Audio performance was a little hit and miss. With an already clean signal coming from a high-end external sound card like the ASUS XONAR Essence STX, there was just a hint of a buzz from the headphone output on the front panel. This is not unlike what you’d experience if you were using the front panel outputs on a regular computer case. However, if the source is already noisy to begin with, it has a tendency to amplify it. I noticed that the sound coming from the MacBook Pro was particularly noisy and buzzy. Laptops are already susceptible to noise and the switch only made it worse.
Having the front panel inputs and audio switching is definitely convenient, but if you are recording or if you’re listening to music, I’d go direct if I could, rather than through the switch for the best possible audio and recording experience.
The ability of the switch to keep the signal clean is probably thanks to the high quality cables that it ships with. The extra shielding probably made an impact to the signal quality as I noticed no strange anomalies in picture quality. The picture was probably, at worse, 95% of what it would be had I hooked the monitor directly to the source while running the screen at 1920 x 1200 from all sources at 60Hz. Since I didn’t have a monitor that supported resolutions above 1920×1200, I wasn’t able to go any higher for you. But if you run 24 inch monitors, you should be quite pleased with the performance as it is.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
When the world was all PC, it was easy to pick out a KVM switch because they all worked fine with PCs. But today, the computer landscape is a little different because we have computers running other operating systems and in growing numbers too. IOGEAR provides us with a very compelling, top end solution that does it all with few issues that we weren’t able to iron out (and a few that we couldn’t). I guess the saying goes, it’s hard to please everyone all of the time.
Where it did well was in its compatibility with a number of different mice and keyboards. From unique new products like the Cyber E Sports Orbita Mouse to the exotic Logitech DiNovo Edge Bluetooth Keyboard, the IOGEAR GCS1204 showed that it wasn’t just another KVM switch. I’ve had other switches in the past and it’s pretty clear that IOGEAR did their homework here when it came to compatibility. I just wish they had provided a solution for the Apple Aluminum Keyboard without me having to come up with one on my own and I’ll be collecting on this at the next IOGEAR sponsored party. Also, the USB 2.0 hub seemed to work well with things from smartphones to video camcorders so another check for the GCS1204.
Although not entirely the fault of the GCS1204, as noted audio seems to be a problem as the noisier your source is, the noisier it is played through this switch. If you’re recording or mastering music or videos, I would probably stick to going directly through the system for that.
Overall, at $499 US it definitely isn’t cheap, but this is definitely a top of the line KVM Switch that is by far the most compatible that I’ve come across. The fact that it supports crazy high resolutions is a bonus when you finally upgrade to that 30 inch monitor. Also, if you buy this product, you won’t have to buy four sets of keyboard, mice and monitors. You’ll also have far more desk space for other things.
- Strong compatibility with a host of different mice and keyboards under Windows and OSX
- Support for high video resolutions and memoriztion of video resolution settings on boot
- High quality build with enough weight to hold down up to four systems
- I love the extra desk space I’ve claimed back
- The price of entry may deter some users (but it has few competitors)
- Troubleshooting documentation needs improvement
Overall Rating: 9.0 / 10.0
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