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Cable sleeving grassroots...

Posted by Kevin Keating on

Cable sleeving is a huge part of the PC modding scene, and for good reason! Wires and cables of many types have always been considered ugly or messy prior to sleeving. They were only meant to serve a purpose of supplying power and transferring data. How cables looked was hardly ever considered. If anything, all that mattered was if they were well organized and tucked away. The same holds true for TVs, keyboards, speakers and so on. As the modding scene was starting to take shape in the mid 2000’s, a man by the name of Charles Harwood featured one his now very well-known brand of Murderbox PCs (known as XFORMA now-a-days) on a modding forum. Not only was this build way ahead of its time, but Charles had been the very first to turn PC cables into visual wonders by covering each wire with PET sleeving. By doing this, not only did he create “PC art” for everyone to enjoy, he developed a new style that would take the world by storm

The build that started it all, a Murderbox build by Charles Harwood (pre-2008 photos courtesy of Nils from


This brings us to another man by the name of Nils Papke. Nils is a passionate artist who, like many, was captivated by what Charles had done. It was at this time that Nils realized something, and I feel it best to use his own words for this; “It became clear to me that cables and tubes can be turned into design-objects, as soon as they are sleeved - no matter which cables and where they are found. Instead of hiding the cables, they can be personalized, presented and turned into an absolute visual highlight!”

Nils was then inspired to start manufacturing his own line of PC cable specific PET sleeve under the name MDPC-X. Since his family business was manufacturing PET sleeve, this was obviously right up his alley. This however was no ordinary PET sleeve which was typically used for industrial applications. He significantly increased the quality, created intense bold color options and poured his heart and soul into personalizing every order! Such personalization can be seen in virtually every modding forum on the planet! Just search the internet for “Nils mdpc-x drawing” and plenty of examples will be shown. To many, these drawings have even become collected pieces of art! Even after all these years I still have mine.

Signature drawing style of Nils Papke with one of my favorites from my collection on the right : )


Nils didn’t just stop at manufacturing beautiful sleeve. He also created one of the first (if not the first) “PC mod-shop” selling nothing but the highest quality sleeving and mod products he could find. If he couldn’t find them, he had them specially made. The best example of this in my opinion is the MDPC-X crimp tool. With the exception of the actual ~$300 Molex crimp tool, all other crimp tools on the market were just far from acceptable in Nils’s eyes. They crushed insulation, over-lapped the terminal wings and so on… Nils was the very first person to custom mill crimpers so that a ~$50 crimp tool performed to a similar level as the extremely expensive and hard to find Molex crimp tool. Such replications are now sold by many, but Nils perfected it long before this.

Nils had become recognized as a “celebrity” if you will in the modding scene, not just because of the items he sold, but because his passion for PC modding was beyond obvious to many. He created: the world’s first PC cable specific sleeving, launched the million-dollar PC website (, a special modding forum solely dedicated to modding with absolutely no ads or company reps, and finally, a business philosophy and image which most could only dream of accomplishing. Charles had also become very well-known, and launched arguably one of the most prestigious case designs ever created, the Xforma MBX MKII.

As it seems now, sleeved pc cables are sold by everyone from large multinational corporations to small one-man sleeving side businesses. You can literally find them just about anywhere. Being a small business owner in the PC modding scene, as well as a PC modding enthusiast, I feel it is important that we all recognize where this phenomenon of sleeved pc cables came from. No matter if you use MDPC-X sleeve order not, we should all pay tribute to Charles Harwood and Nils Papke for what they created.

Nils and Charles have remained good friends through-out the years. They have each recognized each other in their accomplishments, as well as bringing the best out in each other. As a personal note, I can certainly attribute my love of custom PCs to Charles Harwood and Nils Papke. The first time I ever heard of PC modding was from my father (Jim Keating CEO and owner of CaseLabs), and I instantly gravitated to the Murderbox and MDPC-X stylings. I have never had the privilege of meeting Charles, but it’s almost like a childhood dream to be working directly with Nils now. Long live MDPC-X and Xforma!!

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