Complete guide to pc build cables: power, data, and video

Building a new computer can be an exciting endeavor, but it also comes with its challenges. One common issue that even experienced PC builders face is dealing with cables. Whether it's not having the right cables, not enough cables, or cables that are too short or not color-coded, it's easy to find yourself without the necessary cables for your build.

To ensure that you have all the cables you need for your next PC build, we have put together a complete guide to PC build cables. We will cover everything from power cables to data cables and video cables. Additionally, we will provide tips on cable management to help you achieve a clean and organized build.

Content Index

Power Cables

Power cables are arguably the most important cables in any computer as they provide power to all the components. Each power cable connector looks different from the others, making it easy to identify where they should be plugged in. However, if you have a modular power supply, you need to ensure that you're plugging the cables in at the right end.

The motherboard 24-pin (or 20+4 pin in older power supplies) is the largest and most obvious power cable. It plugs into the 24-pin connector on your motherboard. Some motherboards may also require additional power cables, such as 4-pin, 8-pin, or dual 8-pin connectors for the processor.

If you have a dedicated graphics card, you'll need to plug in extra power cables for it. Most graphics cards require six or eight-pin PCI Express power connectors. It's best to use multiple cables for these connectors to distribute the load evenly.

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For older SATA solid-state drives (SSD) or hard drives (HDD), you'll need to plug in a SATA power cable for each drive. These cables have an l shaped connector.

Lastly, four-pin molex cables are used for legacy devices and add-in cards. These cables can be fiddly, so be careful when plugging them in.

Once all the power cables are plugged in, you can consider using sleeved power supply extension cables for a neater look. Managing your cables not only improves aesthetics but also helps with airflow and cooling performance.

Data Cables

Data cables are necessary for connecting storage drives to your motherboard. SATA cables are slim and have an L-shaped connector similar to SATA power cables. You'll need one SATA cable for each SATA SSD or HDD.

If you're using external storage drives, you'll need a cable for that as well. Modern external SSDs often use USB-C cables, which can also carry power and offer faster data transfer speeds. Some drives even support USB4 and Thunderbolt 4 connections.

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Peripherals like mice and keyboards usually come with their own detachable cables, so you don't need to worry about buying additional ones unless they need replacing.

Video Cables

Video cables are essential for connecting your computer to a monitor or other display. The most common types are HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB-C.

HDMI cables are widely used and support 4K resolution with a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. DisplayPort offers greater performance with support for higher resolutions and refresh rates. USB-C can also be used for video output, especially in laptops, and can provide power to the laptop simultaneously.

Cable Management Tips

Managing your cables not only improves aesthetics but also has practical benefits. Tidy cables make it easier to perform maintenance on your PC and improve airflow for better cooling performance.

Plan your cable management by utilizing the nooks and crannies in your case or using specific routes designed for cable management. Use cable ties or velcro ties to bundle cables together and secure them to the case. Look for cable tidies or notches in the case that can help keep your cables in place.

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For thicker cable collections, consider using additional cable sleeves and tidies to corral them. Fan controllers or fan splitter cables can help manage multiple fans using a single cable.

Building a computer can be a challenging task, but understanding PC build cables is essential for a successful build. Power cables, data cables, and video cables all have specific connectors and ports, making it difficult to plug them in the wrong place.

Remember to manage your cables to improve aesthetics, airflow, and overall performance. Tuck away excess cables, use cable ties or velcro ties, and utilize cable tidies or notches in your case for a clean and organized build.

Building your own computer is not only rewarding but also a great learning experience. Enjoy the process and good luck with your next PC build!

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