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Tech Insight: Do KVM Switches Add Latency?

Tech Insight: Do KVM Switches Add Latency?

When it comes to optimizing gaming setups or professional workstations, the efficiency of a KVM switch can be a game-changer, allowing users to control multiple computers from a single set of peripherals. A key question often arises: do KVM switches add latency? This article investigates how these versatile devices function, examines whether they impact your system’s response time, and offers tips on selecting the best KVM switch to ensure seamless gaming experiences.

What is a KVM Switch? How Does It Work?

A Keyboard, Video, and Mouse switch, commonly referred to as KVM, is hardware equipment that lets users fully control multiple computers with a single set of peripherals. The primary benefit of a KVM switch is the consolidation of hardware, which leads to saving physical space and reducing the need for multiple devices, resulting in a more organized and efficient workstation.

The way a KVM switch works is straightforward. The user connects the keyboard, monitor, and mouse to the KVM switch and then connects the switch to the computers they wish to control. The switch grants the capability to easily toggle between multiple systems using either physical buttons, hotkeys, or on-screen display controls. This is especially useful in environments with very limited space or where a user needs to manage several servers or computers simultaneously.

Do KVM Switches Add Latency?

Concerns about latency with KVM switches often arise, especially in gaming contexts where timing is crucial. Latency, in the case of a KVM switch, pertains to the delay between a user's input at the keyboard or mouse, and the action occurring on the computer screen. While it's true that any additional processing—like that required to route signals through a KVM switch—can introduce latency, most modern, high-quality KVM switches are designed to minimize this delay to levels that are often imperceptible to the user. However, the extent of latency can vary based on several factors.

  1. Input Processing Time: How quickly the KVM switch can process the signals from the mouse and keyboard to the PC. High-quality switches are engineered to handle this nearly instantaneously.
  1. Signal Transmission: The speed at which the KVM switch transmits the signal to the computer. Longer cables might slightly increase this time.
  1. Peripheral Compatibility: Some switches better support high-speed, gaming-grade peripherals than others. Compatibility with the specific types of keyboards and mice can affect the responsiveness.
  1. Switching Speed: When actively switching between devices, the time it takes for the switch to re-establish connections can contribute to perceived latency, especially if the switch uses physical relays or has a slower electronic switching mechanism.

How to Choose the Right KVM Switch for Gaming?

Selecting the ideal KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) switch for gaming requires thoughtful analysis of your unique requirements to guarantee smooth operation across multiple computers using just one set of peripherals. Here are the major factors you should consider:

  1. Number of Servers or PCs:Consider how many computers or gaming consoles you plan to connect. KVM switches can vary in the number of supported devices, from small setups of two to larger configurations involving four or more. For a gaming setup, you might have a dedicated gaming PC, a streaming rig, and possibly another for work or general use. A KVM switch that supports multiple devices is essential to prevent the hassle of swapping cables and manually switching controls.
  1. Number of USB Devices:Gamers often use a range of USB peripherals such as gaming keyboards, mice, headsets, and external hard drives. A KVM switch with a built-in USB hub can allow for easy connection of these devices, ensuring that you can use them across all connected PCs without re-plugging. Look for switches offering several USB ports or dedicated USB 2.0 or 3.0 hubs.
  1. Video Standard Compatibility:The quality of the video signal is important in gaming. Ensure the KVM switch supports the highest video standards used by your monitors and PCs. For modern gaming setups, a switch that supports HDMI 4K resolution at 60Hz or higher can provide clear and lag-free visuals essential for an immersive gaming experience.
  1. Number of Monitors: Multi-monitor setups are common among gamers for enhanced gameplay or multitasking. If you use more than one monitor, seek a KVM switch that can support dual or multiple displays. This ensures that you can spread your game or work across several screens without compromising on control or video quality.
  1. Switching Methods:How you switch between connected devices can impact your gaming experience. Options include physical buttons on the switch, hotkey commands through a keyboard, or even IR remote control. A convenient switching method minimizes disruptions, allowing you to quickly shift focus between tasks or games on different PCs.

KVM switches streamline computer control, reducing clutter and costs while boosting security and productivity. For businesses, buying in bulk from Anker ensures better prices.

Anker's KVM switches enhance management and continuity in multi-computer workstations, server rooms, and remote access scenarios.

Looking for a KVM switch with no latency? Check out these two superior options from Anker:

Anker 553 USB-C Docking Station (KVM Switch)

The Anker 553 USB-C Docking Station (KVM Switch) revolutionizes your workstation with the convenience of single-click switching between devices, eliminating the need for repetitive cable swaps. This KVM Switch allows for sharing one audio device along with four USB peripherals effortlessly between a desktop PC and a laptop, boosting your productivity. Experience mesmerizing dual monitor displays with stunning 4K@60Hz resolution across both screens, supported by the DisplayPort and HDMI ports. It comes loaded with various ports for all your connection needs and includes a generous package with all necessary cables, a power adapter, and a reassuring 18-month warranty.

Anker 554 USB-C Docking Station (KVM Switch)

Upgrade your workspace with the Anker 554 USB-C Docking Station (KVM Switch), designed for those who demand efficiency and simplicity. With a single click, seamlessly switch between USB-C devices without the tedious process of changing cables. This device not only supports the sharing of essential peripherals and displays in stunning 4K@60Hz on dual monitors, but it also charges your MacBook Pro or Windows laptop with up to 100W of power. Its wide range of ports ensures maximum connectivity, and the package includes everything you need to get started, backed by an 18-month warranty and friendly customer service.


Concluding, while concerns about latency are valid when incorporating technology into a gaming setup, the analysis of whether do KVM switches add latency reveals that with careful consideration and selection, these devices can be seamlessly integrated without hampering performance. With the right pick, based on what you really need and what the switch can do, you can merge systems smoothly, keeping your play sharp and immersive. So, go ahead, choose wisely, and keep your gaming setup versatile and lag-free.

Businesses needing these should buy in bulk from Anker for better pricing. Anker's KVM switches are perfect for multi-computer workstations, server rooms, and remote access.


Here are some commonly asked questions about “Do KVM switches add latency?”

Q1. Does KVM switch affect the refresh rate?

No, a KVM switch itself does not inherently affect the refresh rate of the connected monitors. However, the performance and refresh rate can be influenced by the specifications and quality of the KVM switch. High-quality KVM switches are designed to support high refresh rates and resolutions without degradation, but it's crucial to verify the specifications to ensure compatibility with your display requirements.

Q2. Can you daisy chain KVM switches?

Yes, you can daisy chain KVM switches to expand the number of computers you can control from a single set of keyboard, monitor, and mouse. However, doing so may introduce complexity in switching between computers, potentially impact performance, and limit the features available. It’s important to ensure compatibility and consider the practical implications for your specific setup.

Q3. Can I use a docking station as a KVM?

No, a docking station cannot be used as a KVM switch because they serve fundamentally different purposes. While a docking station is designed to expand connectivity options and charge a single laptop or mobile device, a KVM switch allows for the control of multiple computers using one keyboard, monitor, and mouse. Docking stations lack the necessary functionality to switch control between different computers.

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