Overall, KVM technology has come a long way. As we concluded in our testing, the KVMs in our testing performed well. I think the five KVM units included in this review represent a good cross-section of the KVM technology that is currently available. For the most part, none of the units had any serious problems with our KVM Obstacle Course, which speaks well of the KVM product arena.
I found the Belkin F1DS102T to be the best of the lot of the KVMs we tested. Overall, it provided more unique features than all of the other KVM units combined. The F1DS102T includes the audio speaker switching and the firmware flash upgrade ability that no other unit provides. As I mentioned above, I really like the cable shroud and found that I was better able to keep the cables organized than with any of the other units. I found the F1DS102T to be the winner of the KVM units tested.
I would like to give an honorable mention to the Iogear GCS124U and the Jargy CS21H KVMs.
Although the focus of this article was two-port units, the four-port GCS124U from Iogear featured some additional features, such as the on screen display and USB port sniffing technology, which are big technology gains. For users who need a four port unit with USB control, the GCS124U KVM is a well manfactured unit with lots of value for the money. Although it appears that the GCS124U is on the expensive side, the included professional quality cables and four included ports make the price a little more palatable.
The CS21H from Jargy was quite a value when compared to the other KVM units in our review. The compact stand-up design helps to keep the cables behind the unit, which aids in cable management. The large dial selector knob is easy to use, and I liked it better than some of the small buttons found on the other KVM units. The LED provided feedback as to which system was selected. As noted in the review, the gauge of wire used in the cables that were included with the CS21H was a little lighter than most of the other KVM units that we reviewed. These cables did perform well in our testing, but at resolutions beyond 1600x1200, higher quality cables with more headroom would likely be needed. Overall, this unit, while more stripped down than some of the other units tested, performed very well for the price and will satisify the needs of most users. However, it is not commercially available under this name due to its OEM status, but this could change if demand for this KVM model configuration continues.
I have used a KVM switcher both at home and in my lab for some years, and find it to be a really useful and time saving feature. Adding a KVM to your PC setup can add value to your current setup and save money, as well as time, when you need to run simultaneous PCs. The KVM products in this review provide some good options. The cost of KVM units is no longer a barrier to owning one, and compatibility and features have improved, so that having a second monitor/keyboard/mouse is no longer required. As popularity and more widespread demand for KVM technology continues to grow, we will continue to provide coverage about new KVM technology as it is released.