Best KVM switches
Sometimes I think about how much technology has advanced in the last let’s say 20 years. Can you remember the devices you had back then, and how much it took to get some things done? I do. Perfectly. And it does not even begin to compare with what we have now. That is pretty much everything that crossed my mind when I learned about the existence of KVM switches. Something new is released, and it blows your mind.
What is a KVM switch?
A KVM switch is a piece of hardware that allows you to use multiple computers from one or more sets of keyboards, video monitors, and mice. Hence the KVM abbreviation. While you can connect multiple computers to a KVM, fewer computers can be controlled at a time. At least that is what Wikipedia has to say about that. The device allows access to both local and remote equipment that use KVM extension solutions.
How does a KVM switch work?
The system is quite straightforward. You take the computers you want to control and connect them to a KVM switch using the cables that you are given or Cat5 cabling. The, you take the keyboard, monitor and the mouse, and you connect them to the same switch. Using a single button, you can switch from one computer to the other.
What you need to remember is that not all KVM switches are the same. The best KVM switches can provide access and control over up to 32 computers at any given time. Big corporations use strategies such as a daisy-chain or cascade. That allows them to control more than 500 computers at once with a single keyboard, monitor and mouse console.
The benefits of using a KVM switch
The first time I learned about the KVM switch, I was wondering who would use such a device and why. Things became more evident after I have given a few minutes of thought. Apparently, there are plenty of advantages to using such a device, and while some are a matter of convenience, some are useful on a grander scale.
- You do not have to juggle between computers anymore – I am not the only person who has more than one computer. If you work in IT, for example, I am sure that you have at least to PCs. If that is the case, instead of buying a keyboard, monitor, and mouse for every unit, you get a single set and a KVM switch. One that controls everything.
- No more clutter – from the benefits mentioned above derives the no-clutter convenience. Can you imagine how your desk would look if you had three computers, and all of them have their own keyboard, monitor, and mouse? A dual-monitor with an HDMI splitter is possible, and lots of people have those, but in this case, three of each seems like overkill, don’t you think? Especially when there is a more elegant
- It is comfortable – since a KVM switch allows you to control a computer remotely, you do not have to get up to switch computers. You just push a button, and you are already there.
- Improved multi-tasking – in this day and age, multi-tasking is something that needs to go on a resume. If you do not know how to do it, some other guy who does will get your job. It has become a big part of lives, and it does not apply to work only. We have learned to multi-task without negative effects on our performance. A KVM switch can help you with that. If you are working on a project that requires different computers, such a device comes in handy because you can stay right where you are.
- You can perform cross-platform operations – this is where it gets tricky because you need a KVM switch that is compatible with both Windows and iOS, but it is doable. The right KVM switch will link the two even wirelessly.
The benefits above are meant to be understood by the regular user. Enterprise-level KVM switches need other features regarding scalability, capabilities, and much more. However, they do not usually use Google to find their equipment and end up on my page.
How to choose the best KVM switch?
Selecting the best KVM switch may not be the easiest task because it is not as simple as choosing a mouse or a keyboard. First of all, you need to know everything about your computers, and then you need to find a KVM switch that goes with it. Actually, it is them not it. After all, you want to link at least two computers, right? However, you will find out which KVM switch is the best for you after you ask yourself the next questions.
What KVM switch type do I need?
As you can imagine, there is more than one type of KVM switches. You can find rack-mount, rack-mount console, and desktop design. If you need a KVM switch for up to 4 PCs, the best KVM switch for you is the desktop kind. The other two types are ideal for spaces that have a lot of servers and some other network equipment. They save some space, and server rooms are usually already packed. Furthermore, the rack-mounted consoles typically come with a keyboard, LCD display, and a touchpad console. When you are not using them, you can put them away because they are collapsible.
How many ports do I need?
This is somewhat related to the previous question, but not entirely. KVM switches come with a different number of ports depending on how many computers they can accommodate. You should probably know that some devices have up to 32 available ports. For the regular use, however, 4 ports should be enough.
Are the computers far from each other?
Why does that matter? Because of the cords, of course. Before buying a KVM switch, look at how long the cable is. At the same time, you may need a different cable. Why? It seems that if the distance between the computers you want to connect is below 25 feet, you can use the cable that comes with the KVM switch. However, if the length exceeds 25 feet, you need Cat5 cabling.
What type of connection do I need?
This has something to do with the cabling and the connectors. You need to know to choose between PS/2, USB, and Cat5 connectors
What type of monitor do I have?
To establish that, you need to take a look at the cables you currently have. Does your monitor has a VGA or a DVI cable? The jacks are pretty different, so you cannot go wrong on this one.
What are the best KVM switches?
Now that you learned how to choose the best KVM switch, it is time to get to the buying part. That may be tricky a bit because there are so many of them. Reading some KVM switches reviews online may help so that you can get a clearer picture of a particular product. If you want, you can go for one of the models below and call it a day.
ieGeek USB KVM Switch Box
The KVM Switch from ieGeek is one of the best devices you will find online. Thousands of people bought it and used it, and the results are more than satisfactory. It is a high-quality and well-built KVM Switch that will properly allow you to use up to 4 computers to the same keyboard, monitor, and mouse.
The 4 USB ports will allow you maximum 4 computers, and you can switch from one to the other by simply pushing a button. You are no longer needed to change chairs or rooms. The ieGeek device will help you with that. The package also includes 4 VGA USB cables that easy to install. The device does not require a power supply since it will run on the electricity provided by your computers via a USB cable. There is no software needed, a single switch button, and the LED lights will indicate which computer is in use.
As for compatibility, you do not have to worry about it. The manufacturer created this device to be compatible with pretty much all operating systems from Windows 98 to Linux and Mac. The supported resolution is pretty good, up to 1920 x 1440, which ensures a clear and stable image quality. As a bonus, you can use the ieGeek KVM Switch to share peripheral devices as well, such as a printer, scanner, flash drive, USB hub, and whatever else you may need.
JideTech 4-Port VGA KVM Switch
Just as the title suggests, this is another KVM Switch that allows you to use the same keyboard, monitor, and mouse on 4 different computers. It is an easy to use device that will help you with your multi-tasking. You do need a driver to use it, and the plug and play features will allow you to use immediately. I think you will like it.
The JideTech KVM Switch is also powered using a USB cable that draws electricity from your computer. There is no delay between the hardware, and its efficiency reduces computer crashes as well as frozen keyboards. You may not be aware of this, but that is a pretty common phenomenon with low-quality KVM Switches. You do not have to worry about compatibility since the manufacturer took care of that issue. It is supported by almost all operating systems.
The maximum resolution this device supports is 2048 x 1536, which is more than satisfactory. The switch between computers is achieved by using the buttons on top. What I like about this particular KVM Switch is that it has a button for every computer that is connected. You do not have to push just one until you reach the desired number. The package also includes 4 KVM cables, and thanks to the multiple USB ports, you can connect more than a keyboard, monitor, and mouse. You can also use the same peripheral devices on all 4 computers.
TrendNet 2-Port USB KVM Switch and Cable Kit with Audio
Last but not least, this is yet another option you can go for. The manufacturer gives you the option of choosing the number of ports, but since most people buy the 2-port, we are going to talk about this one. You can connect 2 computers at the same keyboard, monitor, and mouse without any hassle. There is no software required so you can start using it just as you set it up.
What you may like about this particular KVM Switch is that you can also use it for audio devices. If you want, you can listen to music from one computer while you work on the other. It supports most operating systems, as well as advanced mouse designs. The maximum resolution is 2048 x 1536, which is pretty good. The switch is achieved by pressing one of the two buttons on the device, and the change is almost instant.
Before thinking of buying this product, you should know that the manufacturer recommends that both your keyboard and mouse are wireless. If that is not okay with you, you should probably think of purchasing another product.
All three products will do their jobs almost perfectly, but if I were to choose among them, I would go with the JideTech 4-Port VGA KVM Switch. The features on all three are pretty much the same, but I like the JideTech because I can choose one particular computer without going through all 4 of them. In my opinion, this is one of the best KVM Switches you can find within this price range.
You have to admit that a KVM switch can prove to be a very useful tool. As I mentioned before, it comes with many benefits if you are the kind of person who has multiple PV units. I am sure that one of the products above will meet your standards. Click here to buy on Amazon
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