Guide to Computer Cable Management




When you build your own gaming rig or have a computer with a side window so you can look inside and admire the amount of work and money that you have invested into your computer, why not make it look like it was build by professional?

I built my own computer a few months ago and cable management was thought of before i ordered a single part.

Common cable management techniques are cable shortening, lengthening, color changing, and sleeving.

[unfortunately I cannot show everything because some things were already finished, I took my computer apart and put it back together again for this instructable]

[this is not to put a computer togethor or how to choose the right parts]


Step 1: How NOT to Do It

These pictures severally piss me off because they are $250+ cases that have rat nests in them.

WHY PEOPLE WHY!!!!! Such good cases ruined by ignorance and stupidity

Step 2: What to Buy

The 2 main things that determine how well you can hide all of your cords and wires are your computer case and your power supply.

When choosing a case check for openings around where the motherboard will be placed, generally the more openings there are the better. Cooler Master cases are widely known for excellent cable management and for high air flow. Also the room behind the motherboard mounting plate the better because you can stuff more cords behind that plate.

Personally I chose a Cooler Master HAF 912 because it only cost $60 and with all the components I ordered to put in my rig, I was just barely getting into quadrupal digits on my build. Later I bought an optional side window for it from Cooler Masters website. Another reason I chose this particular case was the easy to remove front plate were I could hide yet more wires.

The second thing is the power supply (PSU), normally you want something with high quality nylon braiding or wires that are of you color preference that has detachable PCI-E and peripheral SATA/molex cables because there is no need for more cables than you actually need. Keep in mind that a PSU can last you for your next build or maybe even the build after that given that cable standards don't change by then, so choose something that suits what you would like do with it in the future. I chose a Raidmax 850W PSU with detachable cords that can handle SLI and it wasn't as expensive as a Corsair

Other small things you will need are:
-zip ties [they are the standard but more permanent than other solutions]
-twist locks
-wire clips
-twisty ties [like you use on produce bags in grocery store, they are easy to use over and over again]
-spare wire of assorted colors
-soldiering iron
-heat shrink
-gorilla duct tape [looks good and hides cables that are behind motherboard mounting plate, plus it can hold cables in awkward places]
-electrical tape
-wire strippers

You can also buy extensions but they get pricey fast.

Step 3: Where to Start

First dissemble your case by taking off both side panels and the front panel [if you can, it helps to hide more things under it].

If you are building a computer from scratch or took you computer apart to redo it then the second step would be to put your PSU and motherboard into the case. If you have a lot of fans that need to be installed than it might be better to install those first but unlug the molex adapters, those will go in later.

Find a place to hide all the fan molex plugs, I decided to attach them to an easy to remove 2.5" to 3.5" adapter that came with my case and hide them in the bottom HDD cage

Step 4: Starting Fishing the Cords Were You Want Them

Title says it all, start putting all the wires through the holes you want them in and plug them in.

Its best to start with really large cords like the 24-pin motherboard power, PCI-E, SATA power, molex, etc.

Step 5: Lengthening and Modifying Cords

I had 3 fans that needed to reach to molex down in the HDD cage so i attached 3 of them together and ended up making my own molex adapter to save wire and space. Unfortunately i ran out of heat shrink so used twist caps, when i have the cash ill do it it right.

In the other picture there is a light on/off switch connected to a molex and a and a connector. Unfortunately I didn't have my electrical box on me or I would include the lights in this instructable, I will add them later.

Step 6: Making Everything Look Neat and Tighty

This part is hard to put into words because everyone has there own idea of what the finished product should look like. Personally I like the natural flow look where everything looks even.

Step 7: Covering the Holes

Ill admit that i got the general idea for this on someone else's instructable, but they used pieces of rubber which I cant afford so I used gorilla tape instead.

its a simple process that looks good in your case and hides cords behind them

i forgot to show the large bottom piece, but its the same thing.

Step 8: Finishing the Molex Hider Cage

Step 9: Installing the SATA Cords

SATA cords get in the way of the build so its best to put them in last

Step 10: Put in the Video Card

Video cards are huge and its best to put them in last.

Step 11: What I Would Do With More Time and Money

If I had the dough i would like to get a really nice case like Zalman Fatility, Thermaltake Level 10GT, or I would convince Maingear to sell me one of their custom cases. I certainly wouldn't use duct tape for most of my build if I had the cash and I would definitely spend some time making my own cords and extensions.

What do the pros do differently? They paint the insides of their cases, use extensions and add a few flashy things that take the eyes off of cords like bright liquid cooling items, flashy reservoirs and a logo that really stands out.

I would like to stick a show stopper GPU in it like an asus ROG MARS II, an ROG z68 mo-bo, a PCI SSD, liquid cooling and other things but i only have $300 to my name so this are all very distant dreams ='[

If anyone wanted to know my specs:
Intel i5-2500k Sandybridge
Asus GTX 480
Gigabyte z68x-ud3p-b3 mo-bo
2x 4gig [8gigs] matched G-Skill DDR3 Ripjaw ram
Crucial M4 64gig SSD boot drive
Raidmax 850W PSU
Zalman CPU cooler
Asus optical DVD-RW drive
IC Diamond 7 thermal compound
Cooler Master HAF 912 with window
6 120mm case fans
RAT 5 gaming mouse
12" cold cathode red lights



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    24 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I liked your walk-through. Showed people who didn't know how to do this the basics and a good jumping off point. But what killed it for me was this statement, "WHY PEOPLE WHY!!!!! Such good cases ruined by ignorance and stupidity". Everyone has their own learning curve...and you've just insulted over 95% of computer novice's. That wasn't cool at all...especially since you asked everyone to give you quarter for your dyslexia.

    Like I said...I liked your presentation...just be careful. Otherwise, good job!


    3 years ago

    this insructable is really gonna do me good because am planing to build a rig and my budget is kind of low

    I love dem people who believe showing all the cables into a computer and calling it a day is cable management...


    4 years ago on Step 4

    I have the exact same case, I built my pc in 2011 and my wiring is a mess inside. I actually just googled cable management, and clicked this link not knowing it was going to be the same case as mine. This will help out a lot when I finally get around to situating my cables. Thanks!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    A few things to note after making this Instructable (and 3 years to collect better tools and skills), NEVER use twisty caps for electrical wires in a case, I was beyond broke when I made this Instructable because I just bought all the components, this could fry components, I recommend not changing any wire lengths unless you absolutely have to, if you do always soldier and sleeve.

    When working with fans, either get a fan controller, voltage reducers (which come with many fans these days) or do the 7V fan mod, also look into one of these to you don't have to fuss around with a bunch on molex to fan adapters:

    The biggest mistake on my build was choosing performance over silence, you make a powerful little computer without the noise, all you have to do is buy components that are optimized to be quiet like Noctua fans with reducers (I use Corsair fans with reducers), video cards that have non-reference coolers (especially on AMD cards, Asus and MSI make really good heatsinks that are very quiet and keep it cool), All-in-one liquid coolers with fans in pull with fan shrouds.

    Fan shrouds are not common, what they do is space the fan from the radiator which helps pull air through more parts of the radiator and makes it even more quiet (by far the quietest setup I have found in my tests, the temperature results faired 1-3C better than a fan directly touching the radiator while being quite a bit quieter.) I made my own fan shroud out of a dead fan, just cut out the fan and use the frame coupled with some new screws from the hardware store.

    I don't have a single part of the computer in this build in my new build. My new build is a Mini-ITX small form factor gaming rig. If anyone is interested I'll post a few pics and the specs of the new build. Also I am probably going to edit this a bit, it received far more attention than I ever would have imagined =]


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I've gotten better than that now, I kind of had to when I got into small form factor building.


    5 years ago

    Very helpful! When I upgrade some of my parts I'll come back to this :P


    5 years ago

    One thing, make sure you buy a motherboard that have a good design for cable management, coz there are a lot cheap motherboard with good performance but not compatible with cable management you want it


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I was always wondering "what are those holes for?". Thanks for putting me back on the good way!


    5 years ago on Step 11

    According to this guide,my computer is already an abandoned rat nest :(

    (Plus,it's messed up and it's very low-end.)

    One day when I upgrade my computer,I will do it according to this useful guide.

    Thanks a lot!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I have built many computers since this and I am probably going to do a another cable management guide for small form factor gaming rigs (that's what my current rig is)


    5 years ago

    This is useful since I'm going to repair my old pc

    OLyMpic FuRy

    6 years ago on Step 11

    I am going to be taking all the cables out of my PC and re-doing my managment, Thank you for your guide and thats an awesome case in step 11!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    if anyone wanted to know, i have made a few upgrades. first and foremost i sold my gtx 480 and bought a gtx 670, sold my 64gb ssd and upgraded to 120gb sandisk extreme, sold my 1tb mechanical and replaced it with a 2tb caviar black, switched to a fractal define r3 pearl black, switched my heatsink to an antec kuhler 620, ditched the cold cathodes, i currently have no lighting but when i get another case or mod my r3 ill buy some bitfenix alchemy LED strips


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Great instructable! The center computer in your cases that disgust me section is water cooled. Air flow is not a issue. It does look nasty, but the number one case to make for strict cable management is that it allows air to flow throughout the case as designed. My personal pet peeve is folks that take the side panel off for extended periods of time, especially those who think they are getting better cooling this way. Anyhow, great instructable, now I feel lazy.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I have to admit, I do like to take my side panel off a lot, but only because I haven't put a window on my new case yet so I can't admire my work haha. I don't know how good the cable management is on that first case, but all the cable clutter around the HDD cage has to substantially decrease air flow especially since it seems like it omly has 2 fans. as for the middle case I not sure how well a thermaltake level 10 hides cables, but I am guessing it does better than that. air flow is still important in a liquid cooled case, you want as much air flowing through your radiator as possible without an increased noise level to supply adequate cooling. plus if your going to shell out the price for liquid cooling and a level 10 case wouldn't you want it to look good?


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, no excuse for the pure sloth shown in your examples. I just trying to throw the guy a bone. :)