How to use two PCs with one display (HDMI switcher)
How to use two PCs with one display (HDMI switcher)
If we work with computers a lot, do repairs, run a computer store, or write thematic articles on our personal blog, it may happen that we have two desktops and a single monitor to use on both. In this scenario, it is not recommended to use a single HDMI cable and move it from one computer to another as needed as the HDMI port is not always easily accessible, as well as making it very frustrating to use both computers at the same time. As good IT experts, we can bet on a good one HDMI signal duplicator O HDMI switch, capable of managing two separate audio / video streams and sending them to the only monitor at our disposal, manually choosing which computer to give priority to the screen depending on what we have to do at that precise moment.
In this guide we will show you how to prepare two computers to share a single monitor, carefully choosing the 3 HDMI cables to use and which switch to use among the models available on Amazon. In a dedicated chapter we will also see how to use USB switches, to be able to divert our input devices (keyboard and mouse) from one computer to another in a simple way.
READ ALSO: Manage two monitors on the extended desktop PC
How to use two PCs with one monitor
To create this shared environment, obviously we will have to have a single monitor, two fixed PCs or two computers of any nature (even a PC and a laptop or a PC and a Mac Mini), three HDMI cables of the appropriate length and a switch. HDMI capable of managing two independent HDMI streams and generating a single output, which will reach the monitor's HDMI port. If we haven't bought a new computer yet, we suggest you read all the tips and tricks in our guide Things to know before buying a new computer.
Choose suitable HDMI cables
For this configuration we will need three HDMI cables: one for the computer that we will identify as "PC 1", another for the computer that we will call "PC 2" and finally the last HDMI cable, which will connect the HDMI output of the chosen switch to our monitor .
If we want to place the switch on the desktop, the two cables for PC 1 and PC 2 must be long enough (at least 1,8 meters), to also cover the distance between two traditional fixed PCs. Below is a list of HDMI cables suitable for this purpose.
- Rankie High Speed HDMI Cable, Nylon Braided, 1,8m (€ 6)
- 4K HDMI cable 2 meters SUCCESO (€ 7)
- Cavo HDMI 4K 2m, Snowkids Cavi HDMI 2.0 (€ 9)
To connect the switch to the monitor we can use a smaller cable (1 meter or less), to take up the least possible space on the desk, placing the switch also directly under the monitor (or on its base). Below we can find a series of shortened HDMI cables.
- AmazonBasics - Cavo Ultra HD HDMI 2.0 0,9m (€ 6)
- IBRA Cavo HDMI 4K Ultra HD 1M (€ 8)
- ALCLAP Cavo HDMI 4k Ultra HD 0.9m (€ 9)
Obviously we have total freedom of configuration: we can choose three long cables, two short cables and one long or even three short cables, depending on the position and size of the computers to be connected. The only important thing is get three good quality HDMI cables before continuing with the rest of the guide. If we do not know the acronyms that accompany an HDMI cable, we recommend that you read our in-depth analysis How to choose the right HDMI cable.
Choose the right HDMI switch
Having seen the HDMI cables to use, we come to the device that allows you to switch video source between two computers with the push of a button: switch HDMI.
This little device allows you connect two HDMI cables as input and provide single HDMI signal output (output), which will be sent to the monitor. To switch from one PC to another, all we have to do is press it Switch button present at the top (often accompanied by two bright LEDs to quickly identify the active source), to switch between the two connected PCs and display only the video from the desired computer on the monitor. Below we have collected the best HDMI switches that you can buy from Amazon at a really competitive price.
- Techole Switch HDMI Bidirezionale (€ 9)
- GANA Aluminum Bidirectional HDMI Switch (€ 11)
- Techole HDMI switch (€ 12)
When we buy one of these devices, let's make sure they look like bidirectional HDMI switches or that they support the "2 input-1 output"Otherwise, we run the risk of buying a similar but profoundly different device like theHDMI splitter, which allows two monitors to be connected to the same PC (a very different scenario from which we base the entire guide).
Now that we have everything we need to be able to connect our two computers to a single monitor we can proceed with the final setup: connect the HDMI cables to the splitter, monitor and computers, turn on the monitor and turn on one of the two computers (or both): the HDMI switch will turn on by itself using the current from the HDMI cables and by pressing the button we can choose whether watch the video from PC 1 or PC 2; so that everything is even more integrated we can also follow the steps of our guide Same mouse and keyboard to control two or more computers, so that you can share a mouse and keyboard between the two computers (in fact, we will have two switches, one HDMI and one USB). The HDMI switcher can also be used to connect two consoles to a television It has a single HDMI port, so you can take advantage of both without having to change TV (much more expensive expense).
If we want to use two monitors side by side on the same computer, using the HDMI ports of a dedicated video card, we recommend that you read our guides How to connect two monitors to PC mi Dual screen configuration in Windows 10 to work with two monitors.
If the monitor we have does not have an HDMI port, it is time to change it for a more recent one, choosing between the models seen in our guides The best PC monitors to buy between 100 and 200 Euros mi Buy 21: 9 Wide Monitor (Ultra Wide Screen).