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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

This Magnetic Desk Is a Neat Freak’s Dream

I hate wires. Ironic, coming from someone who writes for WIRED. That doesn't mean I'm anti cables—Ethernet rules, and Wi-Fi drools—I just hate cluttered desks, so wires need to be out of sight. I once nearly drilled a hole in my desk just to run the wire from my old mechanical keyboard to my desktop PC underneath instead of strewn over the top like a layabout. 

Unfortunately, I never quite practiced good cable management. Sure, things were neat and tidy on the surface, but the underside of my desk could fit right at home on the Nebuchadnezzar. That's where the Magnus from Secretlab comes in. The company that makes very good gaming chairs has built a metal, magnetic vessel to help hide all those fussy cables. The cable management features run on top of the desk and below it. 

It feels like it was custom-built for people like me that talk the talk but are a little too lazy to walk the walk. And if you're like me, just know that there's now zero need to Scotch tape wires to the wall or desk anymore and call it a day (not that I ever did that, nope, never). I can now welcome you to a wire-free world.

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Simple Setup

The Magnus arrives in two boxes, and after unpacking every single part of it you might feel overwhelmed. It's a lot. Thankfully, Secretlab labels every piece of the desk, and the included assembly instructions are very clear. The whole thing took me about 30 minutes to put together. You might need to enlist a friend though as it weighs a whopping 93 pounds. 

The desk is 59 inches long, which is more than enough space to fit my PC, an ultrawide monitor, and a second vertical monitor, along with the usual desk accessories like speakers and the ever-essential Funko Pops and Amiibos. Secretlab rates its load capacity at a generous 221 pounds.

One of the key parts of this desk is the trench, as I call it. The rear part of the Magnus is separated from the main desktop. A slim panel that runs along the back of the desk folds upward to reveal a roomy cable management tray. This is where you can hide most of the wires that run from your PC to your peripherals. Under the desk, you can remove a magnetic cover to access these cables and route them to an outlet. Thanks to this, I didn't have to worry about a mess of wires dangling below the desk near my feet. All the cables are completely out of sight and out of mind. 

If you use a corded keyboard or mouse, you'll still have the wire running over your desk, but you can hide any excess cable a little easier in the hidden tray. (Or just do what I did and upgrade to a wireless keyboard and mouse.)

Another catch? If you want to mount your monitors or other devices, like microphones and cameras,  at the rear of the desk you'll need to do it at the offset gap in front of the hinged cover that hides your cables. It's still worthwhile to go through the trouble of doing that, as mounting everything makes it even easier to hide those wires for good.

There's enough clearance in that gap to fit monitor arms that have a screw clamp length less than 100 millimeters, but not every mounting arm will be flush enough to sit here. For example, this Monoprice monitor arm fits perfectly, but this mount I bought to hold up my mirrorless camera (for bokeh-fied Zoom calls) is a little too wide at the base. 

This clearance issue also somewhat affects mounting anything to the sides of the Magnus. The sides are quite thick because there's a gap between the tabletop and the frame where you can hide even more cables. This cheap monitor arm I use for my second vertical monitor has a wide enough clamp that fits over the entire edge, but that wasn't the case for the aforementioned one I bought for my camera. This Glide Gear desk mount also fits, and it's what I use to mount my microphone. Basically, you'll need to make sure the dimensions of the mounts you own (or plan to buy) will fit the desk.

As the desk is made of steel, be gentle when you are mounting stuff on the sides. When I was configuring one of my monitors, I noticed the metal from the clamp scraped some of the metal on the edge. Thankfully it's not visible, because it's not in a spot anyone (or I) can see. To help protect against scratches, I strongly suggest buying Secretlab's MagPad desk mat. This leatherette surface magnetically sticks to the top of the table and never slides around. With it on, you won't have to worry about the all-metal desk getting scratched, or worse, scuffing your gadgets. 

Magnet World

That brings me to the biggest reason to buy this desk: magnets! (Insert Breaking Bad meme here.) Parts of the desk are magnetic, so you can attach various cable management accessories to organize your wires. There are magnetic cable anchors and cable sheaths you can buy separately, and those add-ons make cable management so easy. No need to deal with crappy adhesive cable clips. 

But the magnet love doesn't stop there. You can use Secretlab's magnetic headphone hanger to cradle your cans when you're not using them. You can stick magnetic bumpers to the back of the desk so it doesn't scuff up the wall. Secretlab even sells a magnetic diffused RGB light strip you can attach to the Magnus for some extra visual pizzazz. (It wouldn't be a gaming desk without that sweet, sweet RGB.) 

You don't have to use Secretlab's magnet accessories. For example, I use the NZXT magnet puck that came with my PC case on one of the desk's legs to hang my set of wireless headphones closer to its charging cable. 

Whether you buy this desk and how much you invest in accessorizing it all comes down to how much easy cable management is worth to you. The desk starts at $499, and once you add the MagPad and the cable management bundle, it's $582. The RGB light strip, bumpers, and hanger all cost more. That is an awfully high price, especially when you can do a reasonably great job hiding your wires for very little money; you just need the right accessories, time, and patience.

But I don't have the patience. So for me, this painless magnetic solution makes the cost worthwhile. Thanks to the various accessories, which arguably should be included in the base price of the desk, I barely see any wires when I look at my workstation now. And since I'm frequently tinkering with my WFH setup, it's nice not having to fuss with plastic zip ties, Velcro fastening straps, or adhesive clips that peel apart after a few months. It's brings a huge amount of comfort to my neat-freak brain.

If you're fed up with your messy cable situation and you are planning to upgrade your home office, well, the Magnus undeniably delivers peace of mind.

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