Questions about KVM Switches You Need to Know

Updated on Aug 5, 2019 by

KVM switches are popular devices in today’s data center and server room. What is a KVM switch? Why? If there are 20 servers in a room, how to control them at the same time in a “one-click” way? That’s what KVM switches can achieve in real applications. Do you already know your way around KVM, or do you still have questions about KVM switch in your connections? Here some of the most common questions regarding KVM switches will be discussed.

1.What Is a KVM Switch?

KVM stands for keyboard, video and mouse. A KVM switch is a hardware device that enables users to control more than one computers from a single keyboard, video display monitor and mouse. It also can be called as “CATx KVM switch”, because it connects other devices using copper cables like Cat5, Cat5e or Cat6. By pressing a button on the KVM switch, the administrator can change control from one server to the next easily.

What is a kvm switch

2.What Are the Common Types of KVM Switches?

As the devices numbers deployed in data center or home, KVM switch also comes in different sizes and configurations. The rack mount KVM switches for applications that have requirements for space. And 4-port, 8-port, 16-port and 32-port KVM switches for different numbers of devices needed to be controlled. In addition, modern devices have also added the ability to share other peripherals like USB devices and audio.

KVM Switch Type Definition
USB KVM Switch This type of switch manages the connections of keyboard and mouse through USB cables. And it also allows users to share USB peripherals like scanners among the connected computers. It’s plug-and-play switch.
HDMI KVM Switch It offers high resolution and used for connecting monitors that support HDMI, providing HD display connectivity for home theatre, professional presentation, etc.
Display-port KVM Switch The switch supports a display port which is generally used as an internal connection replacing DVI and VGA. Supports multiple displays and accessing many devices.
KVM over IP This switch is used for connectivity over Internet and LAN use, allowing users to control all CPU’s and servers from anywhere in the world.

3.Where KVM Switch Is Needed?

KVM switches are often found in data center applications due to numbers of devices or servers are needed to control. KVM switches are also widely used in LAN administration, labs, manufacturing operation, multiple computer desktops, etc.

4.What Are Dual Monitor KVM Switch and Multi-Monitor KVM Switches?

As it name shows, dual monitor KVM switch allows KVM access to multiple computers with two displays. And multi-monitor KVM switch offers access to multiple computers with two or more displays.

Dual display KVM switch provides an optimal solution for applications that need more space. Both dual monitor and multi-monitor KVM switches allow for traditional KVM access to multiple computers with the additional benefit of allowing extended desktops across two or more displays. And they come in a diverse connections including VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort or even a mixture of connections.

5.What’s the Best KVM Switch for My Configuration?

The answer relays on the practical need. Each configuration is unique and each user has specific needs. Before getting one, try to make sense what you need. For example, the number of users, bandwidth, distance requirements, power, security, etc.

6.What Is Necessary for Operating a KVM Switch?

That depends on the switch users have. In most cases, for a basic configuration, the following things are essential: KVM switch, enough cables connecting all devices such as computers, keyboard, monitor and mouse, and computers. More components may be required in more advanced systems.

7.How to Set up KVM Switch?

Here are the common steps to install a KVM switch:

Turn off all of the computers and monitors that will be connected to the KVM switch.
Connect the power adapter to the KVM switch.
Connect the video cables from your monitors to the console port on the KVM switch, and turn on the monitor.
Connect your keyboard and mouse to the console PS/2 or USB ports on the KVM switch. Then connect the video cables from PC1 to the KVM switch.
Connect the PS/2 or USB cables from PC1 to the PC1 PS/2 or USB ports on the KVM switch.
Turn on PC1. You should see the computer load the operating system that you are using on PC1. and make sure that the mouse and keyboard can control PC1.
Repeat the steps above to connect other computers to the KVM switch, and ensure the keyboard and mouse can control the computer connected.
set up kvm switches

8.What Is KVM over IP and Why It Is Needed?

KVM over IP refers to a technology that enables users to connect to a KVM switch or CPU using its keyboard, monitor and mouse port via IP connection, which allow users both the in-band and out-of-band network access to all the servers linked to the KVM switch. Combined with advanced security and regardless of operating system, the KVM over IP devices allow users to remotely control their servers/CPUs. For those who care much about connection security, IP KVM is a good choice, for its security is military grade and security.

In addition, KVM over IP is an optimal choice for situations where full access to servers are needed, but the devices are not located physically close to each other.

9.What Bandwidth Does the Remote IP Access Require?

There are differences in most compression technologies. The bandwidth requirements will vary significantly depending on the graphic intensity of the application users are using.

10.What Is OSD?

OSD is short for On Screen Display. With OSD, administrators can know which computers are connected to the KVM switch and allow administrator to choose them without pushing the button on the KVM switch or using hot key switching.

osd in kvm switches

11.What Is Hot Key Switching?

Hot key switching enable administrators to switch between computers without pushing the button on the actual switch. It can be a combination of keys or hitting a button a couple of times. Each switch is different and usually the instructions can be found in the switch manual.

12.What Is a KVM Extender?

KVM extender is a device used to increase the distance between a keyboard, monitor and mouse (KVM switch) and computer with Cat5 or fiber cable. Since USB and PS/2 and mouse protocols are only designed to run a distance of about 5-10m. Distance can be extended to 150m (CATX) or even farther via fiber or IP connections by using KVM extender.

13.What is Port Emulation?

Port emulation is important with KVM switches. It makes sure that the computer still thinks the mouse is connected directly to the computer. This function is often used to control machines that may reboot in unattended operation.

14.Why Some KVM Switches Are much Cheaper Than Other Ones?

The are various options of KVM switches in the market. Some offer USB sharing, OSD, audio support, port emulation and multi-platform capability. And for the accessories, there are power cords, KVM cables and RJ45 to VGA interface module, which lead to different prices of KVM switch. FS.com offers rack mount and KVM switches with different ports for local or remote applications. Here is the KVM switch price list of part products in FS.com.

Type Description Price
Rack Mount KVM Switch 8-Port 2 Users Cat5 USB KVM Switch with IP Remote Access $510
16-Port 2 Users Cat5 USB KVM Switch with IP Remote Access $770
32-Port 5 Users Cat5 USB KVM Switch with IP Remote Access $3400

15.What’s the Differences Between KVM Switch and Console Server?

KVM switch and console server are two devices for managing network, the main difference between them is the equipment that they can deal with.

Usually KVM switch allows access to and control nearby computers and servers—access the room, in another room or in one building. IP KVM switch can achieve remotely access and control of devices. The common devices that KVM switch can deal with are computers, print servers, domain servers and blade servers. Console servers enable access to and control of all network devices, including local and remote locations. The common devices that console server can manage are servers, PDUs, firewalls, IP KVM switches, routers, etc.

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