A ton of our readers are starting to work from home, and possibly finding that a single laptop or desktop isn’t well-equipped for hours of use at a time. If you’re in a hurry and on a budget, this post is for you. We’ve challenged ourselves to find the best stuff to upgrade your home office for under $300 total.
On that budget, you can turn even the weakest laptop into a multi-tasking monster that’s comfortable to use all day long. Assuming at least some kind of desk or table to start with, all of these tools will benefit you, either alone or in conjunction with any of the others. We’ve also selected a few alternates, in case you already have the items listed below.
Note that, at the time of writing, pretty much anything that can be used in a home office is in high demand. The combined picks below were just under $300 total when we selected them. If you can’t find the precise item, an alternate should be available (sooner or later) at a similar price.
Get Moving With a Sit-to-Stand Desk Adapter
Standing desks are great for alleviating the pressure on your back and butt from hours of sitting in the same place. While a full, powered standing desk isn’t feasible on our limited budget, this hand-operated sit-to-stand desktop is easy to add to any flat table. Set it up, and your laptop, keyboard, mouse, and monitor can go from a sitting position to standing with a gentle raise.
This model includes a deploying keyboard tray and a pneumatic raising mechanism, with a sturdy steel frame and a built-in stand for your phone or tablet. As a bonus, if you live a laptop-only life, this will put the screen at a more ergonomic height which should prevent you from hunching over. You’ll just need to add an external keyboard!
Multi-Task With an External Monitor
The number one gadget you can do to add versatility and multi-tasking prowess is an external monitor (or a second monitor, if you have a desktop). This reliable model from Sceptre has a full HD resolution, easy-to-use HDMI input, built-in speakers (with a headphone jack for audio if your PC doesn’t support HDMI), and compatibility with standard VESA mounts if you want to add it to a more elaborate mounting system or multi-monitor array. You won’t get the most accurate panel or any bells and whistles at this price, but it’s a fantastic and economical way to expand your digital workspace.
Sceptre 22 Inch 75Hz LED 1080p Full HD Monitor With HDMI VGA Ports, Build-in Speakers, Metal Black
This inexpensive monitor is a great addition to a laptop, or a second screen for a desktop.
Upgrade Your Audio with a Wireless Headset
If you’re like us, you’ve been doing a lot more video meetings and conference calls in the last few weeks. Your laptop’s built-in speakers and microphone probably suck, so now’s an excellent time to upgrade. This simple, lightweight headset from HyperX is made for gamers, but it’s more than serviceable for regular office work, too. The wired version is a little cheaper, but we prefer the wireless option since it lasts more than a long work day on battery and it’s great for listening to music, too.
HyperX Cloud Stinger Wireless - Gaming Headset with Long Lasting Battery up to 17 Hours of Use, Immersive In-Game Audio, Noise Cancelling Microphone, Comfortable Memory Foam, and Designed for PC
This wireless headset can make online meetings a breeze.
Join the Revolution with a Mechanical Keyboard
If you haven’t tried a mechanical keyboard, now’s a great time to get on this train—there are super-cheap options that are excellent keyboards in their own right. The Magicforce is a fan favorite for those seeking value, with a compact layout that doesn’t require any re-learning for frequent commands (note the full arrow keys). It’s also one of the few budget options with a removable USB cable for easy routing, and it has a standard layout if you want to dip into the world of custom keycaps. Just remember to mute your microphone if you’re in a meeting and you have to type something!
Mechanical Keyboard Gaming Keyboard Brown Switch 68-Keys Mini Design (60%) Gaming Wired Keyboard White Magicforce by Qisan
This inexpensive keyboard is a budget favorite among the mech community.
Finish Your Setup Off with a Great Mouse
Those with a work laptop have probably been using its built-in trackpad, which isn’t the most comfortable or efficient means of controlling your PC. If you’re on a budget and you want a great mouse, we recommend the Logitech M720 Triathlon. It’s big enough to be comfy, but small enough to travel, and works with either Bluetooth or Logitech’s Unifying receiver. It lasts for literally years on a AA battery, and best of all, it can swap between computers or mobile devices with a single press of a button.
Logitech Pro Mouse
This small mouse lasts forever on a battery and can instantly swap between devices.
What if you already have some of the above items, which you’re not looking to replace, but you’ve got the budget to get something else? Then we have a few humble, alternate suggestions.
A good office chair is something you might not have at home, and adding a VESA monitor stand (assuming your current monitor is compatible) is a great way to improve your posture while you’re sitting in it. If you don’t have to worry about your housemates, you can add some premium speakers to your setup. And if you already have a set of headphones that you enjoy, you can still up your video conferencing game with a USB microphone.
The above items, all together or separate, won’t turn your home office into a working paradise. But they will increase your comfort and your efficiency versus a cobbled-together desk setup, and they’re well worth picking up if you’re going to be working at home for a while.