Hardware

Review: IOGear GCS1764 KVM switch

The IOGear GCS1764 is a KVM switch that can switch the USB devices, the monitor, and the audio for up to four devices.

The IOGear GCS1764 is a KVM switch that can switch the USB devices, the monitor (using DVI-I connections), and the audio for up to four devices. It emulates a mouse and keyboard so that the inactive devices do not miss them.

Specifications

  • Requirements: USB mouse and keyboard, USB connections on devices, DVI connections on devices
  • Output Ports: USB, DVI-I, microphone, speaker (four each)
  • Input Ports: USB keyboard, USB mouse, DVI-I, microphone, speaker
  • Maximum Resolution: 1900 x 1200
  • Included in Package: KVM switch, power cord, four bonded, 6' video/USB/microphone/speaker cables
  • Cost: $280 or less
  • Additional Information: Product Web site
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Who's it for?

Some users, especially developers, systems administrators, support personnel, and enthusiasts need to use multiple computers throughout their day. A KVM switch makes their lives easier by allowing them to have only one keyboard, mouse, and monitor on their desk to handle these different systems. Users with DVI monitors and video cards will appreciate the improved video quality compared to the still prevalent VGA KVM switches.

What problems does it solve?

Most of the KVM switches on the market that are reasonably priced use VGA connections for the video connections. While VGA is still extremely common, the picture quality is poor compared to the DVI connections. Most DVI KVM switches are quite expensive. This IOGear GCS1764 is still more expensive than a comparable VGA KVM switch, but it is inexpensive compared to most of the DVI KVM switches on the market. In addition to handling the basic KVM duties, the GCS1764 also can switch a microphone and speaker if desired.

Standout features

  • Cost: The GCS1764 is one of the least expensive DVI KVMs on the market.
  • Can switch audio: If desktop real estate is at a premium and you need to always hear sound from your connected systems, then the GCS1764 can switch speakers and a microphone between those systems.
  • Video/Keyboard/mouse emulation: The GCS1764 emulates a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to the inactive devices, which allows them to boot properly even when the focus is not on them.

What's wrong?

  • Funky video emulation: The video resolution emulation is that that of the actual monitor, so devices that are inactive will switch resolutions when they gain or lose the focus.
  • Cannot convert analog to digital: If your computer only has VGA output or a DVI-A output, and your monitor only accepts DVI-D, then you will need an expensive converter to work with the monitor.
  • Quirky: In usage, sometimes double-tapping "Scroll Lock" to activate switching does not work. Switching focus away from a computer in hibernate mode can do some odd things. A quick push of the buttons to switch focus does not always switch all attached devices.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

For a power user with multiple machines, there is simply no getting around the need for a KVM switch. The loss in productivity due to having to constantly switch to different monitors and input devices more than offsets the cost. Once the decision to buy a KVM switch is made, it can often be hard to justify a more expensive model.

This is where the GCS1764 steps in. By supporting higher resolutions and DVI connections, it provides the features that professionals with high end monitors need to get a much better picture compared to VGA. And the GCS1764 is priced right, not substantially more than a comparable VGA model. Of course, for an even better picture, there is HDMI, but the cost of HDMI systems, monitors, and KVM switches is still very high.

For the professional who needs a KVM switch, the GVCS 1764 is a great compromise between cost and quality. While it does have a few minor little quirks (most KVM switches seem to have some), it covers the basic functionality just fine. The GCS1764 is a good upgrade for anyone using an older VGA KVM switch, and an excellent choice for anyone considering the purchase of a KVM switch.

User rating

Have you encountered or used the IOGear GCS1764 KVM switch? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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About

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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