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I'm looking to purchase 8 or 16-port KVMs for servers, and I would like some recommendations as to what to look for, and what some reputable brands are. I don't need an IP KVM, but I do need it to be USB and PS/2. I had pretty much settled on a Belkin Omniview Pro 3, but after reading some of the bad reviews on newegg, I thought I'd ask some of you for your opinions.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

We have been reasonably happy with various Avocent KVMs. They offer a wide range of devices with various features at different price points, although it seems like you already have a good idea of what features you need.

One of their devices we use is the AutoView KVM, which gave us 16 ports (with the ability to stack onto other devices and expand). The interconnects between the server and KVM used cat5 cabling, which allowed for us to connect the KVM to a server that was in another rack more easily, as well as having simpler cable management. The AutoView uses small "dongles" at the end of the cat5, allowing you to connect to a variety of devices by using the correct dongle (you can mix different types in a single kvm). It also means that if you have mostly PS/2 servers now, and decide to change to USB servers down the road, you only have to purchase new dongles.

We also have purchased models which allow multiple users to work on the servers at once, which can be nice for smaller shops with fewer machines.

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I Second the Avocent AutoViews. The dongles allowing you to connect systems that don't have the same connectors (in our case, Sun and VGA+PS2) running it over standard CAT5 cable that can be cut-to-length were both quite appealing. The models we had allowed for 3 simultaneous connections. So you could have one console local in the server room, and 2 remotes. This allowed us to get remote access to older boxes that didn't have any sort of remote management on them. –  Alex Jan 20 '10 at 4:03
    
+1 Just after posting my question I stumbled into the Avocents.... pretty nice devices. –  Brett G Jan 20 '10 at 8:11
    
+1 for Avocent, much better than Belkin by miles. –  Tom O'Connor Jan 20 '10 at 10:24

I've used the Belkin ones on and off for years with mixed results. The main issue I'm facing at the moment is that some servers seem to not supply enough power for the remote keyboard / mouse to register properly. In this case we get a nice screen and the keyboard works to log on but the mouse doesn't function. Not a great situation when there's no windows key on the slide out cobi-unit!

We've tried the HP IP based KVMs with the console option but I wasn't impressed so we're still looking.

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I've had a lot of problems with the Belkins. My recommendation is the Avocents. –  Phil Hollenback Jan 20 '10 at 7:14

We've got Raritan KVMs and they've been great - they just work.

We've got a Masterconsole MX4 daisy-chained to a couple of Masterconsole II. The thing about the MX4 that I love is that you can have 4 consoles. We have two in the server room and one each (via their Cat5 extenders) in my office and my co-worker's. I love having a dedicated, hard-wired connection to any server I need w/out leaving my office.

When you have KVMs daisy-chained together, you configure them all to act as one, so it works very smoothly. The only limitation is that you can only have one of the four consoles talking to each of the sub-KVMs at a time (there are workarounds, but we've never bothered.)

One downside is that the "operating system" of the KVMs is a bit crude and the documentation isn't always clear. Particularly when it comes to assigning names on a daisy-chained secondary KVM that hangs off the MX4, I can almost guarantee you'll forget to press "G" (see page 20 of the MX4 manual).

(Based on the Avocent KVMs we've tried out, I don't think the Raritan documentation is any worse, it's just not any better.)

The only other downside of our installation is that we've had them for so long we have a ton of the original huge cables - these are full 25-wire VGA merged with a mouse and a keyboard cable. They're huge and unwieldy, but I feel stupid throwing them out and buying the thin cables you can get now, so we're living with them. You can get adapters for Sun systems or for USB for the servers that don't have PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports.

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