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KVM switch

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    KVM switch

    Has anyone here got any experience of using KVM switches?

    At home I've got a desktop pc with two monitors. I'm currently working from home using a work's laptop machine. I like an ergonomic workstation setup so I've been disconnecting one of my monitors from my home pc and plugging it into the laptop machine to use as my main screen (e.g. for coding) and just using the laptop screen for stuff that I look at occasionally (e.g. email). I find it annoying to have to crawl around on the floor to plug the monitor back into my home pc when I want to use both my monitors with it.

    To avoid having to keep plugging & unplugging the monitor cable I thought about buying a KVM switch. At first I thought of just getting one that has one monitor output and just sharing one monitor (and the keyboard and mouse) between the two machines. Then I started looking at switches that have two monitor outputs. Then I noticed that many KVM switches are 30Hz whereas my monitors are both set to approx 60Hz in the Windows10 display settings.

    The KVMs that have only one monitor output at 30Hz seem quite cheap, but once I started looking at those that are 60Hz and with two monitor outputs the price went up a lot. Not sure it's worth it for me. 30Hz seems quite slow (I think one of my monitors is capable of 144Hz). Does it matter much for stuff like coding, viewing webpages, email, video calls etc?

    I'm not sure it's worth the considerable extra expense to go for two monitor output and 60Hz. I think I might be better off just buying a single monitor 30Hz KVM. Not sure what brand to choose though.

    One option might be to set up a remote desktop connection from my home pc and use it to control my work's laptop. However, I don't want to share any data between the two machines. I really want to keep my personal data and work data separate, and therefore as I understand it, a KVM switch would be more appropriate for that purpose. Is there any risk of the machines seeing each other's data?

    #2
    First up, a KVM is completely safe: the two machines won't have any access to each other's data. The worst case scenario would be if the KVM itself got exploited so that it could send malicious keyboard inputs to one of the computers (a similar concept to the Hak5 Rubber Ducky).

    More generally, I spent a while looking into this. Having 1 machine with 2 monitors is easy; likewise, having 2 machines sharing 1 monitor. Having 2 machines with 2 monitors is a bit more tricky, and it does depend on the input/output connectors. Most laptops have a variety, e.g. DisplayPort + HDMI rather than 2 of the same type. (If it's a fairly new laptop, you might have a USB-C connector that can also do Thunderbolt for DisplayPort compatibility.)

    In brief, I found that the best option is to use a DisplayPort KVM connected to an MST hub. I.e. 1 DisplayPort cable going between each computer and the KVM, 1 going from the KVM to the MST hub, and 2 cables coming out of the MST hub (1 for each monitor).

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for the reply.

      The laptop has and HDMI port and a "USB 3.2 Gen2 (USB Type-C) port with DisplayPort/Power Delivery/Thunderbolt (optional)" so I would need some sort of cable to go from USB C to the switch.

      The problem is, the laptop power supply uses the USB-C port so I would need to buy another power supply that uses the barrel-shaped power socked on the laptop, which means spending more money on top of the extra cost of a switch that has 2 monitor outputs. Why do they waste the USB-C port on a power supply when the machine has a "barrel shaped" DC-in port?!

      I'm really doubting whether it's worth me spending the extra money for the 2 monitor KVM switch and additional stuff required. I haven't decided yet but am leaning towards just buying a single monitor KVM switch and putting up with 30Hz, because it is a lot cheaper.

      I just checked my Windows display settings. The lowest refresh rate it offered me was 50Hz. Not sure how that would work with a 30Hz switch?

      Comment


        #4
        just use two hdmi cables. one plugged into the PC and one the laptop.
        then plug the one you want into the monitor, as and when.
        Entropy is NOT what it used to be.
        Inertia, however........................

        Comment


          #5
          And I'm caught between two stools.

          My laptop only has an HDMI port, and my monitor only has a Displayport, which mean I'm stuck with VGA.

          If anyone can come up with a suggestion to get around this, I'd be grateful.
          "I can put any old tat in my sig, put quotes around it and attribute to someone of whom I've heard, to make it sound true."
          - Voltaire/Benjamin Franklin/Anne Frank...

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by cojak View Post
            And I'm caught between two stools.

            My laptop only has an HDMI port, and my monitor only has a Displayport, which mean I'm stuck with VGA.

            If anyone can come up with a suggestion to get around this, I'd be grateful.
            something like this? https://www.amazon.co.uk/DisplayPort.../dp/B07G79WR3L
            Entropy is NOT what it used to be.
            Inertia, however........................

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by cojak View Post
              And I'm caught between two stools.

              My laptop only has an HDMI port, and my monitor only has a Displayport, which mean I'm stuck with VGA.

              If anyone can come up with a suggestion to get around this, I'd be grateful.
              Buy a cheapo (Argos) 4K TV and use that as your monitor. Acres of screen for very little money.

              In fact I've changed from a multi-monitor setup to just one 40" telly with several machines connected to the HDMI ports, switch using the TV's remote.

              If I need two "screens" visible at the same time, Remotix solves that problem. Other VNC/RDP solutions are available.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by BR14 View Post
                Ah so much for my rubbish shrug of the shoulders thinking that different formats might make that kind of thing unusable.

                Ta.
                "I can put any old tat in my sig, put quotes around it and attribute to someone of whom I've heard, to make it sound true."
                - Voltaire/Benjamin Franklin/Anne Frank...

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by cojak View Post

                  Ah so much for my rubbish shrug of the shoulders thinking that different formats might make that kind of thing unusable.

                  Ta.
                  haaha. wait till you get a looksee of USB-C....
                  It's display port, thunderbolt, and usb, all rolled into one..
                  See You Next Tuesday

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by BR14 View Post
                    just use two hdmi cables. one plugged into the PC and one the laptop.
                    then plug the one you want into the monitor, as and when.
                    Apart from the faff of having to reach behind your monitor every time which will vary depending on your setup, frequent cable swapping is going to impact wear and tear. I'm often struck that sockets on monitors and the like are not particularly robust.

                    I haven't used a KVM since about 2005. They were terrible back then, are modern ones pretty bullet-proof or can they still be erratic?
                    Originally posted by MaryPoppins
                    I'd still not breastfeed a nazi
                    Originally posted by vetran
                    Urine is quite nourishing

                    Comment

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