The Desktop PC has been the workhorse of the computer industry ever since the personal computer was first invented. It offers the highest performance and greatest configuration flexibility of any PC form factor (which is why it remains popular with the enthusiast community), but when compared with many of the sleek new devices available today it often falls short on style. The typical tower desktop PC, with a tangle of wires running out the back, has been relegated to the office cubicle or back room of the house – kept out of view of polite company. For those of us who like the configurability of the tower desktop PC it’s time that we look for ways to move the platform forward into the realm of stylish technologies that people expect today.
The good news is that many PC makers are actively working on solutions to this problem. One exciting development is the increased number of All-In-One (AIO) PCs available today (the Apple iMac* or HP Touchsmart* being two popular examples). These AIO PCs bring a sense of style that ends the desktop PC’s exile to the den and makes it a welcome addition to any area of the home or office. If you don’t need the mobility of a notebook then these AIO PCs can give you a large screen, solid performance, and the added security of a stationary PC – all in a sleek package.
But what if you still want the power and flexibility that comes from the traditional tower desktop PC? Are you forever relegated to the fashion-challenged corners of the PC world? I believe that there are some lessons we can learn from the PC enthusiast community that can bring modern style to the tower PC without sacrificing its core strengths.
PC Enthusiasts spend a great deal of effort designing and building their dream system, and they like to show off the end result. Unlike a poorly designed do-it-yourself PC where a tangle of wires connects the components inside, the PC Enthusiast community has become very adept at cable management. They combine groups of cables together – sometimes with an outer sheathing layer – and route them in such a way that they don’t spoil the aesthetics of the system interior. This technique is routinely used to solve cable issues inside of the case, but could easily be applied to the problem that exists outside a typical desktop PC.
To get your creative ideas flowing, here’s an example of how this could work. A basic configuration for a tower desktop PC would require a number of wires running between the tower base and the monitor. The exact number of wires depends on the connections being used. Here are two examples for consideration:
Starting with the basic principles of cable management, the first step to taming these configurations is to combine the multiple wires into a single cable – thereby eliminating the typical rat’s nest of wires. After combining the wires using commonly available wrapping materials, our examples then become:
Since the monitor I/O connections are located on the back side, this cable can be constructed so that the point where the cable divides into individual connectors is well hidden, and only a single cable appears to run to the monitor. Congratulations! You’ve just eliminated the mess of wires that we all just assumed was part of owning a desktop PC.