What is KVM switch and how does it work?

If you’re a hardware enthusiast, you’ve probably come across the term KVM switch or KVM switch. If you’re wondering what exactly this device is, what it does and what advantages it offers, you’ve come to the right place. Look no further because in this article we will tell you all about these components.

What is a switch and what does it do?

Before explaining what’s behind the KVM acronym, let’s clear up some concepts. For example, we should explain what we mean when we talk about a key. Also known as English term switch, this kind of device can interconnect equipment at the same point. This way, they are all accessible from the rest of the connected systems.

The most common application of switches is in local area networks. Computers, printers and all other devices that can communicate over the network can be connected to the same switch. Once all computers are connected to the switch, they can all see each other and access their respective resources if they have the necessary privileges.

Switches are generally not installed for individual users’ home use. Instead, they are implemented in companies with the goal of creating local area networks known as LANs. However, you should know that most of the modems offered by Internet companies to their users serve as a switch as well as providing an Internet connection. Therefore, it is common for them to have two or more Ethernet connections.

What is KVM switch?

Once we’ve clarified what a switch is, especially when used in a network, it’s time to learn more about KVMs. These abbreviations mean Keyboard, Video, Mouse or keyboard, video and mouse. In this way, a KVM switch is a device that allows different computers to be controlled with a single set of basic peripherals.


How does KVM work?

The operation of a switch or KVM switch is really simple. It usually has two ports to which input peripherals are connected i.e. mouse and keyboard. It also usually includes an HDMI type video output for connecting a display device. This is the basic connection of any KVM switch required to control different computers, but some models also support additional connections such as 3.5 jacks for sound systems.

Different computers are connected to peripherals by means of groups of ports that transmit electrical signals from each of the peripherals. For example, they contain a video input to which the output of each computer is connected. They also come with a USB connector to support keyboard and mouse. And if audio signal is supported, each bundling comes with its own 3.5mm jack (or equivalent connection).

All these connections are managed thanks to a switch button that redirects the signal from the peripherals to the equipment selected by the user. This mechanical system is usually most common in KVM switches. But the most advanced come with their own software that makes it easy for the user to switch between computers thanks to special key combinations.

What does KVM do?

The use of KVM appliances is often focused on professional environments such as multi-computer offices or multi-server data centers. Typically, home users do not need to control more than two computers with the same mouse and keyboard. However, it is possible that some of the situations we quoted below may overlap with your needs.

Access to different operating systems

A KVM switch is useful when you need to access different operating systems. Simply connect two or more computers to the switch to enjoy instant access to the respective systems they run. Since such a device is based on standard ports, there are no computational issues that manifest itself functionally with macOS, Linux, Windows or any other operating system.

Control of two or more computers

Regardless of the software they use, KVMs are ideal devices for managing two independent computers. The user enjoys the benefits of centralizing the capabilities of different systems in just three peripherals. For example, you can assign heavy tasks to two or more teams and monitor them from a single point.

Advanced management of a server network

Access to several servers from a single command point is a huge advantage for professionals such as system administrators. With switches, configuring is as simple as choosing the equipment you want to access.

KVM Switch types


KVMs can be classified according to different criteria. However, the most logical way to distinguish the different types of switches is by the type of connection they offer.

Desktop KVM

They contain connectors for connecting the main peripherals:

  • HDMI, VGA or DisplayPort to connect a monitor.
  • PS/2 or USB for keyboard and mouse.
  • Various audio connections, both analog and digital signals.

Although this number differs depending on the range or model, it supports between two and eight computers.

KVM over IP

This type of switch allows different computers to be connected via IP addresses, which can then be checked. As you can imagine, all computers are part of a local area network or LAN.


In this case, we are talking about special video signal switches. One of its main advantages is that connecting multiple display devices with the same equipment has applications in all types of public venues or home theater systems. It is also possible to find this type of switch in other common video ports such as Display Port, DVI or VGA. As you can imagine, each has specifications based on the type of connection supported.