5 Cable Management Tips Your Computer Needs

Got any New Year’s resolutions for your PC? And no, I don’t mean reducing the time you spend playing or buying exciting new graphics card. I’m talking about the one thing most PC builders fear: cable management.

There’s no better time to clean up your computer’s wiring, and as intimidating as it sounds, the process should actually be pretty quick—not to mention beneficial to your computer. Here are some tips to help you sort the cables inside your computer case.

Pick up some accessories

Matthew Connatser / Digital Trends

Whether you’ve been eyeing the inside of a computer for a while, or you’re planning a new one PC build and you want to do cable management the right way, there are a few things you need to prepare in advance. For the second option, when you’re getting a brand new computer, you might want to buy components that specifically support clean cabling – more on that later. In the case of the existing building, the costs are quite negligible.

The key to keeping your cables nicely organized is being able to tie them neatly. For this purpose, stock up on zip and Velcro cable ties. For zip ties, you’ll also need a small pair of wire cutters, either to remove the excess or to completely rearrange the tie – and trust me, it will happen.

In general, it is better to have too many than too few. You won’t use them all, but 100 packs of zip ties are only around $7-$10, so you might as well pick them up, even if it’s too much for most builds. Velcro is generally a little more expensive, but still comes in packs of 50 to 100, so grab what’s readily available.

One tip that helps, especially when putting everything together, is to use colored zip ties. This way you can specify specific colors for each type of cable; for example, yellow for GPU and red for drives. Once everything is in place, you can replace them with pure black or white, or keep them if they are all hidden behind the motherboard.

You may also consider purchasing a cable sleeve (or several). Made of fabric or plastic, these covers tend to be pretty easy on the eyes and you can even buy colored ones if you work on aesthetic PC design. However, if you can do without them, your build could be better off – they’re quite bulky and encourage cable stacking instead of neatly routing them where each cable has its own little corner.

Plan ahead

Cable management in HP Omen 45L.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Now that you’ve got everything ready, it’s still not time to rush out and start pulling cables. Instead, start by planning ahead.

Disconnect everything from both the PSU and the motherboard. If you’re working on a new build, you can slide the PSU into the right place, but there’s no need to start hooking things up. You’ll work your way up there and wire everything up at the very end, and by then you’ll know which cables you need to use if your power supply is modular.

The easiest way to do this is to start with the main connections, such as the 24-pin motherboard connector, the 8-pin CPU connector, or the PCIe connector for your graphics card. These cables are often quite bulky so it’s easier to get them out of the way first and try to minimize the space they take up and route them through the designated cutouts and channels. Once you’re happy with these main connections, you can move on to the RGB fan and header or the SATA drives as the final touches.

Before you even begin, try to plan the optimal route for each set of cables. The goal is to minimize the visible wiring that is visible in the front, but also to keep things tidy at the back, behind the motherboard. This is especially important if your chassis doesn’t include any extra space for cables, as it means you won’t have to stack them on top of each other at all costs, otherwise they might not even fit.

One more thing to plan ahead of time — fan and RGB headers. For both order and the limited number of headers on your motherboard, you may want to daisy-chain these connectors, allowing each header to power multiple fans or LEDs. However, keep in mind that each header can only support a certain number of fans – usually up to three. That’s why, when buying a motherboardit’s important to read the specs carefully and anticipate the number of hubs you can use in your particular setup, both for cable management and to keep everything running smoothly.

If you are new to PC building as a whole, our guide is a good starting point it tells you where everything goes and what helpful reading tips if you want to avoid some of the mistakes I made in my previous builds.

Not just in front

Hyte Y60 with RTX 4090 installed.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Cable management is what gives you that nice, clean look that many PC manufacturers strive for. Your GPU, motherboard and fans are front and center with minimal cabling. However, it is also possible to achieve this look while having your motherboard and case hide a complete mess of tangled cables. It’s the computer assembly equivalent of quickly shoving dirty clothes into the closet because guests are coming over in 10 minutes – it only works if you don’t look too closely.

There’s no harm in adopting this half-baked approach and calling it a day, but if you want optimal cable management that not only looks good but also contributes to ease of use and durability, it’s just as important to make sure they’re just as tidy. behind the motherboard. Here are some tips that can help you with this.

To begin with, start by plugging the components into the motherboard one at a time, avoiding crossing cables. It looks bad, adds height (which as I mentioned can be a problem in some cases) and makes them difficult to navigate if you ever want to go back and disconnect something. Route them behind the motherboard tray and use cable channels to simplify this process.

Also, make sure you tie up your cables often to achieve a neat look that doesn’t take up too much space. But make sure it’s not so tight that the cables bend, as this could disrupt the connection – not to mention that over-tightening with cable ties can damage the insulation or even the internal wiring. To make the process easier, start by zipping them in a few places so the cables don’t get tangled (which they always mysteriously do), and once you’ve routed them to your satisfaction, zip up a few more times. If using zip ties, cut off the excess and turn the tie over for aesthetic reasons.

If some of your cables are too long, fold and zip them up to take up less space. At the end of it all, you’ll usually have a spare space for the units (or a couple), so you can, for lack of a better word, stuff the excess cables in there when you’re packing – but make sure they’re all zipped up separately so you can have a few months down the line they didn’t pull out a mess of knots.

Finally, once you’re ready to wire everything up, start at the bottom of the PSU and work your way up. This way it is easier to reach each connector.

Get a modular PSU

PC power cables on a modular PSU.
Digital trends

This is not something you can only do with things you already have at home, but if you plan to do it buy a new PSU, choosing the right model is almost like a cable management cheat. I don’t just mean you need one of these best psu — you need a module that is modular.

Modular PSUs allow you to choose the cables that are necessary for your build, while cheaper non-modular models come with all cables permanently attached. Not only does this make installation a hassle, but it also means that cable routing will always be a bit restricted. After all, there will be a lot of unnecessary cables sticking out of your PSU. It is good that many cases hide the PSU.

Using a modular power supply greatly simplifies cable management. Once installed in the case, you can connect the cables, making it easier to maneuver. The absence of additional cabling contributes to a slightly better air flow. Additionally, when you return to clean your computer well once every few months you’ll have fewer cables to deal with and an overall easier process.

Choose the right case

A gaming PC with RGB sync lights and running Apex Legends.
Kunal Khullar / Digital Trends

There are two main factors at play purchase of a PC case: aesthetics and whether it fits your particular design. However, if you’re a fan of organized cable management, you should also consider these kinds of features when shopping for a chassis.

Start by looking for cases that offer enough space behind the motherboard tray. This space is critical for routing and hiding cables, especially the thicker 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS power cables. You don’t want to force the rear panel to bulge, and thicker cables can easily fit through the gap.

Many modern cases take this a step further and offer cutouts for cable routing or holes in the motherboard tray, ideally with rubber grommets. They are usually placed strategically near the PSU, on the sides and around the CPU area to make routing less awkward. In addition, the PSU cover is included in many of them best pc casesand is a must in every building where aesthetics matter.

Several manufacturers pay close attention to cable management features. Some of the cases that really have it include

(but also most of the NZXT lineup),

or

. Each offers a different set of cable management solutions, including things like attachment points, Velcro straps, and routing options.

Buying a new case is not as easy as replacing the PSU. Depending on your motherboard and the rest of your build, you may be upgrading more parts than necessary. That’s why it’s easier to do this when you’re planning a new computer than when you’re keeping your New Year’s resolution to clean up your wiring.

Redoing your cable management from scratch will take anywhere from an hour to half a day, depending on how meticulous you are and how many times you’ve done it before. That’s okay – that’s one of the things that helps to take your time and enjoy the process. At the end of it all, you’ll have a computer that looks great, has much better airflow, and is easier to manage, so it’ll be worth the time it takes.

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