Whether you are building your own PC or you simply want to manage the cables inside of a PC that you bought, the process of cable management is highly recommended.
For most advanced computer users, when something goes wrong or you realize that you need to upgrade your video card or RAM. You simply open up the side of your PC and make the repairs or upgrade yourself. That means that you need the cables to be out-of-the-way.
This step-by-step guide will go through the entire process of cable management to help you free up space and ensure that wires don’t get tangled and possibly damaged.
7 Steps to Good Cable Management
Choosing the Right Case
The first step in making sure that you’re going to be able to manage your cables successfully is to choose the right case.
There are a lot of different computer case sizes out there for building all kinds of PCs. Most of them offer great cable management solutions but make sure to double check.
What you want to look for is a case that has strategically placed holes around the motherboard tray and plenty of space behind the motherboard tray to tuck cables in.
In addition, you also want to look for plenty of tie down spots. You might have to spend a little bit more to get a case that has all of these cable management features, but it is well worth it.
Modular Power Supply
A modular power supply unit is also a really good idea for cable management.
These modular power supply units allow you to disconnect the power supply cable from the power unit itself. This allows you to wrap the cables the way that you want to.
In fact, if the cable is too long and takes up too much space, you can get a different cable that is just long enough for it to reach the motherboard and any other components that it needs to power.
But the main benefit of the modular power supply is that you don’t have to work around that cable when you’re trying to tie up the rest of your PC cables.
Placement of Components
The placement of components within your computer case is also something that you want to look at carefully.
Every computer case is different, but the best cases are the ones that plan the location of components with cable management in mind.
For example, the placement of the motherboard, video card and other components inside your PC case should have clear cable management lines in place with tie down spots and plenty of room to reach in and tie up the cables.
If you go with a cheaper case, then the manufacturers may not have planned out the location of components as carefully as the more expensive ones.
As a result, you will just have to look carefully at each case that you are evaluating and see how they have planned everything out.
While your motherboard and power supply will only fit in one spot, drives, graphic cards and other expansions should be strategically placed so that their cables do not overlap and interfere with each other.
The best strategy is to save the drives and power supply for last and then wrap up your cables; that’s because it’s a lot easier to see how to route your cables when all the other components are already in place.
Route Each Cable Manually
Start by routing each cable manually. You don’t want to just grab a bunch of cables and loop them together.
Instead, you want to grab each cable and run your hand along until you make sure that it is as tight as the other cables that you are tying together.
You want the slack to be somewhere that you can easily tuck away like behind your motherboard. Also, you want your cables to be basically the same length ratio without any slack if possible.
The best way to go about it is to run all your cables behind the motherboard tray and not tie anything until every cable is connected and is in place.
Routing front panel or cables that run anything on the case should be done first and then you can do data cables for drives with the power supply last.
Make sure that you do not cover any fans or ventilation areas because you want complete airflow; especially if you are building a gaming PC.
Secure Cables in Bundles
You’ll want to secure your cables in tight bundles starting from the top of the case and then working your way down.
If you have a lot of slack or you have cables that have extra connections, consider doubling up so that you can tie the cable together and keep it out of the way of other components.
Again, you should have some sort of excess space where any extra cable that you have can be tucked behind without being in the way next time you want to work on your PC. Down at the bottom or behind the motherboard tray are both good options.
Avoid Using Zip Ties
Zip ties certainly seem like a good idea because they are permanent fixtures that will keep your cable secure and will not come loose.
However, the next time that you want to work on your PC that has anything to do with the cables you’re going to have to have to cut the zip tie. This is not only inconvenient if you don’t have a lot of room to work, it can actually cause problems if you accidentally cut into a cable.
Outside Cable Management
Outside cable management is also worth considering. The cables that run from your PC to the power strip as well as your keyboard and mouse cables can all be secured in much the same way that you secure your internal cables.
See our guide to the best mouse bungees to see how to manage your mouse cables.
It is a lot less likely the you’re going to pull out a cable with your leg or feet if they are bundled together. This is definitely something you want to avoid because you could easily pull the power cord and lose important work or damage a cable and have to replace it.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that there are lots of computer cases out there, and if you are building your own PC you want to choose one that offers great cable management.
This should be one of your priorities when choosing a case. You may have to spend a little bit more for a good case that does this. However, it is going to be well worth it down the road and if you are building an expensive PC for gaming, in which case you don’t want to go with the cheap case anyway.