Quality, longevity and simplicity in this tidy setup for study and entertainment

Quality, longevity and simplicity in this tidy setup for study and entertainment

AJ is a 24 year old American boy. Medical student in New York uses his 3 PCs (a desktop, a notebook and a laptop), as well as for studying, for entertainment and occasional gaming. His workstation is very clean and tidy in the spirit of “less is more”. Well lit and large, his study is all about simplicity and comfort, as you can also see from his Dvorak keyboard for faster, more natural typing and large trackpad.
You can meet him on Reddit, his account is /u/brochacholibre.
Let’s chat with him.

Hi AJ! Please tell us how you use your computer every day?
I have three different systems – a laptop, a netbook, and my main desktop system. Each of them serves a slightly different purpose, but in general I’m a medical student so I’m usually using my devices to study, consume content, or enjoy the occasional casual game. In my free time I’m into music creation and 3D modeling.

When did you start optimizing your workstation?
I’ve always been keen to determine unique and novel ways to tweak my workflow and streamline my system. I built my first proper desktop system in 2018 and then built this system in late 2020, fortunately right before the crypto mining bubble. Since the creation of my first system I’ve been consistently tweaking to find the right layout and workflow for me. When the global health crisis struck, I started learning Dvorak typing as a personal project, as a way to reduce typing discomfort and individualize my productive workflow.

What fundamental characteristics must a good battlestation have?
I’m a big fan of high build quality, longevity, and simplicity. I believe that a good battlestation has those three elements at heart; it shouldn’t have anything more or less than is absolutely necessary to help streamline workflow, it should incorporate high-quality parts as possible, and it should be sustainable as a long-term work or relaxation environment.

What are the strengths of your workstation?
I prioritized design and hardware minimalism before aesthetics, although I think the two go hand in hand. I started my PC building adventure three years ago liking “tasteful RGB” but I have since gone in absolutely the opposite direction; my build is clean, no-frills, and individualized. In some ways, this amounts to rather significant changes, and in some ways those changes are more subtle.

The big stuff includes painting the chassis of my curved ultrawide monitor with a metallic paint to match the rest of the system so everything works together, using a high-quality milled PC case that cools my system passively so my workstation has literally zero fans, my hard drives are spun down and parked unless I’m using them so the computer makes zero noise, and I use only Linux on my systems for matters of personal preference and device functionality. Some of the more subtle changes include the keyboard and trackpad made of aluminum to maximize longevity and match aesthetically with my setup. My keyboard is Dvorak instead of QWERTY, for reduced long-term typing strain.

My desk is freestanding in my office instead of up against the wall to increase mobility, natural lighting, and legroom. All of the colors in my office are coordinated to match and work well with the natural light I receive in the afternoon and evening when I’m most productive. My monitor also has a nifty headphone holder so I can hang up my headphones instead of leaving them sitting on my desk, which would otherwise take up space. My trackpad uses a magnetically-detachable cable so I can plug or unplug it at will to clean or move it.

Can you explain in detail the components you used?
Below the specs of my system in full.
Case: Streacom DB4
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
GPU: AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT
Motherboard: ASRock A520M-ITX
RAM: Team Group T-FORCE Vulcan 32GB 3200MHz CL16
PSU: HDPlex 400W Passive w/ AC/DC
Boot Device: 240GB ADATA XPG SX8200 M.2; Linux runs from F2FS
Monitor: VIOTEK GNV34DB 34″ Curved Ultrawide Monitor (Samsung LCD Panel)
Keyboard: BoYata Slim Wireless Keyboard
Trackpad: Jelly Comb USB Trackpad/Touchpad
Headphones: Ghostek Rapture

Have you already thought about the next evolutions?
I’m giving lots of thought to reworking the wiring situation inside the computer case. The hardware is in great shape but the cable management is a bit sloppy, but I wasn’t too worried as you can’t see into the case. At one point I’d like to find a way to organize the cabling inside the case more tidily. Otherwise I will probably end up buying a new desk in a few years as my current one is showing several signs of age.

Thank you so much for your time AJ, it was a pleasure to chat with you.
Thanks to you!