Last Updated on May 28, 2022 by Markeyus Franks
Connecting two computers to one monitor is not rocket science, neither is it that simple by any means. With that being said, let’s look into the kinds of ports and connectors that you would typically find behind your monitor.
Nowadays, VGA, DVI, and HDMI are most likely the cable connectors and ports that you will find at the back of a standard computer monitor. This is the main and only reason why you will have to consider using them. They all look different as well as deliver different levels of quality of images to your computer screen. You can choose from any one of them to make a combination of both. Let’s look at each of them and see how they work.
Common Inputs used when running Two computers on one monitor
Also known as Video Graphics Array, VGA was developed in 1987 by IBM. It was the analog type of connector that delivered a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels, which at the time was already cutting edge. Later, the VGA subsequently leveled up to the “Super VGA” format, boasting resolutions that are ranging from 800 x 600 to 1024 x 768.
Today, VGA is still much in use due to the stable color and quality that it provides. Set in RGB color format (red, green, and blue), VGA delivers
256 colors on screen and is shaped like a trapezoid with 15 pins on it. Technology-wise it is currently the lowest resolution for CPU-to-monitor display connection but is still very much the same standard today. It is rare that a monitor doesn’t have a VGA connector at the back
DVI, also known as Digital Visual Interface was created by the Digital Display Working Group in 1999. It was designed to replace VGA as the standard of CPU monitor connections. With its 29 pins, it sent sharper and better images than VGA. It can also carry both digital and analog signals. It is so versatile that it can even convert signals from either VGA or HDMI. DVI picture quality is almost the same as HDMI except that it cannot carry audio as HDMI does.
Developed in a collaborative effort by several companies, a high-definition multimedia interface or HDMI was created in the early 2000s in search of a portable and high-capacity connector. The finished product delivered exceptional audio-visual signals in digital format. Up to this day, HDMI with a total of 19 pins is currently the highest standard when it comes to high-end signal delivery from CPU-to-monitor and TV devices. It uses high quality and high bandwidth stream all in one connecting cable.
How to Run Two Computers on One Display Monitor
Apart from the obvious reason of being able to save space, one would probably want to run 2 computers on one monitor for any valid reason. And the good news is, it can be done.
Method 1: Switch Inputs
With VGA, DVI, and HDMI ports available at the back, you can connect both computers using different cables at the same time. For example, if you are to connect one computer using VGA and the other using HDMI cable, you get two inputs from two separate computers working on the monitor at the same time.
The thing is, you can not use or make both computers appear on the same monitor simultaneously. But what you can do is switch from one input to another at any one time.
You can do this by using the monitor’s INPUT SELECTION, in which the buttons of this selection may be located from either the side or at the back of the monitor. Using the buttons, shift from one input to another as desired. Or, if it came with remote control, you can do so from that as well.
The downside to this type of solution is that it only solves the monitor problem. You will still have to switch from one computer to another when using mice and keyboards. Overall, it can be a cheap, simple, immediate, and viable solution to the problem.
Some monitors may allow a simultaneous display of two computers at any one time on that one screen. It will show up as a split screen with the two CPUs sharing it. Not all monitors have this capability though.
Montiors with Split screens
LG 43 UN700-B – This TV is has a 4 way PIP feature allowing different HDMI to play simintaletly on one screen
Method 2: Use a KVM Switch
KVM is a hardware component that solves the display, the mice, and keyboard problems of this scenario. Not only will you be able to switch from one computer to another, but you’ll also have the capability to switch from one computer to another while using only one mouse and one keyboard. The KVM can act as a middle conduit for both computers. With a simple flick of a switch, you have both computers at your disposal on only one screen.
All you have to do is connect the following:
• CONNECT BOTH COMPUTERS TO THE KVM SWITCH using either both a special dual HDMI/USB cable or, a combination of VGA and HDMI connections
• Next, CONNECT YOUR MOUSE AND KEYBOARD DIRECTLY TO THE KVM SWITCH.
• CONNECT THE KVM SWITCH DIRECTLY TO THE MONITOR using an HDMI cable.
You can grab the KVM SWITCH on Amazon
After making sure that everything is configured correctly, you can now start using both computers alternating them with a flick of a switch on the KVM. Although this may be a very effective solution, you will still have to shell out additional money to buy the hardware itself. Otherwise, the KVM is a permanent and convenient resolution to this particular monitor scenario.
Method 3: Remote Desktop
The remote solution we would say is the most convenient and unobtrusive workaround for your one monitor need. Through a remote control program like TeamViewer or RDP, this process allows one user on a computer from another place to alternately control another computer. You can do the takeover via the internet. Thus the name remote control. No additional hardware is needed, just install the program on both computers and activate them both when needed.
This method is so versatile that both computers can be thousands of miles apart but will still be able to work together. Although it may be the perfect solution, it would be wise to note the disadvantages too. Distance may degrade the internet bandwidth which could subject the remote access to lag or outright downtime.
In addition to that, the potential of being hacked online and the possibility of both computers being compromised is also present. Other than that, this method will be very useful especially if both computers are only on a local network. It can also be safe if you have the necessary safeguards set up on both units.
Method 4: Use a Virtual PC/Machine Instead of a Physical Computer
Lastly, you can use a virtual PC to run two computers off of one monitor. Now, this procedure is a little different in that you don’t have a physical computer, but you have a virtual one instead. This is a great solution to using two computers at once. When you virtualize your computer, you’re essentially creating a virtualized replicate of your PC.
For example, you can have a physical windows 10 desktop and at the same time use a program like virtual box, to create an entire separate PC. I’ve listed a few programs below that allow you to create a virtual PC.
Shadow Cloud Gaming- Although primarily for games, this service also gives you the option to own a high-powered virtual PC.
VMware Workstation Player