The industry has many terms and new beginners may find them confusing and difficult to understand. This article will introduce the differences between KVM extenders and KVM over IP.
If you are a total newbie, you will find this KVM extender definitive guide very helpful.
Generally speaking, KVM extension solutions allow the user to access the computing devices from distance with a local console (eg. with a Keyboard, Monitor, and Mouse). Traditional KVM extenders and KVM over IP are different technologies that help realize the same purpose.
KVM extenders are also categorized into two types: Traditional KVM extenders and IP KVM extenders (that is, KVM extenders over IP).
Traditional KVM Extenders
A traditional KVM extender connects the data source and the output devices locally. It’s more known by sub-categories like KVM extender over CAT and KVM over fiber.
KVM extender Over CAT5
CAT5 KVM extenders are widely used in businesses, organizations, and families. They cover most KVM extension needs and they are convenient & cost-efficient for both commercial installers and end users.
Building with CAT5 covered would find this an effort-saving solution to the KVM extension. There is one thing to be mentioned, CAT KVM extenders generally extend over 100-400 ft. Therefore, if you are extending your gaming console to your bedroom, a CAT KVM extender is a good choice. However, when the distance goes up, you have to consider another option.
KVM extender over CAT is different from KVM over IP. As we have mentioned above, it only works with a direct connection over Ethernet and cannot work through a network switch.
Most AV Access CAT KVM extenders support CAT5 connection.
KVM extender over CAT5 vs CAT6?
Fiber KVM Extenders
Due to the properties of copper, it is inevitable for CAT KVM extenders to witness signal degradation when the transmission distance goes to a level. Fiber transmits data for a longer distance and fiber KVM extenders are extremely important for large-scale projects in a grand venue.
An advanced fiber extender could transmit USB and video signals up to 10km! And the price of each unit (generally $1000-$3000) is much higher than the average CAT KVM extender as well.
Places like research institutes and campuses may have a fiber network well laid and the extenders would easily fit in the environment without much effort in the installation stage. When the data is of a high confidential level, fiber connection would be safer as signals over a network may face potential risks.
IP KVM Extenders
Over IP solutions are the most flexible and versatile, both for HDMI extenders and KVM extenders.
IP KVM extender is still a large category and could cover a lot of extenders with different functions. However, there is something in common. IP KVM extenders enable data to be transmitted in a LAN and they don’t have to be connected through direct cable.
Therefore, they not only work through one-to-one connections, but also through one-to-many, and many-to-many. This offers great flexibility to the connection and how you can arrange your servers and the control system.
IP KVM extenders are widely used in companies or organizations that own a huge number of servers (in a server center or data center) and would love to have flexible access to these devices.
Advanced IP KVM extenders enable the administrator to manage different levels of access. One user station may be able to control one server, a few of them, or the whole data center depending on the product specs. While they need technical configuration and maintenance, users or teams without professional knowledge would find them useless.
Zero-configuration IP KVM
Some “entry-level” IP KVM extenders are good alternatives. They have the advantages of IP KVM extenders:
- Connection through IP
- More than one-to-one
- Flexible routing
At the same time, no driver, tech knowledge, or tricky installation is needed. They can be easily installed like KVM over CAT. The light design also brings down the prices and makes it affordable for most users. AV Access 4K IP KVM extender unit (4KIP100-KVM) is priced at less than $200.
You may also be interested in the HDMI over IP solution. This video is about building a video system in a sports bar with HDMI extenders over IP.