With working from home (WFH) more popular than ever, many people end up having two computers: one personal and one provided by their company. The complete separation of the two environments is great, especially from a security and privacy perspective.
To save valuable space (and money) at home, it’s also nice to share your favorite monitors, keyboard and mouse between multiple computers. Sharing these devices is essentially what KVMs are for. KVM stands for (Video Keyboard Mouse Switch).
KVM boxes have been around for years, and I was first exposed to them while dragging people who had to manage multiple computers from their desks. It could be sysadmins, a small render farm, or a few computers in their cubicles.
Modern KVMs could be compared to USB switches, but as the name suggests, KVMs must support video outputs. Not all USB switchers do this, especially with older USB standards set before USB video output.
This SABRENT Dual USB Type-C KVM Switch with Power Delivery (USB-CKDH model) allows two computers to share two USB-A (USB 2.0 protocol) and two full-size HDMIs video ports.
It is possible to plug an additional USB switch into one of the KVM’s two USB-A ports to slightly expand what you can connect. Remember that speed remains USB2.0, and there may be USB power limits (unless you’re using an additional powered USB switch?).
There are also two USB-C power inputs (USB Power Delivery standard) which ensure that using the KVM does not impair charging in case you only have one USB-C port available on the laptop. Note that the maximum The power delivered is only 60 Wso check what your computers need.
Once both computers are connected to the KVM via the included USB-C cables, they can take turns using the two full-size USB-A (2.0) ports and the two full-size HDMI ports (4K/60Hz each).
A switch button on the end of a 3-foot non-detachable cable lets you change which computer has access to all of these ports. Pressing the switch button, it takes 3-7 seconds for all devices and monitors to switch on. Typically, the keyboard and mouse switch first, and monitors take longer.
Older analog KVMs switched faster than this, but with a modern digital-only protocol, switching is more like reconnecting the KVM to the new target computer. The system detects devices connected to the KVM, initializes things, etc.
It’s not instantaneous, so if you need to switch VERY often, you might be better off using “mouse and keyboard over the network” solutions such as Mouse without Borders or Logitech Flow. I’ve tested both, and they often suffer from latency issues, even on a local network. At the moment they didn’t work for my use case.
The SABRENT Dual USB Type C KVM Switch works just as you would expect, and it is reliable. Sometimes a monitor wouldn’t switch, but re-switching does the trick. I didn’t use the power feature because both of my computers have power inputs well over 60W, but it might help you create a simpler setup.
I don’t know if there is a specific technical barrier, but I would like the shared ports to be USB 3.0 or higher instead of USB 2.0. However, most KVMs tend to only feature USB 2.0 ports. For sharing keyboard, video and mouse, USB 2.0 is perfectand this KVM serves its purpose perfectly at a competitive price considering its feature set.
However, I would say that users would want higher bandwidth from shared ports. Going back to the work-from-home use case, users also want to share their dedicated webcam, microphones, and perhaps card readers. In short, they would like to share all their best equipment between the two computers. Unfortunately I haven’t seen a KVM for this.
What’s in the box?
- Sabrent 2-Port USB Type-C KVM Switch (with PD 3.0).
- Mounting bracket.
- 2 USB Type-C to Type-C cables (1 meter/ 39 inches).
- User’s Guide.
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