How to cable manage a PC: Cable Management Tips
It doesn't matter if you are a PC building beginner or expert, cable management is important. Cable management does require a little extra effort and sometimes a bit of planning but it is always worth it in the end.
Tidying up your cables in the build doesn't just improve the aesthetics it can also improve airflow and make the machine easier to clean. Here’s a guide to help you untangle those wires, relax and create a piece of cable management art.
There are a few benefits to cable managing your pc and the most noticeable is how it makes your build look. The aesthetics are greatly improved when you take a bit of time to route your cables and this is hugely beneficial to anyone with clear plastic windows or tempered glass panels.
Tidying the cables allows for more space inside the machine and greatly improves the airflow of the system. Cables running across your motherboard to the power supply and getting tangled hugely reduces the airflow and can cause heating issues with your prized components. Your PC overheating can, in turn, reduce the lifespan and require you to give maintenance more often.
Cable management makes it a lot easier to swap out parts if they are broken or if an upgrade is required as you don't have to stick your hand through a big bundle of cables just to unplug an HDD. A clean system simplifies future tasks and makes your life easier in the long run plus you will find the machine a lot easier to clean. Dust builds up in a PC regardless of how clean you are and poor cable management will only make cleaning the PC a lot harder.
Selecting the right components
There are some components that can help you with cable management when building a PC. Correct components can take a lot of the extra work away and won't leave you scratching your head when it comes to building your system.
You will be glad to know there is an abundance of case manufactures that take cable management into consideration. A PC case with good cable management options can sometimes depend on your budget and it's worth noting some cheap cases don't have any holes in the back panel what so ever for your cables. Others can vary from just a few holes so you can pull the cables through the back and hide them while some have holes with rubber flaps to add visual appeal. Some cases also have cable mounts that are part of the metalwork which allows you to secure cables with the use of cable ties.
When choosing a PSU for your build with cable management in mind it is always best to opt for a modular PSU. Be wary of non-modular power supplies as they are cheaper but can be near impossible for hiding cables depending on the case. A modular PSU allows you to only plug in the cables you need freeing up some room when it comes to routing your cables. Most power supplies are modular and there is a wide selection to chose from but they can sometimes come with a higher price tag for this feature. A good middle-ground option for the penny-saving PC builder could be a semi-modular option which as the name suggests has just a few ‘crucial’ cables wired in with some additional extras available for plugging in.
It is worth considering the size of your motherboard compared to the case as this can greatly affect your ability to manage cables with ease. For example, if you have an ATX motherboard in a mid-tower or small case then you could be covering the cable holes almost entirely and may end up showing more cable than you would like to. On the other end of the scale, you could have a micro-ATX board inside a huge computer case you will have more cables to deal with inside the system. So think about the size difference and plan around it!
Having the right tools
There are some tools you should consider getting that will help you in your quest for a cleaner build. Obviously a screwdriver will be needed but there are some other bits and pieces that won't cost you much but will make your life a lot easier.
Cable ties will help you secure the cables down to the metal case if there are some cable mounts. Cable ties can also be used to generally tidy up a bunch of cables so if you’re thinking of tucking them away under your drives then tie them together first.
Tie bases work hand in hand with cable ties. The bases have a sticky side allowing you to mount it anywhere in your case that requires it. The top of the base usually has a four-sided hole allowing you to slip a cable tie through and secure the cable to the base.
It would be handy to have some cable snips as they are often the best tool for the job and they make it easier when chopping away the unwanted extra bit of the cable tie. Don't worry though scissors will do a good enough job and won't hinder the aesthetics on the cable management but watch out for the sharp corners.
If you are considering cable management for your already built system then it would be best to start from the beginning. Remove components and unplug everything then give the case a clean and start fresh on the build with cable management in your mind. This may seem like a longer approach but it will make it easier in the long run and produce better results.
Most of the components will slot into the pc in a predetermined slot and that is where it will remain, for others there is some wiggle room and you can move things around a little bit to try and ease cable management. You may want to put your GPU in a different slot due to a cable maybe being a bit too short and looking stretched. You can utilise the bottom HDD tray to cover any excess cables you failed to tidy up in your system and you can even mount SSD’s to the back panel with some cases giving you a different cable management option.
Pre-planning to carefully buy components that will fit together nicely while giving you ample room to manage the cables is great but you can go further. When it comes to managing cables plan it in your head and run things without the use of cable ties to make sure it can all fit. Take your time and remember its a creative skill so persevere, experiment and enjoy.