Like many other electronics products, KVM switches come in different varieties, specifications, and capabilities. There are so many KVM switch models that trying to identify which ones are the best will seem like an exercise in futility.
If you are a KVM newbie wondering which model to settle for, no need to worry again because our seasoned tech experts have compiled a strong list of the best 7 KVM switches for 2023.
How did we achieve this you may ask? Well, we surveyed a very large number of KVM switches and put them through their paces using some predetermined yardsticks. The 7 switches below were the last ones standing after our rigorous assessment and evaluation.
In a hurry? Here are our top 3 favorite picks when it comes to the best KVM switches in 2023!
What is a KVM Switch Used For?
A KVM is a device that enables the management or control of multiple computers from a set that includes a single keyboard video monitor and mouse. It was invented to test the quality of motherboards and production servers.
In those early years, only the video and keyboard were used because the mouse had not been invented. Since then, massive improvements in technology have not only brought the much-used mouse but also several sophisticated KVM models and manufacturers.
Do KVM Switches Work For Gaming?
For those who need multiple PCs or consoles for gaming (whether at home or in the office) having so many keyboards and mice occupying space may not be very palatable. This is where KVM switches can help. Not only will they help you save space, but they will also save you the extra costs of acquiring and maintaining devices like keyboards and mice.
1. IOGEAR GCS52DP 2-Port USB DisplayPort KVM Switch – Best Overall
If you want a KVM switch that will offer you the best possible service for the longest possible time, then look no further than the sleek and compact 2 port GCS52DP KVM switch that is based on DisplayPort technology 1.1. It is a plug-and-play device so there is no need for software and driver installations.
It comes with full 2.1 (analog) and 7.1 (HD) audio support. Therefore, listening to your favorite songs and podcasts will not be a problem. With the 1.2-meter built-in cables, you can connect and switch between 2 display port computers using 1 keyboard, monitor, and mouse.
The GCS52DP has an optional microphone and speaker for VoIP calls and online meetings and is HDCP compliant so your data privacy is assured. In terms of compatibility, this IOGEAR 2 port switch will work well on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Unix operating systems. With its 4K resolution (4096×2160 @ 30Hz), you will enjoy high-quality displays on your screens.
It also has a remote control that makes for easy switching between computers. In a nutshell, whether you are a novice or tech guru, the IOGEAR GCS52DP KVM switch will get the job done. It is backed by a 2-year warranty.
Why is IOGEAR the Best KVM Switch in 2023?
The IOGEAR GCS52DP KVM Switch came tops in most of our yardsticks, including price to performance ratio. This is one switch that has it all, it is feature-rich, HPCD compliant, ergonomically constructed, and has wide compatibility, to mention a few. No wonder you will have to pay a bit more for this switch than for the average KVM switch.
2. TESmart HKS0401A1U HDMI KVM Switch – Premium Pick
This curvy 11.81 x 4.61 x 1.18 inches HDMI KVM switch from China-based Tesla Elec Technology Company comes equipped with a high-grade image sensor and an ultra high definition (4K@60Hz) that ensure crisp clear images. The HKS0401A1U HDMI KVM Switch supports USB 2.0 hub and USB 2.0 keyboard /mouse.
Its USB 2.0 hub ports allow you to attach devices like USB drives, barcode scanners, printers, and other USB devices. You can control switching through the front panel selector buttons, IR signals, and hotkeys on the keyboard. It is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux / Unix, Debian/ Ubuntu/ Fedora/ Raspberry Pi, Chrome OS, Apple TV, Firestick, Chromecast, Roku, PS4, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch, among others.
It utilizes EDID emulators in each input port to prevent any unwanted changes in the display settings while you are switching from one input port to another. There’s also support for L/R audio output as well as SHDR 10 and Dolby Vision
In summary, this HDMI KVM switch is good for using a keyboard, mouse, and monitor to control 4 other computers. It is a very flexible and valuable tool for those seeking to quickly integrate computers across platforms. Moreover, its display resolution is one of the best among products in its class.
3. ULBRE 30768 USB 3.0 Switch Selector – Budget Pick
The ULBRE Soho 30768 USB 3.0 switch connector is a great plug and play tool for addressing your home and office connectivity challenges. Its 4 ports enable 2 computers to connect to a device, be it a mouse, keyboard, scanner, webcam, digital camera, external hard drive, or printer without having to frequently swap cables or spend time installing complex networking software.
Though this unit does not come with a power supply it can be powered through a micro USB charging port and a 5v adapter. But the manufacturer has not attached this adapter as part of the offering. This means that you have to get the adapter from another source.
With a data transfer rate of up to 5Gbps, its USB 3.0 ports move data 10 times faster than USB 2.0. The 30768 switch connector is designed with convenience in mind. its push buttons and LED indicator make switching between systems very simple. It is compatible with various versions of Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. It is also backward compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 devices.
The ULBRE Soho 30768 switch comes with a 1-year warranty and contains two 1.5 meter cables to help you cope with different kinds of high bandwidth gadgets.
If you intend to connect 4 USB devices between 2 computers, then the UGREEN 4Port USB Switch is an excellent choice for you. Whether you are connecting a scanner or printer at work or your gaming console at home, this small but efficient unit will rise to the occasion. Its compact and lightweight build makes it a convenient companion for the mobile user.
It is compatible with Windows 10/8/8.1/7 / Vista / XP and Mac OS X, Linux, and Chrome OS. Being a plug-and-play device, you don’t need tedious driver installations to start using this switch. Its LED indicator lights allow you to easily identify the controlling computer.
UGREEN USB Switch is not equipped with power but can be powered via a micro USB charging port and a 5v adapter. But the product does not come with this adapter, meaning that users will have to purchase it separately. The USB 2.0 ports are capable of transferring data at up to 480Mb/sec.
The Rijer Smart 801 KVM Switch with 8 ports is not only beautifully designed but its black metal housing guards against signal interference in addition to accelerating heat dissipation. It comes with 8 USB cables to help you connect as many as 8 computers at once.
This Rijer unit is compatible with mainstream servers and operating systems such as DOS, WINDOWS9X, NT, WIN2000, WINXP, WIN7, LINUX, SUN, NOVELL, and others. It is also capable of a wide range of resolutions: 1920 x1440p; 280x720p; 640x480p; 800x600p; and 1280x720p.
It has an LED light for indicating the active computer and is compatible with mice such as Microsoft Intellimouse and Logitech Net Mouse, among others. It will work well with computers, game consoles, TV boxes, DVDs, TVs, notebooks, projectors, monitors, etc. Rijer Smart 801 KVM Switch is a plug-and-play non-power device with 2 switching mechanisms: desktop remote switching and panel button switching.
CKLau is a Colorado-based subsidiary of CKL Technology Co Ltd, China, a manufacturer of all kinds of KVM switches, video switches, video splitters, and video extenders, among others. One of its many KVM switches is the 4-port CKLau 64Hua model which can transfer data at a rate of up 5Gbps from its two 3.0 USB hubs.
It comes with wireless keyboard and mouse support and is compatible with Windows 10/7/2000/XP/Vista, Linux, Mac, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Raspbian, Ubuntu, etc.
The CKLau 64Hua not only comes with a maximum resolution of up to 4096×2160@60Hz 4:4:4 but is also compatible with 3840×2160@60Hz, 1080P, and other lower resolutions. There’s also a DC5v 2A power adapter that ensures stable power supply as well as a capacity to go into BIOS interface directly.
To make life easier for users, this product includes features such as auto-detection, auto scan, waking up, and a memory function in case of power shutdown. It has a 4-way switching mechanism – hotkey switching, mouse switching, manual button switching, and remote push-button switching.
Note that your gaming mouse and multimedia keyword may not function when the hotkey is on. All you need to do to get them working again is turn off the hotkey.
In all, the CKLau 64Hua KVM switch comes with a very impressive image processing and data transmission capacity as well as a smooth and steady output signal. It comes from a company with quite a few certifications, including “Certified HDMI Adopter.”
This is yet another 4-Port USB KVM Switch that facilitates the control of 4 computers with a keyboard, mouse, monitor, microphone, and speakers. If 4 ports are not enough, the JD-41UA switch will also offer you wireless connectivity.
However, wireless connectivity may not always be as efficient as cable connections. For instance, it may not be possible to connect some multimedia devices and stability may be a problem even if they manage to connect.
It comes with a new high-quality chipset that helps prevent computer crashes, freezing of mice and keyboards, and other malfunctions. It works well on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems and on devices like printers, scanners, external hard disks, and others. A maximum resolution of up to 2048p x 1536p will provide you with pleasant HD pictures. There’s also support for DDC and automatic identification of high-quality output.
This Jide Tech HDMI switch is powered via a USB bus connection, meaning that it does not need other power supply or an adapter. Moreover, it is a plug-and-play device so you are saved from the stress of downloading and installing software and drivers.
You are guaranteed a 1-year warranty and lifetime tech support upon purchasing this useful switch. Attached to the switch are 4 KVM cables to facilitate connection.
How to Choose the Best KVM Switch?
There are several things to consider before you find the best KVM switch from the many out there. But note that what is best for you may not be so for another person. This means that in addition to these factors, you must also determine what will be most suitable for you based on the devices at your disposal, budget, etc. However, if you are a newbie, you will have to grasp some of these KVM technicalities before you identify what your needs are.
Here are a few things you need to keep an eye on before you go shopping for a KVM switch.
Number of Ports
It is necessary to predetermine the number of devices that will need a spot in your proposed KVM switch. If you want to manage up to 8 computers, for instance, then a product like the Rijer Smart 801 KVM Switch will be very ideal. In contrast, if you want to control only 2 computers, then consider a product like IOGEAR GCS52DP 2-Port USB DisplayPort KVM Switch. Note that a switch with a higher number of ports may cost you more albeit this is not always the case.
If you are a business owner planning to install one or more KVM switches, then it is pertinent to have the future in mind. Many businesses grow with time and growth usually requires upgrades and expansion in both equipment and personnel. So you may want to anticipate future growth and go for switches that you can still use then.
You don’t want to buy a 2 port switch today only to need a 4 port switch after a quarter or two. If you need a 2 port switch today then try and get a 4 port switch instead because business growth can make the 2 port switch inadequate to meet your needs few months ahead.
However, be sure not to project far into the future because technology is a very fast-paced industry that can render new devices today look very old after some years.
Whether you are a business owner or a private individual, there must be other things you need to spend on apart from a new KVM switch. Since most high-end (and even some entry-level) KVM switches are somewhat expensive, you have to consider how much you are willing to budget on a new switch (unless money is not your problem).
You have to consider hardware, software and if necessary, backward compatibility before making a purchase decision. The important questions here will include what hardware or devices will you be connecting? What software, e.g., operating systems will you be using? Will you need to work with older hardware and software versions?
This implies you must have to think deeply and identify what will work most effectively for you. If you are a gaming aficionado, for example, you have to look at switches that are compatible with gaming consoles, keyboards, and mice,
If you are into open source development, consider switches that are compatible with operating systems such as Linux, Raspbian, and Debian. If it is just office solutions then a switch that supports software like Windows and Mac and hardware like printers and digital cameras can do the trick.
The good thing is that several KVM switches are compatible with all the instances mentioned above.
Like all other electrical units, power supply is essential for the smooth functioning of KVM switches. For most of these switches, the power to switch, split and manage devices comes from the PCs they are connected to. However, there are brands that come with built-in internal power supply without the need for adapters and other power sources. But most of these power-independent models usually cost more albeit they offer more stability and reliability, especially with constant use.
KVM switches are often relatively small but valuable tools for everyday use. They come with diverse specifications and functionalities. Choosing the most suitable model from the many in the market is a tough task, especially if you are new to KVM switches.
This article has tried to bridge that knowledge gap by conducting a thorough assessment and evaluation of a multitude of KVM switches out there. The outcome of that strenuous exercise is the 7 switches we have discussed above.