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I will soon own a laptop that I will need to use for work. I currently own a desktop which I use for my personal stuff, whose set-up I love (two monitors, my old mechanical keyboard, etc.).

I want to use that same set-up for work so that I don't need to work on a tiny screen with a tiny keyboard. However, it'd be painful to switch from my desktop to my laptop and back every day by disconnecting and reconnecting all the cables.

I want to know what hardware set-up I could use to achieve a way of easily transitioning my peripherals from one machine to the other.

The connections I would need to switch are:

  • 2x BenQ GW2255 21.5-Inch LED Monitor (I am open to buying newer ones).
  • 1x USB keyboard
  • 1x USB mouse
  • 1x ethernet connection

It has been suggested to me to connect the keyboard and mouse to the monitors if possible, so that only the monitors need to be switched somehow, I leave this here in case it's useful.

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    You just need a dual monitor KVM switch, and then an Ethernet switch to turn one port into two. Your laptop may also have available a docking station to make it even easier. Google KVM switch. – Tyson Aug 30 '18 at 16:46
  • Thanks, I had not heard of them. I am struggling to find one which supports two non-VGA monitors plus the USB ports, would you have a particular recommendation? – user2891462 Aug 31 '18 at 9:22
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    I just looked again first typing your monitor model number into google and seeing that it’s DVI and VGA video, so you must be using DVI (which is early HDMI). The starting a fresh google search and typing “dual monitor KVM switch” into google. I see that most of what’s found is DVI compatible. By the way if the letters KVM seem a bit mysterious they aren’t, they stand for Keyboard, Video, Mouse or KVM). You can also look for HDMI KVM’s and use DVI to HDMI and HDMI to DVI cables, that can get pricey quick tho—I’d try to stick with DVI for the KVM to save dollars. I have no specific picks. – Tyson Aug 31 '18 at 9:43
  • Thanks, feel free to make it an answer for me to upvote it! – user2891462 Aug 31 '18 at 9:50
  • It’s not an answer because there is no specific product recommendation. I just pointed you to a class of products (KVM switches) and figured out what you meant by “non-VGA.” As far as specific products I’d have to go through iterations of “study it, order it, try it, return it, repeat”. I find I rarely pick the best first try. Wish our area still had brick and mortar computer stores like compUSA or Microcenter. – Tyson Aug 31 '18 at 10:01
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One option is to buy a USB 3.0 docking station. Switching all your peripherals would then only require unplugging a USB cable and plugging it to the other machine.

It is very convenient, although don't expect it to support 4K resolution, and since the frames are compressed for speed it adds a bit of load to the CPU and does not make use of your machine's GPU.

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  • Alsomany laptops have full blow docking station - those will support better graphics maybe. – davidgo Nov 2 '18 at 23:32
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If you didn't want to keep the same monitors, you could use something like Mouse Without Borders.

A KVM switch would also do the trick.

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  • Can you explain the pros and cons of using Mouse Without Borders with respect to the original question please? – Cfinley Oct 30 '18 at 17:30
  • With a virtual KVM, you'll still have the issue of it being two different machines, which seems like it's something that the OP doesn't want. – JMY1000 Nov 26 '18 at 21:20

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