For those who aren’t familiar with KVM, it’s basically an acronym that stands for keyboard, video, and mouse. A KVM switch is a device which allows you to control more computers or servers using only a single keyboard, video monitor, and mouse by employing a special dial or buttons on the switch. You can imagine the KVM switch as a ‘parent’ device which takes over the computer CPUs and servers that represent the ‘children’ devices. You might also be interested in our articles about the best hdmi switch and the best backlit keyboards.
There are many situations in which a KVM switch can come in handy. It depends on individual needs, but there are some great uses for both the personal and the professional sectors. A KVM switch can offer lots of benefits to those who have jobs that need the constant toggling between different operating systems. On a simple search for this product online you can discover a great variety of products, some of them really cheap, others more expensive. If you wish to figure out which one’s best for you, analyzing a few aspects would be a solid starting point.
1. Power supply
Some KVM switches get their power through the connected computers, but others have an internal source of energy. The internally powered models are usually more reliable as they deliver a consistent level of performance. This is mostly because they don’t have to rely on the capabilities of the host computer.
When you’re shopping for a KVM switch, is essential to watch out for compatibility with your operating system. Some models run well with both Mac and Windows systems but you can occasionally find others that could only work with either Mac or Windows.
3. Port Capacity
The more basic models can simply switch between two different computers just by using one monitor, one mouse, and a single keyboard. There are also some more advanced units with larger port capacities which can toggle between numerous computers. It’s important to analyze your particular needs to figure out which model would be better.
There are probably other relevant features to consider, but these are the main ones to have in mind. Armed with this knowledge, let’s start looking at what’s in store for high-quality KVM switches. Take a look at the following list which contains a diverse range of products that should be suited for multiple budgets and less or more demanding needs.
Best Buy KVM Switch
The IOGEAR GCS22U wins the top spot on this list due to a reliable set of features that should help anyone who wants to multi-task. This is a 2-port KVM switch so it will allow you to control two computers using only one set of keyboard and mouse as well as a single monitor. At this price, this should be one of your first options to consider.
When you receive the KVM switch you will realize that you can start to use it right away. All the required cables with VGA-USB connectors are supplied in the box and there’s no need for purchasing any extra accessories. Simply connect the cables to your computers and things will be soon running smoothly. Because the cables are molded-in, the setup will be significantly simplified.
After the install process, you will be able to switch with ease from a computer to the other using the built-in wired remote dedicated button. This remote has a decent length of six feet so it should accommodate to your workspace quite nicely. The design of the KVM switch is also quite lightweight and portable, suitable for those who have more limited space.
Among the supported operating systems, we can count Sun besides Windows and Mac. The switch won’t need a separate power supply as it can take all its required energy through the USB port. It’s a solid plug-and-play device that doesn’t need a software to run. When it comes to actual performance and reliability, you can expect zero detectable latency and basically instantaneous switching between outputs.
Considering all the features of this KVM switch, it can be said that IOGEAR did a solid job with the GCS22U. It’s well-made, compact and works exactly as expected. This handy little switch can save you from a lot of wasted time and effort and is recommended for those with more basic setups as it has just 2 ports.
- 2048 x 1536 maximum resolution
- Plug-n-Play monitor support
- Compact design
- Molded-in cables
- PC, Mac, SUN OS compatibility
A multi-port KVM switch shouldn’t necessarily be very expensive as evidenced by this model from ieGeek. It boasts a total of 4 ports allowing you to realize lots of connections to a single monitor with multiple computers. It’s fairly simple to install and there are four VGA-USB cables included in the package.
With the help of this KVM switch, you will be able to enjoy a maximum of four connected computers and control them using one monitor and one set of mouse and keyboard. You can say goodbye to the hassle of swinging the chairs to do your tasks on multiple computers as you’ll be able to operate with ease all four of them from a single monitor.
To get started on your new multi-tasking endeavor, it’s important to get over the initial installation process. It’s worth noting that this KVM switch doesn’t need a separate power supply as it can get its required energy from a USB connection. Connect it to your computers using the supplied cables and enjoy a straightforward operation as there’s no required software to run.
The LEDs will offer a good indication to see which is the active computer. When it comes to OS compatibility, you can rest assured that this little device can handle from the older Windows versions like 98, all the way up to Windows 10. It can work with Mac and Linux systems too and the supported resolution of 1920 x 1440 maximum means you can enjoy a reasonably clear image quality.
This KVM switch is adequate for a wide range of applications, including conferences, video meetings, in education and business-related environments. It also allows for convenient sharing of more USB peripherals between computers. There are lots of features that make this KVM switch a worthy candidate so if you want an affordable solution that enhances your multiple-computers work, this one from ieGeek could definitely be it.
- 4-port USB KVM Switch
- Comes with 4 VGA USB cables
- No need for a power supply
- Wide OS compatibility
- Maximum supported resolution of 1920 x 1440
If you’re looking for a premium KVM switch you shouldn’t miss the IOGEAR GCS1104, a model which can satisfy even those with more demanding needs. It provides a powerful interface that integrates 4-port USB functionality with peripheral sharing abilities. It takes it a step further as it allows you to share among computers hard drives, printers, and others.
This unit comes with an asynchronous switching function which basically enables to place the KVM focus on a computer and have the focus for peripherals on another one. It can be done at the same time too which is convenient because you don’t have to interrupt print jobs or other tasks done by peripherals when you wish to switch from a computer to another.
One thing that you’ll definitely like is the addition of DVI connectors and the reliable USB connection. DVI accommodates both analog video input as well as digital input. The single link DVI resolution goes up to a maximum of 1920 x 1200.
With the help of IOGEAR’s DynaSync technology, you will be able to experience virtually no delay or resolution mismatch when you’re toggling between computers. This is also the case when booting computers. It remembers the right parameters of the monitors, but keep in mind that this technology will require some additional drivers to be installed.
Monitoring the status of your KVM switch is simplified thanks to a convenient LED display. There’s also an Auto Scan Mode that can be very useful for monitoring all computers. This model is hot-pluggable so you can add or remove computers at your leisure without the need to turn off the switch. Compatibility-wise, the KVM switch works with Windows, Mac, Linux, and even Sun host systems.
The price is a bit high for a KVM switch but if you want more performance and extra convenience, the IOGEAR GCS1104 is a very solid choice. This is a feature-rich unit that’s built with durability in mind and it works without a flaw with modern monitors and a multitude of devices. All in all, it offers great value and it gets the job done.
- Can control 4 USB DVI computers
- Plug-n-Play hot pluggable
- Independent hotkey switching
- Auto Scan Mode
- Support for 2.1 stereo audio + microphone
Another high-quality 4-port KVM switch is this model from JideTech which provides a cable kit and HDCP with support for high video resolution. Among some its most interesting features we can count the Monitor Synchronous Dynamic Display technology, the Auto Scan Mode, and the wide OS compatibility.
This unit allows for the control of four computers through the HDMI interface and you can also have two USB devices. Switching between them is easy thanks to the convenient front panel with buttons and you can also use keyboard hotkeys.
Performance-wise, this KVM switch won’t disappoint. It offers support for HDMI screens maintaining compliance with the HDMI 1.4a and HDCP standards. It’s compatible with Dolby True HD as well as DTS HD Master Audio. It offers an Auto Scan Mode which monitors all the computers.
There are three available switch modes for this device. The first one is by using the right port selection switch found on the front panel of the KVM switch box. A simpler way would be to use keyboard hotkeys though this is not possible for Mac users. Another mode for switching is by using the mouse but this is only supported for Windows computers and you need to install the provided software.
To ensure booting without any errors, the KVM switch provides complete keyboard signal simulation. There’s also the problem of maintaining the correct display resolution which this unit can solve using a synchronous dynamic display technology. Basically, this will store the console monitors extended display identification code.
Considering that it’s capable to fulfill your expectations, this KVM switch by JideTech deserves a spot on this list. Switching is done almost immediately and without any difficulty, once you finish the installing process for your computers. The unit itself is robust, with the right amount of weight to it and the rubber feet add some extra stability. Overall, this could be the best KVM switch for you if it suits your budget.
- 4 Input 1 Output KVM Switch
- Supports HDMI Digital Monitor
- Auto Scan Mode
- High video resolution support
- Monitor Synchronous Dynamic Display Technology
There are many people unwilling to invest too much in a very complicated KVM setup. If you’re one of them, you should check out the Rosewill RKV-2UC, a KVM switch that delivers some basic functionality without any major flaws. The price is probably one of its standout features as it’s quite low.
A great ability of this switch is the DVI functionality. From one DVI console, you can take control of two USB computers. The switching is done through a USB mouse, hotkeys, and via a remote port selector. The KVM switch is capable of USB 2.0 peripheral sharing but a USB hub is required for the USB mouse port.
I’ve mentioned the remote port selector and this is actually a very nice feature of this switch. What this does is basically enabling you to control port switching from the desktop even if the switch itself is located somewhere else, stored in a more convenient place.
Besides allowing for lots of hotkeys to make the switch to another computer, this model also supports a mouse port-switching function. A double-click on your USB mouse’ scroll wheel is enough to make the switch.
A great enhancement comes with the addition of the Video DynaSync technology that should prevent any resolution problems with the displays that can occur when switching. This feature also helps with boot-up display issues. The final function worth mentioning is the Power on detection ability. In case one of the computers is turned off, the switch will recognize it and automatically move over to the next unit that’s powered-on and switch to it.
Despite offering a fairly simplistic approach to KVM switching, the Rosewill RKV-2UC is worth considering if you want to stick to the essential features. The only weak aspect is the quality of the switching buttons. A bit too much plastic here leaves off a cheap impression. Still, you get what you pay for and considering the overall functionality and the quick switching, this is recommended.
- 2-port USB KVM switch
- Built-in VGA connector
- Support for resolutions of maximum 2048 x 1536
- Windows and Mac compatibility
- Works with Sun Solaris workstations
Sea Wit is a professional manufacturer of high-quality audio and video products and they also manage to reach KVM switch users with performant and reliable products. One example is this 4-port HDMI switch that comes with multiple exciting features in a very modern package complete with all the needed accessories.
One aspect that makes this unit stand out from others is the construction. It seems that the manufacturer focused on creating a more durable KVM switch, as evidenced by the anti-oxidation metal shell and the solid shockproof stickers on the base. The matte texture is pleasant to the touch and the case is rack-mountable. It’s also rugged enough to handle more difficult environments.
This KVM switch is designed to be able to control up to four computers with an independent set of monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Your productivity can be increased by a lot with this model when you also consider the HDMI 1.4a and HDCP support as well as the 1080p and 1920 x 1200 maximum accepted resolutions.
In terms of switching modes, you’ve got a bunch of options to choose from. The most obvious switching method is to use the push buttons on the front panel of the unit. With an extra software, you can configure some hotkey keyboard switching modes as well as for using the mouse to switch through computers. The necessary software is supplied in the package.
Working as advertised and offering excellent value for the cost, this Sea Wit KVM switch shouldn’t be left out if you’re looking for performance and quality in a KVM switch. Mac users might experience some compatibility issues as this is more geared towards Windows systems, but all in all, this is a very well-designed HDMI switch.
- Cable kit included
- 1080p support for HDTV and 1920 x 1200 for DVI
- Easy to switch with three switching modes
- Solid and durable design
- Comprehensive operating system support
An interesting model on the market for KVM switches is this 8-port unit from Rijer. This switch can control a total of 8 hosts and it comes complete with an extension switcher and all the necessary cables. It also supports a large resolution of maximum 1920 x 1440 and thanks to its rackmount design, it can be stored very efficiently.
When it comes to the construction, there are a couple aspects that seem to indicate a nice level of durability. The connectors are nickel-plated and the shell uses a solid metal with strong resistance to corrosion. The rackmount design gives off a more professional look of the device, making it a suitable choice for any cabinet.
The KVM switch uses an advanced system to protect against sudden high voltage lightning with 8KV maximum discharge and up to 15KV air discharge. When you take a look at the switch you will discover its handy LED indicators that show you the active computer and there’s also a reset button.
Performance-wise, this KVM switch is able to offer support for high-resolution monitors as it accepts a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1440. The switch powers itself using one of the ports when you connect the computers so there’s usually no need to use the additional charging port located on the switch.
All in all, the Rijer 8-port KVM switch is a solid all-around product. The instructions are a bit difficult to follow, but if you’re familiar with KVM switches, then you shouldn’t experience any issues with this model. All the needed cables are supplied and the rackmount design also allows for convenient mounting. Considering everything, this KVM switch is an excellent buy at this price.
- 1920 x 1440 maximum resolution supported
- 8 5-feet cables included
- No power needed
- Rackmount design
- Nickel-plated connectors
Although this KVM switch box from UGREEN comes in the last place, that doesn’t mean that this product is not on par with the others. It’s a more basic KVM switch but it looks powerful enough and well-built to extend your workspace control. Don’t let this one slip under your radar because it has great potential.
This KVM switch is obviously built for multitasking. Whether at home or at work, with the help of this little external device, you can take control of two computers from a one USB keyboard, USB mouse, and monitor. The maximum supported resolution for the monitor is 1920 x 1440 and the available ports are VGA.
Getting this KVM switch to work is not a particularly difficult process. The first step is to connect the USB devices to the connectors on the switch. Then you have to make the connection to the display device using a VGA cable as well as for the other computers.
When it’s all done, use the dedicated button on the switch to toggle between computers. UGREEN provides two USB 2.0 cables but that’s all, no extra cables so you might need to purchase some additional VGA cables if you don’t already have them. Among the compatible operating systems, we can also count Sun Solaris, besides the usual Windows, Mac, and Linux. The KVM switch is very portable and won’t require an external power supply.
Taking everything about the UGREEN KVM switch into account, it’s safe to conclude that it manages a satisfactory blend of performance and cost. It’s priced just right appealing to those looking for a more affordable unit to enhance their workstations. The directions aren’t very hard to follow so the install process is very intuitive. An excellent solution for a basic KVM switch.
- 2-port KVM Switch
- Portable and simple to use
- Wide OS compatibility
- Maximum resolution supported of 1920 x 1440
- No power supply or software required