The 10 Best KVM Switches

Updated May 12, 2018 by Jeff Newburgh

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We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. If you're trying to scale down your data center's hardware, maximize your desktop space, or save on business operating costs, one of these KVM switches is just what you need. Depending on the model, they support either HDMI or DVI connections, while giving you the freedom to seamlessly and simultaneously operate multiple computer systems using a single mouse, keyboard, and monitor. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best kvm switch on Amazon.

10. JideTech 9116

Boasting nearly universal compatibility with most standard operating systems, the JideTech 9116 allows for hot-plugging operation, meaning that any peripheral device can be added or removed from the switch without having to power the unit off and on again.
  • rapid 8-second auto scanning feature
  • durable metal exterior housing
  • doesn't support the apple keyboard
Brand JideTech
Model 9116H-CA1
Weight 12.5 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. IOGear GCS

The compact, HDCP-compliant IOGear GCS utilizes its handy DynaSync functionality to retain the memory of a monitor's settings, virtually eliminating any possible changes or delays to the display output when booting or switching between two HDMI-connected devices.
  • automatic power-on detection
  • keyboard emulation can be disabled
  • usb cables are rather short
Model GCS62HU
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. StarTech SV231

With an ability to switch 3 high-definition DVI monitors, a keyboard, mouse, and microphone between two PCs at the push of a button, the StarTech SV231 is an excellent option for professional graphic designers looking to maximize desk space at minimal equipment cost.
  • 3-year warranty and lifetime support
  • rubber foot pads for stability
  • rear dvi ports are tightly-spaced
Brand StarTech
Weight 3.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. TrendNet TK

Specifically built for interfacing with a dual-link DVI-D monitor, the TrendNet TK supports displays running a 60 Hz refresh rate. Its integrated resolution optimization has been designed to instantly adopt the screen settings coming from a connected device.
  • 2 bonus usb ports for storage drives
  • supports 2560 by 1600 resolution
  • user documentation is confusing
Brand TRENDnet
Model TK-422DVK
Weight 6.8 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Tripp Lite B004

Simultaneously control four computer systems equipped with dual-head video cards using the dual-monitor DVI-enabled Tripp Lite B004. Switching is accomplished with the unit's front panel push-button interface, using keyboard hotkeys, or with your mouse's scroll wheel.
  • built-in 2-port usb hub
  • quad view mode for using 2 switches
  • compact design for easy placement
Brand Tripp Lite
Model B004-2DUA4-K
Weight 12.2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Sea Wit 16

The Sea Wit 16's high quality components make it compatible with most modern devices, including gaming consoles and DVRs. The anti-interference systems allow for over 8,000 hours of stable use, while the programmable scanning interval can range from 8 to 999 seconds.
  • 15-meter output distance
  • power leakage prevention
  • cross system operation
Brand Sea Wit
Model 9116H
Weight 7.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Duttek 4 Port

The small footprint and a low price make the Duttek 4 Port an economical choice for controlling multiple PCs. Full VGA and USB 2.0 connectivity allow for high-speed data sharing, as well as gaming at 1440p, and it requires no external power source.
  • plug and play inputs
  • works with older computers
  • scanner and webcam compatible
Brand Duttek
Model pending
Weight 6.1 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

2. Sea Wit 8

The durable metal shell and shockproof stickers make the Sea Wit 8 the perfect model even in harsh environments. Auto scanning chooses the best display setting for each machine while programmable hot keys mean you can use your favorite keyboard without worry.
  • one-button reset
  • no software required
  • runs on usb or mains adapter power
Brand Sea Wit
Weight 5.3 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. TESmart 4K Ultra

With cross platform support and ultra high definition pass-through, the TESmart 4K Ultra will make the most of all those expensive peripherals for up to four computers. Hot key commands and mouse gestures let you switch quickly between inputs.
  • dolby vision compatible
  • edid emulation on all inputs
  • multiple usb 2 ports
Brand TESmart
Model HKS0401A1U
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

Connect And Succeed

The majority of consumers in today's technological world are familiar with a single computer setup. A person using a desktop computer, for example, has a central processing unit (CPU) tower that houses the major internal components of their system, a keyboard, mouse, and a video monitor to complete their work. The same can be said for the laptop user. Everything needed to complete tasks on a laptop is in one place with fully-integrated processing power and connections for peripherals. By contrast, a graphic design artist might require the ability to work seamlessly across two different operating systems with the ability to control them using a single workstation. The KVM switch can make this possible.

KVM is an acronym for keyboard, video, and mouse. The KVM switch is a piece of hardware that allows for the toggled control of multiple computer CPUs or servers from a single keyboard, mouse, and video monitor using either a rotary dial or several independent buttons on the switch itself. Think of the KVM switch as a centralized communication hub (or the parent device) that can be used to take control over other machines and servers (its children devices) without forcing the user to get up, go over to the machines, and control them independently using separate keyboards and mice. A majority of KVM switches can control between two and eight computers at a time.

Computers can be connected to a KVM switch in a variety of ways. The most popular connection method is through the use of a specialized KVM cable that combines all of the keyboard, video, and mouse cables into a single extension cable that runs to each machine. This connection method reduces the number of cables required. Other switches may have separate built-in connectors for each machine's keyboard, video, and mouse cables.

KVM switches are either active or passive. Passive switches are typically hardwired internally between their input and output ports. Computers connected to a passive switch are selected manually using a rotary knob on the switch itself. Active switches are more common and they retain the actions performed by the devices (keyboards and mice) connected to them. Active switches are either powered by the connected computers' keyboard cables or they may have their own separate power supplies.

The KVM switch offers many benefits. Firstly, the CPUs (or servers) connected to the device are not required to have the same amount of memory or processing power between them. In fact, they don't even have to be from the same manufacturer. The device significantly improves work productivity by decreasing the amount of time required of a user to switch between computers manually. The switch also reduces both energy and hardware costs, given that a worker no longer has to depend on the use of multiple video monitors (or additional peripherals) to complete their work from different workstations. This convenience comes in particularly handy when space is limited, when various tasks need to be completed quickly, and in situations where the user is responsible for controlling many machines at once.

Ditch The Hitch And Get A Switch

Because the KVM switch can be applied to many different circumstances and job profiles, one must really take their time to research and determine the type of switch that works best for their individual needs.

If you're a graphic designer or your job requires you to switch between different operating systems at the push of a button, then a switch with the capability to interface with both Mac and Windows machines will be the way to go. The good news is that many switches already do this as part of their basic functionality.

Consider the number of machines you'll need to connect to your KVM switch. If you are a telecommuter and plan to manage both your work and home machines but no others, then you won't need the fanciest or most expensive device with extra connection ports. By contrast, if you work as a network administrator with a responsibility for many machines and servers, then you'll want to consider a more robust switch with push-button controls and several available ports. You'll also need to make a determination of the cable system. If you anticipate a significant amount of distance between your switch and the connected hardware, then definitely spring for a device that consolidates those cables as much as possible. Extender cables for KVM switches can be several hundred feet long, which can help in situations where your server room might be down the hall.

A Brief History Of KVM Switches

The KVM switch has a history that dates back to the early 1980's, which marked the beginning of the growth of the computer industry in general and the adoption of Microsoft Windows in 1985. Before the mouse became common, and an important part of server switching applications, the original term for the device was a keyboard video switch (or KVS). Server rooms and data centers were faced with the major problem of maintaining huge numbers of keyboards, mice, and video monitors. Back in the 1980's, there was an additional problem caused by all this equipment taking up excessive amounts of server rack space, while forcing computer technicians to physically walk to the servers that needed attention. The very first switches were rudimentary in design and featured push-button interfaces.

Remigius Shatas, founder of the Cybex Computer Products Corporation (which manufactured peripheral switches), expanded the functionality of the KVS to include the mouse by 1995, thus bringing about the modern KVM solution still used today. Around the same time, the universal serial bus (USB) would also become the industry standard for connecting the majority of computer peripherals.

Since the mid-1990's, single-user KVM switches have evolved to include intelligent, on-screen firmware for controlling multiple servers at the same time. The most cutting-edge use for KVM switches today is via remote access over an internet browser.

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Last updated on May 12, 2018 by Jeff Newburgh

A dedicated writer and communications professional spending his days lost in the intricacies of both proposal and freelance writing. When not sharing the knowledge of both fully and self-insured medical benefits to employer groups of all industries within California, Jeff Newburgh can be found at home spending time with his family and 3 dogs, pondering the next chew toy to be thrown, while kicking back and relaxing with a nice glass of red wine.

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