KVM Monitors Let You Cut Down the Desk Clutter, and I Love It

“You need a KVM switch.”

That’s what my friend said to me three years ago after seeing a photo of my double-laptop setup. I told her how all I have to do is switch over a couple of cords at the end of my workday and I can enjoy my new gaming laptop in the same space as my work laptop. She’s a fellow hardware reviewer, so she had an easy answer: buy a keyboard, video, mouse (KVM) switch to do that exact step for me, no more cord-swapping required. It sounded too good to be true.

I didn’t buy one—I didn’t want to add yet another item to my small desk, so I continued to manually switch my HDMI and USB cords between my various computers for a few years. I got some other items to ease this process—a tiny HDMI switcher I can hide behind my monitor along with receiver-free Bluetooth devices—but the real answer was always a KVM switch. Until now. I switched my monitor to one with a KVM switch built in, so it’s a win-win. Less desk clutter, and no need to plug and unplug cords again!

A Desk to Rescue

Photograph: Nena Farrell

This is my desk circa April 2021. I became a big co-op gamer over the pandemic since playing games like Deep Rock Galatic and Stardew Valley was an easy way to stay close to my friends. Originally, I was exclusively a Nintendo Switch girl, but once my addiction to Animal Crossing: New Horizons ended, I moved on to PC games.

That’s when I got my first gaming laptop, but I needed room on my desk for it and my work computer. The bulky body of a gaming laptop is decidedly less comfortable away from my desk (and has worse battery life too), so I suddenly needed a permanent solution for my after-work gaming lifestyle.

A KVM switch was the clear answer. These let you plug in two computers or laptops—even if they run different operating systems—and connect peripherals like a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Once everything is connected, just hit the switch and you can use the same peripherals with either PC, no need to unplug and reconnect them. There are tons of options to buy one online, and they’re usually not too expensive.

But you can see my desk above. Another item to fit onto the desktop was the last thing I wanted; I’d rather have room for an extra candle or my mug of tea. KVM switches aren’t so big that this is a huge issue, but I let it stop me for years.

One Monitor to Rule Them All

Why get something extra if I don’t have to? The good news is that more and more PC monitors have a built-in KVM switch, so you can connect two computers and your accessories to the monitor and switch as you see fit. It’s so easy! Nothing else is on my desk! It’s the best of both worlds. I need a monitor anyway, so why not get one that has the power of a KVM switch inside?

It’s only useful if your keyboard and mouse have a 2.4-GHz USB receiver for connectivity, though. (These receivers usually offer better stability and lower response times than Bluetooth.) This Philips Creator Series monitor (read more about it in our Best PC Monitors guide) has both a KVM switch and an input change option. When I used it with receiver-free Bluetooth accessories, I only needed to switch the input from the monitor instead of using the full KVM switch feature.

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