I'm having trouble finding a solution for setting up a switch for three laptops to two monitors. I'd need a KVM that matches the following criteria:

  • 3 inputs for the laptops;
  • 2 outputs to two monitors supporting extended monitor or multiple display (not mirrored), or some splitting solution, and;
  • Doesn't break the bank.

Expanded details: 3 laptops as sources

  • 2 laptops have both VGA and HDMI out
  • 1 laptop only has HDMI out
  • All laptops have several USB slots

I have looked into a HDMI->VGA adapter (or even HDMI->DVI in case I want to convert all three to DVI). This seems like a good solution for getting my sources into a 4-port KVM.

The real problem I'm running into is the output. I have a requirement to output the source onto two monitors for an extended monitor (so long as it isn't mirror'd display which would be useless to my client). I haven't seem a KVM that has dual output from the console, but only 1 input from each CPU. I considered a DVI or VGA Y-splitter and read reviews that this only allows for mirrored displays. Any ideas? And if someone could confirm the behavior of Y-splitters, that could solve my problem easily.

Honestly, a KVM would be great but thinking outside of the box would be fine. I have considered RDC as a possible solution to this, but I don't believe my client is technical enough to buy into it.

closed as off-topic by fixer1234, DavidPostill, Scott, bwDraco, studiohack Feb 9 '15 at 20:32

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking for hardware shopping recommendations are off-topic because they are often relevant only to the question author at the time the question was asked and tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead of asking what to buy, try asking how to find out what suits your needs." – fixer1234, DavidPostill, Scott, bwDraco, studiohack
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A splitter cable, whilst cheap, is unfortunately not the answer. A splitter cable would only mirror the display of one monitor onto another (from one VIDEO OUT port).

There are many types KVMs out there and googling Dual Output KVM brings up quite a few. However, I will attempt to explain the process that I would go through, before deciding which KVM to purchase.

You will need a four port KVM as three port KVMs do not exist You could use two cascade two port KVMs, but it only worth doing that, if you can get them at a knock down price, i.e. each two port KVM for less than half the price of a four port equivalent.

You will need to choose between VGA or DVI KVMs if you are looking to save money. KVMs with both VGA and DVI exist, but cost more. Either way, this can be got around by using VGA2DVI adaptors, or vice versa. Do your laptops have the same video outputs? HDMI2DVI adaptors are very cheap and in your case, would probably be the way to go.

Next thing to think about is the keyboard/mouse. Are the laptops all PS/2 or USB, or a mix? Again this shouldn't be too much of an issue as USB2PS/2 adaptors are cheap.

Once you have figured these three points out, go to Google, or Amazon and find the Make and Model that suits your needs, for the least amount of money. Then go on to eBay and find that same model, for probably half the price.

As a rough guide, new will maybe set you back $200, on eBay between $50 and $100?

Sorry to be so vague, but you will just have to shop around. Also, I don't think that we can recommend one brand or model over another on this site. It is against the rules. However, an example is the ATEN CS1744. Belkin make them as well, and there are probably other cheaper makes and/or clones.

As regards to thinking outside the box, there may be other ways to go, but the KVM is probably the neatest.

Hope this helps.

  • Actually, questions seeking recommendations for hardware, software, services, or learning material are off-topic and get closed. However, there is no rule about making a specific recommendation (unless you are hawking your own product and don't disclose it). Answers that simply recommend a product are generally considered low-quality answers. Answers should explain how to solve the problem. – fixer1234 Feb 9 '15 at 5:23
  • Honestly, I've been researching and googling like a mad man. I've been hunting in newegg, amazon, and even KVM producer sites. What I'm looking for doesn't seem to exist- that's the difficult part, fulfilling the requirements I laid out. Part of the difficulty is understanding what's apparently a brand new world of somewhat unfriendly hardware to me- for example it seems that DVI Y-splitters can only be used to mirror the source which defeats it as a solution one of my requirements (or does it? I don't know for sure) – ferr Feb 9 '15 at 14:52
  • I will expand my original post with more details – ferr Feb 9 '15 at 14:53
  • OK, thanks for the info. Yes, splitters will only mirror output. You really need a "dual-view" KVM (i.e. ATEN CS1744) and the added expense which that will entail, unfortunately. I will update my answer, accordingly. – Greenonline Feb 9 '15 at 16:17
  • Thanks, I'll mark this as an answer. I am going to have to settle with 1 monitor setup to reduce chance of failure. KVMs seem already unreliable, introducing yet another point of failure isn't going to help. Unless I can bring my laptops and monitors into a PC shop to test everything on site versus buying online, but I'm not going to bother with that. – ferr Feb 9 '15 at 16:43

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