Forget RGB: Steel braided cables should be the next big thing

I like PC hardware that's reliable, well designed, and performance oriented. "Gamer" hardware rarely fits the bill. I've written before about how gaming designs are garish and ugly (opens in new tab). Slapping a bunch of RGB lights on something doesn't make for good design, despite the fact it's been a big trend in hardware for the past couple years. Some subtle lighting can add a touch of class, but does my power supply really need to be a voice-activated dancefloor (opens in new tab)

Once we have RGB lights on everything, then what? My money's on steel braided cables being the next big trend. Check this out:

Damn that looks good.

That... actually looks good. Mostly useless, but good. I mean, it's about as needed as RGB mousepads, or RGB cooling fans, or RGB headphones—but there's no denying it looks pretty sweet. And I don't think you can really mess it up. Cables are simple, and the steel is tough, so the added cost is almost worth it if you aren't replacing frayed cables every couple years. Steel will look good when braided, running the entire length of the cable.

I bumped into the above steel braided USB-C cable (opens in new tab) and thought there must be more like it. A search on Amazon wasn't especially fruitful, but there are some out there, like the Titan iPhone Lightning cable (opens in new tab). Still, I think there's a good chance steel cables will catch on.

I want steel braided SATA and power supply cables cables, for metallic custom PC builds. Those could pair well with MSI's Titanium motherboards (opens in new tab). And I want steel braided cables for accessories, which would be a classy new aesthetic for mice and keyboards.

Coming from a manufacturing background, I know that there are lots of ideas that never make it to market. The ones that do aren't necessarily better than the ones that don't—those marooned ideas sometimes just needed the right push. The key is scale—the product needs to be able to scale, thereby pushing down price and making it affordable. 

Manufacturers that are thinking about steel braided cables at least don't have to worry about profit, since the cabling industry has some of the highest profit margins of any industry. Just take a look at these audio cables that go for nearly $1000 per meter. That's a bit insane, but reasonably priced steel cables would give hardware companies easy new products to launch.

The USB-C cable I linked above looks understated and not flashy. It's muted but eye catching at the same time. It's not calling out for attention, shoving rainbow colors in my face. Although the cable above only comes in a silver color, it's not hard to imagine that manufacturers can produce other colors as well. Copper, oil-rainbow, black, etc. 

The one caveat around steel braided cables is the ability for steel to conduct signals, electricity, etc. Cables carrying current already cause EMI (electromagnetic interference), which is why they require shielding to prevent interference. Wrapping another layer of metal around the outside as some sort of cladding may cause issues, though if so I'm sure it can be solved.

C'mon, hardware manufacturers: I know you can produce tasteful designs that are still cool. It's time for "gamer" hardware to venture into new territory, and clean, shiny silver is a good place to start. Gamers aren't idiots. We appreciate quality and performance above all else. And indestructible cables sound pretty good, too.

Tuan Nguyen
Tuan is the Editor-in-Chief of Maximum PC, and loves all things tech. He's been building PCs and ruffling feathers in the industry for 20 years, and isn't afraid to call out bad products and services. In fact, it's very common to hear the words "this is shit" escape his lips. If you want to know if something is "Kick-Ass" or not, email or tweet him.