On a daily basis, we receive many customer support and sales requests. By far one of the most frequent is, ‘Which dual monitor KVM should I buy?’. Luckily some of our best 2020 KVMs can be utilized in most scenarios. And for those more complicated designs, we have a list of tested/approved video adapters to help complete your installation. Today we are going to go through some specific scenarios that will help you determine which KVM Dual Monitor model is right for you. But before that…. a little background.
Purpose of a KVM
The purpose of a TESmart dual monitor KVM is pretty simple; to improve the use and simplify the workflow of utilizing two computers on one physical workstation (i.e. computer desk). Being able to share 1 keyboard, 1 mouse, and 2 video monitors amongst multiple PC’s is a tremendous space saver… and sadly many people don’t even know there’s a product to achieve this. We’ve heard countless times how customers refer us to their friends and co-workers once they discover our 4K60hz dual monitor KVMs.
TESmart KVM’s work with all of the most common computer makes/models such as Apple MacBook Pro, Lenovo Yoga, HP Elitebook, Dell Inspirons and basically any machine that can support dual video outputs (with or without a docking station). Setup is cinch and BuyTESmart.com has a video library with step-by-step tutorials. Learning how to setup a kvm switch with dual monitors only takes about 3 minutes to learn. TESmart KVMs do not require software or drivers and work with Windows, MacOS, Unix/Linux, Raspberry PI and more, making them a perfect work-from-home desktop KVM solution.
Keep The End Goal In Mind
To decide which KVM is right for you, you will want to select the model that reduces the number of video adapters to a minimum. If possible, direct connections without adapters are always best. And since dual monitor KVM with HDMI requires 2 video connections, you’ll want to assess what video outputs your computers already have. We recommend watching this step-by-step tutorial video on setting up a dual monitor KVM.
DP and HDMI are the most common ports any recently made computer. These two protocols were designed to transmit digital video and audio signals which means the picture and sound quality is uncompromised. Older standards such as DVI and VGA are still commonplace but as older machines are mothballed, we will see less and less of these. Although DVI is digital, it does not carry an audio signal and limited to 1080p. VGA, also limited to 1080p, is an analog signal and has the least clarity of these 4 primary video standards.
Scenario 1 – The Work-From-Home Professional
One of the easiest and most common setups are for customers that have one laptop with a docking station and a personal desktop computer. Generally, the docking station will have 2 HDMI video outputs and the desktop will have one of each: HDMI, DisplayPort, and VGA outputs. In this situation, we would recommend the HKS0402A1U KVM. From the laptop with the docking station, the user will plug in both HDMI cables (included in the KVM package) and the USB. Since the desktop only has 1 HDMI output, then we will need to convert either the DisplayPort output or VGA output to HDMI. We recommend using a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter in this scenario since both protocols are digital. Plug in the HDMI cables, DP to HDMI adapter, and USB. You’re good to go!
Scenario 2 – The Casual Gamer
Very often we hear from gamers that have a desktop PC with a premium graphics card like a 1080TI or RTX 2080 for playing video games and a MacBookPro for their “daily driver”. Here, we could go with either the HKS0402A1U model or the sister model, HDK0402A1U. Either way, more adapters are going to be needed since newer MacBooks have gotten rid of all full-size ports and leaving us with the burden to carry adapters. Connecting the desktop PC will be easy and you’ll run either two HDMI connections or an HDMI and DP connection from the graphics card, and of course, plug in the USB. The latest Mac’s however have only Type-C / Thunderbolt ports. Here we are going to need two adapters. A Type-C to HDMI and a Type-C to DP (if you choose to go with the HDK0402A1U). You will need to use 2 adapters if you want to get the full 4K60hz KVM experience. Type-C does not have enough data throughput for 2 video signals at 4K60hz each.
Scenario 3 – The Legacy User
Occasionally we get more difficult requests such as this one. We’ll have a customer that has a newer machine with the newer ports (HDMI & USB-C) as well as an older machine with some of the older ports (VGA & HDMI). There are 2 ways to go with this setup:
- If the user wants to have the best picture clarity, we suggest going with the HKS0402A1U and purchasing a couple of adapters. First, they will need a USB to HDMI adapter (drivers will need to be installed with this adapter) in order to create a second video connection for the newer machine. The older machine can usually be done with a VGA to HDMI adapter.
- If the user has older monitors and less concerned about getting the sharpest video clarity, then we would recommend going with the HKV0402A1U Here, the user only needs to purchase a USB to VGA adapter for the new machine to create a second video connection. The older PC will use the HDMI and VGA cables that are included in the product package. No adapters needed for that PC.
Some Adapter Tips
- Quality/brand recognition matters – We see a higher amount of tech support cases when customers purchase random brands from Amazon instead of sticking to more reputable names such as Avico, Plugable, Cable Matters, etc. We have taken the guesswork out for you and compiled a list of all the adapters that we have tested and proven to work well with TESmart KVM’s.
- Not all conversions are bidirectional – A little confusing but sometimes converting from one signal to another can only go in one-direction. For example, DP & HDMI converters are not bidirectional. An adapter can either convert from DisplayPort to HDMI or vice versa. Others such as DVI & HDMI are bidirectional so one cable can convert either way.
- HDMI/DP Conversions are the most common - DP to HDMI conversion is very clean. This is typically the most common conversion and it’s very simple. HDMI to DP conversion is not that common. As a result, there are limited numbers of adapters in the market and those that exist are priced at a premium.
- VGA conversion is never bidirectional - Converting to VGA is easy but converting from VGA can be difficult. You will want to make sure you get the correct adapter converting from the signal you have to the signal you want. Many times, we recommend to customers to create a second video signal via USB instead of converting from VGA given the crispness and clarity of a VGA connection is not nearly as good as HDMI or DisplayPort.
- Create video signals with USB – Many users overlook the possibility to create video signals with a spare USB port. This conversion is becoming more common but you will want to confirm whether you have the ability to install “display drivers” on your computer. Often IT departments will limit the ability of work-from-home computers to install anything on their PC. In this case, we use the Plugable USB to HDMI/DVI/VGA adapter that does not require drivers. It’s limited to 1080p resolution but it’s the swiss-army knife for dual monitor KVM setups.
We hope this article helps you decide which model is right for you. BuyTESmart.com has invested a tremendous amount of time and money to support our user community and take some of the frustration out of the question: “Can I use a KVM switch with dual monitors?” If you should need additional support, you can reach out to us by clicking the orange Support or Chat icon on the lower right-hand corner of the BuyTESmart website. Thanks, and have a good day.