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General IT Tutorials

A Guide to Cable Management

After buying a new SSD the dreaded time had come to open up my case. Having built my PC nearly three years ago (and not doing any sort of cable management) I knew the mess that I would be faced with.

Before installing my new SSD I thought I would take the opportunity to remove all components and start over (I had that much spare time on my hands). Once I opened up the case, I forgot just how bad a state I had left it in.

First step: Remove all components

This part takes ages due to large stretches of cables becoming intertwined and tangled over the years. Once removed, I could see just how much dust had accumulated since first putting the system together.

Second Step: Power Supply

Once I had cleaned out the case (it looked brand new once I had finished with it!) I re-inserted the power supply and screwed it down. The reason behind putting the PSU in first becomes obvious in the photographs below.

The power cables are going to be underneath the motherboard and so must be spread out along the window panel in the case siding.

Third Step: Motherboard and Graphics

Now comes the difficult part; screwing the motherboard into place. Due to the cables underneath the motherboard, I had to raise the motherboard off the case slightly. One key consideration is that the output connectors (for the back of the case) much be aligned correctly. Assuming you want to plug I/O devices in that is.

Fourth Step: Drives

My case benefits from drive trays which make this part simple. The different coloured cables help differentiate HDDs (black) and SSDs (Blue) when it comes to plugging them into the motherboard. I have also removed the bottom tray as this is where I am going to store some leftover cabling.

Fifth Step: Power Cables

Now all of the components are back in the case, power cables can be reattached. I first started with power cables belonging to the motherboard and the external connectors that I have on my case (USB 3.0 etc). All I needed to do was to feed the power cables back into the case and attached to the relevant connectors.

Sixth Step: Case

Once all cables have been reconnected to their respective connectors, any leftover cable needs to be tidied and stored somewhere out of sight. This is where a modular PSU would come in use (which I will be buying next time) as any unused power cables could have been disconnected. As this is not possible, I tied as much cable together as possible and placed it in the spare drive tray. This kept is completely out of sight once the case was put back together.

Cable management may take a good few hours of your time to get right but the benefits outweigh this several times over. Air flow is improved, heat dissipates at a much better rate and my computer is much quieter. Plus there is the added bonus of the next time I wish to install a new component it will be easier, faster and much less painful.

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