A KVM (Keyboard – Video – Mouse) switch is a simple mechanical device that allows users to operate multiple computers from a single keyboard, mouse, and or video monitor. If, like myself, you are using a simple computer setup that employs only one monitor, an ergonomic keyboard, printer, vertical mouse etc. then you may never need one. But if you are part of the ever growing technological revolution that encompasses the world today then perhaps you have considered expanding you personal computing capacity to include the use of the best KVM switch available for your needs.
Even for IT specialists, networking computers can be a headache. Fortunately there are many options available to simplify the process of linking two or more computers together into one comprehensive, functioning system. An elegant solution for smooth interfacing can be achieved by using the best KVM switch for the job. With the touch of a finger or the flip of a switch you can cycle through as many as sixty-four computers from a single console. A wide range of devices are readily available with an even wider range of capabilities to meet the needs of every user and every budget.
Things to Consider for the Best KVM Switch
- The first thing to consider when selecting the best KVM switch is the type and the number of computers that you need to connect to a single user input. Do your computers use the older PS/2 interfacing or does it use full USB integration? Two, three, and four port KVM switches are generally the easiest to obtain. These usually wear the lowest price tag as well, but you can find switches capable of handling many more computers. The best KVM switch can connect many more devices and tons of accessories as well.
- You should also consider the type and number of monitors to be used with the system. The best KVM switch should still support the older VGA connections but the new flat panel displays require a DVI connection to complete the link.
- Audio support is a feature that many people will take for granted, but many of the best KVM switches do not incorporate the audio linking of one set of computer speakers for multiple towers. This is especially true if the sound card will be played through monitor audio.
- A best KVM switch may support the use of a USB hub to allow the user to connect a large number of accessories for shared use, but others will not support unpowered expansion in this respect. So, you must ask yourself how many pieces of hardware you are looking to include on your input platform and if you are willing to incorporate yet another device into the tangle on your desktop.
- Lastly, what are your preferences for actually making the switch between devices? Some switches are exactly that, switches, with a solid mechanical click at the tips of your fingers. Others include the option to make the switch using hotkeys or keyboard commands.
Top 10 Best KVM Switch Comparison Guide
Top 5 Best KVM Switch Reviews
The Plugable USB2-SWITCH2 USB 2.0/1.1 takes the number one slot on this list. It a very simple device designed to connect two USB-enabled computers to a single input accessory. Fortunately, this gadget supports the use of a powered USB hub to support a multitude of USB accessories with the single touch of a button. Connect your keyboard, mouse, printer, etc. easily and quickly with this plug-and-play solution to your networking needs. Also, no driver required. This is a USB 2.0 device and will certainly work with USB 1.1 ports but for the full speed of USB 3.0 consider the next submission on our list.
The second spot on our list goes to the upgraded version of the number one spot. The Plugable USB 3.0 sharing switch works on nearly any USB-enabled computer and is fully capable of the “SuperSpeed” that is the hallmark of the USB 3.0. This is another very simple device to provide dual computer access to a single input platform, but the price tag is a bit higher than its little brother. For those looking at top speeds from the network it will certainly be worth the extra couple of dollars. Unfortunately there was no addition of audio compatibility with this otherwise stepped up device and neither switch is recommended for use with a mass storage device.
Another simple plug-and-play device that does not require an external power source takes the third spot on our list. The IOGEAR 2 Port USB Cable KVM Switch does, however, include 2.1 stereo audio and microphone support. Support for a USB mouse, keyboard, VGA monitor and two towers at the touch a button (on a wired remote) make this an affordable option for those looking to truly de-clutter their desktop. For those looking at an entry-level device that supports multiple computing platforms including WindowsXP or higher, Mac OS 9.0 or higher, Sun Solaris 9 or higher this is definitely a fine choice.
SANOXY makes another simple and affordable device that will certainly serve for those looking into at-home solutions to printer or input device sharing problems. The USB 2.0 AB Switchbox makes for easy USB device sharing between two computers running different operating systems. One of the only drawbacks to this little tool is its light weight and small size which makes it difficult to find the perfect spot for optimal physical stability on the desktop. As for digital stability, there are no issues. It functions exactly as one would expect right out of the box with no drivers or power supply necessary.
Featuring built-in control for up to four computers by four USB accessories and one DVI monitor the ConnectPRO UD-14+ Kit allows for a much larger fully integrated network but at a much higher price point. If you have a larger budget to correspond with greater need, or perhaps you simply desire room for expansion, then this is an excellent choice for you. Featuring incredible stability with patented DDM technology there is no interruption when switching ports, whether they are USB accessories or the flat-panel DVI monitors. Control features for this device are outstanding as well. Hotkey switching and optional Infrared controls make this KVM switch a breeze to operate smoothly while working from multiple towers. While this higher end switch offers firmware upgradability it does not support audio integration and it does require an external power supply. Also available from this manufacturer are other models that will provided greater monitor resolution or connection support for fewer computers at slightly different price points, depending on your needs.
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