KVM stands for "keyboard, video, and mouse". A KVM switch is a device that allows you to control multiple computers with a single set of peripherals. You connect your keyboard, monitor, and mouse to the KVM switch, then connect the switch to two or more computers. With the press of a button, you can then switch between controlling the different computers.
What is a KVM Switchbox?
A KVM switchbox is ideal for technical professionals, developers, graphic designers, and anyone else who works with multiple computers and high-end components. If you have a multi-system desktop setup, specialize in tasks that require high resolution or refresh rates, or want a simple way to vastly expand your computing functionality, a KVM switch is the perfect tool for the job. With a wide range of ports, features, and price points available, there's a KVM solution for every need and budget.
KVM switchboxes add additional useful features to basic functions:
Higher resolution and refresh rate support to accommodate the latest high-end monitors without lag or signal degradation
USB hub functionality to share additional peripherals like flash drives, hard drives, printers, etc. between computers using the same switch
Additional ports to connect and switch between more than just two computers (often up to 8 simultaneously)
Specialized ports for audio switching in addition to standard keyboard, video, and mouse so you can route your speakers and headset to the active computer
DisplayPort and HDMI compatibility in addition to VGA and DVI for connecting the latest graphics cards and monitors
Hotkey shortcuts and button controls for easily switching between computers and managing features
What are the KVM Switchbox types?
Many people think a KVM switchbox is rather mundane, but with recent technological advancements, these handy devices are more powerful and versatile than ever before.
Basic KVM Switchboxes
The most common type is the basic 2-port or 4-port KVM switchbox. These allow you to control 2 or 4 computers with one keyboard, video monitor, and mouse. They're inexpensive and great for small operations or homes with multiple computers. However, they lack advanced features like USB peripheral sharing or remote access.
KVM Switchboxes with USB Peripheral Sharing
For those who want to share other USB devices like printers, flash drives, or tablets between computers, a KVM switchbox with USB peripheral sharing is ideal. These have dedicated USB ports so you can plug in and share almost any USB device. Now you can print documents or transfer files between computers quickly without constantly plugging and unplugging cables.
Remote-Access KVM Switchboxes
If you manage servers or equipment in a data center or other remote location, a remote-access KVM switchbox is invaluable. These come with additional ports to plug in LAN cables which allow you to access and control the attached computers over a network or internet connection. No more driving to the data center or waiting for technicians when you need to restart a server or troubleshoot an issue. Just connect to the KVM switchbox remotely from your office or home.
In Which Areas Are KVM Switchbox Used?
Data centers hosting hundreds or thousands of servers benefit tremendously from KVM switchboxes. Rather than needing a separate keyboard, monitor, and mouse for each server, data center technicians can control all servers from a single KVM switch. This saves time, money, and space.
Educational Computer Labs
School computer labs with 30 or more computers are more manageable with a KVM switch. Teachers and IT staff can operate and troubleshoot all computers from a single station, without having to physically visit each workstation. Students can also be given controlled access to the KVM switch to demonstrate to the whole class.
Software Development and Testing
For those involved in software development and testing, KVM switches are invaluable for managing multiple computers running different operating systems or software configurations. From a single desk, you can switch between computers to code, compile, and test - no need for extra peripherals for each system.
Broadcasting and video production
In broadcasting and video production, professionals rely on a variety of specialized hardware like video mixers, capture cards, editing workstations, and more. An advanced KVM matrix switch enables a seamless transition between all the hardware to facilitate streaming, editing, and mixing. Production teams can control all equipment using a single keyboard and monitor through the KVM switch.
While basic KVM switches have their uses, more advanced switchboxes truly shine in demanding applications where managing many computers and hardware devices is required. With innovative features like cascading, multiviewing, and IP-based access, these high-performance KVM tools are up to the task.
What are the best selling KVM Switchbox brands?
Not all KVM switchboxes are created equal - some are better designed, more durable and offer extra features that can make a big difference in productivity and convenience.
ATEN is arguably one of the most well-known KVM switchbox brands and for good reason. They have been making rock-solid KVM switches for years that are renowned for their performance and reliability. So whether you're on a budget or want a KVM that can do it all, ATEN likely has an option for you.
StarTech.com is a brand that has gained a cult following with tech enthusiasts and IT professionals alike. They are known for making highly reliable KVM switches packed with features that cater to power users. If you really know your tech and need more advanced features, StarTech.com has some compelling choices.
IOGEAR is known for making high-quality yet affordable KVM switches that get the job done without lots of bells and whistles. If you just need basic functionality at a good price, IOGEAR is tough to beat.
Tripp Lite is renowned for producing highly durable KVM switches that are ideal for data centers, server rooms and other demanding environments. Their switches are built like tanks and can withstand wear and tear for years. If you need a reliable KVM for intense usage, Tripp Lite is a great choice.
Avocent is a brand that is synonymous with premium grade KVM switches. They are designed for the most demanding applications and rigorous data center environments. Avocent KVMs are highly advanced, with features like USB 3.0, dual display support, secure encrypted switching and more. However, this high performance comes at a high price. Avocent KVMs are considerable investments but worth it if you need the latest and greatest features and flawless performance.
Belkin is a popular electronics brand that is known for making reliable and affordable products with sleek designs. Their KVM switches follow this formula and offer solid performance and features at reasonable prices, all wrapped up in eye-pleasing enclosures. If you want a capable KVM that looks good too, Belkin is a great choice.