How to use a Gaming Keyboard with a KVM Switch

Error Problem with your gaming keyboard and kvm switch? Gaming
Keyboard not working right with kvm? Read below!

I recently entered the modern era with a new IOGEAR GCS1104 USB/DVI
KVM. I love this KVM, however a few days after I purchased it I also
bought a new fancy USB gaming keyboard, a Logitech G510. The problem
is I can’t use all the features of the keyboard if it’s plugged into
the keyboard port (the only port that allows hotkey switching for the
KVM), and I can’t use hotkey switching if I’m pluuged into the USB
peripheral port. So I get to pick, KVM or Keyboard. I could use the
manual buttons on the front of the KVM, but that is incredibly lame.

I found myself in a similar situation to Stubbs.

Stubbs | 07-30-2010 11:43 PM

I needed to upgrade my KVM switch as well. It was all PS2. And,
obviously, I needed a USB keyboard.
So I bought a 4 port USB Ultra KVM switch, and the G110. Let me
tell you up front, you can’t get a logitech product to work with a KVM
switch.
I caught a comment on Newegg, stating it had to be connected to a
powered hub, and to plug the hub into the mouse port of the KVM. It
worked for a few minutes, and then, it didn’t. I’ve wasted the whole
evening on this setup. It is now 12:30 AM.
It simply doesn’t work. What is funny is the G110 works in the
bios, but as soon as you get to windows 7, it is dead.
The KVM switch, obviously, is more important than the fancy
keyboard. When I have time and money on the table with paying
customers, the KVM switch stays.
But it begs the question, wasn’t USB supposed to be universal?
Obviously it isn’t.
I slpurged for this keyboard. There was another one on
TigerDirect, much cheaper, and with backlighting, That probably would
have worked. Now I have to RMA this keyboard, and pay for the return
shipping. And order another USB keyboard that works with a KVM switch.

I’m incredibly disappointed with Logitech. For crying out loud,
this is the later half of 2010. We don’t live with windows 98 any
more.

I know, as well as you should, that this isn’t logitechs fault, but
rather a combination of problems. Chris Pate lines this out below.

Chris Pate | January 4th, 2010 at 10:26 am

It is unlikely that the extended functionality of the G110
(G-Keys, audio jacks, programmable backlighting colors) will function
on any KVM that does not support the G15. The only way for these
features to function through a KVM is for the KVM manufacturer to
design their product to support the extended feature set of the
keyboard.

Most KVM switches do not work as passthrough devices. In order to
prevent the host PC from going through a full enumeration cycle every
time the user switches between them (or to prevent the PC from hanging
on boot due to the BIOS not detecting the presence of a keyboard), the
KVM declares itself to the host system to be a keyboard and a mouse.
In effect, the KVM is a small computer that receives input from the
attached keyboard and mouse, and then forwards that information
directly to the host PC. This means that if the KVM isn’t explicitly
programmed to understand the all of the extended features of the
keyboard, they will not function when attached to the KVM – the KVM
will not see them and therefore will not forward them to the host PC.
This is not something that we can control in the keyboard’s design
process, as the additional functionality we put into the keyboard is
inherently different from what the KVM expects to see coming from a
standard keyboard.

Conclusion? Well, it’s yet to be formed. I have ordered a bunch of
switches and cables to try to get around the problem and I’ll post my
results here. Supposedly Belkin SOHO switches work fine, so I’m going
to grab on of those as well. Testing results to come….

9-16-2010 The Results:

Well, don’t think your going to get over this hump easily, or free. I
tried, but was unsuccessful at buying a cheap USB switch to solve the
problem, specifically I tried a SIIG USB 2.0 2-to-1 Auto Switch. The
switch was to dumb to release the keyboard since it thought it was in
use all the time because of the LCD manager and all the other features
running in the background. So don’t waste your time with a USB switch
unless it is a mechanical switch, the type that flips whether the
software cares or not…you know the type that go ku-thunk when you turn
the knob letting you know you moved parts around inside.

If you just want to ditch your current KVM you can get a non-emulation
KVM. IOGEAR Support had the following to say:

IOGEAR Support | Sep 14, 2010

Jeremy,

1. The peripheral ports a designed to be used with other USB devices
such as external hard, printers or scanners. If there was emulation on
the peripheral ports then these types of USB devices would not function.
2. At this time we have not heard about any type of update that would
allow keyboard switching through the peripheral ports or being able to
turn completely turn the emulation off.
3. Any KVM with the feature of the GCS1104 would have keyboard and mouse
emulation. We do have non-emulated KVMs but unfortunately none of those
KVMs are DVI.

Thanks,
Service Support

IOGEAR Support | Sep 15, 2010

Jeremy,

The newest non-emulated KVM that we have is the GCS24U but this is
a VGA based KVM.

http://www.iogear.com/product/GCS24U/

Thanks,
Service Support

Keep in mind if you go with a non-emulation KVM you might run into
other issues like USB recognition delay etc. That said I think this is
probably the best choice for most people. If you don’t want to buy an
IOGEAR, then just email the support group of whatever manufacturer you
want to buy your KVM from and ask them which models are non-emulation
models that support gaming keyboards.

So what did I do? I liked my independent DVI/Audio/USB KVM to much to
give it up, so I combined the solutions. I kept my GCS1104, but I also
went and bought a non-emulation IOGEAR 2-port GCS72U (surprisingly, it
was the same price as the SIIG). I plugged one USB connection into the
keyboard emulation port of the 1104, and one into the peripheral port
of the 1104. So I get the best of both worlds, when I’m ready to game
I just tap the button, and when I need to switch back to KVM mode I
tap it again and have access to all the cool features all the time.
It’s an extra button, and thus an extra thought, but it works for me.

Hope this helps some folks out there.

Posted in Reviews, Recommendations, Best Practices

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*