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Published Sep 29, 2022 7:00 AM

Most people don’t think about cable management for desks until cords get impossibly tangled. And, it doesn’t help that all cords and cables look the same—unplugging the wrong one could lead to an “Indiana Jones”-esque disaster cutscene in your office. Instead of running away from a boulder falling from the ceiling, you run to the surge strip to re-plug in the printer so you can spend the next five minutes waiting for it to turn back on. However, it’s possible to take your desk from Medusa’s lair to something you’d find on life-hack TikTok. The best cable management for desks will make your home office easier on the eyes and ensure that a snag doesn’t send your expensive computer equipment flying.

How we chose the best cable management for desks

Many of us on the PopSci gear team currently work from home, having ditched a regular office cubicle long ago. Having a way to organize our cables and wires gives us more room for neat things to review. And, hiding the mess of cables prevents us from going crazy looking at tangles of wires. To find the best cable management for desks, we looked at critical reviews and peer recommendations, performed personal testing, and conducted heavy research into real-world user impressions. 

What to consider when buying the best cable management for desks

No one wants to hang a cable management tray and have it come tumbling down from the weight of your wires. The best cable management for desks systems are sturdy, easy to use, and can fit a variety of desks if you decide to change your set-up. Here’s what else you should know when shopping for cable management for your desk:

Amount and style of cables

If you’re trying to organize thicker cables like the ones that power your monitor or desktop, you’ll need stronger solutions, like trays, velcro straps, and protective sleeves. Something meant for smaller wires, like phone and laptop chargers, won’t stand a chance against something meatier. 

Office set-up

Where your desk is in your office will determine the best cable management system. A desk against the wall can hide a bundle of cables compared to one facing out or a workstation located in the middle of the room. A combo desk skirt and cable management sleeve can keep your set-up looking clean and wireless. If your desk is against the wall, you can better get away with a simple tray or protective sleeve. 

Desk style

Many cable management systems are installed with screws. This is perfect if your desk is made of wood or particle board. However, it’s harder—or almost impossible—to screw into a glass, plastic, or metal desk. If you’re in the latter camp, choose an option that uses strong adhesive strips to attach a tray to your desk. No holes and no hassle equals a bunch of happy cables and one happy customer (you). Additionally, some clamp onto the table part of your desk. Ditch these if your desk isn’t clamp-friendly. 

Budget

Cable management systems can start at $5 and go into the hundreds. Most casual cable management systems cap at around $75. If you don’t work with huge bundles of cables and wires, something from the $5-$75 range is perfectly suitable. 

The best cable management for desks: Reviews & Recommendations

Our choices for the best cable management systems cover a wide range of budgets, functionalities, and can fit multiple kinds of desks. After searching far and wide, here are our favorite options and ideas for desk cable management.

Best overall: Alex Tech 10ft – 1/2 inch Cord Protector Wire Loom Tubing Cable

Alex Tech

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Why it made the cut: A simple and effective cable management system that can be utilized in multiple ways.

Specs

  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Size: ½”-10 feet to ⅜”-25 feet
  • Desk attachment: N/A
  • Kind of cable management: Protective split sleeving

Pros 

  • Can be combined with an under-desk organizer
  • UL-recognized
  • High operating temperature

Cons 

  • Self-wrap can get loose at certain angles
  • Keep out of the reach of animals

If you’re new to using cable management systems, or if you’re a seasoned cable management vet looking to up their set-up, this protective split sleeve is versatile enough to use alone or with an under-desk organizer. You can even use them to manage the few unsightly wires behind the soundbar in your home theater setup. You receive 10 feet of it for $8.99, making it incredibly price-friendly, and sizing goes from ½” diameter/10 feet long to ⅜” diameter and 25 feet long. They have a melt temperature of 446 degrees Fahrenheit and are recognized by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a consumer safety organization. What does this mean? You don’t have to worry about sitting near a potential fire hazard (like an overclocked gaming computer). Putting them around wires is easy: Fit the cables in the sleeve, cut off the excess, and you’re done. Plus, it’s easy to “split” wires thanks to the design—just separate the wire you want to take out of the bundle and let the sleeve self-wrap. Although the manufacturer says that it protects against kitty cats’ claws and teeth, we recommend keeping this sleeving away from animals just in case.

Best for standing desks: Stand Up Desk Store Under Desk Cable Management Tray

S Stand Up Desk Store

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Why it made the cut: This cable management system was built for stand-up desks and doubles as a modesty panel.

Specs

  • Material: Alloy steel
  • Size: 48” and 60”
  • Desk attachment: Screws
  • Kind of cable management: Under desk tray

Pros 

  • Doubles as a modesty panel
  • Comes with a 5-year warranty
  • Sturdy

Cons 

  • Won’t work on non-wood desks
  • Can only attach using screws

Standing desks help with productivity. However, worrying about wires can mess with your ability to focus on the task at hand. Stress no more with the Stand Up Desk Store Under Desk Cable Management Tray. As the name suggests, it’s built specifically as cable management for standing desks. The tray can fit a surge strip and then some, and it doubles as a modesty panel. It’s incredibly sturdy, and the lip on the inside prevents cables and wires from spilling over when taking your standing desk sky-high. It’s worth noting that it only attaches using screws—you’ll have to flip your desk and have an electric screwdriver handy to make the process easier. It comes with a five-year warranty in case you’re not happy with your purchase. However, we think you, your knees, your focus, and your expensive electronics will thank you.

Best hub: Anker Cable Management Box and Desk Cord Organizer

Anker

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Why it made the cut: A surge strip, but make it discreet, have USB-A ports, and come with a connected equipment warranty.

Specs

  • Material: Plastic, electronic component
  • Size: 11.38 x 5.87 x 5.71 inches
  • Desk attachment: N/A 
  • Kind of cable management: Desk hub

Pros 

  • Holds cables and chargers
  • Great warranty
  • Can fit large AC plugs

Cons 

  • No USB-C ports

Anker makes a great portable generator and a solid pair of noise-cancelling headphones under $100. This is why it’s no surprise we’re a fan of this cable management box and desk cord organizer. It’s like a surge strip that hides the outlets with a plastic privacy hood. Unlike some surge strips, it comes with three USB-A ports so you can save the five AC outlets for things with AC outlets. Whatever you plug into it is covered under a $25,000 connected equipment warranty. We hope you’ll never have to use that warranty, but it should be unlikely thanks to dual surge protection and a seven-point safety system that includes fire resistance, over-voltage protection, and over-current protection. You can set it below or on your desk. If you’re looking to keep your desk area more clutter-free, set it in an under-desk tray or mount basket. There’s even a magnetic cable organizer for phone chargers on the lid of the cable management box. The only downside of this great hub is the lack of USB-C ports.

Best for glass desks: Scandinavian Hub Store Under Desk Cable Management Tray

Scandinavian Hub

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Why it made the cut: This no-drill option takes the focus off of a mound of wires and keeps the focus on your gorgeous glass desk. 

Specs

  • Material: Carbon steel
  • Size: 17 x 3.5 x 4.3 inches
  • Desk attachment: Adhesive stickers or screws
  • Kind of cable management: Desk tray

Pros 

  • Designed to accommodate surge protectors
  • Can attach to the wall
  • Velcro straps are included for more organization

Cons 

  • Can only be mounted on top of the desk using the adhesive option
  • One size

Glass desks can handle an entire computer set-up—unfortunately, you can’t screw in an under-desk tray to organize your wires. With the Scandinavian Hub Store Under Desk Cable Management Tray, this no-drilling-holes problem comes with a solution for glass desks: included adhesive stickers that allow you to attach the desk tray without damaging your table. You can even use the adhesive to mount it on a wall, making it a renter-friendly option. It’s roomy enough to accommodate a surge strip to prevent tripping. And, it comes with two velcro straps that allow you to bundle your cords for an even cleaner look. Although the tray comes in one size, you can purchase multiple and set them up in any way you’d like. If you do decide to switch up your set-up and get a wood desk, the set comes with a set of screws to attach it four other ways.

Best budget: Newlan Reusable Cable Ties

Newlan

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Why it made the cut: You don’t have to spend much to organize your cables with these simple, easy-to-use velcro strips.

Specs

  • Material: Velcro
  • Size: 7.48 x 4.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Desk attachment: N/A
  • Kind of cable management: Cable ties

Pros 

  • Reusable
  • Versatile
  • Come in a large pack

Cons 

  • Best for medium bundles of wire

Getting the cables around your desk doesn’t need to cost a fortune—in fact, you only need about $6 and some change to get started. These velcro reusable cable ties are flexible and versatile—you can use them to bundle a group of wires together, or you can use them to gather excess cable into a suitable length. You can also use them to keep rogue cables neat and tidy since they have a tendency to magically tangle when not in use. Using them with other cable management systems, like the ones above, can take your desk organization to the next level: For example, instead of letting your wire bundle flop around, stow them in an under-desk tray. Plus, you can use them anywhere. Got a guitar cable that you’re not using? Velcro strap! Holiday lights? Velcro strap! Colored pencils? Velcro strap! And, with 60 in a pack, you won’t feel guilty about using them all up or losing a few.

FAQs

Q: How much does cable management for desks cost?

It can be less than $100 to create a cable management system, depending on what you decide to include. A set-up that only includes velcro straps and sleeves will be cheaper than ones that involve trays. However, putting a system that includes velcro straps and a tray will give you an organized set-up and keep your cords off your office floor.

Q: How do you arrange wires neatly?

Cable clips, like the ones included with the Anker Cable Management Box and Desk Cord Organizer, can keep phone chargers off the floor and close-by to your person. If you’re storing wires, use a twist tie or velcro strap to keep each wire together so they don’t tangle in storage. If you’re using a sleeve, make sure the wire is kink-free before putting it in the sleeve. 

Q: How can I manage my cables above my desk?

You can attach a cable management tray or racks to the wall using screws or adhesive strips, or you can use a cord cover to keep them tidy. Some cord covers come with adhesive strips to attach to the wall, and many can be painted over. Plus, they’re easy options that don’t create a hole in the wall and allow for easy access to the cables. 

Final thoughts on the best cable management for desks

The best cable management for desks doesn’t have to be pricey. And they aren’t limited to one thing: you can mix and match different kinds of items to create a cable management system that works for you. From under desk trays to simple velcro straps, there are plenty of options to choose from. The best cable management for desks not only keeps your space organized but keeps you safe. It stops you from tripping over a cable and potentially wrecking your expensive equipment. And, if you have a standing desk or a glass desk, you don’t have to miss out on the organization fun—there are options for you. Now get arranging and assembling!