Five Things to Look For in Your Next KVM Switch


Pathfinder KVM Switch

By Mark Trevena
Global Communications and Training Manager, tvONE

KVM switches can vastly improve your efficiency, keep your PCs safe and secure, and de-clutter workstation desks — all great benefits unless you choose a KVM that doesn’t support the features that today’s users demand.

When you are choosing your next KVM switch, make sure it meets your every requirement. We’ve prepared this handy five-point list to help you make the right choices.

1. Connectivity

KVM switches are normally installed in high-pressure environments and you must be able to instantly view and control a critical system, whatever the operating system, using a standard keyboard and mouse. You also want to have a guaranteed, secure connection that isn’t dependent on the performance of your standard office network. When you have found a KVM switch that offers the performance you are looking for, arrange to try it for real before you buy.

2. Operational ergonomics

Gone are the days when a double shift key and a poor on-screen display (OSD) are acceptable. Users now demand a modern OSD, hot keys, and the ability to monitor and control multiple PC’s simulators. They also require totally transparent USB operation for peripherals together with extended desktops. All of this needs to be available with no lag whatsoever. Check if you can try a system before you buy to make sure that the KVM switch doesn’t hinder your business workflows.

3. Performance levels

Not all KVM switch systems are equal. Check that the image quality is high, with no visible compression artefacts, and that the system delivers zero-latency performance in every operational state – any more than 20 milliseconds is unacceptable and much less (ideally zero latency!) is preferable. Also check that the USB performance matches the video performance, as this often gets overlooked. Finally, check the distance the KVM will reach out to.

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4. System expansion

As your business grows, your KVM switch system needs to seamlessly grow also. It’s best to choose a KVM switch that uses Off-The-Shelf (OTS) networking hardware so you can grow with less pain. Plus, you need to choose a KVM switch solution that can grow above and beyond your expectations. Just like power sockets in your home, you will always end up needing more KVM end points, so you should always choose a KVM switch system that can easily grow with (and even beyond!) your needs.

5. Cost of ownership

While some KVM switches seem completely priced at first sight — make sure you ask about the true cost of ownership. Will you be charged licensing fees? Do you need a costly control server? Are the features that are shown in the brochure available as standard or are they expensive add-on options? Also, ask about the system MTBF, the supplier warranty, and whether this includes fast support from an expert on your time zone.

Magenta Research has offered large-scale, high-performance video transmission systems for over 20 years – now the same high levels of performance are available on your network with the Pathfinder KVM over IP. To find out more, click here.