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The Best Desk Under $200 Is a Dead-Simple Ikea Hack

You can buy something rickety on Wayfair — or you can follow the advice of teenagers on TikTok and mommy bloggers on the path to a better home office.

tiktok desk

When shopping for a cheap desk, your options number in the tens of thousands, but I wager none are better than a dead-simple Ikea hack.

There isn't an official name for this hack; indeed, the idea — popularized on Reddit (the subreddits /r/battlestations and /r/ikea, specifically) as well as the PC gaming community on TikTok — it might be too simple to earn the "hack" title. At its most basic, all you need are a pair of Ikea's Alex Drawers, a tabletop of any kind and a couple optional add-ons.

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The Alex units — which were selling out all over the U.S. for a time — are the legs and foundation of your new desk. You then pick your table top, stick some furniture grip on the Alex units and place the table on top of that. It is literally that simple, and the result is a good-looking, customizable desk that beats out anything in the price range. Here's exactly why it works, how to do it and everything you need.

How to Build the Ikea Gaming Desk

  1. Identify the desk's home, and measure:
  2. Where is the desk going to sit? Get a tape measure out and determine the maximum and minimum width of the desk for your space. Repeat for desk depth. This will determine what tabletops to keep an eye on.
  3. Read this if you're over 6"2:
  4. Users over 6"2 may find the desk sits too low for them to be comfortable. If this is you, consider some simple furniture risers.
  5. Order & build:
  6. Order a room-appropriate tabletop (the most popular options from Ikea are the and the affordable Linnmon and more expensive Karlby), the Alex drawers and furniture risers as necessary. Assembling the Alex drawers is much like most Ikea builds: simple and vexing at the same time. Take your time, as the drawers will be holding up a lot of very expensive weight (monitors, computers, speakers, etc.). Alex drawers also come with sticky furniture bumpers for the top, which should be placed on before dropping the tabletop on.
  7. Organize, personalize:
  8. Consider cable management accessories, as the Ikea gaming desk setup does not offer a natural way to obscure a cord jungle. Consider monitor arms, desk mats, headphone stands, valet trays and other means to declutter as well.

    Why the Ikea Gaming Desk Hack Makes Sense

    Low price: The best argument (and the only one necessary, for some) is the total cost. Depending on what desktop you go with, you could pull together this desk for well under $200. Feel free to trawl Wayfair, Overstock and other budget-minded sites to prove the contrary, but there aren't many sub-$200 desks that offer what this one does.

    Huge flexibility: You may be able to buy a desk that comes close to your preferred color scheme or the size you want on a budget, but you may have to sacrifice elsewhere. This hacky Ikea setup puts the ball back in your court, allowing you to pick from a few colors for the "legs" and go with whatever desktop look (and size) you want.

    Move-friendly: Less of a priority for some prospective builders, but a traditional desk is a pain to move with or just move around the house. Because the Ikea setup here is essentially just a few things stacked on top of each other, any kind of moving is simplified.

    It just looks good: While this is purely opinion, there aren't many ultra-cheap desks that look as clean as this setup can with the right color combos. Find a good example below and Google "Ikea Alex desk setup" for more.

    Assistant Editor, Home and Design Will Price is Gear Patrol’s home and drinks editor.
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