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Switching peripherials (KVM, manually, other options?)

I posted this over at LTT and someone suggested i post it here. So here it is!

As alot of people, in these human-malware days, i am now working from home.
The computer i used at work is now sitting next to my main computer.
I managed to make “poor man’s KVM”, which involves me doing the following manually :

  1. Switching my 2 screens inputs, using the screens OSDs

  2. Switching a USB 3 Hub from computer A to computer B (i got two usb extensions, one going to each computer, and the female side on my desk, so it’s easy to disconnect the USB Hub).

  3. Switching the wire that is connected to my headset. (Sennheiser Game One, 3.5mm, not usb)

I do this 4 times a day, in the morning when i start working (to my work computer), on lunch break (to my personal computer), after lunch break (to my work computer) and back to my personal computer after my day is done.

This is getting quite tedious, i mean, it works and it is 100% a first world problem, i aknowledge that. But i would want to stream line the process.

Looking at KVMs and other solutions, i am a bit at a loss… seems like all KVMs are either super basic or super expensive.

I tried always working from my personal computer, by remotely connecting to my work computer, they are both on the same 1gbps lan. But Microsoft’s Remote Desktop has been pretty bad with audio, people complained alot about my mic and playback wasnt great either (playing music, for example, on my work computer, once it got back to my personal computer, thru remote desktop, sounds like garbage). But i have some apps that can only be ran from my work computer, some of them involving audio. So Microsoft Remote Desktop is pretty much out of the equation for now. I’ll admit i havent tried any other Remote solutions.

I’m considering a cheapo USB 3 switch ($40 cdn on amazon) with a cheapo USB sound card ($20 cdn on amazon), so i can avoid having to switch my headset wire (step 3) and avoid disconnecting/connecting the USB Hub (step 2). So this $60 solution would streamline the process a bit. I’m unsure about the $20 sound card tho, afraid it’s gonna sound like total trash.

If anyone has tips / idea / suggestions… I’m not against spending money, but i def do not want to spend $800 cdn on a fancy Dual Monitor KVM

So here are peripherals i want to switch :

2x HP Pavilion 27BW (inputs : 1xDVI-D, 1xHDMI, 1xVGA, no DP)
1x Sennheiser Game One with 3.5mm jacks (Have both TRRS and 2xTRS cables)
1x USB Mouse (on the hub)
1x USB Keyboard (on the hub)

The ports/parts on the the computers side of the switching:

Work Computer (Dell Optiplex 7060):
2xDisplay Port (1xDP to VGA adapter, 1xDP to DVI adapter) going to screens (integrated video card)
1x 3.5mm TRRS (that’s the one with the microphone on the same cable, if you dont know)
1x USB where i plug the Hub

Personal Computer :
1xHDMI going to screen 1, 1xDVI going to screen 2 (Video card is Gigabyte 1070 Gaming G1 and has 3xDisplay Port, 1xHDMI and 1xDVI)
2x3.5mm TRS (one for the mic, one for the stereo) (Integrated soundcard)
1xUSB where i plug the Hub

And lastly, i would eventually like to upgrade the two 27BW for nicer 1440p/144hz displays, but not in the short term (probably in 6 months)… but if i’m to spend $200-$300 on a KVM, for example, i’d rather not be stuck having to buy a new KVM once i want to upgrade my screens.

Curious about your video cards in all the PCs you use. In case you have Nvidia GPUs in all of them, you can actually use GeForce Experience and stream your screen into whatever computer you use, even android via Moonlight app.

You can stream without running a game, it just needs minor fiddling.

Interesting, i’m already using Moonlight to stream my personal computer to my TV.
My work computer has an integrated Intel GPU, so streaming my work computer to my personal computer is not gonna be possible, but i guess i may be able to use the work computer as “my primary” and stream the other one to it… Would Audio (microphone) be sent to the host computer tho ? As i use my headset on my work computer for Skype/Teams/etc and i use my headset on my personal computer for gaming (discord mostly).
I’ll do some research about Windows clients for nvidia’s streaming protocol.

Audio output works fine. Ive streamed The Division to my cellphone with no problem but I have no experience with mic usage

Well, i found something interesting. I can change monitors input-source thru software. So i made myself two batch files, that I copied on both computer and bound them to my logitech keyboard’s G keys (G1 for Home, G2 for Work) on both computer (on the same keys).
I ordered a cheapo USB switch + a usb sound card from Amazon, so now my “poor man’s KVM” requires two button push :

  1. On the USB Switch (to switch headset, mouse, keyboard, webcam)
  2. On the keyboard G key

So it’s already much better than it was before… If only i could automate the USB Hub switching thru software, i could get everything to switch with a single keypress, that’d be as close to a KVM as I could get.

I looked around for software controllable USB Switches, but i haven’t found anything that makes sense, pricewise. At this point, i’m only trying to avoid a single button push, so a $500 ACRONAME USB switch is a bit ridiculous hehe.