Mac + PC Using A Single Monitor

I have to think there are some smart, technically inclined people that visit the site every once in a while. I would appreciate any help or feedback you can give me in setting up a PC that will co-exist with my current Mac setup. I just want to get a PC box and some sort of switchbox that allows me to utilize my Cinema Display, mouse and keyboard. There’s gotta be some way to just switch back and forth, right? And please, spare me the platform-flaming comments.

8 thoughts on “Mac + PC Using A Single Monitor”

  1. The cheap way would be to run VNC (ora variant thereof) on the PC, and connect to it via the Mac. If you’re not going to be doing gaming and such, this should work fine.

    Unfortunately, VNC doesn’t deal well with apps that need high-performance video (like games), so if that’s your thing, you’ll need some extra hardware.

    The first thing you’ll have to do is deal with getting the video from your PC to your Cinema display. The new displays are standard DVI, but the previous models are ADC – which is basically DVI+Power+USB. They sell adapters that will convert ADC to DVI, Power, and USB cables. You’ll need one. I don’t own one of these myself (no Cinema display for me, unfortunately), but they look to be a bit pricy – see this example.

    Once you’ve solved that problem, the next thing you’ll want to look at is a DVI-capable KVM switch. These don’t come cheap – but in theory DVI shouldn’t degrade over the switch the way VGA signals do, so it’s a give-and-take. I know Belkin makes a 2-port DVI switch that also has USB support (which is what you’ll need) which runs about $240-ish (see here for an example). Remember you’ll need a set of cables for each computer as well.

    In theory that’s all you should need. You may need an extra ADC->DVI adapter for the Mac side, depending on whether the switch will deal with ADC or not (I’m doubting it).

    Display -> ADC/DVI -> switch
    switch -> cables -> PC
    switch -> cables -> ADC/DVI -> Mac

    Does that help a bit? Make sure you shop around — you can probably find better prices than the links above – I just wanted to give you an idea of what you’re looking for. =)

  2. I have used KVM switches for this purpose in the past. I don’t know if they make KVM’s that can handle digital video, and usb for your mac peripherals though.
    ( KVM – Keyboard Video Monitor – There is a hardware switch and a keyboard shortcut, to switch everything from talking to computer A to computer B ).

  3. Yeah…Here here. Everybody has the right idea, really. My question is still why EXACTLY you want to run Windows, or at least the x86 architecture. I’m sure you have your reasons, but for all of this hassle why don’t you separate them out a bit? Get a laptop?

    Maybe these are stupid questions.


  4. b3 – thanks a million. That’s probably gonna go the trick just fine, if I decide to stick with my plan.

    VNC (and other such programs) aren’t gonna cut it for me, but thanks for the suggestions. I totally appreciate the help. That Lazyweb sure works 🙂

    Jeff (old neighbor), I need to have a windows machine here because I’m doing a lot more with it in my consulting day-to-day and I was gonna get a cheap box just to have for troubleshooting stuff, basically. I could get a laptop, but they’re much more expensive. Besides I like my PowerBook just fine 🙂

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