusts. Ideally you'll be walking rather than just standing, because that's where the real health benefits are.

stevek95 stevek95 said:

Is the keyboard palm rest in the left of the picture above, a custom made rest. or is it apart of the keyboard? or is it sold seperatly?. if so what is the name of it as I really want to get one

wiyosaya said:

In my opinion, which is echoed by ergonomic advice elsewhere, monitors should be eye-level. To me, it looks like this desk would require looking up to see the monitors. Prolonged use in this manner is likely to cause neck problems for many people.

Advice for gaming desk layouts, IMHO, should also seek to recommend the best advice from the ergonomic world as well. I would be wiling to give this article some consideration if it contained good ergonomic advice, too. Unfortunately, it does not seem to have such content.

HiDDeNMisT HiDDeNMisT said:

I don't know if I could just stand there and play games for an hour. I would get tired of standing and not play. Then I would get bored enough to go out and buy a really nice chair that I can sit in.

It could just be me being lazy tho.

Guest said:

I think Luke has come up with a creative solution to a problem he was experiencing and decided to share it with everyone. He did a nice write up on this. Thanks.

1 person liked this | spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

I'd prefer a desk that is horizontal, so I can lay down and play like I'm sitting up.

JC713 JC713 said:

I may take this into account when building mine. It would have been great if you guys included a bit more options though.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Is the keyboard palm rest in the left of the picture above, a custom made rest. or is it apart of the keyboard? or is it sold seperatly?. if so what is the name of it as I really want to get one

The keyboard is a Corsair K60 and the rest comes with it.

Interesting concept, although there would still be a tendency to slouch if the monitor wasn't at the right level. Also probably means your missus/kids won't be able to use it if they're not the same height. Maybe an even better mod would be to make an adjustable standing desk so you could also sit down if you wanted to.

mrcavooter mrcavooter said:

I like what you did here, thank you.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I game on my sofa in front of the TV and do everything work related at the desk. Wouldn't have it any other way.

TV hookup really pays.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

You mean to tell me it's healthier to be standing up for 2 hours?

I'll assume that's a serious question and answer it accordingly. Yes, its healthier. You'll burn around 10% more calories per hour and have more strength in the legs and thighs. Sure, your dogs will be barking for the first 10-14 days but then your body totally adjusts. Ideally you'll be walking rather than just standing, because that's where the real health benefits are.

So my legs won't receive any punishment for having to be straight for 2 hours?

How could I walk if I have to be standing in front of it?

Guest said:

That's how I'm working through my X-Files box-set my daughter let me have a few years ago - 42minute sessions on the bike means I actually get to do some training and watch some X-files (I'd probably not have enough inclination to do one without the other)

theruck said:

What a BS...man, have you ever been in school? standing is far more unhealthy than sitting. if this was truth there would be people standing in the office and everybody would be healthy. if you stand 10 hours a day you get dilated veins but you can try it yourself. just write an article after standing for years.

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

Lol common really? : sitting offers just as many , if not more chronic issues, from SI and hip rotation issues to deep vein thrombosis. Standing AND sitting must be integrated to reduce chronic issues.

What a BS...man, have you ever been in school? standing is far more unhealthy than sitting. if this was truth there would be people standing in the office and everybody would be healthy. if you stand 10 hours a day you get dilated veins but you can try it yourself. just write an article after standing for years.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.