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How do I find a good KVM switch?
I regularly use two computers with the same keyboard and monitor(s) with a KVM switch. With one button press, the KVM switch can transfer both the video output (monitors) and input (keyboard and mouse) to the other computer, which is the part that I like.
The part I don't like is the flaky behavior of my specific switch and I'm wondering if there's anything better.
When I was originally shopping for the switch, I quickly saw that the market is split into two types:
- Very cheap (<$20) and low quality products made by unknown Chinese companies
- Very expensive (>$100) products made by an obscure company specialized in that product
I decided to try a cheap one first, branded UGREEN. This works well enough: It is able to switch output in about 2 seconds. Input starts working before I see the new picture on the monitor, so I think it's actually instant but my monitor has the delay. The problem with it is that it uses VGA, so I must attach VGA-HDMI adapters because my computers don't have VGA ports, which introduces artifacts into the video. Also it can only do one monitor, but I'd like to use multiple.
I tried to upgrade with this one by Greathtek which uses HDMI. This was terrible, it would take close to 10 seconds to actually switch, making it unusable. Based on examining other products in group 1, I have little faith in them being better - the companies always have no broad reputation or history, the photos are badly photoshopped, there are many fake reviews, the description is poorly written. At some point perhaps I might just bite the bullet and buy every crappy switch to see if maybe one of them happens to be good after all, but I'm not there yet.
I reasoned that perhaps "you get what you pay for" and the solution is to get something from group 2. I've seen people on the internet claim that the expensive switches are "better", but they usually focus on berating other people for being poor and don't explain how the expensive switches are "better". To my mind, the switch would have a Y-type wiring for both HDMI and USB, and simply switch which wires are connected when you press the button. Yet some of these are as much as $300, have their own separate power supply, are enormous themselves, so it seems like they are designed for something different than switching keyboard, video or mouse. Unlike group 1, I can't afford to just buy a bunch of these switches until I find one that works.
How do I go about locating a good KVM switch? Is it really the case that all that "extra" stuff in group 2 switches is necessary? Are there any companies considered reputable in this area? Are there specific features that I should look for when looking at the description? Are there any specialized websites that provide a good selection of these?
As far as working well, features that I'm looking for are:
- Switching quickly (1 sec or less) and with one button press (no separate USB and video switches)
- Hardware switch, not software (some appear to listen for special keys on the keyboard, I don't want that)
- A modern video input like DisplayPort, not VGA
- Compatible with Linux and Mac
- Ideally avoid making the computer rearrange the desktop because the monitor was "disconnected"
- Ideally have a LED indicator showing which side is active
- Ideally support multiple monitors