Every once in awhile, a new gadget comes along that makes you say, “Duh, why didn’t I think of that?” I had that going through my mind when I first saw the new rounded IDE and floppy cables that have recently come onto the market. In this Daily Feature, I will show you one of the coolest-looking innovations to come along in quite some time that will improve the airflow inside the workstation computer case.

Innovation and hot colors all in one simple package
How often do you think about the cables that are inside of your computer? If you are like most people, you curse them when they don’t fit well and ignore them the rest of the time. In fact, technicians have been ignoring them for years because, for the most part, they rarely fail.

Ribbon cables have been used in personal computers for more than 20 years, remaining largely unchanged, despite their clunky nature. Recently, however, someone thought of a great idea and designed a new type of cable for the IDE and floppy connections inside the computer. Instead of the flat ribbon cable, the wires of this new breed of cable connect the two standard IDE or floppy connections through a round, molded case that is about the diameter of a standard printer cable. This new package saves space inside of a crowded case and is much easier to manipulate in tight spaces than the flat ribbon cables.

Not only are these cables more functional, but they come in several hot colors, such as yellow, red, green, clear, and black. This will most certainly liven up the inside of any case, especially one of the new see-through designs. In Figure A, you can see the rounded floppy and IDE cables that were provided to us by Vantec.

Figure A
Each of these cables allows you to connect two devices, but you can also purchase single connection cables.

Another advantage of the rounded cables is increased airflow throughout the case. While the ribbon cables provide the requisite functionality, their bulky design takes up space and restricts airflow, as shown in Figure B. Because of their small size, the rounded cables allow air to flow more freely inside the case. This translates into better cooling for those heat-sensitive components.

Figure B
A crowded mess of wires and cables exists in most workstations.

After installing the rounded cables in your PC, as shown in Figure C, you will notice that the flexibility provided with this new design makes it much easier to install your peripheral devices, even in tight spaces.

Figure C
The days of twisting the ribbon cables around each other are finally over.

Getting your hands on these cool new cables
Standard IDE and floppy ribbon cables are literally a dime a dozen. The new rounded cables are more expensive, so you probably will not see them as a common component until their price comes down. I was able to locate these cables at several online retailers for about $12.99 each.

In addition to their higher price, rounded cables are still an endangered species in most computer stores. I was able to find two stores in my area that stocked them, but it took a little bit of searching. Most salesclerks I talked to have not heard of these cables and looked at me as if I were from Mars when I asked about them. One helpful gentleman even got a standard IDE ribbon cable for me and told me that it was the only type of cable that could be used to install a hard drive and CD-ROM.

Must-have geek gear
I am a sucker for cool new gadgets. While these cables provide the same functionality as the inexpensive ribbon cables, I really like having them inside my case. They make quite a difference in a crowded case because they provide more room to maneuver. I also love those cool new colors. Several people who have seen them commented on how great they looked and asked where they could get them.

Although these cables cost quite a bit more than the standard ribbon cables, the price will eventually come down, making them more prevalent in computer stores and online retailers. Once that happens, I am sure rounded cables will be a common sight in many workstations.