KVM Switch 101 and How to Choose One?

kvm switch dual monitor

KVM switch connects more than one PC with a single keyboard, monitor, and mouse. It enhances efficiency, saves your space, and brings down costs. What if there is no KVM switch? What troubles does this gadget help solve exactly?

What’s a KVM switch?

KVM switches are widely used in families and businesses. In fact, there are numerous different use scenarios. The most common uses are these two mentioned below: 

  • KVM switch for home office

WFHers may be working on the work computer and gaming on other devices (for example a Razer, a Nintendo, or the PS5 console). Installing multiple sets of KVM for all devices is unnecessary if you get a KVM switch. Without this small metal box, arranging or moving bulks of KVM could be the cause of headaches. Frequent plugging may accelerate the wearing off of the cables and ports. A KVM switch is a perfect way to integrate your devices into one system.

  • KVM switch in a data center

If you are in charge of a data center, you may be familiar with KVM extenders, which extend KVM signals to the offices and grant operators access to designated devices. While a KVM switch is a must for the engineer who maintains the whole room of servers.

The switch helps route the KVM to connect the needed server among the bulks on the racks and by using one display, keyboard and mouse, the professional is able to control any one of the servers in the room.

What’s KVM?

KVM stands for “Keyboard, Video, Mouse”. In a broader sense, it refers to a display, a keyboard, a mouse, and other USB peripherals. Sometimes people use “KVM” interchangeably with “KVM switch”. (This KVM is out of our discussion)

The main function of a KVM switch is to connect multiple computing devices with one or more displays, and other USB peripherals. Hence, one fixed console could be used to control a set of PCs or other servers (like gaming consoles).

A KVM switch is built as a box in metal. For most designs, there are ports for the USB host, video inputs and outputs on the back panel, and a USB hub and switch buttons on the front panel. 

how does a kvm switch work

Depending on the product specs, users could switch among different servers by pressing a button on the box, using an IR remote, hitting a certain Hotkey on the keyboard, or changing settings via a UI on the browser. The key is to connect the console to whichever device you need fast and hassle-free.

dual monitor kvm switch video
Watch video: How does a dual monitor KVM switch work

Troubles without a KVM switch

Imagine there is no KVM switch in the world, what troubles would sustain and piss you off?

  • Spending money for multiple sets of consoles (monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals) to control each server. More cable costs.
  • Allowing multiple sets of consoles to squeeze your living/work space and time (to maintain them).
  • Bringing more clusters of cables and heat into the room.
  • Facing heavy stress if any movement is likely to happen.
  • Impossible to maintain a data center of servers without a KVM switch.

The benefits of a KVM switch are self-evident here. It helps save hardware costs, reduce clusters of cables, save space and make the whole setup flexible and mobile. 

KVM switch recommendations

How to choose a KVM switch that best fits your setup? According to this guide, there are a few to consider:

  1. number of servers
  2. number of USB devices
  3. video standard
  4. number of monitors
  5. switching methods

Read Why Isn’t My KVM Switch Working? to get more details.

The above 5 considerations are among the top. Here are KVM switches available in the AV Access shop and you may have an idea of what to focus on in the specs when looking for a KVM switch.

If you only need USB switch, check this out.

Pro 4-1, HDMI 2.0 KVM switch Pro

  • Switching between 4 servers with a single monitor console 
  • HDMI 4K@60hz 444, 1080P@120hz and 2560×1440@144hz supported
  • A USB 2.0 hub of 3 ports
  • Switching methods include IR control, button, and hotkey

Basic 4-1, HDMI 2.0 KVM switch

  • Switching between four sets of computers with a single monitor console
  • HDMI 4K@60hz 444, 1080P@120hz and 2560×1440@144hz supported
  • A USB 2.0 hub of 3 ports (plus a USB 1.1 for keyboard use)
  • Switching via button

Dual-view 2-1, KVM switch Dual monitor 

  • Switching between 2 PCs with a dual monitor setup
  • HDMI 4K@60hz 444, 1080P@120hz and 2560×1440@144hz supported
  • A USB 3.0 hub of 4 ports
  • Switching via button and hotkey
  • KVM switch or USB switch modes available

Basic 2-1, Home office KVM switch

  • Switching between 2 PCs with a single monitor setup
  • HDMI 4K@60hz 444, 1080P@120hz and 2560×1440@144hz supported
  • A USB 2.0 hub of 3 ports
  • Switching via button and IR control

Do you find the KVM switch that fits your need? In fact, you may have more detailed video/audio/etc. needs in your customized setup, more information could be found if you click into a product page or try this AV Access shop for more details.

It’s OK if you can’t make a firm decision with the information offered. You are free to consult us via info@avaccess.com, for product advice or other help.

Conclusion

Simply put, a KVM is a device that helps users switch between multiple PCs or servers from one single console. Finding the best product for yourself may need some explorations and experiences. Check this out – Best KVM Switches in 2023. Today is a good time to start.