Do you buy monitors with built-in KVM feature?

Monitors with KVM vs. KVM Switches

What are the differences between monitors with built-in KVM & KVM switches?

Cable Management

The biggest advantage of monitors with KVM is that it simplifies the cabling, especially for Type-C monitors, and keeps your desk neat and tidy. In fact, many users purchase a KVM switch for better cable management and a neat table as well. Yea, they both help and a KVM monitor saves more space since you don’t have to place a KVM switch on your desk.

If you don’t take the premium price of a KVM monitor into consideration, you do save the extra cost of buying a KVM switch separately. However, there are limitations you should take into account too.

Switching Methods

  • KVM switch: Basically all KVM switches provide press button(s) on the equipment for switching. For some other KVM switches, there can be more switching methods, such as Hotkey, IR remote, and switching with the mouse wheel. You can switch both the video source and USB host at the same time.
  • Monitor with KVM: As we discussed above, a monitor with KVM switches video source and USB separately. It takes a few steps to successfully switch from one computer to another. If you’re using multiple displays, the switching would be even more cumbersome (the connection too). You need to switch the USB host, and the video source on each monitor one by one.

Number of Hosts

  • KVM switch: A KVM switch can support a good number of hosts. Models that are designed for end users mostly support from 2 to 4 computers. A professional KVM switch for a data center can even connect up to dozens of host machines. If you have a good number of devices, a KVM switch can be more scalable.
  • Monitor with KVM: Basically, a monitor with KVM supports connection up to two computers, or at best three. They are not specially designed for multiple hosts and it is more like an additional feature.

USB Availability

  • KVM switch: Manufacturers are striving to meet the various needs of their end users. They design KVM switches with different amounts of USB ports (mostly 3 to 6), and ports with different standards (USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and sometimes USB-C). Now you can even find KVM switches that have docking features (for example, with ports for LAN, SD card reader, Toslink Out, etc.) included which help integrate all devices of your setup.
  • Monitor with KVM: A monitor with the KVM feature provides a limited amount of USB ports. Normally, there would be 2 to 3 USB-A ports for keyboard and mouse connection.

In short, KVM switches are designed to help share peripherals, including video (single or multiple), USB, and even more connectivity like Ethernet and analog audio with multiple devices. They keep evolving to meet the needs in different use scenarios, for example for home office, or gaming. Therefore, you will have different choices and they are more flexible.

Monitors with KVM are mainly designed for monitor use. KVM feature is a nice plus for some users and it would not be the main part of this product. That’s understandable. If you have a really simple setup, for example, two computers with one monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse, and no other USB devices needed, a monitor with KVM could be acceptable for you.

Check out the comparison table in the full article: KVM Switches vs. Monitors with Built-in KVM - AV Access