How I Setup My Own ALEX Desk

The IKEA ALEX desks have become a classic desk setup. They are very simple, have a bunch of drawers, and you can choose a bunch of different configurations. 

In this article, I’ll be walking you through my own ALEX desk setup. We’ll touch on why I went with the ALEX desks, how I use my drawers, the tabletop, and everything! 

If you’re a gamer, I recommend you check out my dedicated article on IKEA desk setups for gamers.

Hopefully, this gives a good picture of what to expect if you are considering an ALEX desk setup yourself.

My ALEX Desk Setup

I got my ALEX desk back in 2016, so I’ve had it for 7 years at the time of writing this. 

Even with 7 long years of use, my desk is still holding up perfectly fine. The drawers still glide smoothly to this day, and the wood tabletop just needed the occasional oil finishing.

The wood tabletop really helps with longevity. In our article on different desktop materials, I always recommend investing in solid wood if you can afford it. Even if that means holding off to upgrade later.

I use this desk and drawer set every single day, so it really says a lot about the IKEA quality. 

How To Hide Your Computer Tower

My current setup uses two ALEX drawers with a 60 x 30-inch oak table top. The oak tabletop is 1 inch thick. IKEA sold this as a popular desk combination option back in 2016, however, it doesn’t seem like it’s available anymore. 

If you’re shopping on the IKEA website today, wood countertops would be the solid wood alternative. Examples are the KARLBY, VRENA, PINNARP, etc. 

Why I Chose an Alex Drawer Desk

Why was I interested in the ALEX drawer desk in the first place? Here are the three main reasons. I had more reasons, but these outshine them all. 


I love having a good amount of storage. I used to have a bunch of my stuff laying all around my desk with no home. It made for a super messy room. 

The other option was to stuff things in the closet, but I needed access to certain items regularly. 

Alex Drawer Dimensions (2.1)

Having the dual ALEX drawers definitely made my life easier by keeping what I need closeby, and making sure I had no excuse for the mess of stuff around my desk. 

Simple & Looks Great

The reason these desks are so popular is just because of how good they look. IKEA nailed the design of these drawers. They fit well in a modern home, a cozy room, literally anywhere.

The drawers are not over the top, they are simple and functional. 

Flexible Table Top

The last thing I loved about this desk is how modular and flexible it is. Don’t want two drawers? IKEA has legs so you can make one side drawers and the other side legs. 

Want to swap the tabletop for some reason? Just lift the current one off and put the new top on. 

There are so many configurations of this desk that are possible, and you’ll see that on various ALEX desk setups out there.

If I need this desk to be in a smaller spot, I can change the top and keep everything else the same. If I need the desk to fill a larger area, same story. I would just need to get a center support leg. 

What’s On My Desk

Let’s do a quick desk tour. I recently tried to remove as much as I could from my desk to try and be more minimal. I found a pretty good balance at the moment. It’s not super minimal, but minimal enough. 

To get more minimal I hid my computer tower and also followed other minimalist desk setup tips like storing things that are not absolutely required on my desk. For example, I can just put pens in my ALEX drawer, but I don’t really have a choice when it comes to my monitor. 

Here is what’s on my desk at the moment. I like adjusting my setup pretty often to keep things fresh, so emphasis on “at the moment”.

Dell 34″ Ultrawide Monitor

I recently got an ultrawide monitor secondhand for $200. This one retailed for $600! I love finding things on Facebook marketplace!

I transitioned from a 27″ 4K monitor. I was hesitant about the resolution drop, but after using this ultrawide, I can’t go back to a normal monitor ever again. 

BenQ ScreenBar On Monitor
My Workspace (12)

My efficiency has improved dramatically by being able to comfortably split my monitor into three active windows instead of just two. 

Of course, I had to ditch the original monitor mount. I always recommend mounts or a monitor shelf at least to get more room on your desk. It also makes a desk look so much better! 

Monitor Arm

I got

from Amazon. It was one of the more affordable options that could support a 34″ monitor. 

Audioengine A2+ Speakers

I have to listen to music when I work. It gives a nice isolation from the rest of the world. I don’t like wearing headphones all day long, so I got some nice Audioengine speakers. I found these refurbished on the Audioengine website for $70 off MSRP!

Speaker with Computer

If you like Audioengine products, I highly recommend grabbing something factory refurbished. My speakers showed no signs of use at all! 

(You can probably tell I like looking for deals. It’s hard for me to buy pricey items without a discount of some sort!)

Audioengine A2+ 60W Bluetooth Speakers

The Audioengine A2+ Bluetooth Speakers have extended-range Bluetooth connectivity, delivering high-fidelity true stereo sound that connects to any app or device. They have a compact design that packs a big punch with a variety of connection options. They come with a 6.5ft speaker wire, power supply, 5ft USB cable, 5ft mini-jack audio cable, microfiber speaker/cable bags, and setup guide.

Check Price on Amazon

The A2+ speakers are fantastic. I mainly chose these smaller speakers because I don’t like the look (or the price) of the larger speakers. They take up way too much desk space and I don’t like that bulk. 

As a result of the size, you’re limited on the base output of these speakers, but that doesn’t bother me much. These have much better audio clarity than my old Logitech $20 speakers. 

They are also Bluetooth enabled, so I can play music from my phone wire-free. 

I heard from many A2+ reviewers and Reddit forums that these speakers sound much better when they are directed toward you. Because I saved $70 with the refurbished speakers, I added on these DS1 silicone speaker stands. 

Audioengine DS1 Desktop Speaker Stands

The Audioengine DS1 Desktop Stand Pair is designed to fit any small Audioengine-powered bookshelf speakers (or similar-sized speakers). They elevate your monitor speakers at an optimal 15-degree angle so the audio goes directly toward the user. The silicone stands minimize acoustic effects and enhance sound quality by dampening vibrations.

Check Price on Amazon

Apparently, these isolate the speakers from your desk so they sound better for two reasons. 

BenQ ScreenBar (Original)

Another way I was able to free up desk space was by using a monitor light bar. Freeing up desk space is just one of the benefits these offer. 

I talk a lot about light bar benefits here and also compare them to desk lamps here

Curved Monitor Light Bar (4)

The BenQ versions are higher quality than most of the Amazon knockoffs and have better light output. If you are okay with the lower lumen output, the knockoff brands might be the way to go. 

Premium Pick
BenQ ScreenBar Halo Monitor Light

Enhance eye comfort with this monitor light bar's integrated backlight design that illuminates your back wall (bias lighting). With a smart wireless controller, it's easy to adjust brightness and color temperature. Its patented clip design mounts on almost any monitor, saving valuable desk space, and it's powered via USB, eliminating the need for extra wires.

Check Price on Amazon

Stream Deck

I stumbled on a productivity thread on Twitter one day, and someone recommended a Stream deck for custom shortcuts. At first, I thought it was just some random “streamer” gadget, but quickly found it’s for anyone who spends a lot of time at the computer. 

I had to write about it of course. Here’s our article on the Stream Deck for Non-Streamers. It really is a productivity miracle for those tedious clicks and browsing times. 

Elgato Stream Deck MK2 Macro Keypad

This device features 15 customizable LCD keys for instant control of your apps, tools, and platforms. With a one-touch operation, you can trigger single or multiple actions, launch social posts, adjust audio, mute the mic, turn on lights, and more. The device supports powerful plugins such as Elgato 4KCU, OBS, Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Discord, Spotify, Philips Hue, and many more.

Check Price on Amazon

Logitech MX Keys and MX Master 3

After my third budget keyboard died, I told myself to get a high-quality alternative. That way I don’t have to keep dealing with poor-quality products when I spend so much time using my keyboard and mouse. 

I quickly found that everyone recommended the MX Master 3 mouse, so I had to get the keyboard to match. 

After a few years of using them, I’m still in love. The keyboard is really a pleasure to type on and has a bunch of customizable shortcuts. The keyboard shortcuts combined with the Stream Deck shortcuts make me pretty much unstoppable. 

Wool and Felt Desk Mat Review (7)

I’m not a huge mechanical keyboard fan. I work in a small apartment, and the clicking drove my partner crazy. I needed something low profile and quiet. The MX keys do extremely well in this category. 

The mouse is fantastic as well. It has four more buttons than a typical mouse as well as a horizontal scroll wheel. Logitech made the shape very comfortable to use for long hours every day. 

Logitech’s software lets you create gestures with all the buttons which really explode all the capabilities. It feels near infinite! 

Now there is the release of the MX Master 3S which seems to just make the mouse clicking more quiet. Not in any rush to upgrade. 

You’ll have to pry the MX Keys and Master 3 mouse from my hands. They are highly functional and comfortable. 

Dell Docking Station

I connect way too many things to my computer. Here’s what I usually have wired in:

  • Power cord
  • Stream Deck
  • Display Cable
  • Monitor USB Cable
  • Printer USB Cable

I only have three USB-C ports on my laptop! I would never want to take my laptop on the go if I had to connect and disconnect five connections every single time! 

Thank goodness for docking stations. I have a pretty old Thunderbolt 3 docking station. I also got this one second-hand on the Amazon Used Market. 

Hide Docking Station (3)

I paid $50! Most new and modern Thunderbolt 4 docking stations cost $300 to $400! No, thank you. 

This docking station gives me a single Thunderbolt 3 cable connection to my laptop. Transitioning from my ALEX desk to the couch and back again is seamless. 

Laptop Stand

I like to use my laptop as a second monitor. That’s one of the few dual monitor arrangements we talk about in this article.

I don’t like having my laptop on the desk though. Instead, I raise the laptop to be a more ergonomic viewing height. Otherwise, I would have to look down and to the left constantly. 

Hide laptop at desk (1)

A laptop stand helps a lot here. Here is the one I use. 

It raises the display, and I’m sure there is better airflow with the stand compared to just sitting on a desk. We have a dedicated article on the benefits of laptop stands if you are considering one. 

Snake Plant

I need some sort of life or nature on my desk to make it feel more inviting. Otherwise, my desk setup is just a collection of off-the-shelf items. 

Black Speaker White Vase

I love a plant that is easy to take care of. That’s why I have my good old snake plant. I highly recommend this if you are looking for a robust plant that will do well indoors. 

How I Setup My ALEX Desk

When setting up my desk, I tried to be as minimal as realistically possible. I used to keep my camera on my desk, a table lamp, my computer tower, etc. 

No more! I chose to free up drawers for my camera gear, use a monitor light bar instead of a desk lamp, and hide my computer tower. 

34 inch ultrawide monitor on ikea alex desk

Now I have so much more space, and it helps me focus a lot. So much so that I added minimalism to my guide to a productive desk setup

I just have my Ultrawide monitor, my Audioengine A2+ speakers, laptop, plant, keyboard, and mouse. That’s it! 

How I Get The Most Of My ALEX Desk

Being minimal on top of my desk means two things. I have more room on top, but there is more pressure on my ALEX drawers to be more convenient and functional. 

Here’s how I do that. 

Intentional Drawer Storage Method

I have an article all about the most effective way to organize your desk drawers. This goes for any drawer, ALEX or not. 

Basically, it involves organizing the items in your drawers by frequency of use. The most frequent stuff like post-its and pens stay in the first drawer. The stuff used only once a week, lower down. Used super infrequently? That goes in storage. 


In conjunction with ordering by frequency, also try to categorize your drawers. Giving categories like “electronics” or “general office supplies” will make it easy to remember where things go, and where to find things. 

Also, if anything ever falls behind on the inside of my drawers, they are super easy to remove. I talk about the two-screw ALEX drawer removal process here.

Future Plans

At the moment, I plan on holding on to my dual ALEX drawer setup. Eventually, I want to invest in a standing desk.

A standing desk will let me lower the desk to my proper seating height without forcing me to use a footrest. It will also let me vary up my working position so I’m not sitting for 8 hours straight every day. 

When I upgrade to a standing desk, I will still keep at least one ALEX drawer nearby. It won’t be under my desk anymore as I will have to lower my desk further. But perhaps It can be a little table off to the side. 

What’s stopping me from getting a standing desk is that the highly-rated framed with a solid wood top is way out of my budget. Sorry Uplift, I can’t afford a $2000 desk. 

I may consider a standing desk frame with my current oak tabletop, but I am hoping to increase the size of my desk a touch more. We’ll see. 

Right now my ALEX drawers cover up my cable management mess, so a standing desk will be a bigger challenge with a completely exposed underside.

There it is. That’s my ALEX drawer desk setup.

Photo of author


I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!