I think I’m well over 3,000 completed custom builds at Micro Center during the 18 years I’ve been there. I also build out server equipment rooms and large commercial AV racks. There are skills that carry back and forth between both. The main difference is the amount of field termination on cables I can do in a rack allowing me to make cables as long as I need and not have to worry about massive clumps of bundles. Not to say it isn’t possible to customize your cable lengths in a PC build and I am comfortable doing that given enough time (for my own projects) but here is what I do when I approach a build.
1. Get the power supply out first and select all the modular cables I need for the build. (Typically the 24 pin and likely two 8 pin for CPU, then 2 or 3 GPU, and a SATA power - even without SATA drives, you’ll probably need it for some other case peripheral). Take the ties off those cables and then hang them over a chair or something to let the kinks work out. If you can do it the day before you build, the cables will be easier to work with.
2. Work on a surface that gives you a lot of space. I place my build on a mat that allows me to turn the case easily front to back like a lazy Susan.
3. Count up your peripherals (fans, RGB kits, etc) and familiarize yourself with your logic board and confirm header locations and quantities are adequate. If you’re low on connectors, splitters or hubs may be needed. I’m seeing with the Z690 chipset motherboards up to 3 ARGB headers available and more fan headers are appearing again. Also, confirm USB headers.
4. Get your cable ties! Most components now come with a few, but it's never a bad idea to pick up a couple more. With an abundance of ties, you won’t be afraid to use them, including as temporary holds to make cable bundles more manageable. I often remove 70-90% of the ties after placing the final ones or switching them over to Velcro for a super polished look.
5. After a POST test, mount your motherboard and install the case cables, (front panel, audio, USB, etc). These cables will always look really great until you remember all the big PSU cables to go.
6. My cable connection order for easy installation of cables is: logic board, case cables, power supply and cables, water cooling components (if applicable), and finish with the video card, as that cable can get in the way otherwise.
Cable Management and Photo by @Vaganza
Cable management is a subject that most people just want to avoid. It's kind of like when you're cleaning up your room and you put all the cool stuff away neatly but you hide all the little things just stuffed into the closet. I personally find cable management one of the most relaxing parts of the PC building process, at least until I realize I have a build with 10 fans that use individual cables for RGB and fan speed. That's 20 separate cables and at least 2 controllers right there!
When I'm tackling something like this, I have to tackle it in sections. I first start off with the front panel connectors, just get those out of the way because these are fairly standardized between motherboards and cases. They also work well as your base for the next section. Next, I will go with the fan cables and accompanying controllers. Most of these controllers will come with an adhesive so that you can attach them to your case in the back panel, so it's very important that you find a clean spot on the back panel to mount them. Also, if you're not planning on using 2.5” or 3.5” HDDs or SSDs, removing the cages and plates meant to house them can make for great mounting points for your controllers. As you're going about managing these cables I like to use Velcro straps to keep everything nice and tidy, and easy to come back to later.
Once those fan cables are run I next go to the PSU cables. I like to run the PSU cables last because of how big and thick they are. They can act as the weight to hold all the cables down and be the final piece that brings everything together. You almost always want to do the big things last, just because they can get in the way and actually inhibit you from having clean management.
Cable Management and Photo by @MexicanPoro
Say no more to messy cables. NTE electronics hooks and cable ties are a lifesaver when it comes to cable management. If you’re just about to begin your PC build or finally decided to clean up your cables, I strongly recommend picking up some necessary cable management tools. Personally, I love the NTE adjustable 1” cable clamp pack. It comes with 10 clamps which are very useful for routing cables along your desk from your PC to the monitor(s).
A few other great tools would be NTE’s cable ties and hook & loop velcro ties. If you love building PCs, this 100 pack of cable ties is a match made in heaven for you. They’re perfect for your all of your cables inside (and outside!) of your PC case. Alternatively, Velcro straps are a great way to keep your cables tidy. These NTE cable hook & loop cable ties are fantastic for those who upgrade their system more often by adding more enhancements to their workstation. This way they don’t have to cut the zip ties and redo them every time. They're also great for builders who are worried that they'll make a management mistake, as they can be removed quickly and easily!
Cable Management and Photo by @phil_lost_zephyr_
Great set of tips here for cabling your PC!
Properly managed cables look so clean, great setup and tips!
Knowing the order of when to plug the cables where is one of my main takeaways. I've always plugged in the PSU cables first, but noticed that they got in the way a lot of the time. Connecting the front panel connectors first is a great tip!
i actually didnt know there was an official order of the way you plug the cables in
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