An underestimated aspect of building a PC is finding a practical and attractive way to organize the many cables connecting all of your components. Good cable management will make your PC easier to work with in the future as well as give it a sophisticated look.

If you’re looking to perfect your PC build, we’ve got tips on how to manage cables for both functionality and aesthetics.

How to approach cable management

PC cable management - ready assembly

The goal of cable management has three parts: First, you want to make sure your case has adequate airflow and your cables aren’t blocking fans or other key components to prevent your computer from overheating.

Second, you want to make it easier to find cables that need to be adjusted when adding or removing components from your system. And third, you want your build to look good!

The best way to approach cabling is to be patient and methodical:

  • Plan where you want your cables to run back and forth before you start securing them.
  • Group cables in rows to make them easier to manage.
  • Start with the biggest and bulkiest cables so you don’t have enough room to put the side panel back on the case.

Once your cables are routed the way you want them, you can begin to secure them in place.

Cable management tools

PC cable management - tools
Velcro strap, drawstrings, drawstrings.

The classic cable management tool is the humble zip tie. Extremely cheap and readily available, you can use zip ties to tie cables together and secure them in place. After pinning, you can trim off the excess zip tie for a neater look.

However, one disadvantage of screeds is that they are permanent. If you need to add or remove a cable from the harness, you’ll have to cut the zipper and replace it when you’re done. If you frequently add or remove components from your system, for example for testing purposes, you may need a more flexible solution.

In this case, you can use Velcro. They are generally slightly larger and bulkier than zip ties, but are easy to open and close again.

Another option is to use ties. They are very cheap and easy to reuse, but can look frayed if not trimmed neatly. They are a good option for cable bundles that need to be adjusted frequently but are out of view, such as on the back of a case. Do not overtighten the tie band as it has a wire inside and you could cut yourself on the softer cable.

Cable management case features

Most modern cases have some features to help you manage your cables. The simplest but most useful of these functions are anchor points. These are small arches protruding in a metal case, to which cables can be tied using ties or twists. The more anchor points you use, the tidier your cabling will be.

In some cases, there are clamps that are great for managing large bundles of cables. They’re also easy to open and close, so you can add or remove cables as you work.

New cases with a focus on aesthetics are often designed to manage cables. They will have cutouts for you to run cables through and space behind the motherboard tray to hide cables. In many cases, there is a basement or shroud that hides the power supply and the nest of cables coming out of it, as well as hard drives and other components that you may not want to show.

Other features of the case are more unique. For example, the NZXT S340 Elite case shown above has a cable management panel on the back of the case. This can be used to route motherboard cables and hides a lot of sins.

Glass panels and cable management

Consider the layout of your case when working on cabling. Any case with a window or glass side panel will require the cable management on the front to look slick. But if no one sees your back, you can be more relaxed about managing cables behind the motherboard tray.

As long as you can find and add or remove cables when you need them, you don’t have to worry about keeping everything perfectly tidy.

In other cases, glass panels on both sides require clean work to manage cables throughout the case. It’s a lot more work, but it allows you to showcase your cables. Alternatively, you’ll find other cases that have glass on the front and side, which means you’ll need to be careful when managing front panel connector cables.

Custom cables for a professional look

PC cable management - cable types
Left, cable extension. That’s right, ketchup and mustard cable.

Many PC components have plain black cables that are unobtrusive and will go with just about any color scheme. But some components come with terrible ketchup and mustard cables in bright red and yellow. These colored cables are visually distracting and may conflict with your color scheme.

To give your PC a cleaner and more consistent look, you can use custom cables in a complementary color instead.

Custom Cable Options

There are three custom cable options. First, you can get cable extensions. They are inexpensive, typically $20 to $30 per set. You connect extensions to your components like your graphics card and motherboard and then route them to the back of the case. Then connect the other end of the extension cable to the cable coming from the power source.

The advantage of cable extensions, as well as their low price, is that they can be used with almost any power supply and chassis. The downside is that you have a lot of extra cables in the back of the case, so this method is less suitable for those who have glass on both sides of the case.

The second option is to order custom cables that exactly match the dimensions and color scheme of your case. You can order them from sites like CableMod. Custom cables connect directly from the power supply to the components, so they must be compatible with your specific power supply. You’ll also find a selection of color-matched custom cables on Amazon.

You can also choose from a wider range of cable gland materials and colors. Custom cables have to be handcrafted and are expensive, but they give a really professional look to your build.

Third, you may want to consider making and running your own cables. This takes time and patience, but allows you to create exactly the kind and length of cables you need.

Clean up dirty computer cables

Managing your cables takes your build from solid to amazing, so it pays to spend some time planning and patiently executing your cable management strategy. The finished look will be worth it and you’ll be glad you’ve got all the cables organized the next time you need to replace a component.

Now that the cables inside your computer are organized, it’s time to tackle the cables on and around your desk. Check out our guide to cleaning your computer cable from desktop clutter. cleaning the computer cable from interference on the desktop. cleaning the computer cable from interference on the desktop for advice. We’ve also listed the best computer cases if you want something new to showcase those cable management skills.

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