If you use more than 1 computer, wouldn’t it be great if you could switch your keyboard, mouse, speakers, and other devices between 2 computers instantly with a single click?
Today we’re going to talk about a handy little device that lets you do exactly that, without breaking the bank, a USB Switch.
My Use Case
First, a brief explanation of how I’m using this. When I got my M2 Pro Mac mini, I hooked it up to the same monitor, this 48″ LG C1 OLED TV, that my self-built Windows computer is also using.
Sitting at my desk, I wanted a fast and easy way to use the same keyboard, mouse, speakers, and microphone on either computer. Not at the same exact time, but whichever one I am actively using.
Choosing a Solution
I started looking around for options, and more traditional KVM switches were way too expensive. Since I could easily switch the monitor input, I decided to search for a USB only switch, which turns out to be quite affordable. Still, there didn’t seem to be an overall winner that I could find, so I read through the bad reviews for several products and ordered one that seemed to have the least severe issues.
Unboxing and Feature Overview
This is the product we’re looking at today, the YINNCEEN USB 3.0 Switch (affiliate link), which costs around $19 on Amazon. There’s a link in the video description if you’re interested.
Let’s start by covering what you get. The box itself doesn’t have branding, so it’s most likely a rebranded generic product, which isn’t surprising at this price point.
Of course, you get the USB Switch itself. The top of the switch has some text along with an indicator of which 1 of the 2 computer ports is currently active and connected to the USB devices through the switch. Right next to it is the button that gives off a clicking sound and switches between the connected computers when pressed.
On one side of the switch are 4 USB Type-A device ports, which can be used to connect up to 4 USB devices, such as keyboards, mice, speakers, printers, and so forth. The other side of the switch has the 2 USB Type-A connections to your 2 computers, labeled 1 and 2. On this side is also a Micro-USB 5V power port, which is meant to be used with the included just under 5-ft long Micro-USB to USB-A cable to supply power to the connected USB Devices. Note that there is no wall adapter included, so if you want to plug it into an electrical outlet, you’ll need to provide one yourself.
You also get 2 5-ft long USB cables with Type-A connectors on both ends, which are meant to hook up to 2 computers. There’s also a single Type-A to Type-C adapter that you can optionally use if you’re hooking up to a computer with only USB-C ports, such as some Macs.
Finally, there’s a very brief manual, more of a quick-start guide really, that reminds you of the various features this device offers. Important to note is that this device is a USB 3.0 switch that only supports up to 5Gbps transfer speeds. This is better than some other cheap switches in this price range from more familiar brands that are only USB 2.0 (affiliate link), though.
And because this switching is happening within the device itself, rather than a software solution, this should work with any computer operating system you’re running, as long as it can detect the USB devices hooked up through the switch.
Now let’s see this in action. We’ll test just how quickly the switchover takes. To do this, I hooked up the switch to my desktop PC running on the TV monitor, and the other device connection to my Surface Pro 6. That way we can see both in frame at the same time.
The mouse is moving continuously on the desktop, and when I press the button to switch, everything stops. I’m still moving the mouse this entire time, however. It takes about 9 seconds before it becomes active on the Surface laptop. Going in reverse, we see that after pressing the button, the cursor reappears on the desktop within about 5 seconds, indicating the mouse is being detected, but it does take about 9 seconds before the cursor moves along with the mouse.
When I’m using this with my desktop PC and Mac mini, I’ll press the USB switch button and then use the TV remote to change the monitor input. By the time that is done, the time delay for the USB switch will be just about up as well.
Very occasionally, I’ll find that the speakers or audio interface don’t switch correctly and aren’t detected by the computer. To fix this, I simply need to press the button two more times to redo the switching, and it will work. This is quite rare, however, and the keyboard and mouse have never had an issue switching over, just the audio devices.
So there we have it. A button press and 9 seconds is all it takes for you to switch over to your second computer and keep on moving. Overall, I’m happy with this low-cost solution that allows me to use 2 computers with one desk setup.