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Cable Management

There are many cables, connectors and wires inside a PC interlinking the various components. Cable management is the process of organizing and arranging these cables in such a way that they are hidden from view while still retaining full functionality of the PC. This accomplishes three things:

Hide Your Cables and Wires
  1. The inside of the case will appear much cleaner and less cluttered.
  2. Creates more free room inside the case, making maintenance and hardware upgrades much easier.
  3. Proper cable management also maximizes internal case airflow, allowing for cooler temps and the potential for higher performance.

How to Manage Cables

The first step is to inventory every cable and only use those which are absolutely necessary for your PC to function correctly. If you have legacy devices (such as old IDE hard drives or floppy drives) that are no longer in use or not functioning, remove them and their associated cabling.

Modular PSU for Cable Management
Modular power supplies are great for easier cable management in a PC.

The biggest cable nest inside most computers is usually caused by the power supply. Every component that requires power is connected to the PSU and the power cables are by far the thickest and hardest to manage. For this problem a modular power supply (a PSU which includes detachable power cables) can come in handy. Modular power supplies are a big help when it comes to limiting the amount of cables inside a PC as they allow you the opportunity to only use the exact number of cables needed to connect all of your hardware. The left over power cables can be completely disconnected, removed from the power supply and put away for storage until you require their use for future hardware.

Label Your PC Cables

While not a mandatory step, if you label every cable in your PC with the device which it connects to (example: HDD 1, HDD 2, Primary DVD Drive, Secondary DVD Drive, etc.) it will make for a much easier and quicker process of removing components when you decide to upgrade or add new hardware at a later date.

Cable Routing

The amount of cables in your PC is now minimized and all necessary cables are labeled. Next you can begin the task of routing the remaining cables to hide them as thoroughly as possible. Many modern desktop cases have holes along the motherboard tray where cables are to be routed that lead to a small, empty space behind the motherboard. A large majority of the PC cables can be hidden in this area. If your case does not have routing holes or extra space behind the motherboard you will have to get creative and find some room to hide excess cabling. Possibly in an unused drive bay or attaching cables to the bottom of the case.

You should do your best to create as much free space in front of and behind all case fans to allow for optimal airflow. A cable or two left dangling in the path of a fan creates more resistance than most users realize. This can not only have a negative effect on your PC cooling, but also increases the risk of a cable being damaged or cut if it comes in contact with fan blades spinning at a few hundred RPM's.

Cable Bundling

The final step is to bundle together any loose cables within close proximity of one another. This can be done with zip ties, split loom (a flexible tube with a slit down the side where cables can be inserted), velcro straps or even cable braiding/heatshrink for the more adventurous PC modding crowd.