what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless controls?

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what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless controls?

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:13 am

Currently my only computer is an AMD E-350 that is in the living room, hooked up to my monitor and the living room tv (as a second device).

During the recent black Friday madness, I just bought a brand new gaming machine. As I now have two computers, I was thinking of using my existing E-350 (since it's so low powered) as a media box (connected to the tv)/music player/file server running almost non-stop and my new gaming machine...well, just for gaming. Thus it'd be off when I'm watching tv.

However, as you can probably see where this is going...the issue of how to control both computers

1) The E-350 currenty has Windows 7 Home Premium. If I wanted to remote in, I'd need to buy Windows 7 Pro ($89.99). This would also allow my sister on her laptop to remote in. HOWEVER, if you remote in and launch a media file (let's say an avi), then it would play on that users profile and not necessarily the tv, correct?

2) KVM switch. As my monitor is 1920x1200, it'd have to be a DVI/HDMI with USB switch. These run around $90/$100 it seems. Both my mouse/keyboard are hard wired, but is there any performance penalty from running Borderlands 2 through the switch? If I was to go down this route, do you guys have a good one you can reference?

3) Wireless keyboard/mouse. Could be the cheapest option but also the messiest as more junk cluttered around the couch. If I were to go down this routes, I wonder what would be a cheap yet good keyboard/mouse combo controller?

So the question I have for you guys, what would you do?
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Re: what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless contr

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:18 am

There should be no performance penalty from using a KVM.

There are also some free remote control applications that would allow people to remote in without upgrading the OS.
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Re: what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless contr

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:24 am

If you end up going with the "upgrade the OS" route, you might as well just go to Win8 -- if you do it before the end of the year, the Pro upgrade is $40. If you decide you just can't stand the Start Screen, then Stardock Start8 is available, although I find the Start Screen and reduced GUI overhead are rather ideal for an HTPC built on older hardware, especially if your next application launch is just going to be XBMC regardless.

As for discrete KB/mouse options, you'll find quite a few of us are using the Logitech K400 for HTPC duty. That's just about the best HTPC clutter-reducing device ever invented.
Last edited by ludi on Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless contr

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:26 am

I had a similar problem to solve recently and I realized that since both computers are hooked up to the same monitor I didn't need a video switch since the monitor has source selection, I just needed a USB device switch. I got one of these (I actually bought it off their ebay store since it was slightly cheaper altogether with shipping - go figure) I take it both computers are hooked up to the TV since you mentioned a KVM as an option, the only downside to this is you have to switch the USB devices on the monoprice box, then separately switch the video source on the monitor - an occasional hassle I was willing to deal with to save $70. I did have some random wierdness where the USB devices wouldn't be activated when switching PCs, preventing the secondary PC from powering off the USB port to which it's attached to save power solved that. I haven't noticed any kind of input lag when gaming.
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Re: what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless contr

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:36 am

@ just brew it. Ahh, very interesting. That looks like a very real possibility.

@ludi. Initially I was very hesitant with going to Windows 8 since I didn't have a great experience with the new interface on the desktop (just for the record, I love my Win7 phone). The thought of Win8 Pro did cross my mind, but I thought that promotion was over when it was released publically.

After posting I had found this kvm. It won't break the bank and would allow me to control the second computer, even when the other computers are turned off. So if my gaming computer is turned off and my sister has her laptop, I can still connect to the E-350 easily.

So it comes down to:

1) Using that remote control software - $0
2) Upgrading to Win8 Pro - $40
3) Using a KVM switch - $72

So, I guess the question is, how much is it worth to me to start my gaming machine up? Lol.
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Re: what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless contr

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:44 am

@MadManOrginal. Now that's cool. But since it only has 2 USB A (mouse and keyboard inputs) and 2 USB B outputs, I would need to get 2 USB B-> A adaptors correct? Also, I believe I know the answer to this, but never seen it in real life, the keyboard and mouse would just travel over a single USB line into the computer correct? How well does each computer recognize the keyboard and mouse (ie, needing to install drivers for it?)
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Re: what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless contr

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:57 am

It includes two USB B to A cables :) and a small power adaptor (maybe that's a downside) so all you need is your peripherals. Yes, they both travel over a single USB cable to each computer. I'm not certain about drivers but each peripheral is switched and recognized separately - I can have the mouse active on one computer and the keyboard on the other with no problem. It's really just a switchable powered USB hub, so it's no different from plugging/unplugging the device into each computer, in fact the inactive computer doesn't 'see' the hub or USB device at all so when you switch over to the other computer it's just like hot-plugging the device. To wake from USB you just need to be switched over to the correct computer first, I guess that's part of the reason for the power adaptor.

If there is one thing I could change about it I would put all the ports on one side, it gets a little wide at about 6" allowing for plugs and strain relief with the USB ports on both sides filled. But the PCB might be larger or more complicated in layout, I imagine they cost-optimized it as much as possible. I just have it tucked on the desk under my monitor where I need to reach to switch sources anyway.
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Re: what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless contr

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 2:14 am

Thanks for all your help guys.

Since my tv and monitor have enough inputs I can just connect them that way, I'm going to go with the USB switch MadManOriginal suggested (I never knew such a thing existed, but it doesn't surprise me). I think I found one that's even slightly better. 3 USB devices (keyboard/mouse/Flash drive) connected to 2 computers here: http://www.usbgear.com/computer_cable_details.cfm?sku=USBG-3SH2&cats=186&catid=186%2C116%2C104%2C653%2C210%2C212 This would be super handy to connect a printer to (if I ever buy one of those stupid things...)

I don't really have a need to have the keyboard connected to one computer and the mouse to the other, that would just mess me up. Lol.

Thanks guys.
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Re: what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless contr

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 2:32 am

Well, good deal. I guess my search-fu isn't that good, I would have gotten that one just for the single switch and 3 input design. :oops: A bit more expensive with a power adaptor but not *too* much.
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Re: what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless contr

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 9:02 am

Without trying to derail the thread, are there any free remote-desktop utilities that don't suffer from update lag - ie, seconds-per-frame update speeds? I've not really tried looking since I assumed it was a Microsoft thing - all VNC's got slow when moving on from XP to either Vista or 7.

I've tried RealVNC, UltraVNC, TightVNC. and I've even used web solutions like Webex, Logmein and Teamviewer. Nothing has the snappiness that VNC's had back in the XP days. Even on a gigabit LAN they all feel like you're working over a 56K modem....
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Re: what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless contr

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 9:05 am

I suspect the performance issue is related to the rise of compositing desktops. Remote control solutions on bleeding edge Linux desktops are equally grim these days.
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Re: what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless contr

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 9:57 am

just brew it! wrote:I suspect the performance issue is related to the rise of compositing desktops. Remote control solutions on bleeding edge Linux desktops are equally grim these days.


Bleargh :(
How does MS' remote desktop connection work so well? Some cheaty, haxxy backdoor?
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Re: what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless contr

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:11 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
just brew it! wrote:I suspect the performance issue is related to the rise of compositing desktops. Remote control solutions on bleeding edge Linux desktops are equally grim these days.

Bleargh :(
How does MS' remote desktop connection work so well? Some cheaty, haxxy backdoor?

I hesitate to call it cheating... it could very well be that since they're not at all concerned with cross-platform they can fully optimize their solution for Windows.

Or yeah, maybe they're cheating. :lol:
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Re: what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless contr

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 11:23 am

just brew it! wrote:
Chrispy_ wrote:
just brew it! wrote:I suspect the performance issue is related to the rise of compositing desktops. Remote control solutions on bleeding edge Linux desktops are equally grim these days.

Bleargh :(
How does MS' remote desktop connection work so well? Some cheaty, haxxy backdoor?

I hesitate to call it cheating... it could very well be that since they're not at all concerned with cross-platform they can fully optimize their solution for Windows.

Or yeah, maybe they're cheating. :lol:

The Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is supposed to be more efficient because it used to track GDI calls (not sure what they send over now with desktop composition). Also, the default RDP client allows you to select a resolution to connect in, which means when connecting via remote you can select a smaller resolution to save bandwidth. There are a number of non-Microsoft RDP clients out there so I would not say it is "cheaty, haxxy backdoor". PocketCloud works quite fine on my Android phone. ;)
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Re: what would you guys do? kvm or Win7Pro or wireless contr

Postposted on Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:12 pm

Flying Fox wrote:There are a number of non-Microsoft RDP clients out there so I would not say it is "cheaty, haxxy backdoor". PocketCloud works quite fine on my Android phone. ;)

The question isn't whether the client is "cheating". The question is whether they've relied on undocumented APIs to implement the GDI tracking on the server side.
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