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dave

April 23rd 2014 1:14 pm

Options for a "modern" KVM switch?

On my desk at home, I have one monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, and a decent set of speakers that are ultimately shared between 3 machines:
  • Windows 7 gaming PC
  • Mac mini for personal use
  • Macbook Pro work computer
Awhile ago, I purchased The-World's-Crappiest-KVM-Switch™. It was about $35, let me "switch" between 2 devices (more on that in a bit), had a few USB 2.0 ports, and your standard assortment of DVI connectors. Also, it was ugly -- it has so many cables coming out from every surface it looks like Cthulhu has made his home in my office. To top it off, there were some weird issues where if you didn't switch devices after a certain amount of time, the switch would basically stop recognizing one of the machines you were trying to switch to. The only solution was to reboot that machine and start it up as the active selection on that switch. Annoying!



Cthulhu exists! And can be found on my desk... (Via Wikipedia)

So, I've been looking around for a new KVM switch. It's like we lost a war and traveled back to the 1980's. Everything seems to have VGA or DVI ports, USB 2.0 connectors, and maybe, just maybe an audio output adapter. Since we live in the 21st century, I'm wondering if there is anything that has the following features:
  • Video: HDMI or DisplayPort. DVI is okay too, I suppose.
  • USB 3.0 ports. Come on, pretty please, with a cherry on top. All my machines use USB 3.0 now and I even have a USB 3.0 hub that I want to connect everything to.
  • Your standard assortment of audio inputs / outputs (3.5mm is fine for me right now)
  • Oh, and maybe it doesn't look ugly?

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11 replies
flackend

I use Synergy (synergy­-foss.org). It's kind of like VNC for just your keyboard and mouse.

synergy­-foss.org­/img­/splash­/splash­-en.png

But since you just share the one screen....
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dave

Synergy is absolutely great when I have two screens available (e.g., using my laptop but also one of my desktops). But it's not quite what I'm looking for here since I only have 1 monitor on my desk and often want mouse, keyboard, and speakers to be controlled by whatever machine I'm using at that point.
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jandrade

I've had very good luck with IOGear KVMs, but for the past couple of years I've just been using remote desktops and virtual machines. Since all of my machines tend to be on the same network, remote desktop works flawlessly, and I'm even accessing remote machines with several different products, including Chrome's own RDP client and iCloud Screen Sharing.

If I really need a monitor (because the computer is not starting, or something) I just plug them to a small monitor I use for repairs, get it up and running, and back on the network.
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Dignan17

I'll be following this thread closely too in hopes that someone has a suggestion. My fear is that KVMs are such a niche product that accessory manufacturers don't really put much effort into them. I think that can be seen in the typically high prices they go for, even when they're poorly made ($35 is surprising, I haven't seen them that cheap).

I do computer support, and would love to have a station set up with a KVM so I could easily work on multiple computers at a time. Instead I do one of two things:
  1. Put all the computers as close to each other as possible so I can more easily swap cables from one to the next (clearly, this is a pain)

    or
  2. Install GoToAssist on all of them and just switch between them on my main desktop. This is what I do most of the time.
I was hoping that Anker would have made a KVM, but it doesn't look like they have. They seem to be the up and coming accessory manufacturer these days, specializing in really nice USB hubs and battery packs.
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frankspin

Install GoToAssist on all of them and just switch between them on my main desktop. This is what I do most of the time.

Not to detract but during my support days I, and my team, swore by Dameware just for this. www.dameware.com/
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Dignan17

Their model confuses me. $349 for...what? Forever? A year? I'm confused...

And of course, if you're not doing support work, there are free remote control programs that would work for this purpose, like TeamViewer or even Chrome Remote Desktop.
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frankspin

We loved this because it required zero intervention from the user. We could come in and get a few things knocked out remotely before users even logged onto their computer for the day.
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Dignan17

Ah ok. Yeah, I have a different tool for that, and GTA is sufficient for me. But if this other thing were a one-time $350 investment, that would be tempting. Is it just for install bases or can one-off remote support sessions be created?
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frankspin

The install creates a service dameon that will just run. I think you can configure to remove on session end.
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ckennel

Actively following this post. I have a similar setup to you and am looking for the KVM solution and not the "KM" solution everyone chimes in on. Understandably, the software KM solutions like Synergy are very popular with the IT crowd but what if you are looking for a cross platform (PC/MAC) solution that also allows you to utilize the full horsepower of the shared system. For example, if I am doing heavy video, photoshop, Autocad, or mograph work, I seem to always seem to have issues with any software or remote login approach. I think most users looking for KM or KVM solutions are just doing simple non-processor/GUI intensive functions and can get away with the remote login presentation. Would love to see something else come to the market. The options from IOGear have been around for a long long time. They are decent but long in the tooth. Hoping something comes to the market soon.
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Johnsmithusa

Hi Dave,

As per my opinion, If you found Best KVM Switches or any data center infrastructure management related product, you can visit Dcgears, this is one of the best company were you can buy any thing, i have already bought at reasonable price and delivery time is same.
Website Address - www.dcgears.com
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