Get Ready for 4K!

My main computer area has four computers, a KVM switch, and it has for a long time had a single 1080 monitor. Recently I was doing some video editing and moved the recently purchased 2K – 2560×1440 – monitor into that area and hooked it up with a separate cable.

There is the network backup machine – lower left – two Alienware cases – with modern Core i-7 upgrades, and a small Core i5 Linux Mint system. All the systems have SSD system drives of course with various large data / video HDs from Western Digital. And of course there is a 1 GBPS 8 port network hub.

The KVM switch is many years old and is DVI, not even HDMI. It has served well and faithfully, but it’s time for an upgrade.

Some research indicated that IOGear has recently come out with a 4K, Displayport, 2 Monitor KVM switch, so it’s time for an upgrade. This switch is $599 MSRP on the IOGear site, but it’s only $442 on Newegg. Hurray. Update: See below. It’s all working now.

Upgrade Graphics Cards to Display Port

To make use of this switch, two of the systems need an upgrade to a graphics card that is capable of Displayport 1.2 at least. And I’ll need a matching monitor. Here are the parts:

I’ve had great luck with Refurbished / Open Box from NewEgg. The previous ASUS PB278Q I purchased a few months ago was “Refurbished”. The Openbox version just arrived and it’s perfect. All the pixels work fine in White and Black, and the case is not scratched. I did pay $318 so the price is dropping on these Open Box monitors.

The IOGear switch and Graphics cards have not arrived. I’ll update this when everything is working, but for now I can wire the second monitor to the video station computer and use it for video editing. While these monitors are only 2K, the KVM switch and graphics cards are ready for Dual 4K monitors someday when they are reasonable price. For now these 2K monitors are sweet.

Rock and Roll.

Update: 9 August 2018

I’ve installed it all and it works, except for the Windows 10 system using a GTX 1060. The two systems that were upgraded to GTX 1050’s work fine. Both a Windows 10 and a Linux Mint 18 system work fine. They run both monitors, over a single Displayport connection, at full resolution of 2650×1440.

However the Windows 10 system using a Founders Edition GTX 1060 card will not run both monitors at full resolution through the IoGear KVM switch. The display attached via DisplayPort to the KVM switch has a resolution of 1920×1080 and the one attached via HDMI is the native resolution of 2560×1440. Removal / reinstall of the latest driver and upgrade of the displayport firmware of the GTX 1060 makes no difference.

A couple of days in various forums, both Nvidia and IOGear, has yielded no insights. My solution will be to replace the GTX 1060 card with a GTX 1050 like the other systems are using successfully. The GTX 1060 card will be moved to another system where it will run two monitors directly without a KVM switch. Since the 1060 was from 2016, it’s unlikely that any changes would be forthcoming to fix issues. So I decided to move on to have all my systems work with the KVM and 2K monitors.

KVM switching behavior

One minor note, the manual switches of this KVM switch is different than the previous IOGear switch I was using. The previous model worked by a quick press on the switch flipped only the video and a long press switched both the video and the USB – Keyboard and Mouse. So I always watched for both the Yellow and Green lights to switch to confirm switching.

The new KVM switch is different, a quick press changes the yellow light and switches video and Keyboard / Mouse connections. The green light may or may not switch and is apparently the auxiliary USB connections, which I have nothing attached to. I was confused for a while and thought that the switch was not working, but all is great once you know the difference.

Review So Far

This IOGear GCS1934M switch is great. But it does not work with all graphics cards. So even if your graphics card says it supports Displayport 1.2 or later, it may not work to drive two monitors at full resolution. The good news is that some older generations of cards- ASUS GTX 1050 was released in 2016 – may work just fine. One of these machines has a GTX 760 card, from 2013, and it works just fine too.

Update: 17 August 2018

It’s all working now as advertised. Bad Cables were found.

Several things have been noted as various things have been tried to get all the systems working with the switch.

  1. Two bad Displayport cables were found during the installation of the IOGear KVM. One of these was a 6 foot cable provided with the KVM and one was a 10 foot cable ordered later. It’s not clear how these cables are bad exactly since I don’t have testing facilities for the cables. But when other cables were put into the connection, the connection instantly worked as expected with both displays going to full resolution. The cable failures were difficult to diagnose since the failure mode was that the two displays would not both run at full resolution rather than one or both of the displays simply did not work. In each case, swapping the bad cable out of the system resulted in the two displays instantly both working at full resolution, so there is no doubt that bad cables was the problem. It seems odd that out of 6 cables – four provided with the KVM and 2 purchased later- that two cables were bad.
  2. During the testing, a Haswell based system had it’s Nvidia graphics card removed and the native Intel graphics was employed. This involved installing the latest driver from the Intel site for the Intel Core i7 6700K processor. This system has been left in this state since further accelerated graphics is not required for it’s use. However, it is apparent that the fact that the Nvidia 1060 and 1050 cards did not work with this system was due to the bad Displayport cable, and not due to a feature support failure of the KVM switch, graphics cards or the motherboard, as was earlier suspected.
  3. In all cases, latest versions of Nvidia and Intel graphics drivers are in use and the Windows 10 and Linux Mint 18.3 systems are fully updated. During the process, it was suggested in a forum reply that an earlier driver version might be tried, and for a time, for an earlier graphics card, Geforce 760, an earlier driver was in use. But currently all systems are working with the latest driver versions available for the systems.

So, it is clear that the IOGear GCS1934M switch is great and works as advertised for all the cases that I have tried. The systems are:

  • Intel Core i7 960, Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics. Windows 10.
  • Intel Core i7 6700K, on-chip Intel graphics. Windows 10.
  • Intel Core i7 4700S, Nvidia GTX 760 graphics. Windows 10.
  • Intel Core i5 4570S, Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics, Linux Mint 18.3.

If you are interested in this type of KVM device, I hope that this experience is valuable.