How to Build a Computer – Routing Cables for Best Airflow

So far, you’ve probably discovered that building a computer isn’t all that complicated at all, and that if you’ve already installed the mainboard, drives and wired up the front panel – you’re about 80% of the way through the build.

What we’re going to look at now is perhaps one of the most important steps in ensuring your system is going to run at a table temperature – it’s that of ensuring good airflow. Often overlooked as something you only need to do in warm climates, the truth is that good airflow helps minimize build-ups of dust and excessive wear on components due to increased temperatures.

  1. The first cables you want to look at are the hard disk and DVD cables. If you can make sure they are routed behind the drive bays so that they’re not obstructing airflow or getting tangled up.
  2. Many people start with tying the power cables and MOLEX cables together into one big cable, making sure that any stray cables which aren’t being used are not restricting airflow.
  3. Another common solution is that SATA cables tend to be tied together as they tend to go to the same place i.e. from the hard drive to the mainboard.
  4. Most people try to run the main panel wiring behind the mainboard and under the drive bays, tying it together at multiple points so that it’s as tidy as possible.
  5. When you’re checking cables are tidy, make sure that nothing is loose. Ensure every cable is secure and connected properly.
  6. Finally, make sure that you have a spare MOLEX cable (power connector) for the case fans and also the graphics card if it needs one. It’s never fun having to undo all your hard work because you forgot to leave two power connectors free!

Cable management is one of the best ways to ensure your system runs efficiently. Many people will also advocate going as far as to install additional case fans to ensure that airflow is maximized, but these days, the average system has around three fans already ( CPU fan, power supply fan, case fan and sometimes a graphics card fan).

If you’re interested in installing additional fans, they can be purchased quite affordably, costing next to nothing for 120MM case fans.  When it comes to installing them, it’s simply a case of checking which way the fan blows by connecting it, turning your PC on and watching what it does to a piece of paper, then screwing the fan into place.

However, installing additional fans gives your system yet another level of complexity being that you now have airflow to plan. Ideally air should come in from the front of your system and exit out the back.  Rear fans should be exhaust (blowing air out) and front fans should be intake (sucking air in).  It’s possible to go over the board with cooling fans, but at the end of the day – this is all the level of complexity anyone really needs!

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