The step-by-step guide for perfect PC cable management
PC cable management, both in and around your PC, is an important part of building and maintaining a computer. A clean PC case or a desktop devoid of any cable clutter makes the entire setup look that much better. While cable management is a therapeutic process that makes you feel good about the setup once you’re done, it’s often not as easy as, say, vacuuming or simply putting stuff away inside. There’s a lot that goes into proper cable management and you’ll need a proper plan in place to tackle the cable mess.
In this article, I’ll be taking you through a step-by-step guide for perfect PC cable management. It’s not going to be the same for all but I’ll try my best to explain how I manage the cable for my setup and how you can do too. Here’s a quick look at what my current setup looks like:
I’ve made a few changes to this setup following some constructive criticism, but the cable management largely remains the same. Obviously, your setup will look entirely different but you can always use these cable management tips to make it better. The objective is to find out what makes you feel comfortable using your setup to do whatever it is that you do on a daily basis.
PC cable management tips
The whole idea of cable management is hiding all the cables away from the line of sight. You can achieve it either by tucking them in safely or simply gathering them in pile and hiding them under the desk. To each his own, but the idea is to safely hide them in a way the cables aren’t damaged. We’ll first be taking a look at PC cable management inside the case itself.
Cable management inside the PC case
Even if you don’t have a PC case with a transparent side panel, it’s still a good idea to manage and route the cables inside the case properly. This is an integral part of the PC building process. There’s always an option to stuff all your cables inside the case, but there are a few problems with that. First of all, the cables will obstruct proper airflow inside the chassis. Secondly, stuffing the cables inside the case will make it extremely difficult for you to find the right one when you need it. Imagine having to go through piles of cables when you want to replace a particular component sometime in the future? Sounds like a nightmare to me.
There are a few ways to tackle this situation. If you’re still in the early stages of planning a new build then I highly suggest you consider a PC case that offers dedicated cable routing channels inside the chassis. All the NZXT PC cases, for instance, have a cable management bar. A lot of Corsair PC cases come with proper cable channels and roomy space behind the motherboard for all the cables. My Cooler Master MasterBox MB511 ARGB doesn’t have one, so here’s a picture of the Corsair 5000D PC case I managed to find on Reddit from a fellow PC builder. The picture is a little gloomy, but it’s a good example to show exactly what I am talking about.
Alternatively, you can also buy a case with a dual-chamber design to get more space for potential cable management options. The Lian Li O11 Dynamic would be a good pick for that. You can also check out our collection of the best PC cases to find some good options there.
You can buy cable ties or zip-ties to organize the cable properly inside the chassis. The number of cables and the routing options varies for each case, so it’s not a “one solution that works for all” type of thing. The general idea is to gather all the small cables from your fans, rear IO, and front panel connectors, etc; route them through the back of your case. You can always tie the extra length and safely tuck them inside the PSU compartment or behind the motherboard. Figuring out where to tuck them is fairly simple because almost all cables have unobtrusive pockets.
Notably, you should also consider investing in a modular power supply over a non-modular one. Modular power supply units will allow you to install only the cable that you need. Choosing what you can plug-in streamlines the process and saves you a lot of time. You can check out our collection of the best power supply units to find some good options on the market. Here’s a link to one that’s on top of my head:
If your PC case doesn’t have proper routing channels or any cable management features, then you can buy cable ties or even cable sleeves to club them into a single channel and hide them.
Also, don’t forget to snip off any extra cable tie length. You can use scissors for this, but a wire cutter will make it super easy for you. It can also be used to cut off cable ties in case you messed up some routing. Sticking your fan and RGB controllers at the back, behind the motherboard using velcro tape is also something you might want to consider. Velcro tapes are good for those who like to keep moving things around instead of permanently fixing something.
That being said, I recommend spending a good amount of time after building the PC to make sure all the cables are managed properly inside the chassis.
PC cable management for your setup
Managing the cable clutter outside of your PC case is just as important, if not more. Having a clean desk with no unnecessary clutter can put you in a good mental space for more productivity — be it for office work or a good gaming session. I personally think it’s more difficult to manage cables outside the PC case than it is inside. That being said, all of the same suggestions apply here too. Your main goal is to gather all the cables, route them safely behind the cover.
The amount of cable clutter entirely depends on the number of peripherals you’re working with. I recommend using cable ties to make a bundle of cables that you may not need. This includes the monitor and the system’s power cable, HDMI and DisplayPort cables, Ethernet cables, webcam cable, and more. You can also use cable sleeves to hide a bundle of cables that are running in the open. The best thing about using cables sleeves is that you can cut them off depending on the length you need for a particular channel and use the rest to hide more cables. As you can see, I use a lot of cable sleeves to hide big piles of cables of exposed cables running from the back of my monitor, PC case, and more.
Using wireless peripherals over wired ones is an obvious method to save yourself a lot of work. Alternatively, you can also replace the stock cables with custom ones to add a touch of personalization if you don’t want to go the wireless way. I personally use wired peripherals including a wired keyboard, gaming mouse, and wired headphones. I use a black-colored table cloth for my setup and it nicely blends all the black-colored cables of these peripherals. Not to mention, white-colored peripherals on top of a black surface look incredible.
You can route these cables under your desk to keep them away from the line of sight. A lot of gaming and office desks now come with a cable management rack, allowing you to tuck them under the desk. You can also buy one from Amazon and use it on your existing desk.
Alternatively, you can also buy a cable management box to hide all the cables. These boxes can either be mounted on the table or can be rested on the floor. This will also keep your power strip and cables safe from your furry friends.
You can also use velcro sleeves to tie the cables under your desk. This is also a good way to not leave your USB docks and power strips unattended on the floor. I don’t use one personally, but here’s an image I found on Reddit that perfectly shows what I am talking about:
It’s best if you leave the mouse and keyboard cables separately, though. It’s not recommended to tie or tuck them in as they tend to restrict the movement. I instead suggest you buy custom cables to proudly off on your desk as opposed to hiding them.
For wired gaming mice, you can buy a mouse bungee to keep it from getting tangled. Here’s a good one I was able to find on Amazon:
Another simple hack I use is hiding some cables behind decors. I’ve hidden the power supply cable from my UPS behind this fake IKEA plant I bought from Amazon. You can use any of your decors or even the PC case itself to hide some unwanted cables from sight. The goal to is keep them from the line of sight, remember? Route each cable neatly, making sure not to create any tangles along the way.
Routing the cables properly will also allow you to remember where each cable is. As somebody who’s been building PCs for a long time, I can tell you how important it really is. Good cable management isn’t going to magically improve the performance of your PC. However, it’ll keep you at peace in knowing all your cables are safely tucked in.
I’d love to hear from each and every one of you reading this article about managing the cables. Cable management, as I mentioned earlier, is going to be different for all depending on the setup and the components involved, so I’d love to see what your setup looks like. I also encourage you to share any other tips that I may have possibly missed. You can also join our XDA Computing Forums to have these discussions with fellow PC builders and get suggestions from them.