Keyboard, Video, Mouse

What Does Keyboard, Video, Mouse Mean?

A keyboard, video, mouse (KVM) switch is a hardware device that connects a keyboard, video display and mouse to multiple computers. It allows a user to control more than one computer using only one input/output (I/O) device.


The KVM switch is typically used to support terminals at both ends of the connection, allowing remote and local access to all computers. A KVM can also be used to regulate numerous groups of servers in a data center. There are several benefits to a KVM that may include the following:

  • Saves space
  • Reduces cost
  • More convenient
  • Decreases desktop clutter
  • Moderates cabling requirements

In addition, a KVM switch can connect a single PC to multiple keyboards, video displays and mice. This can be helpful when a user needs to access a PC from two or more locations.

Newer KVM switches can be comprised of other switching functions that share audio as in speakers or USB devices between various PCs.

Techopedia Explains Keyboard, Video, Mouse

The connection of a KVM depends on the port density and type of connector. There are a variety of ways that a KVM switch can be connected:

  • USB connectors for USB ports
  • Devices with native connectors using standard cable
  • Older models may include PS/2 or serial ports connectors
  • IP-based KVM switches are cabled to the network and to the computers over an IP network
  • Monitors may connect via a digital video interactive (DVI) port, video graphics array (VGA) port, or both
  • Single DB25 using a 25-pin electrical connector for serial and parallel ports on PCs that connect to a special cable

To change from one computer to another, a switch is used on the KVM unit. The KVM device transmits a signal between the PC and the intended module such as the keyboard, monitor or mouse. Some high-tech switches also permit a user to change PCs by using hotkeys or keyboard shortcuts.

One of the most common and cost-effective KVM switches allows access to two PCs. However, a local remote KVM architecture can support over 256 access points with communication to more than 8,000 PCs using a closed-loop, high-bandwidth bus. In addition, IP KVM support is used for local remote KVM systems that need to be managed off-site.

Oftentimes, the KVM is used in databases that have multiple servers on a rack using just one keyboard, mouse and monitor. It is also used in home environments using a PC with a keyboard, monitor and mouse that extends to a laptop, PDA or additional PC that has a different operating system.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.