Computer Cable Management

Recently, after talking with a fellow computer builder about his cable management solution, I decided to do a little cable management with my own PC. Cable management is simply re-routing wires in a PC case to make it look cleaner, and more importantly, to improve airflow in the case lowering overall temperatures.

The first thing I had to do was remove the side panel on the motherboard side of the case. At first I was a little skeptical that my case had this feature (it was a $40 Rosewill brand case , and I wasn’t expecting such a nice feature).  However, it appears that the area for wiring behind the motherboard is pretty standard, since low and behold, the side panel came right off, revealing openings near the power supply, and lower end of the case for re-routing cables.

Next, I ran all the cables (besides the dvd-rom 4-pin power connector), to the area behind the motherboard, behind the panel which I just opened. This is where I ran into the first issue. The motherboard power cable (the large black one in pictures below) was not long enough to run through the back of the case and plug into the motherboard connector. So, I had to compromise and leave this cable out front. I tied it, and the cd-rom power cable, down with zip-ties.

(click on picture for larger image)

Next was getting my components hooked up. I first ran the two 6-pin power connectors down to my video card and found they were just barely long enough to reach. I tied both the 6-pin cables together to make sure they stayed neat. So now I had to hook up the SATA power to the hard drives. This is where I ran into the second issue. Unfortunately, the second power connector on the SATA power cables was not far enough down to be of any use. Since I have 2 SATA power cables with 2 connectors each, and I could only use the first connector on each cable, I would only have 2 available power connectors for 3 SATA hard drives. So, I had to compromise again, and route one SATA power cable out front (along the large black Motherboard power cable), while leaving one  behind the motherboard.

Now that I had the hard drives supplied with power, I had to hook up the data (red and yellow SATA) cables. There wasn’t much I could do to clean up the cables, having 3 drives didn’t help. I did, however, zip-tie them to the bottom of the case, so they would not stick out so far.

A couple cables, like the  front audio (white middle) cable, and the CPU fan still go directly over the motherboard, and I could not really see any solution for this.

So, in the end there were a couple compromises I had to make, that could be fixed in the future with a higher-end power supply, or extension cables. The IDE dvd-rom cables (large blue) is still an eye-sore, and hard to move. They do sell rolled IDE cables, which I may consider picking up for future use. Overall though, I think that my first attempt at cable management turned out o.k. It certainly helped with airflow, since now my components, and overall system temperature, are all 10 celcius lower.

Feel free to comment with any cable management tips/tricks you have.

System Explorer

Ever wish you could replace Windows Task Manager with a more powerful alternative? System Explorer is the software for you. I recently tested System Explorer out and found that it does everything I need in a process manager, and then some.

Not only does it allow a user to see all running processes, and how they were launched (hierarchical tree), but you can also upload a file to be scanned by the leading a/v companies, search the process name in google with a single click, and even determine if you want the process starting with windows. All that, in the first two tabs.

As you continue to the next tabs in the “monitoring section”, you can view a history of programs accessed, what files are being used, what programs are accessing the net, and even create and compare “snapshot” of running processes.

In addition to the monitoring section, there is also an Autoruns viewer built right in, where you can view exactly what is starting with Windows, and have the option to disable or delete any entry.

Lastly, System Explorer includes an Unistaller tab as an alternate to Windows add/remove programs, and a Settings tab which allows you to enable/disable various components of the System Explorer tool.

Overall, System Explorer is a must have for any power user who wants to keep their system under a watchful eye without paying a cent.