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Cable Management in Small Cases---YUCK. How's it possible?

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October 31, 2011 9:23:54 PM

So I just built my very first computer ever.

Here's what I bought:
Case: Rosewill Challenger U3
CPU: i5-2500K
GPU: Gigabyte Radeon 6950 1GB
Motherboard: ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3
RAM: Corsair Vengeance 16GB
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB
SSD: Crucial M4 128GB
PSU: OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W Modular
Optical Drive: LG CD/DVD Burner
Extra: Wireless Adapter
Extra: Silverstone PCI Express Card with USB 3.0 Internal Connector
Case Fans: 5 of them. One front, one top, one back, and two side.

I'm very pleased with it, and everything is working perfectly.
Unfortunately, the case I bought is a lot smaller than I expected and I'm having a very hard time routing the cables to be hidden. I've spent so long trying to get everything to fit right, but it just doesn't seem possible. I'd be able to do it if I had a bigger case, I think. I even got a modular PSU so I wouldn't have this problem, yet I'm having this problem. haha.

I just wanted to know if there were any good tips or websites I could read that would give me advice. I've worked on the cable management for about 3 days, and it still looks horrible because some of my cables are just too short and had to go all across the mobo and graphics card. It's awful. My case runs really cool, though. Averages around 40 degrees Celsius.

Is cable management really possible in everyone's situation, or really even that necessary?
October 31, 2011 9:34:46 PM

You can get extensions for most connectors - main power, 6 pin and 8 pin. Check on ebay and cables to go etc. Not familiar with that case - but small case with lots of equipment equals lots of wire!! Do you really need all of those fans?
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 31, 2011 9:45:26 PM

Cable management is an art form , you have to know a lot of tricks and be awre of all the options that are availale , like combineing connectors instead of running individual wires all to the same place or area. Like you said it is your very first build ever and your can't expect to be an artist at your first try. You do need to study the case for routes to run and you can go behind the motherboard. Sometimes you can go under the graphics card at the back near the brackets. They are making cases now with more space behind the motherboard.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 31, 2011 9:48:08 PM

Small zip-ties come in real handy.
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a c 92 B Homebuilt system
October 31, 2011 9:52:21 PM

Your case looks like it has holes on the side panel for routing your cables behind the motherboard. On my Cooler Master HAF 912, and Corsair Graphite 600T, that is what I had to do.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 31, 2011 9:54:58 PM

I just looked at the case at Newegg and there is a lot of room in that case , you can put a lot of wires behind the hard drive racks and the motherboard. If you get a couple of fan cable extenstions then you shouldn't see any wires. Besides , the case has no windows so what are you worried about.
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October 31, 2011 10:05:54 PM

I bought a Fractal Core 1000 with a non-modular PSU and it was not possble. Luckily, it was for my Dad so it didn't really matter. Plus, it is really small so you cant expect much in terms of management.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 31, 2011 10:15:45 PM

I'll link a build or two when I get home in the morning, maybe give you some ideas :-)
Moto
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 31, 2011 10:19:43 PM

I have this case, and it's decent for cable management. The one big exception is that there's no good way to run the CPU power cable behind the motherboard. What, specifically, are you looking to clean up?
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October 31, 2011 10:25:16 PM

medmn said:
You can get extensions for most connectors - main power, 6 pin and 8 pin. Check on ebay and cables to go etc. Not familiar with that case - but small case with lots of equipment equals lots of wire!! Do you really need all of those fans?

I suppose I don't really need all those fans, especially since my computer already runs really cool. I might take one or two off. I just got excited because they're all around 16dB and it's nearly silent.

inzone said:
Small zip-ties come in real handy.

Ooh, good tip! Hadn't done that yet.

inzone said:
I just looked at the case at Newegg and there is a lot of room in that case , you can put a lot of wires behind the hard drive racks and the motherboard. If you get a couple of fan cable extenstions then you shouldn't see any wires. Besides , the case has no windows so what are you worried about.


Not worried about "seeing" the cables through the window, but I was worried about airflow, and I also did want it to at least look somewhat decent when I take the side panel off. It's pretty cluttered right now. And yes, most of my wires have been routed behind the motherboard already. I spent a lot of time trying to get everything to fit behind the motherboard, but some of the connectors just didn't fit very well, so I had to "dinosaur" them over the top.

Motopsychojdn said:
I'll link a build or two when I get home in the morning, maybe give you some ideas :-)

Oh cool! I've seen a few of your builds in the pictures gallery. They're beautiful!

cuecuemore said:
I have this case, and it's decent for cable management. The one big exception is that there's no good way to run the CPU power cable behind the motherboard. What, specifically, are you looking to clean up?

Well, yes. The CPU power cable is the main "dinosaur" looking one that's all like wrrraawr all contorted around the GPU. But there's also a bunch of other plugs that I didn't want to forcefully bend them at an angle and so it was just easier on the wires to plug them into the front instead of bending them sideways.
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a c 136 B Homebuilt system
October 31, 2011 10:40:54 PM

some cases just suck for cable management .

But I have the solution to cable management problems . Put the side of the case on .......and they disappear
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October 31, 2011 10:49:44 PM

Here's a pic.


I guess it's not a super important deal, but I just wanted to be a perfectionist and really get it right...as best as possible anyway.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 31, 2011 11:37:43 PM

Thank you for the compliment man :-)
I think I linked some build logs in homebuild gallery not long back, if you can't find them I'll link in morning as promised
But I can definitely help you with that nest hehe
Your going to need tape, ties and some patience,
If your willing to take it all apart again you'll get best results but I understand if you are reluctant to :-)
Moto
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November 1, 2011 1:20:06 AM

I totally don't care about taking it all apart again. It's fun!
The only thing I DON'T want to do is order more cords online. I've bought this computer in like 5 different shipments and I'm just tired of spending money on random crap and then waiting for UPS. haha. Maybe if it's cheap I'll check out Best Buy or Radio Shack.
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 1, 2011 1:24:12 AM

Good to hear hehe, you will get better results by far that way,
I dont suppose you have access to a drill and or dremel as well?
Makes things even easier
Moto
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November 1, 2011 2:00:49 AM

No dremel, but I've got a drill with tons of bits for woodworking. Not sure how many metal drilling bits I have, though. I also have a Makita Grinder, which would probably cut through metal nicely, but it's big, unwieldy, and would leave a very rough edge.

As you can barely see from the picture, though, I nearly had to take out the drive bay cage. My GPU is 11.5" long and is about 1mm away from the bays.
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 1, 2011 2:30:17 AM

Angle grinder......
I like you hehe, its one of my standard tools, the drill bit you'll use most is a 3/4mm , and thats only for the front panel cables behind the mobo, as theyre single plug cables you dont need a big hole
The angle grinder, whilst a tad beefy, can be used quite precisely and delicately, but I'll get to that from my Pc
Moto
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a c 122 B Homebuilt system
November 1, 2011 4:10:52 AM

All of the power cables can be routed to underneath the motherboard tray then back out of the closest hole (in the motherboard tray) to where you need them. That will hide the bulk of the main power cable, the PCIe power cables, and most of the drive power cables. You can use a CPU power extension cable (if needed) to get enough length to run from the PSU to the hole by the PSU, then under the motherboard tray through the big CPU cutout to the motherboard.

I standardized on Antec 900 cases back when it was one of the few decent gaming cases (read "great cooling"). The 900 is a great case for cooling, but the cable management is pretty much nonexistent.

Antec 900 case mods for cable management:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/264112-28-antec

Today I would probably standardize on something like the Corsair 650.
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 1, 2011 6:23:41 AM

Saved me finding it hehe, Cheers J :) 
@Op, what Jsc has posted is pretty much what I was going to give you, and now you can see it, I'm redundant sob :p 
Don't forget the U-channel trim, that stuff is awesome.
Moto
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November 1, 2011 1:41:07 PM

Wow, thanks guys! I'm excited to get home and see what I can do.

My case already has a pretty big hole behind the CPU, but it's got a very thin gap between the motherboard tray and the motherboard. Like, about a quarter of an inch or so. That doesn't seem like a very good place to route ANY cables. I thought the huge CPU hole was for a rear cooler or something, not for routing cables.



I kinda feel like I have plenty of options for holes already. If I cut some holes, where would you suggest doing that?
The main cables that are giving me problems are the two motherboard ATX power cables and the power cable to my USB 3.0 Adapter. There's already a hole right next to the larger ATX power cable, and it's the perfect size, but I was worried about forcefully bending the wires at an angle rather than plugging straight in from the front (albeit dinosaured around the GPU). I'm going to keep using "Dinosaur" as a verb. Anyway, isn't it bad to bend those wires at such an extreme angle just so I can have the pleasure of cable management?
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November 1, 2011 3:20:14 PM

when you do the cable management, you need to open both the case panel.

you can see the newegg TV for the same case http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BY_e5so32qg
and other case for the example cable management  fficial&prmd=imvnsfd&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=LyGwTq7YE47I0AG6ipGuAQ&ved=0CDAQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=837&sei=%20TyGwTq7RFsPi0QG7wtS-AQ" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">http://www.google.com/search?q=antec+three+hundred+cabl...
The big hole behind the CPU is for install CPU cooler like COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus or CORSAIR CAFA70.
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Best solution

a b B Homebuilt system
November 1, 2011 4:40:26 PM

If thats your case your not going to have to do a whole deal,

Where I've done in Yellow are the main openings for the 4/8pin and 20+4pin lines, feed them through as soon as you can from the psu then under the tray and up to the other hole, feed back through and they should be right in place to fold over and plug in,
don't worry about folding plugs to get them in place, as long as you aren't folding the cable 10 times a day its fine, my pcie lines on my latest build are folded back 180' on themselves and pinned with duct tape (then dressed with nice fabric tape for looks)
and I usually fold my 20+4pin back on itself too, once its in place it doesn't move so isn't stressing the wires,
one thing you can do to make plugwork easier, is trim the little retainer catch off the plug body, its kinda hard to press that in to release when you cant get to it hehe :p 
but grab some cable ties and tape get everything except the Psu out of the case
feed the lines to where they need to be, if you have slack, figure a route to use that up without having huge bundles in one place
if your short however then you want to look at getting the cable through the tray as close as you can to the psu, then feed it to the back of where its needed, thats roughly where you're going to have to cut a hole
Excuse my horrible blue leccy tape on this log but you'll see what I mean
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/forum2.php?config=t...

I got the psu lines through to the back by cutting the grill through right next to the Psu, this gave me about 4'' of extra playroom with each line and made life easier hehe
basically see where the line needs to be, then see how the cable needs to reach that spot, and make it happen :) 
Notice the 20+4pin afterwards (just under the ram cooler)


Moto
Share
November 1, 2011 5:15:43 PM

You can start off with a case designed to house your particular equipment. You can dremel the crap out of a case to make it work. You can spend way too much money on cables or spend a lot of time customizing cables, like shortening, splitting, sleeving them black so they disappear in the background, etc.

In one case, I actually the standard ribbon cable for an ide optical drive. It's black. It lays flat across the back of the case. I have a ton of cables underneath it zip-tied to the case. It's old-school ribbon, but its width can be an advantage for hiding stuff.

You aren't using ide devices so its only mentioned to show how something normally thought of as unpleasant, does have benefits.



Based on this picture, I'd start getting the power supply cables under control first. On toward the right of the PSU, you have the vertical wall of what looks like the 3.5" bay. I would bundle the cables at the bottom corner farthest from you, and zip them up there, then have them uniformly travel up from there, and branch off that "vertical line" as needed to their respective components or hide in the 5.25" / 3.5" bay areas.

Here's a few shots. It's not meant to be pretty, just functional and somewhat organized. The case just doesn't offer a lot of features and I didn't feel like chopping it up. The point here is if you can't hide the cables, then having them appear organized and "out of the way" of airflow is the next best thing. You may also see a set of 4 SATA connectors, bundled, and then whisk away behind the internal 3.5" bay.







Haven't payed any attention to this pc in awhile, looks like I need to repair some bad braiding/sleeving, and clean it up lol... oops. Like the previous post mentions, you have a lot more cable management options so you've got a great base to start with.
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 1, 2011 5:24:17 PM

Also notice how Clones hdds are flipped so the connectors are out of sight
and as he says, if you can't escape them you can always just make them appear neat :) 
Moto
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November 1, 2011 6:08:30 PM

Wow, awesome! Clone, those pictures are extremely helpful. I'm a visual learner, so basically I can easily just shoot for something similar to your post.
Do you have one of those additional ATX power cords like mine that connects to the top left of the motherboard? I'm still pretty unsure about how to deal with that, since even if I run it behind the tray and out the large CPU hole, I don't think it'll squeeze in-between the tray and the motherboard. There isn't much space up there for me to drill another hole anyway.

Moto, thanks for your pics, also. I looked at all the pictures from your first build (:) ), and got a lot of inspiration for good hidden wiring. Thanks for the reassurance about bending those cords too, I've been treating my PC like glass. It's so beautiful, I don't want to break anything! Especially since I basically broke the bank trying to buy all this stuff.
What do you mean by having the HDDs flipped sideways like that? Mine are already facing crossways, with the plugs facing the right side panel. They're already pretty much out of the way. Can I improve?

I'm super excited! My six new silent case fans are arriving in the mail today!
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November 1, 2011 6:08:51 PM

And just for fun, here's the new build that's getting all of my attention, with good reason, the pics of the other system shows it is neglected...

From the front - from PSU, 1 24 pin motherboard cable, 1 4+4 pin cpu cable, 4 6+2 pin gpu cables, 1 power to 4 molex connectors cable, 13 PWM fan connectors ( 1 rear, 6 for top rad, 6 for front rad), 1 extension cable for each of the 4 gpu cables, 1 cpu extension, 1 motherboard extension, usb headers, front panel headers, molex to 3 sata power adapters, 2 molex cables for the 2 pumps, 3 sata cables for ssd, hdd, br-burner, 2 front panel usb 3 cables out the rear hole to the motherboard's rear i/o.... blah blah blah.



Rear shot of all those same cables - as you can see, I have a lot of spaghetti to get under control...



It can feel like a daunting task when its 6 cables or 40+ cables, just gotta wrangle 'em all in, and whip out the zip ties and show 'em who the boss is.

Cheers. It's not as bad as it seems. Just take your time, take breaks often, zip a few things in, step back, look at it, and adjust if necessary. Zip ties are cheap and I've probably wasted 4x as many as I actually used.
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November 1, 2011 6:15:03 PM

zippycorners said:
Do you have one of those additional ATX power cords like mine that connects to the top left of the motherboard? I'm still pretty unsure about how to deal with that, since even if I run it behind the tray and out the large CPU hole, I don't think it'll squeeze in-between the tray and the motherboard. There isn't much space up there for me to drill another hole anyway.


In the first system, that atx power for the cpu, yours is probably a 4+4 cable. There's usually enough room to run them either underneath the motherboard itself, as long as it doesn't flex the board, or behind the motherboard tray and back in at the top left corner. If there's a cut-out for the cpu cooler, you may be able to squeeze it back into the system from that cut-out, and then its only underneath the motherboard for that short little distance at the top, and then into its spot. I'd take the motherboard out and experiment with those options without flexing anything until you're sure its within tolerance and doable.
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November 1, 2011 6:25:16 PM

Back to the first system again --- here's how I ran the cpu's power cable. I took out the motherboard, and routed it out the back like usual, but luckily had this cut-out behind the cpu area. I was able to squeeze it through there and it had minimal effect on the motherboard and didn't cause too much flexing. There was a little, but not enough to concern me. So that part's a personal decision you'd have to make depending on your findings with your particular case. In some cases, the cord is too short for some people so they run it through the cpu cooler cut-out instead to get it to fit. The safest option would be purchasing a nice extension cable, if length is an issue when using the provided cut-outs.

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November 5, 2011 2:53:18 AM

Thanks for all the help! I spent a little over 3 hours taking everything but the motherboard out and rewiring everything from scratch. I spent about 15 minutes just staring at it hopelessly at first, and that motivated me a little. :) 

I replaced 3 fans and added 2 more, for a total of 6 case fans now. All of the ones I replaced are between 16dB-19dB, but it's about the same volume as before since I added the two extras. Oh well.

Even with the extra wiring, I got it looking cleaner, and I even removed two obsolete cables by condensing all my plugs from my modular power supply.

Though it's not perfect, I'm satisfied.

I also still have the smaller ATX power cable dinosaured over the GPU because it was too big to fit between the motherboard and middle plate, and I didn't want to cut a hole. It would have been more trouble than this computer is worth.
Here's a picture of that corner:


Here's what it looked like before:


And here's what it looks like now:


Again, thanks for the help and the motivation!
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November 5, 2011 3:00:04 AM

Best answer selected by zippycorners.
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 5, 2011 10:08:31 AM

Thanks for B.A. man, and I hope you enjoy your time on the cable insanity path :) 
it can be frustrating, extremely satisfying and drive you round the bend at times,
but life is a journey and its enjoying the journey thats important so have fun and I'll wait for an update saying you've ripped it all apart again hehe :) 
Moto
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November 5, 2011 4:32:40 PM

I bet you can add an extension to that cpu power cable, bundle it a little bit to take out any slack, run it horizontal with the power supply toward the back of the case, then run it up vertically in the area of the pci brackets, over the top of that rear exhaust fan, and then into its socket.

Edit: Well depends if that exhaust fan is right up against the case lid or not, if so, maybe it can run just underneath it and then up and around :D 

Edit 2: that exhaust fan has 4 screwholes. I use those to run a zip tie thru if the job calls for it. So it could zip tie to the bottom one closest, then the next bottom one, then the top one closest to the mobo to keep the cable snug with the extension.

Above all, have fun ;) 
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November 5, 2011 4:58:21 PM

Nice! That does sound easier than mutilating my case. That'll be my next step.
Thanks for all the support!
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!