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ATEN CS1782 USB 2.0 DVI KVM Switch

 

One look at the specs and features and I felt as though my prayers just might have been answered. Having written computer products reviews for a number of years I knew better than proclaim the product a winner without first taking a long test drive. Today it is my pleasure to share the results that we assimilated from our review of the ATEN CS1782 USB 2.0 DVI KVM Switch.

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INTRODUCTION

For the past year or more I have been perusing various sites on the Net looking at DVI KVM switches. My mission was to find the ultimate product that would allow me the flexibility to benchmark two computers simultaneously without the need to use two keyboards, two mice, and most importantly two monitors. When I first started my search I found several products that made my short list, but either cost or lack of features made purchasing one somewhat prohibitive. I will have to admit in the beginning, that this search was somewhat self-indulgent and was more a matter of convenience than necessity. As time went on and the number of computer product reviews I did requiring vast numbers of benchmarks began to escalate; convenience and necessity began to reverse their previous order. I also realized that this product, if in fact it existed, would help make me much more efficient by allowing me to more effortlessly multitask.

I have used an array of KVM switches over the years both in my work as a database administrator and also at my home to run multiple computers simultaneously with one mouse, monitor, and keyboard. These, however, were not DVI based and had very few features other than a few that used USB instead of PS2 for keyboard and mouse connections. I had also come to know that each of the KVM switches I had used, including the professional quality ones at my workplace, had idiosyncrasies that in some cases compromised their efficiency. So my quest to find a switch that would meet my rather heightened needs at home continued in silence and up until recently I had all but given up.

As luck would have it I was recently contacted by ATEN, a company that is well known for manufacturing excellent KVM switches. ATEN wanted to know if we would be interested in reviewing a DVI KVM switch they had recently released with a slew of features that targeted the gamer and the computer enthusiast. One look at the specs and features and I felt as though my prayers just might have been answered. Having written computer products reviews for a number of years I knew better than proclaim the product a winner without first taking a long test drive. Today it is my pleasure to share the results that we assimilated from our review of the ATEN CS1782 USB 2.0 DVI KVMP Switch.

ATEN:  Company Overview

For more than two decades, ATEN has earned a sterling reputation for delivering the finest KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) and remote connectivity solutions to manage servers and other network devices. Today we stand as the largest KVM manufacturer in the world.

ATEN has developed over the years a broad range of solutions to meet the needs of key market niches, including small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and enterprise organizations through its ALTUSEN line of KVM products. Leveraging its leading-edge ASIC technology and VSE patents, ATEN’s KVM and remote connectivity solutions offer the most comprehensive features and functionality than the competition. The ASIC chip is one of the company’s unique differentiators, as it drives the product line’s capabilities, and ensures reliability and quality.

With Research and Development facilities throughout the world and boasting uncompromising Quality Control departments at all facilities, ISO 9002 certified-ATEN stands poised to meet even the most stringent requirements of the most exacting customers.

FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS

ATEN CS1782 USB 2.0 DVI KVMP Switch
Detailed Specifications
Video
  DVI-D(Single Link)
  DVI-D( Dual Link)
 
1920 x 1200@60Hz / 3840 x 2400@13Hz
2560 x 1600@60Hz
Connectors-Audio(CPU)
  Line Out
  Center/Subwoofer
  Side Speaker Out
  Line In
  Microphone
  Rear Speaker Out
 
2 x Mini Stereo Jack Female (Green)
2 x Mini Stereo Jack Female(Orange)
2 x Mini Stereo Jack Female (Gray)
2 x Mini Stereo Jack Female (Blue)
2 x Mini Stereo Jack Female (Pink)
2 x Mini Stereo Jack Female(Black)
Connectors-Audio(console)
  Microphone
  Line Out
  Rear Speaker Out
  Line In
  Center/Subwoofer
  Side Speaker Out
 
2 x Mini Stereo Jack Female (Pink)
2 x Mini Stereo Jack Female (Green)
1 x Mini Stereo Jack Female (Black)
1 x Mini Stereo Jack Female (Blue)
1 x Mini Stereo Jack Female (Orange)
1 x Mini Stereo Jack Female (Gray)
Physical Properties
  Unit Weight
  Housing
  Unit Dimension
  Unit Weight with package
 
2.1 Lbs [0.940KG] Metal
2.2 x 10.1 x 3.5 [5.5 x 27 x 8.8 cm] 3Lbs [2.406KG]
Environment
  Storage Temperature
  Humidity
  Operation Temperature
 
-4~140F (-20~60C)
0~80% RH, Non-condensing
32~122 F (0~50C)
 
Console Connectors
  Mouse
  Monitor
  Keyboard
 
1 x USB Type A Female
1 x DVI-D Female
1 x USB Type A Female
CPU Connectors
  Keyboard & Mouse
  Monitor
 
2 x USB Type B Female
2 x DVI-I Female
Scan Interval 1 ~ 99 secs. (5 secs. default)
Power Consumption DC5.3V, 4.8W

Features

  • 2-port DVI KVM Switch with USB 2.0 support and 7.1 channel surround sound audio
  • One USB console controls two computers and two additional USB devices
  • 2-port USB 2.0 hub built in
  • Fully compliant with USB 2.0 specifications
  • Full bass response provides a rich experience for 7.1 channel surround sound systems
  • Independent switching of KVM, USB, and Audio Focus
  • Superior video quality
    • DIV-D
      • 2560 x 1600 @60Hz (Dual Link)
      • Supports Apple 20″, 23″, & 30″ Cinema Display
      • Supports ViewSonic 22″ LCD monitor VP2290b up to 3840 x 2400 @ 13Hz(Single Link)
    • DVI-A
      • 2048 x 1536; DDC2B
  • Supports widescreen resolutions
  • Multi-platform support:  WIndows 2000/XP/Vista, Linux(Kernel 2.6 and higher), Mac, and Sun
  • Console mouse poert emulation/bypass feature supports full mouse driver and multifunction mice
  • Display Emulation technology – reads and remembers the monitor’s brand and display information
  • Complete keyboard emulation for error-free booting
  • Sun/Mac keyboard support and emulation
  • Auto Scan Mode for monitoring all computers
  • Firmware upgradable

NOTE:  The CS1782 has a built-in USB 2.0 hub, thus it will not support any PC or OS that does not fully support USB 2.0.

IMAGES & IMPRESSIONS

The ATEN CS1782 USB 2.0 DVI KVMP Switch arrived on our doorstep about two weeks after we agreed to perform the review. It was packaged quite well in a brightly colored cardboard box that was very protective of the contents it contained.

As you can see from both the front and rear views of the container, ATEN has done an excellent job of displaying pertinent information about the CS1782′s features and specifications on the exterior finish of the container to help prospective consumers.

Now for the part we enjoy the most, the unveiling of the contents. The package contained the following:

  • 1 – CS1782 USB 2.0 DVI KVMP Switch
  • 2 – 1.8m KVM Cables
  • 2 – Audio Cables
  • 1 – PS2 to USB Converter
  • 1 – Firmware Upgrade Cable
  • 1 – Power Adapter
  • 1 – User Manual
  • 1 – Quick Start Guide

Now for a few images of the components:


Cabling (l to r) 2 – KVMP Cables, 2 – Audio Cables,
1 – PS2 to USB Converter, & 1 – Firmware Upgrade Cable
 

ATEN CS1782, Power Adapter, User Manual, & Quick Start Guide

One very impressive feature is the thickness of the DVI cable. When first being introduced to DVI vs VGA, we learned through several sources that generally the thicker the cable, the better the signal quality and strength transmitted. This cable is almost three times the thickness of a normal stand-alone DVI cable.


DVI Cable

IMAGES & IMPRESSIONS cont.

The rear of the CS1782, the business end, is clearly marked and the layout of the ports makes it very easy to attach the cabling without obscuring either the port or its demarcation.


CS1782 … Rear View

The rear of the switch is also laid out in two distinct sections and is color coded. One section is for the console attachments (mouse, keyboard, and monitor) and the other section is for the cabling that attaches to computer 1 and 2.


CS1782 … Console Connectors

CS1782 … CPU 1 & 2 Connections

The front of the switch is simple, yet very effective. There are two push button switches for activation of either of the two computers you have connected to the CS1782. The push button switches are also color illuminated to advise the user of its function. The KVMP lights dim orange to indicate the computer is attached to the corresponding port is up and running (on-line). The KVMP light changes to a bright orange to indicate that the computer attached to the corresponding port is the one that has the selected KVMP focus. The USB lights green to indicate that there is a USB cable connected to the computer attached to its corresponding port. The USB light changes to bright greento indicate that the computer attached to its corresponding port is the one that has access to the USB peripherals.

There is also a USB port on the front of the switch referred to by ATEN as a type A USB port. The type A USB port is for output to your peripherals such as a printer, external hard drive, thumb drive and etc. There is also a type A USB port adjacent to the console section on the rear of the switch. In addition to the aforementioned components the front also contains a front channel(green) audio out and a pink microphone input connector.


CS1782 … CPU 1 & 2 Connections

Overall, our first impression of the build quality of the ATEN CS1782 USB 2.0 DVI KVMP Switch is superior. The casing is constructed entirely of metal, with the only use of plastic as protective bumpers on the sides of the switch. The switch is on the heavy side, which in our estimation equates with quality construction with solid metal materials in lieu of some of the flimsy, predominately plastic switches that are on the market currently.

INSTALLATION

Given our previous experience with various brands of KVM switches and their idiosyncrasies, we thought it prudent to follow the instructions from the manual exactly instead of our taking our usual “just do it” approach. In this case it probably saved us some time and the system functioned flawlessly as a result. Here are the steps we followed:

  1. Plug your USB mouse and keyboard into the USB console ports located on the unit’s back panel.
  2. Plug your microphone, speakers, and monitor into the appropriate console ports located on the unit’s back panel.
  3. Using one KVM cable set, plug the DVI connector into any available DVI socket in the CPU port section of the switch, then plug the accompanying USB, microphone, and speaker connectors into their corresponding USB, microphone and speaker sockets. Using the remaining KVM cable set, repeat these same tasks in the remaining CPU port section of the switch. (Note:  The KVM cable supports 2.1 channel surround sound only, to utilize 5.1 or 7.1 channel surround sound you will need to attach the included, color coded cables to their corresponding ports on the switch and on the computer attached to that port.)
  4. At the other end of the cable, plug the USB, video, microphone, and speaker cables into their respective ports on the two computers.
  5. Plug your peripherals (printer, external USB drives, thumb drives, and etc.) into the type A sockets (one is located on the front, the second on the rear of the switch).
  6. Plug the power adapter that comes with the switch into an AC power source, then plug the power adapter cable into the switch’s power jack.
  7. Power on the computers

Installation Options

We need to note there are two different ways to accomplish switching using the ATEN CS1782 USB 2.0 DVI KVM Switch. There is the manual mode in which involves pressing the unit’s push buttons located on it’s front panel. There is also the Hotkey mode in which depressing a certain combination of keys on your keyboard accomplishes the same tasks as with the push buttons. Both methods worked flawlessly for us and allowed us to control the KVM, USB, and audio focus. These can also be set asynchronously meaning one computer can have the focus of one or more of these variables while the other computer can have the focus of the remaining options. All Hotkey functions are initially set for the unit but are somewhat programmable should the default combinations interfere with other programs. All USB 2.0 ports on the switch also support hot plugging, meaning any USB device can be added or removed without the need of shutting the system down.

TESTING METHODOLOGY

Before we begin this portion of the review we feel it incumbent upon us to say that there are very few complete reviews done on KVM switches, especially for the enthusiast community. For that reason there is no tried and true methodology or objective benchmarks that we are aware of that are available to test these devices. That being said we plan on using our past experience with KVM switches and their idiosyncrasies to judge the CS1782. We explain each observation down and give an explanation for the subjective criteria we used to judge the switch.

Test Platforms
Processor Test System #1:  Intel Core 2 Quad X3350 at 2.66 GHz
Test System #2:  Intel E8500 Core 2 Duo @ 3.16 Ghz
Motherboard Test System #1:  ASUS P5E3 Premium WIFI-AP @n, BIOS 0503
Test System #2:  ASUS PQ5 Deluxe BIOS 0302
Memory Test System #1:  4GB OCZ DDR3 PC3-12800 Platinum, 7-6-6-24
Test System #2:  4GB Mushkin Ascent DDR2-8500, 5-5-5-15
Drive(s) Test System #1:  2 – Seagate 1 TB Barracuda ES.2 SATA Drives
Test System #2:   2- Seagate 750 GB Barracuda ES SATA Drives
Graphics Test System #1:  XFX GeForce® 8800 GT XXX running ForceWare 175.16 64-bit WHQL
Test System #2:  XFX GeForce® 9600 GT running ForceWare 175.16 32-bit WHQL
Cooling Test System #1:  Noctua NH-U12P
Test System #2:  Noctua NH-U12P (Yes we have two of these)
Power Supply Test System #1:  Tagan BZ800, 800 Watt
Test System #2:   Ultra X3, 1000 Watt
Display Test System #1 & 2:  Dell 2407 FPW
Mouse & Keyboard Test System #1 & 2:   Microsoft Wireless Laser 6000 v.2 Mouse & Keyboard
Sound Card Test System #1 & 2:  Onboard ADI® AD1988B 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
KVM Switch Test System #1 & 2:  ATEN CS1782 USB 2.0 DVI KVM Switch
Case Test System #1:   Lian Li PC-A17
Test System #2:  HSPC Large Tech Station
Operating System Test System #1:  Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP1
Test System #2:   Windows XP, SP3

 

Switching Speed:  With other KVM switches we have noticed varying lag times and hesitation, with the ATEN CS1782 switching both in manual mode and using hotkeys was virtually instantaneous with no lag noted even after 8 hours of use …. Score: 10/10

Sound Quality:  For the longest time I have used high-end headphones in lieu of speakers as on many days much of my testing and gaming is done late a night for this test I dug out an older set of Logitech 5.1 speakers and also used Denon AH-D950 Headphones, using both; we saw no degradation or change in the sound quality over being hooked directly to the computer …. Score 10/10

USB:  We hooked both a thumb drive and a printer to the two Type A USB slots. We printed multi-page documents and saved files of approximately 100 MB in size to the thumb drive. We also hot-swapped the devices between the two ports. In every case both devices worked flawlessly with no lag in speed or hesitation …. Score 10/10

Gaming Performance:  We benchmarked the latest version Crysis and Company of Heroes on both of the computers and performance was within ± 2% of the scores on the computer alone …. Score 10/10

Mouse & Keyboard  As you may have noted in our test rig specs we are using a Microsoft Wireless Laser 6000 v.2 Mouse & Keyboard which used a single receiver and USB connection, on previous KVM switches we have noted lag time and in some cases failure to function with this type of wireless keyboard and mouse, with the CS1782 both the mouse and keyboard functioned perfectly plugged in either the USB port denoted for the mouse or the one specified for the keyboard …. Score 10/10

Screen Artifacts:  We have noticed that many of the older KVM switches tended to produce some on screen artifacts at high resolutions in heaviy gaming use. We threw everything possible at this switch and were unable to generate any screen flaws even with the cards overclocked significantly…. Score 10/10

FINAL WORDS & CONCLUSION

It is always fun to review a new product especially when it is one that performs as well as the ATEN CS1782 USB 2.0 DVI KVM Switch did. This product is the best KVM switch we have ever had the pleasure to use. This switch includes features far and above that of other switches of this type and each and every one of those features functioned flawlessly in our testing. We also were amazed to find that ATEN offers a seven year warranty on this product and during that warranty period ATEN will advance ship a replacement to the registered owner. Out of the 15 or 20 various KVM switches I have used over the years this is the first that performed at what I would consider an enthusiast’s level.

With every product we do generally find something that we can constructively criticise in hopes of helping to improve the product and the ATEN CS1782 USB 2.0 DVI KVM Switch was no exception. The CS1782 allows for firmware upgrades as any product of this type should, however it requires a special cable which is provided. The cable has a special fitting on one end that connects to the rear panel of the switch the other end must connect to a serial port on your computer. If my memory serves me correctly aren’t most enthusiast motherboards coming without onboard serial ports these days? We did a search of the ATEN website and saw that most firmware upgrades available are for their older products. Even though it may never have to be used we would strongly suggest that ATEN change from a serial connection to a USB connection with this firmware upgrade cable.

Now for value, it wasn’t two terribly long ago that high-end 2-port, DVI based KVM switches were selling for in excess of $350.00 USD and they generally supported USB but no other features. We did a quick search of the Web and found that the vast majority of e-tailers are selling the CS1782 in the $200 – $225 USD range. We find this price to be phenomenal for the quality of the product you receive. If you think about it in addition to a DVI based KVM switch you’re also receiving a USB hub, a 7.1 sound port hub, and a virtual print server. We’re also very happy to see ATEN turn their attention to the computer enthusiast and gaming communities with this product and give it our highest recommendation possible for anyone needing a product of this type. The ATEN CS1782 USB 2.0 DVI KVM Switch will certainly be a permanent part of this reviewer’s test system from this point forward!

 

Pros:

+  Virtually instantaneous port switching
+  Programmable “hotkey” switching
+  USB 2.0 support
+  Support for headphones, 2.1, 5.1 & 7.1 sound systems
+  No performance degradation or screen artifacts even under heavy use
+  Extremely solid all metal construction
+  All necessary cables are provided and are extremely high quality
+  Seven year product warranty with advanced shipping to registered owner
 

 

Cons:

-  Upgrade cable requires a serial port on your computer to function
 

 

Final Score: 9.5 out of 10 and the prestigious Bjorn3D Golden Bear Award.

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