With people working on multiple servers and limited workspaces, KVM (= Keyboard-Video-Mouse) switches are the need of the hour. Besides the space-saving convenience, you also save on hardware costs, including separate keyboards and computer mice that you do not use frequently. You can switch between computers, running different applications, all while sitting at a single table. However, there are several things you need to consider before purchasing one of these switches. This buying guide will help you select the best KVM switch.
Desktop models: These are suitable for controlling up to four computers by means of a single keyboard, monitor, and mouse.
Rack Mounts: They are ideal for small offices or multi-user environments where space is at a premium. They include a built-in keyboard, LCD screen, and touchpad console, which can be collapsed to save space.
Ease of Use: Most users would recommend opting for a KVM switch that is easy to use. Accessible buttons and smart features are the top priority of users.
Warranty: If you spend a significant amount on a product, the least you could ask for is a genuine manufacturer’s warranty that covers repairs and maintenance.
Compare features: Users recommend that you check and compare your requirements before you purchase a device.
Ensure proper operation: It can very frustrating to deal with problems in connectivity that arise from a poor-quality KVM switch, especially when you are pushing a deadline. Problems with the display, or connectivity issues with a keyboard or a mouse, can be the scourge of even the most efficient systems. Therefore, it is best to verify the quality and performance of a KVM switch before you make a purchase, by going through reviews, as well as consulting friends and online forums.
Check compatibility: Although most KVM switches are compatible with all operating systems, it is still advisable to check for compatibility with your system.
Check the required connections: Ensure that the KVM switch you are planning to purchase supports the current connections. You should not end up buying a KVM switch that supports only DVI video connections when what you require is USB- or VGA-only connections. The KVM switch should also be compatible with your monitor/LCD display.
Opt for port expansion varieties: It is always better to invest in a KVM switch that has more ports than your current requirement. An additional capacity of 25% to 30% will allow for unforeseen future expansions.
Check the mount options: Choose between desktop KVMs and KVMs with a rack mount. Not all desktop KVMs work well when they are mounted on server racks. You should look for KVM switches that can be easily converted to rack mount--this will allow you the freedom of switching as and when the need arises. Rack mounts are ideal for small offices or a multi-user environment, where space is at a premium. Rack mounts include a built-in keyboard, an LCD display, and a touchpad console that can be collapsed to save space.
Check power supply options: KVM switches that work on a separate power source are known to be more efficient than those that draw power from the system. You should opt for KVM switches that include an external power supply option. Some manufacturers include the power adapter with the KVM switch, while for others you will have to procure a compatible adapter separately.
Opt for a reset button: A simple, easily accessible reset button can save you a lot of trouble when it comes to clearing a corrupted KVM switch. It is certainly a must on any KVM switch—it helps you avoid the inconvenience of physically disconnecting several systems.
Go for audio support: Some KVM switches available in the market support audio functions. You could opt for them if your work environment requires them.
Check resolution: Resolution can vary among different switches. Analog switches provide a higher resolution than their digital counterparts.
IoGear: IoGear is one of the most popular brands in this segment. They manufacture the best products at affordable prices.
Tripp Lite: Established in 1922, Tripp Lite is one of the leading manufacturers of electronic goods and computer peripherals. They have a formidable reputation in this segment.
ieGeek: KVM switches manufactured by ieGeek are reliable and durable. The brand has established itself in the market with its commitment to quality.