When one builds a PC there are many factors to consider. More often than not, we consider our computer parts and specifications the most to the point we get so engrossed thinking about it, that we start to fantasize about it. Amidst all that buzz about picking the right GPU, a good performing CPU and every other thing. An easily forgettable aspect is cable management as it is one of the more boring and tedious aspects of PC building.
The fact of the matter is bad cable management will not affect your PC’s performance or cause any critical errors. The effects that bad cable management can do on your system are so marginal that it doesn’t matter. That being said, having good cable management all comes down to striking a balance between form and function.
Let’s get down to how cable management can really affect your system.
Does Bad Cable Management Affect Your PC Performance?
Bad cable management can be simply described as leaving your cables out in the open and making the insides of the PC look like some sort of rat’s nest. Not only is it very distracting to the eye but is also a safety hazard. It is a safety hazard as the cables can tend to touch other components and will rub against them causing damage to the cable or the components it connects.
Bad cable management should affect your pc performance however the degree to that effect can vary depending and is usually very marginal. This is showcased in 2 videos from Linus Tech Tips and NCIX Tech Tips .
wherein they compared the same computer with clean and good cable management to the same computer with a more cluttered and messy cable management, even adding things like a shirt and a hat.
The results show that the PC is functioning and performing the same with just a slight increase in temperature and even then, it required having the fan getting blocked completely by boxes.
In essence, bad cable management wouldn’t cause problems in the short term as long as its not blocking anything. In the long term however, it can slowly become more problematic as dust build up can cause more restricted airflow which can negatively affect airflow along with an increase in temperature which may kill your parts prematurely.
What really would affect your PC performance would be dust buildup on the parts, fans and ventilation areas as they can restrict or even block off airflow.
Does Cable Management Affect Airflow in PC?
Air flow is an important aspect to consider when putting together a computer. It dictates how air is circulated inside your system along with how heat is managed. I previously mentioned 2 videos and in those 2 videos, bad pc cable management barely only made a marginal change.
In both videos, the GPU mostly remained unaffected even when obstructed by several wires and cables while only a small change upwards to around 7°C as seen in the video from NCIX tech tips where it went from 48°C to 53°C.
Furthermore, as seen with Linus Tech Tips, although impractical and very unlikely in real life, it only experienced a big increase and spike in temperature when several boxes were placed to completely block and restrict airflow making it more the box causing the increase rather than the cables dangling about.
The honest truth of the matter is that it has little to no impact on temperate with demonstrations and studies showing that the difference to be very negligible. To a degree, bad cable management does affect your performance and will negatively affect airflow but it is not the end all reason as to why your PC might be experiencing a large increase in temperature or a drop in performance.
Is Cable Management Necessary?
With everything being said and done, is it really necessary to have good cable management? If it doesn’t as much affect my performance whether or not they were kept away or just left there in the open, why bother going through the task of having good cable management if my PC case has enough space. The short answer for that is yes, absolutely, and most definitely. Having good cable management can bring benefits such as:
- Aesthetic and Appearance
Nowadays most PC cases are made with glass sides making the components inside visible compared to the cases we had back then which were mostly a black box with several compartments and indents for your parts. Conversely, it is mostly because of the fact that computers back then were just black boxes that cable management isn’t a priority when compared to performance.
Good cable management can make your PC internals more presentable and cleaner looking while poor cable management can make it feel messy and claustrophobic. Furthermore, as most parts nowadays come with lights or a similar function, with good cable management, it can increase the appeal and aesthetic of your computer. Keeping up your computer’s appearance can be very satisfying when you look over to it and see your parts working and light-up.
- Easy Maintenance and Safety
Properly keeping your cables all tied and tucked up inside your case would make any maintenance and repairs easier as you don’t need to carefully navigate through the wiring to detach or reattach any parts. It also makes it easier to clean and prevent too much dirt build-up as they’ll only be on the surface and sides of your PC case.
It also increases the safety you have inside your PC case as your cables are free from obstructing any parts. It prevents any electrical faults while also promoting better airflow and making it easier to observe this as you can just see and visually see how it goes inside your system.
PC Cable Management Tips
I previously mentioned that cable management is striking the right balance between form and function. This can be easily achieved in a myriad of ways. You can be straightforward and practical by simply tying everything down in the back panel or be creative. Here are some things you can give consideration to.
- Cable Ties and Velcro are your best friends
These two things are important for just about anything related to cable management. They can lock and secure two wires cables and are very versatile with how you work with them. Between the two of them, there is no real winner as both are practical in any scenario with Velcro having a better edge with it being useful. Just make sure you don’t go overboard and place a tie on everything. Be practical and quick.
- Plan out your Layout
It is important to plan and visualize how your computer looks. As cables are mostly the 50% of your computer and can get pretty messy looking when clumped together. It is good practice to hide them in proper places such as the back panel. Utilize any holes that reach your case’s back panel to the fullest.
- Investing on a PC Case
A requirement for having good cable management is having enough room and space to tuck in and hide your cables. Most modern PC cases can address these needs as they are designed to cater to the growing size of computer parts. A good example of such are Mid Tower cases such as this one.
Classic PC cases are more compact as they were designed to save on workspace, cases such as those are good for cable management as they have a back panel for your wires to and are spacious enough for almost any product. Having enough space for your wires to go around is essential with having good cable management as it allows more leeway with how you place them and your parts.
About 3 years ago I also encountered this problem as my old PC was something I salvaged from work and needless to say it got very cramped as I slowly upgraded it with better parts and cooling. Eventually, I did get a better case that makes it looks better than it did before.
Here’s how it looked before and after.