I bought a $57 desk for gaming, here's how it went

A photo of my desk.
(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

I recently found myself in need of a new gaming desk. I’d been using a very old-fashioned work surface for the best part of a decade and its small size was starting to become a serious problem. 

As a member of the TechRadar Gaming hardware team, it’s my job to go hands-on with all kinds of bulky gaming gear ranging from some of the best monitors for PS5 to the consoles themselves, many of which simply wouldn’t fit on my old desk for testing. I wasn’t just lacking in space on top, however, as its compact design meant that there was nowhere near enough clearance to fit many of the best gaming chairs underneath.

I have been sitting on the notably small AndaSeat Phantom 3 for a few months now, but even that compact gamer throne needed to have its armrests removed in order to have any hope of being able to cram it underneath. If I was ever going to fulfill my lifelong dream of owning a massive Secretlab Titan Evo in its gorgeous plush pink fabric finish, it was clear that something in my setup had to change.

Naturally, I did what any sensible shopper would do when embarking on a journey to find a new item of furniture: I booted up Google and frantically searched for the absolute cheapest possible option. 

 Bit by bit 

The Ikea desk planner website.

The online Ikea desk planner (Image credit: Ikea)

It just so happens that flat-pack furniture giant Ikea offers a super low-cost desk that comes in exactly the size that I was looking for. Called the Lagkapten, it is effectively just a big 55x23 inch / 120x60 cm rectangle of pure paper-honeycomb-filled fibreboard with a bunch of screw holes already drilled in its underside for you to attach some legs.

It comes in a surprisingly wide selection of colors but I was most drawn to the light gray/turquoise which seemed like a good fit for the existing mint green walls and baby blue furniture of my room. Compatible legs are also sold by Ikea in a range of sizes, with the online option to create a bundle by mixing and matching the parts of your choice before automatically adding them to your basket for a really convenient buying process. 

Using this tool, I decided to go for some basic 27.5 inch / 70cm long table legs called Adils. They’re made of steel and, while the company also offers some more versatile adjustable options, I figured that the lack of moving parts would reduce the chance of them breaking a few years down the line. I wouldn’t need the adjustability either, as this configuration would still mean a huge amount of space below the desk and more than enough clearance for a large gaming chair. I’d even have a little bit of extra room for a compact set of drawers if I needed a bit more storage for games or gadgets in the future.

The grand total for my order including the tabletop and four legs was under $60 / £50 with a small charge of roughly $5 / £4 for delivery. Given how much desks can set you back these days, not to mention the usual extortionate cost of furniture shipping, this was an almost jaw-droppingly low price even when you factor in having to put everything together by yourself. It is worth noting, however, that I am in the UK and the same products cost around $90 in the US making them a much less tempting proposition.

 Screwed up 

The very unlucky corner of my desk

(Image credit: Dashiell Wood / Future)

When all of the parts arrived a few days later, my first impression was very mixed. Every part was packed in a single big cardboard box and, while everything coming at once was certainly appreciated, I quickly realized why the delivery charge was so low. It appeared that the courier had spent at least a few minutes violently attacking the box with a baseball bat or, at the very least, had dropped it down the stairs on a few occasions.

All of its corners were smashed in and the tape holding it together was practically hanging off. In fact, the entire box fell to pieces when I tried to transport it into my gamer cave moments later. Luckily, almost everything inside survived unscathed with the sole exception of the Lagkapten - which was now battle-scarred with a big dent in one corner. 

Not one to complain, I simply came to terms with the fact that this is just how my desk will look now and got to putting it all together. Credit where credit is due, it was an easy process that only required a standard screwdriver. My one concern was the quality of the included screws, which were made out of what might be the cheapest and softest metal I have ever encountered. Although I didn’t run into any major problems with them, it’s not difficult to imagine how they could become stripped and stuck very easily. 

Anyway, the end result looked quite impressive after I tactically positioned the dented corner out of sight up against the wall. The size was absolutely perfect too, with plenty of room for not only my entire PC gaming setup but a Nintendo Switch OLED in its dock, the SteelSeries Alias microphone for chatting with friends and work meetings, a couple of spare controllers, and, of course, a few figurines of characters like Tracer from Overwatch 2. With all of that piled on top, it’s not the most stable, though, and the desk can start to wobble if I hit the keys a little too hard while I’m playing high-intensity titles like Modern Warfare 3 or Counter-Strike 2.

With its cardboard filling, one bout of gamer rage could absolutely put this desk down for good which would certainly add insult to injury after a tough match. Even though Ikea states that this desk can support up to 110lbs / 50kg of weight, I’m not totally convinced as the surface feels suspiciously lightweight and quite weak. Only time will tell if it suddenly starts to sag under the weight of my relatively modest 23.8” monitor, but something tells me that this isn't a very permanent solution either way. At least I can finally make full use of the armrests on my gaming chair, which has undeniably made for a much more comfortable experience while playing.

Would I recommend it? You might be surprised to hear this, but yes. If you’re looking to spend very little on a new desk that you want to use while gaming you’re not going to find anything cheaper than this. For all of my quibbles, it is undeniably functional and is a completely usable item of furniture that costs comfortably less than your average current-gen video game. If you do have a little more to spend, however, maybe consider some more robust and premium options - you certainly get what you pay for here. 

 For some pricier gaming recommendations, see our guides to the best gaming console or the most comfortable gaming chairs right now.

Dashiell Wood
Hardware Writer

Dash is TechRadar Gaming's Hardware Writer. Before joining TechRadar, he was a print journalist writing articles for some of the UK's biggest gaming magazines including PLAY, Edge, PC Gamer, and SFX. Now, when he's not getting his greasy little mitts on the newest hardware or gaming gadget, he can be found feverishly devouring the latest Nintendo Switch otome.