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This was the year I recognised the true value of good PC ergonomics

Lian Li DK-04F gaming desk
(Image credit: Lian Li)

It would be all too easy to suggest my highlights of this year's PC gaming hardware are the exemplary processors and graphics cards we've been treated to over the last twelve months. Well, really only the last four months, because it's AMD's new CPUs and graphics cards, as well as Nvidia's new GPUs, that have had us enraptured by their technical prowess, and they only arrived as 2020 was starting to draw to a close.

Sitting comfortably?

(Image credit: Secretlab)

Best chair for gaming: the top gaming chairs around
Best gaming desk: the ultimate places to play
Best PC controller: sit back, relax, and get your game on

And sure, the new architectures these silicon heavyweights have on offer now represent PC gaming tech at the top of its game, but have they performed miracles? I would suggest not. 

They might deliver higher frame rates in the latest games but, while getting Cyberpunk 2077 to perform well, with minimal bugs and stable frame rates sees the Nvidia RTX 3090 getting close to miraculous, it was the new desk with which I furnished the dark WFH corner of my home which actually turned out to be.

I'm sure most of us have enjoyed those Reddit image or gallery posts about hilariously unsuitable PC gaming setups in the past, but living with one is a different matter. Especially when offices got shut down this year and my hilariously unsuitable setup became the place where I was professionally required to spend eight hours a day, but in reality more because gaming.

Yeah, this was always going to come back around to the pandemic blues, wasn't it? Working from home, like so many of us are around the world, has simply become part of our lives. 

I actually started a whole new role at PC Gamer the day the UK was put under its strictest lockdown and, while I had been working a few days a week from my li'l house on the Bath prairie after my son was born, my home setup wasn't exactly perfect. 

By that I mean I didn't actually have a desk.

Artist's impression

Artist's impression (Image credit: reddit)

My monitors were balanced on a couple of units, one with drawers the other with the door ripped off so I could jam my PC in there. It was mostly functional, but what it wasn't was ergonomic. Without anywhere for my legs to go my posture was a nightmarish mangle with my legs squeezed to the side and my spine and shoulders twisted to face a dual monitor setup.

A solid month of resolutely working from my Heath Robinson desktop and I felt like a 70-year-old man. And not one of those inspirational, heart-warming, run-a-marathon-for-charity-every-month kinda gramps either. I couldn't sleep, I was close to dropping a bunch of cash to replace the mattress I'd bought only a few months previous, I was on a waiting list to see a physio, I was a wreck.

Like an idiot, I hadn't pegged it to my now atrocious posture and my ridiculous PC setup. Thankfully Lian Li came to the rescue with the DK-04F gaming desk; an aluminium work of industrial art. It's a motorised standing desk that is capable of housing an entire PC within its capacious innards, but I just wanted to check it out for the bling factor.

The thing is ridiculously expensive, and the motor's starting to make some concerning noises as I switch between standing and sitting modes, but the new desk has absolutely changed my WFH life. And with that electronically clearing/frosted glass top it looks stunning too.

Lian Li DK-04F gaming desk

(Image credit: Future)

It was only after a week or so of actually using the thing that I realised I was waking up able to actually get out of bed, rather than be crane-lifted out by my wife-turned-carer.

What is Health Kit?

Health Kit is PC Gamer's coverage of health, ergonomics, and wellness, which is currently being produced with support from AMD. Throughout the rest of 2020, we'll be publishing more health-related articles and videos with advice from specialists.

It was a miracle!

Okay, it wasn't a miracle, it was just a stupid man who hadn't grasped the very real importance of good ergonomics, especially in a PC setup I was going to be strapped to throughout the working day and into my evenings. But now I do; now I recognise what damage the wrong home environment can have on my physical wellbeing. With us spending more and more time in the same place, ensuring your setup is optimised to look after your body as well as feed your mind is absolutely vital.

It's also something we've been covering more here at PC Gamer over the last few months too, with our Health Kit campaign. Staying on the top of your game isn't just about having a powerful PC, it's also about keeping yourself healthy.

Dave has been obsessed with gaming since the days of Zaxxon on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. Thankfully it's a lot easier to build a gaming rig now there are no motherboard jumper switches, though he has been breaking technology ever since… at least he gets paid for it now.