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The 5-Step Guide to Perfect Desk Cable Management

Written by Thao Tran
Last updated May 16, 2020

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pc gaming setup with beautiful cable management

Desk cable management is like cleaning your room. It’s a hassle in the moment but feels damn near therapeutic once you’re done. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as vacuuming and putting stuff away. You’ll need a plan of attack and at least a few hours set aside to properly hide all your wires.

We’ve condensed everything you need to know about desk cable management into a simple 5-step guide. Follow it to completion and you’ll feel a joy you never knew you needed.

Step 1: Start from Scratch

If you’re starting with a brand new setup, perfect. If not, this is your chance to start over with a clean slate. Disconnect your peripherals from your PC and everything from your surge protector, then proceed.

disconnected cables

Step 2: Position Your Power

A key piece to your desk cable management puzzle is the position of your power strip. Our natural tendency is to just hook it up to the closest power outlet and start plugging things in. But when you position your surge protector strategically, you set yourself up for a much easier cable management experience.

Assess your situation and decide which of these two positions will work for you:

Option A: Underside of Desk

This is usually the most ideal spot. By mounting your surge protector underneath your desk, all of your power cables can route away from view behind one of the best pieces of cover at your disposal, your desktop.

Surge protector mounted under desk.

All you need is some double-sided tape to make this happen, but don’t mount anything just yet. You’ll want everything laid out before you make any permanent decisions.

Some questions you might have…

Will this work with a standing desk?

Yes! This is actually the best way to cable manage standing desks. You end up with only the cord of your surge protector to worry about. As long as you leave enough slack, you’ll be able to adjust your standing desk without a problem.

I have a glass desk. What should I do?

Cable management for glass desks is tricky for obvious reasons. While you might not have the luxury of mounting your surge protector directly underneath your desktop, you could still attach it somewhere under there.

Excellent cable management for a glass desk.

Rob_but did a great job cable managing his glass desk setup. He mounted his surge protector behind the back support bar of his desk and used cable clips to manage all his wires away from view. If you look closely, you’ll find the long cable of his surge protector trailing off screen towards the bottom left.

Cable management for glass desks is certainly possible—it just requires a little extra effort and creativity.

Do I HAVE to mount my surge protector?

If your desk setup already provides a lot of cover, it’s not really necessary. That brings us to position 2.

Option B: Hidden on the floor

Sometimes, the best place for your surge protector is on the floor. Just make sure it’s out of sight.

Good places to hide your surge protector:

  • between your desk and the wall
  • behind other furniture and objects

And if all else fails…

Option C: In a Box

In the rare case that you have the most naked desk setup ever, you can hide your surge protector in a cable management box. The end result looks something like this.

Once you’ve figured out the position of your surge protector, move on to step 3.

Step 3: Add Cable Management Features

You might be lucky enough to already have built-in cable management features on your desk. For example, my trusty IKEA Bekant came with its own cable net. But even if your desk is literally a plank of wood, it’s easy to add cable management features yourself.

Cable Management Compartment

A cable management compartment like a tray or raceway attaches to the underside of your desk and helps you both guide and hide cables.

Popular cable management compartments are the IKEA Signum and the J Channel from Amazon. Grab one and slap it under your desk and bam, your desk now has cable management features.

Holes & Grommets

Does drilling holes into your desk sound crazy to you? Crazy or not, many people do it in the name of cable management. The most common hole I see is for keyboard and mouse cables.

Hole drilled through desk for keyboard and mouse cables

Small holes like this can easily be hidden so there’s no need to dress it up. But if you need a larger hole in a more prominent position, you can fit it with a grommet to make it look nicer.

Hole and grommet for cables

Adding cable management features to your desk takes time but is well worth it. The next step is no different.

Step 4: Mount Your Monitors (Optional)

Mounting your monitor(s) not only helps with cable management, it also clears up space on your desk for an extra clean look—and that’s the real goal right? There are two ways to go about this.

Wall Mounts

This is the more difficult but also the sexiest option. You end up with floating monitors on your wall with no stands or cables in sight, but it requires some serious DIY work. Jeremy Siers has a great video showing how he mounted and cable managed his triple monitor setup.

He ran his cables through his wall which might be too intimidating a task for most of us. Alternatively, you can run your cables along your wall and just cover them with other objects or a raceway. This looks pretty good too.

wall mounted monitor with cable raceway

 Peep that raceway. Pictured: worm_on_steroid’s Setup

Monitor Arms

Monitor arms don’t achieve you everything a wall mount does but it gets you most of the way there. It’s also much easier to setup.

Beautiful gaming setup with a monitor arm

That monitor arm tho. Pictured: Infante50’s Setup

Get your monitors sorted out and you’ll be happy you did.

Recommended Reading: The Best Dual Monitor Stand For Your Specific Setup (Buying Guide)

Step 5: Route Your Cables

The part we’ve all been waiting for: we finally get to play with cables!

I. Reconnect everything

Start reconnecting all your peripherals to your computer, hiding and guiding your wires through your cable management features whenever you can. Do the same with the cables going to your surge protector.

Because of your thoughtfully hidden surge protector and cable management features, everything should look pretty good already once it’s reconnected. All that’s left to do is to tidy up.

II. Tie up loose ends

Despite your best efforts, there will be cords that just couldn’t tuck away neatly into your cable management compartment. Some cables will hang loosely and large bundles of cables just don’t look pretty. This is where you tighten everything up.

These items will come in handy:

Once you have them at your disposal, you can start perfecting your desk cable management.

Manage stray cables

Use cable clips to manage stray cables that couldn’t make it into your cable management compartment. If you don’t have a compartment at all, you can use a whole bunch of cable clips to keep it all tight to your desk. Speaking of…

Keep everything tight

This is where the cable ties and zip ties come in handy.

Cable management at my work desk setup.

 This cable management could be improved if I follow more of my own steps, but oh well. It’s just my desk at work. 🙂

Use your cable ties to tighten up these spots:

  • Where your cables connect to your PC
  • Where your cables connect to your monitor
  • Wherever there are lots of cables grouped together

Everything looks a little better when it’s tight.

Wrap it up

If you can’t help but leave a group of cables showing, you can use a cable sleeve to wrap them up neatly.

And that’s pretty much it—everything you could possibly need to know about desk cable management.

A cable managed life is a happy life

The road to perfect cable management isn’t always straightforward. You might waste more time than you plan to, get unbelievably frustrated, or even end up like this…

Man tangled in cables.

But eventually, you’ll figure it out and you’ll have a desk setup that sparks maximum joy.

If you need extra motivation to get started, check out our interactive gallery of amazing desk setups.

Note: SBR-88’s setup is the featured image and showcased throughout this post.

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  1. TechDek Organization Products

    That’s a great article about desk cable management. By the article we understand than A CABLE MANAGED LIFE IS A HAPPY LIFE. Thanks for sharing this kind of informative articles.

  2. Sebastien Dubois

    Thanks for article! Really well made! I will use some recommendations!!

  3. Zachary Aaron Underwood

    Awesome bits of information, thank you!


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