Get Onboard: An Ultimate Guide for KVM Switch Newbies

kvm switch ultimate guide

This article organizes some key information about the KVM switch and collects previous blogs on this topic. With this information, you shall be able to learn what’s a KVM switch and many of its’ basics you would love to know.

What’s a KVM switch?

To be short, a KVM switch is hardware that helps you connect one or more monitors to multiple servers and have them share one USB hub.

It means they use the same screen, the same set of keyboard, mouse, and other USB peripherals. You are able to control a good number of computers, laptops, game consoles, or other computing devices at the same workstation.

How does it work? Most simple-to-use KVM switches are built with a switch button. When you press it, the KVM will route you to the next device connected in the setup. There are more switch methods as well, such as IR control and Hotkey control.

What types of KVM switches are available on the market? Basically, they can be categorized into two types: standard KVM switch and KVM switch over IP. The latter is more scalable and flexible if you are connecting a good number of servers to various workstations.

Related resources:

KVM switch or not?

Are there any other solutions to solve the problem a KVM switch solves? Well, yes. There are a few options. But I will recommend you to learn more about their differences.

For example, Serial Console Server. It connects to the console port of the device and provides remote access to it through a network connection. Users can then access the console port remotely using a terminal emulator program and perform tasks as if they were physically connected to the device.

Or more simple solutions? A monitor with the KVM switch feature is built in. That’s a good one. If you are not thinking of upgrading it into a dual monitor setup or doing other flexible changes in the future, it may be a good pick.

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KVM switch for what?

A KVM switch can be used in very different scenarios. The very practical use is to make a home office setup that will welcome your external device like a work PC to join anytime, or some multi-taskers use it to work on multiple computers at the same time.

Companies or data centers use KVM switches to manage a whole room of servers. You couldn’t imagine how much work you’re gonna do to talk to a room of computers one by one if there is no such gadget as a KVM switch.

And…gaming! PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and Steam, to name a few. You’ll save a lot of space and money to share up one monitor, keyboard, mouse, and gamepad with them all.

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Which KVM switch to buy?

There’re some things to consider before buying a KVM switch. Hopefully, you can finally get a KVM switch that could be successfully installed with your existing devices, and that works without compatibility issues.

kvm switch8k hdmi 2.1 kvm switch dual monitor kvm switch

Some important features you shall take into consideration:

  • Resolutions and refresh rates supported
  • Connection types supported
  • Number of devices/displays supported
  • Switch methods  

Learn more about what you shall consider before buying:

How to set up and troubleshoot?

There are some tricky things in KVM switch installation if you are a newbie. Here are some examples:

  • First thing first, there are a bunch of cables waiting to connect to the KVM switch and you shall put them into the right place. If you are putting the USB signal of your Macbook and the video signal of your PS5 into one group, you are messing them up.
  • Are you using any adapters in the setup? You may be using it wrong if you do not know some of them are uni-directional.
  • How to connect your USB devices? What are the differences between USB 1.1, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0? That might decide if your USB devices will be working well.

You may not face any troubles yet as you haven’t really started to use a KVM switch. While if you are considering, learning about troubleshooting may help you avoid these problems in advance.

Figure out how to set up or troubleshoot: 

Here it is – everything about KVM switch all at once. Have fun reading!