Modernize the monitor wall and KVM HDMI-CEC

I recently moved and cleared out a ton of ewaste. We are talking like 20 some desktops, numerous laptops, networking gear, test equipment, monitors. 6 months later, I’ve got the old house sold and am finally working on setting up a semi-permanent home office. I do FW/SW eng dev support .

Taking inventory of the gear I’ve retained and trying to figure out how to set it up. If I’m stuck in the dark ages of numerous 1080p monitors and need to get with the times. Workstations changed over time, but typically a combination of the hw and KVMs was used. If money needs to get spent on a better KVM and or consolidating the old monitors for something more recent, I’m open to it. How would you set this up?

First impression is to get a 3 or 4 head, 4 computer KVM. Unfortunately, this seems to be asking a lot and the wrong move. KVMs seem to support high resolution over quantity. Even at 1080p resolutions I don’t see many options. Perhaps get dual high resolution monitors and a modest 2monitor, 4computer KVMs? I don’t think I need the high performance of L1T KVMs. It seems like modern mobile gpu limit the quantity of displays more than the resolution.

I’ve been using display link for the better part of the last 10 years. This makes me wonder about usb3 switching and going that route… However, this sounds short sided. I’m thinking a 5 year solution here. The no money route would be to just set up the workstation and thinkpad doc on a KVM with the ultrawides and just remote desktop into some of these.
Then set up the gaming computer elsewhere with a kvm for misc tasks. Perhaps further consolidating the desktops and running dual os instances.

HW-
3 * Pairs 1080p 22”, 24”, 27” modest monitors
2 * 25” ultrawide 2560x1080
3 * pluggable display link docs/ external “graphics cards”.
2 * KVM IOgear GCS1642 Dual DVI, Dual Computer (not linkable, long story)
1 * KVM Star Tech SV231TDVIUA Triple DVI, Dual Computer

Personal Laptop -Thinkpad T440p laptop i7-4710MQ Intel 4600.
I’ll consider updating this when Alder Lake-P comes out, but it does the job.
ThinkPad Pro Dock - DP 1.2, HDMI, and DVI-D USB3

Work Laptop -recent Vostro Dell Intel tb3 and NVidia graphics
This has corpo restrictions and is unusable for most work but must be used for VPN, etc…
I typically just remote desktop into this.
Dell WD19TBS dock - HDMI, 2 x DP, Thunderbolt, USB-C

Home Workstation Ryzen 2700, RX460, older Quadro
“Stable” machine used for personal projects, cad, media storage, Transcoding, Video editing

Home Desktop Ryzen 1700 RX580
“Unstable” machine Used for general purpose consumption, casual gaming

Misc SFF c2d, nucs, nas, dev boxes, etc…


This is a topic dear to my heart :slight_smile:

First thing is ignore everything you have, and figure out what you want/need from your setup.

My goals were Multiport KVM, Fiber to my rack, single large display for 99% of my real work, and local hook up for my work laptop.

I ended up getting a 4x1 IOGear 4k 60hz (this was before the L1T KVM existed). I ran 3x Fiberoptic display port cables and CAT6 for USB extensions. These plug into my gaming PC, graphics workstation, and a floating connection that I can move around as needed.

I placed the KVM at my desk and plugged my work laptop into it as well. The primary reason for this is that I dont want the laptop to live in the rack, and USB extenders are not always reliable for KVM hotkey’s which is critical if I dont have physical access to the KVM.

Now… Large format displays, they are not for everyone. I used to use 4x 16:10 1920x1200 displays all in portrait. This was great for reading documents and webpages, and was not bad for terminals/ssh, but it was very bad for engineering drawings which is a massive part of my workflow.

I decided that a 32" 4k monitor would give me equivalent pixel space but without bezels. I make frequent use of the snapping features as well as virtual desktops This gives me the functionality and flexibility to work on several projects at the same time and jump quickly between them so long as the application supports multiple instances.

Lots of people I talk to get more value out of multiple monitors than I do, so I 100% recognize that my situation may be different but I have also found that most people who claim a large format display wont work have never really had the option due to either the higher cost or comparability issues with older GPUs.

I strongly suggest looking at a single large format monitor as your primary. If you want to keep the other monitors as secondary ones so you can have 1 display output per computer on the KVM and a 2nd display output on a monitor wall that makes total sense to me.

I use a video matrix to allow me to route any of my 2nd displays to any of the 4 monitors mounted on my ceiling. I dont actively use these screens so I am not typing, reading, or even moving the moue around like they are actual second displays, they are simply to monitor what other computers, or video sources are doing. Generally 1 of the 4 is always displaying my security cameras, and another is the 2nd display of my graphics server so I can see if it is still outputting video. The other 2 displays get moved around and changed based on my needs.

Looking at your list of displays, I would sell off everything but the 27" displays (and only if they are VESA mountable) I would get either a single 4k or higher resolution screen in 32" or bigger, OR 2x 27" 1440p monitors and use the MST feature of display port to let you use a single displayport cable and single head KVM to send 2x 1440p signals.

The L1T 4x1 DP 1.4 KVM supports MST with I believe this MST hub Club 3D | Multi Stream Transport (MST) Hub DisplayPort™ 1.2 Dual Monitor

Now for the older 1080p 27" I would either wall mount them above your primary display if your desk is against or near a wall, or ceiling mount with an adjustable VESA arm similar to what I did.

something like https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1392458-REG/kanexpro_sw_hdmx44ce_4x4_hdmi_4k_60_matrix.html is a reasonable matrix that would allow for you to remotely control the second display output and route them where you want.

You can get larger matrices and sky is the limit on feature and price. I would NOT recommend the ones I am using as they are for broadcast video and start at $3500 for a 9x6.

Finally I would ask another simple question, do you want all the gear in your office? If so you can go the traditional cable route, but if like me you want your gear in a rack away from your office to isolate noise and heat, then things get more complex. We would need to discuss how many devices are remote, what functionality needs to be bi directional, distance, wire route, budget… and more. It can be done, and its not cheap, but its cool as hell and IMO fun to install.

So… yeah GL hope this gets you thinking and feel free to ping me whenever and I will be happy to help!

Cheers,
~infinite

Thank you for the response. While I had seen your setup, it never occurred to me to use a matrix switcher. Not sure if it would help here.

I think the root use case I have is the multiple computers. Secondly how to cope with gpu limitations, say the T440p thinkpad.

Regarding a rack or off site location, at this time I do not see a need. The real estate for a rack is something I don’t want to incur. Both desktops are quieter than my furnace fan. If I were to have things elsewhere, I’d rather attempt a thin client nuc or similar driving displays and remote in over the network.

Do you have the matrix above the desk or further back so it can be seen without moving your neck? My current thoughts are to a have the desk against a wall. I actually have a 43" 3840x2160 tv mounted above it at the moment. However it is an 11’ ceiling. I was thinking of putting wrap around shelfing or cabinets on the top 3’ or so, but this is part of the monitor quandary.

I use an adjustable standing desk so while my monitors are mounted to 8ft ceilings it’s not actually much for me to glance up or when sitting lean back.

With a setup like yours I would probably get TV’s or monitors that support multi input and picture in picture. 2x 43ish 4k would be awesome and then go the 2x 1440p path or a single 1440 ultra wide. I would get something crazy like a 50"/49” ultra wide. At 5120*1440p you are still under 4k in total pixels so running 120hz on a single cable should be easy enough.

I bought a 43" 4k LG TV tonight. It doesn’t have VRR but otherwise seems like a good fit for a monitor. I don’t game to the point of high framerates and is about 1/3 the price of the CX/C1.
Regarding the KVM, my hope it to use the 3 hdmi inputs on the tv along with an existing kvm . I’ll see how many other monitors I want to keep around. Perhaps a single in portrait?

I also do a speci order $1200 4x4 KVm. 4 monitors by 4 computers

Generally you want a workstation card or other special high end stuff to use it. Works well with the dell 8k display too

Some day traders rocking dual 8ks out there.sup I see you

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I need to read up on the HDMI-CEC standard and look into using multiple usb-CEC adapters across HDMI networks for a KVM style switching. Perception that HDMI is more mature than DisplyPort or Thunderbolt for industry adoption. Perhaps I’m just bitter to thunderbolt support.
For pedestrian uses it seems redundant to not use the display’s built in switching. I’m coming from display link here so just about anything is an improvement.

My general rule of thumb is to avoid dedicated GPUs on laptops due to thermals, however the industry is changing. With the cost of modern GPU’s I’m fine sitting on 5 year old ~$200 units.

Initial look into usb-cec is pretty bleak but seems scalable.
example
4 TV/monitors each have 3 HDMI inputs
2 PCs each have 4 HDMI outputs
1 HDMI interface to inject CEC to each display

The raspberry PI 4b has dual hdmi and has some libraries.
You would have 4 display, 2 computer switching. Connect in a HID usb KVM and the Pi’s for what… $100?
Find a HDMI or make a switcher that can take serial in and CEC, sounds cheaper.
Get some video card support on those displays and it’s pretty much hw free.

The HDMI-CEC protocol looks better than assumed, uses logical addresses. (limited to 10 devices). Initiating signal doesn’t need to be from the same source device so no N-1 on the display. Possibly further daisy chaining as long as only one video source. I see no limitation on adoption for a scalable KVM application.

example
4 TV/monitors each have 3 HDMI inputs
3 PCs each have 4 HDMI outputs
1 HDMI interface to inject CEC to each display

edit:
By daisy chaining, I mean to inject on one connection to the monitor and daisy chain the monitors on unused hdmi ports. You could also use a splitter instead of taking 2 ports to +1.

When my IO Gear fails, we will talk :slight_smile: too bad you did not have your KVM’s in 2017 when I purchased this one.

For right now 4x1 @ 4k 60hz is plenty.

Since im using SDI for the 4 displays with a combo of Blackmagic and AJA converters I have a massive 36x22 SDI matrix.

I am no where near filling all the sources on that sucker. though I might get an upgrade from 3G SDI to 12G SDI which will make things interesting.