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Techie Talk: I cobbled together a great but confusing multi-system/monitor KVM setup.....
By:  pudds (Canadian; 17397)
Posted on: 07-30-2020 12:08.
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After a couple of months working at home, I got tired of juggling cables to switch between my various computers (I have 2 laptops for work, a mac and a windows machine, and my personal machine). I looked into simple KVM setups, but I couldn't find anything that matched my requirements:

1) Needs to support at least computers
2) Dual monitors
3) Not insanely expensive.

I ended up with a system that's working out quite well, albeit one which isn't the most user-friendly. Thought I'd share because maybe it would be useful for someone else.

Parts list

2x 3-way HDMI switch
1x 4-way USB switch
1x Unpowered 3-port USB hub (I already had this. Worth noting the powered one I tried originally, an Amazon Basics one, didn't work reliably).

Setup

I basically velcroed each of the switches in a convenient place on my desk. Each HDMI switch is under a monitor, and the USB switch is between them. The switches already have numbered labels, so I put labels on the cables that come out.

HDMI Switch 1 connects to my main monitor, and to my desktop, macbook and dell.

HDMI Switch 2 connects to my secondary monitor, and to my desktop and dell (it could connect to the macbook too, but I don't have another dual monitor USB-c dongle)

The USB switch connects to the USB Hub, which connects to the webcam, mouse and keyboard, and on the output side, connects to all 3 computers.

As it's currently wired, since the USB switch supports 4 outputs, and the 3rd output on my secondary HDMI switch is unused, I can actually hook up a 4th system using only that secondary monitor.

Switching between systems just means putting all 3 systems on the same port number (eg: 1 for my desktop, 2 for my dell), and because they are independent, I can split the displays up and just toggle the keyboard as needed (eg: put my dell on monitor 2, my macbook on monitor 1, and just toggle the keyboard based on which one I need to interact with).

The end result is that no more cable juggling, and I can pretty seamlessly switch between any of my systems, even using the same webcam across all of them, which is nice since I keep the laptops folded up off to the side.

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