KVM, an acronym for Keyboard, Video, and Mouse, represents crucial peripherals for computer control. A KVM switch acts as an intermediary device, facilitating the connection and sharing of these peripherals across multiple computers. It enables users to seamlessly switch between different computers while utilizing the same KVM peripherals, eliminating the need for separate setups. This not only reduces hardware costs but also conserves desk space.
A USB switch can be compared to a KVM switch without the video interface, focusing solely on the switching and sharing of USB devices. Video switches, such as HDMI or DP switches, can handle the visual component. In essence, a KVM switch combines the functionalities of a USB switch and a video switch.
AV Access, with extensive expertise as a supplier in the consumer KVM switch market, presents a diverse selection of KVM switch products tailored for both single-screen and dual-screen configurations.
Built-in KVM Monitors
A monitor featuring a built-in KVM can be viewed as a multi-input monitor with integrated USB switch functionality. On such monitors, users can switch or select different video inputs, similar to a video switch. When a USB hub is incorporated, the monitor combines video switching with USB switching, effectively serving as a KVM switch.
Many video interfaces, including DP, HDMI, DVI, and VGA for older devices, are available on most displays. USB-A ports are usually needed to connect keyboards and mice to monitors with built-in KVM features, while one or more USB-B ports are needed to connect computers.
These monitors have USB and video switching capabilities. While USB switching necessitates navigating an on-screen display (OSD) menu to select the USB host, video switching only requires choosing the preferred input source.
With the widespread use of the Type-C interface in many devices, newer monitors are equipped with Type-C ports, simplifying KVM switching. Connecting computers to the monitor via Type-C cables allows for easy switching of both video and USB signals.
However, there aren’t many monitors on the market right now with built-in KVM features. They can typically connect to two computer hosts, one by USB and HDMI (or DP or DVI) and the other frequently utilising a Type-C interface. There are frequently only a few USB-A peripheral ports available, mostly for keyboards and mice.
How is a KVM switch on a monitor work?
Using a designated hotkey combination on their keyboard or pressing a button, users can switch between various computers while utilising a KVM switch on a monitor. When the KVM switch is attached to the monitor with a video cable, the output from the specified computer can be seen on the monitor.
Some KVM switches may connect numerous displays and switch between PCs on separate screens since they are made to accommodate multiple monitors.
What is the purpose of a KVM switch?
A KVM switch, traditionally an external device, serves the purpose of seamlessly switching between different PCs without the need to swap cables or use multiple sets of peripherals continually. This historic function of KVM switches was instrumental in saving time, boosting productivity, and streamlining workflows, making it an indispensable tool for professionals.
In contemporary settings, the modern KVM switch continues to serve the same purpose but has evolved to be integrated into select premium monitors. This integration maintains the efficiency and convenience of switching between multiple computers, offering a more compact and integrated solution for users.
KVM Switches vs. Built-in KVM Monitors
There are some differences between standalone KVM switches and monitors with built-in KVM:
|Feature||Built-in KVM Monitors||KVM Switch|
|Switching Methods||1. Single switch method |
2. Separate video and USB switching
|1. Multiple methods (Button, IR, Hotkey, etc.) |
2. Simultaneous video and USB switching
|Number of Monitors||One||Single or multiple|
|Number of Hosts||2||2-4, or more|
|Supported Peripherals||Limited USB ports||USB, LAN, Audio, and more|
1. Cable Management
Built-in KVM Monitors: These streamline cable management, especially in the case of Type-C monitors, providing a cleaner desk setup. While they come at a premium price, they eliminate the need for a separate KVM switch on your desk.
KVM Switches: These also contribute to cable organization but may require additional desk space. Users often purchase KVM switches for enhanced cable management, even when using monitors with KVM functionality.
2. Switching Methods
KVM Switches: Offer various switching methods, including press buttons, Hotkey combinations, IR remotes, and mouse wheel controls. This enables simultaneous switching of video sources and USB hosts.
Built-in KVM Monitors : Switch video sources and USB separately. Switching involves multiple steps, particularly multiple displays, requiring adjustments on each monitor individually.
KVM Switches: Support a scalable number of hosts, ranging from 2 to 4 for end-user models to dozens for professional data center switches. Ideal for setups with numerous devices.
Built-in KVM Monitors: Typically support connections to two computers, occasionally extending to three. Not specifically designed for multiple hosts, the focus is more on providing an additional feature.
4. USB Availability
KVM Switches: Come with varying USB port configurations (3 to 6 ports), supporting different standards (USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and sometimes USB-C). Some advanced models include docking features with additional ports like LAN, SD card readers, and Toslink Out.
Built-in KVM Monitors: Provide a limited number of USB ports, usually 2 to 3 USB-A ports for keyboard and mouse connections.
KVM Switches: Designed for sharing peripherals, including video, USB, and additional connectivity like Ethernet and analog audio, with multiple devices. Continuously evolving to meet diverse needs in various scenarios.
Built-in KVM Monitors: Primarily designed for monitor use, with the KVM feature as a supplementary component. Suitable for simpler setups with a focus on connecting two computers with minimal additional USB devices.