If you have been working from home via your laptop since the pandemic, and are finding it difficult to get the work done as efficiently as you did from the office, you may need to make some changes to your current work setup. Using your laptop on the bed or your dining table isn’t going to cut it anymore, especially with the possible lockdown extension. With a little investment and a few adjustments, you can transform your laptop into a desktop-like setup. This will not only improve your productivity but also help with your ergonomics and posture.
We have collated some useful tips that would help you in turning your laptop into a desktop setup. These tips are also useful in cases where you can use an old laptop laying around in your home and turn it into a basic desktop for kids or for casual tasks like web browsing, media playback, or file management.
Using Laptop As A Desktop During Work From Home
Yes, laptops are great for getting work done on the go, but they are not meant to be used for hours on a stretch. Working long hours on the laptop’s small screen, cramped keyboard, and little trackpad can induce wrist, neck, and back pain. Hence, you need to switch to a bigger screen and a proper keyboard and mouse. For your posture, you should use an ergonomic chair, even if it isn’t a proper work chair. Let us have a look at these tips in detail
Turn Your Laptop Into A Desktop: A Complete Guide
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Before beginning, here’s why you can trust this article: I turned my laptop into a desktop-like setup and used it for well over a year. During my experience, I learned a few things to improve it. Hence, you can be sure that all the things mentioned in this article come from personal experience and you can trust it.
Display: Switch To A Monitor
If you have a computer monitor at your home, use it. If not, buy an affordable one. Trust me, it can do wonders to improve your productivity and posture. Make sure that the monitor is at least 24 inches diagonally and has a resolution of Full HD. It also needs to have at least 250 nits of brightness (better if its brightness is 300 nits) so that you can see the content on the screen even if it faces direct sunlight or any other source of bright light in the room. Prefer a monitor with at least one HDMI port, although two would be nice to have. You can view all the best affordable monitors you can buy in India in our dedicated article.
Keyboard & Mouse: Prefer Full-Sized Ones
To pair with your larger screen, use your existing wired or wireless keyboard and mouse. Wired keyboards and mice may look messy, but they are pretty affordable, and more importantly, reliable. If your work involves a lot of numbers, prefer a full-sized keyboard with a dedicated number pad. Although membrane keyboards are not bad, mechanical keyboards are way better and much more reliable, lasting millions of keystrokes. We have explained how mechanical keyboards can improve your productivity in a separate article. You can find mechanical keyboards for as low as Rs 2,000 in India. We have listed the best wired and wireless keyboards in our detailed article.
While choosing a mouse, make sure that it is not small in size as smaller ones are not ergonomically sound and can induce wrist pain. Prefer a full-sized mouse that fills your palm. It should also have tactile clicks so that you get proper feedback when you click a button. Some mice also feature additional buttons that could be programmed to do specific tasks or launch specific apps. If you want a wireless mouse, prefer the one with Bluetooth connectivity rather than RF (Radio Frequency) because it allows you to connect it with various other devices, including smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs. While Bluetooth wireless mice have more latency than wired ones, most people are unlikely to notice a difference. You can find 2021’s best wired and wireless mice in India here.
Laptop Stand: For Better Space Management & Potential Second Screen
Another important step you need to take to turn your laptop into a desktop PC-like setup is to use a laptop stand. It will not only help you with space management on your work desk but also with a laptop’s thermals.
There are two types of laptop stands: the ones that hold the laptop in a closed mode and the ones that hold the laptop in an open mode. If you are tight on space, go with the one that holds the laptop in closed mode. If you have an extremely small desk, you can keep the laptop stand behind the monitor as it will save you some space, but that will also make it harder for you to access the laptop while placing it on the stand or removing it.
The laptop stand that holds the laptop with its lid open gives you the option to use your laptop’s built-in screen as a second monitor (with your connected monitor being the primary one). Using two screens at the same time massively improves your productivity and work speed as you can keep two full-screen app windows open at the same time and juggle between the two.
Whichever stand you choose, make sure that it is sturdy. Avoid the ones made out of plastic, and if you are going with a plastic stand, read its reviews and make sure that it is strong and sturdy enough to hold a laptop. I have personally used laptop stands made out of aluminium and wood, and both are working extremely well for me.
Cables & Cable Management: Keep Your Desk Tidy Yet Productive
You need a few cables for your desk setup. Usually, you would need an HDMI cable or a DVI cable for connecting the laptop with the monitor, an audio cable for speakers, and a USB hub. However, a lot of those things also depend on which ports your laptop and monitor have.
HDMI Cable Or USB-C To HDMI Adapter
Most modern laptops have an HDMI port. However, some laptops these days only come with a USB Type-C port, which means that you need a USB Type-C to HDMI converter. You can also buy a USB-C hub that features an HDMI port, a few USB Type-A ports, an audio port, and an SD card reader. If your monitor is too old and lacks an HDMI port, you would need to additional DVI or VGA adapter.
Unless you want to continue using your laptop’s speakers, you would need a 3.5mm male to 3.5mm male audio cable. If your monitor has built-in speakers, you can connect one end of the cable to the laptop and the other end to your monitor. If you plan on using a stereo or 2.1-channel speaker setup with your laptop, connect the speaker’s audio cable to your laptop’s 3.5mm headset port.
Not all laptops have multiple ports, especially the newer ones with a thin-and-light design. For example, newer MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops only feature USB Type-C ports. Even some thin-and-light Windows laptops lack a full-sized HDMI port and an SD card reader. Sometimes a laptop doesn’t have enough ports for all your needs. In such cases, you would need a USB hub that has a few USB ports, audio ports, and an SD card slot
Effective Cable Management For Your Work Desk Setup
If you want your desktop setup to look neat and tidy, the simple solution is to use velcro cable ties. Buy a bunch of them and use them to wind your cables behind your monitor or desk in such a way that they don’t hang towards the floor. Tie them up and place them as straight as possible.
Chair & Desk: How To Have Correct Body Posture
If you don’t already have a desk and a chair, we advise you to get them as soon as possible. Choose a wooden or metal table that is at least four feet wide. That gives you enough space to place a monitor, a laptop, a mouse, and a laptop stand. You get enough space to move your mouse freely. Get a chair that is ergonomically designed and has armrests.
If you want to avoid body pains from working for longer hours, make sure that you have the correct posture. Your back needs to be straight. You top part of your monitor needs to be in line with your eyes while your neck and head are looking straightforward. Your arms need to rest in line with the tabletop (where your keyboard and mouse are placed). Don’t forget to get up and talk a short walk around the house and stretch your body at least once every couple of hours.
Benefits Of Using Laptop As Desktop Setup
Now that you have learned how to turn your laptop into a desktop-like setup, let us look at its benefits. Here are some benefits of using your laptop as your desktop setup:
- Turning the same laptop into a desktop saves your money as you don’t need to spend on buying a new computer.
- The laptop’s screen can be used as a second screen for improved productivity.
- A laptop takes less space than a full-fledged PC cabinet.
- This setup requires less power than a full-fledged PC.
- You can easily remove the laptop and carry it around when you’re not home.
- Such a setup improves your productivity and work speed, thanks to a larger screen, a keyboard, and a mouse.
- It also helps you with your body posture, saving you from potential body pain and aches such as wrist, neck, and back pain.