‘budget’ macbook air workstation doesn’t look cheap [setups]

It's a “budget” setup, but it really doesn't look it. Photo: Christian Panea@Workspace Setups Addict

Some budget computer setups look the part — cheap, utilitarian, uninspired, incomplete — and others don’t. Today’s featured setup falls in the latter category. You look at the well-equipped workstation and the word “cheap” doesn’t occur to you.

Against a DIY desk and pegboard, the setup features an M1 MacBook Air, dual Dell displays, some nice AV gear and plenty of nice touches.

‘Budget’ M1 MacBook Air workstation looks anything but cheap

Christian Panea, a brand and marketing manager at Zaor Studio Furniture, posted his new setup in Workspace Setup Addicts on Facebook.

“My home office project is officially 99.9% complete,” he noted. “It’s been a lot of work, and this is exactly how I imagined it: a functional budget space.”

“The wood part and the pegboard wall was finished in my little woodworking studio,” he added.

Smart budgeting

Details to note in Panea’s setup, unlike many inexpensive workspaces that tend to skip many items, include a USB-C dock, audio-video gear for content creation (hello, Elgato Stream Deck) and cable-management efforts. And it even includes stands for most items — including the two different pairs of headphones.

It’s clear from the gear how smart the budgeting is. First, the computer is an M1 MacBook Air, not an M1 MacBook Pro or an M2 machine.

Second, the pair of 24-inch, 1920 x 1200-pixel Dell displays can be had for under $300 apiece. Anything larger — especially with higher resolution — would cost more, and maybe a lot more. No Studio Displays here. And not even 4K displays.

And third, both the laptop and $300 HP Thunderbolt dock play audio, so dedicated speakers aren’t needed. Panea has some, however, and they’re a great budget choice — Edifier R1280T powered bookshelf speakers, often priced around $120. They pump out about 42 watts of power and feature good-looking wooden cabinets.

And of course, Panea fashioned the large desktop and pegboard himself, as he said. That probably save a bundle of money.

Some pricier items

One place Panea didn’t go particularly budget is the exceptionally cool Azio Retro Classic “Elwood” wooden mechanical keyboard. It goes for about $200.

Another would be the Humanscale Freedom office chair, which if often priced around $1,500.

Commenters had nothing but compliments for Panea on the setup.

Check out all his gear in the links list below.

Shop these items now:

Computer, stand and dock:

M1 MacBook Air Wooden vertical laptop stand HP Thunderbolt Dock 120W G2 with Audio

Displays and mount:

24-inch Dell P2421 IPS monitors (2) Dual monitor arm

Input devices:

Azio Retro Classic Wood Bluetooth Keyboard Elgato Stream Deck

Audio and video:

HyperX QuadCast S condenser microphone Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers – 2.0 Stereo Zoar HeadStands headphone stand Mozos headphone stand

Furniture, lighting and accessories:

Baseus LED Desk Lamp Humanscale Freedom Headrest Chair Zhiyun Smooth 4 Phone Stabilizer Google Nest Hub Unity Furniture Cable Management

If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to info+setups@cultofmac.com. Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or dislike about your setup, and fill us in on any special touches or challenges.

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