I’ve been playing with a lot of new (or new to me) small form factor chassis recently, and if there’s one thing that really helps when building a idle PC case, it’s good cable management. Fortunately, the best mini-ITX PC cases have cable routing as part of the design, unfortunately some don’t.
And that doesn’t really help me. Because I’m really, really bad at cable management.
I will half-heartedly defend myself by saying that I spend so much time building, tweaking and rebuilding different machines that nothing is really ‘finished’. I’m always taking out parts and putting new ones in my myriad of different systems, so tying up errant cables only to have to lose them again seems kind of pointless.
But mostly it’s because I’m lazy and shutting the door on the mess of cables away from prying eyes is my preferred construction method.
That’s why I really like compartmentalized PC cases. You can house the super shiny components like your graphics card, motherboard, etc. under a tempered glass panel on one side, while hiding the power supply and its Cthulu-like tentacles in an isolated part of its chassis.
Without good cable routing, however, I created a monster in this G.Skill Z5i. It’s awful, and no amount of dyeing on that swinging side panel can really hide my embarrassment.
But, you know what? I don’t feel ashamed because I really don’t care and neither should you.
I know some people are extremely picky when it comes to cable management – a quick journey through the ubiquitous PC build images on reddit shows this to be true. These folks will say it helps good airflow, but honestly not to the extent that you or your expensive hardware would really notice.
It’s purely an aesthetic choice really, and there are much better ways to spend your time than tying up a bunch of yarn. Especially if, in a few months, you have to cut those ties anyway to install something else anyway.
But how do you feel about it? Do you take care and pride in tying up these suckers, do you let your PC wires roam freely around your case? Or did you leave everything to your system integrator and never get close to the inside of your PC for fear of disturbing the zen state it was shipped in?
Share your pride or your shame with me. May this be a place of healing.
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: Actually, my cable management is looking a little—oh, you mean in the other side from my motherboard. I also take the “shove under the bed” approach to the back of my case, although I now proudly sign clean cables to the front of my tower and my desktop.
I built this one myself, so I assumed it would be a rat’s nest back there, sealed in the day and not touched again since. To my surprise, it looks like I made an attempt to use the cable routing channels and straps that my NZXT H710 came pre-installed. It’s nowhere near meticulous, but it’s better than I expected from myself.
Katie Wickens, Hardware Writer: I give myself good advice, but I rarely follow it. Cable management is one of my concerns, and the satisfaction of getting it right is unfathomable. I stay here sometimes seething over my partner’s terrible cable management, despite the tidy cables I got him for Christmas. It even keeps stuff inside the PC, which… I mean, it’s kind of weird isn’t it? Like notes and stuff.
Still, here I am, table full of wires, and the fan cables on my machine twitching wildly. At least I’m self-aware. I only need to take five minutes out of Cities: Skylines to actually fix them. I won’t hold my breath.
Jorge Jimenez, Hardware Writer: At least twice a year, I take a full afternoon off to focus strictly on cable management. I order a bunch of cable sleeves and zipties and organize my cables into little efficiency bouquets.
In the fall we moved into a new house and then I went on paternity leave and now my cable management philosophy is “don’t look at this and it can’t hurt you Jorge”.
I have two different desks with PCs for work and play, and the cable situation for both is a mess of pure sadness and chaos. I’m sure it will take me five hours someday when I’m not chasing a baby or fixing leaky faucets to sort out this tangled horrorshow. But honestly, who looks under a table anyway?
Alan Dexter, Senior Hardware Editor: People get super excited about cable management. They want to look through the PC’s side window to see the order. I am not. As long as nothing on my machine is getting too hot, I don’t worry about it. The fact that my machine is under the table could be part of it, of course, if it was on the table I could be a little picky. But it’s not, so I don’t think about it. As it stands, there are fan cables dangling everywhere, and while they pop out of the fan blades every now and then, it usually works fine, humming silently to itself.
I’m impressed with the cable routing on the back, to be honest. Somehow I made it. But this could be due to the back case not fitting if left on its own devices.
Tim Clark, Brand Director: Tim is too busy to write this entry. In fact, he’s too busy to do any sort of cable management, so he just outsources it to this guy. He does, however, want us to watch the desperate single cable clamp working very hard down there.
Imogen Mellor, Feature Producer: I’m an ok streamer. When I only had one monitor and one PC, my cable situation was pretty cool. But as time went on, I just collected an ungodly amount of shit. A microphone, audio interface, Switch, PS5, capture card, Stream Deck, cameras – you get the idea. This is too much.
And so, while the top of my desk is a little messy, the bottom of the Secret Lab desk is an eyesore. I had a neat cubicle to hide my embarrassment. I tried to fix this before, I promise. There are so many cables with so many uses that I’ve never found a good system.
Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: The underside of my desk represents probably the best cable management I’ve ever done. Because it’s a standing desk, and it’s in my living room, I didn’t want my usual nightmare tangle to be on display every time I lifted it. So I took the time to really twist the tie and then wrap most of the cables in neat bundles. This was therapeutic, although making sure all your cables have the right amount of slack for a standing desk is a real pain in the ass.
My case’s cable management also looks pretty neat (although the tube that goes to my Arctic Liquid Freezer is really huge). Just, uh, don’t mind the dust.