best setup for switching betweeen personal microcomputer and work laptop... KVM, thunderbolt.... help!

13 Aug 2012
Reaction score
United Kingdom
Hi all. I'll begin by saying I am hopeless with modern computers so please excuse me if I am asking a stupid question or missing something obvious, or I am providing far too much useless info.

I am after advice on:
1) a computer to run Lightroom (that is all I want from it)
2) a way to easily switch from using my peripherals for my work computer and my Lightroom computer

I currently have a work laptop which I use to work from home and from the office. At home I have a decent setup with monitor, mouse, keyboard, cam, headset, charger all plugged into a USB C docking station which is plugged into my work laptop's thunderbolt port. I work from home and the office on alternate days so on the days I am at home it's super-easy to plug the USB C docking station and be up and running immediately, and I love that all of the cables are tidied away. I couldn't be happier with it.

I also have a big old Windows 7 desktop computer which I've been using for about 6 years, exclusively to run Adobe Lightroom 5. I am put off from using that computer by 2 things:
1) it has become slow to the point of painful. I need something better, and even though Lightroom 5 does everything I want of it, I might upgrade to Lightroom CC and add in Photoshop too. I am fairly sure my existing computer doesn't meet the minimum system requirements for the latest versions of LR and PS which require a graphics card with 2gb VRAM.
2) Every time I need to use my desktop computer to play with LR, I have to unplug all my peripherals from my docking station and crawl around on the floor plugging them into the ports on the desktop. I appreciate this isn't exactly an insurmountable hurdle, but it means I only get around to editing and doing things with my photos when I've got a few hours to do it, which is almost never. If I could flip a switch as soon as I finished work and do some editing for 20 or 30 mins at a go on a computer that didn't struggle, I'd dip into it far more often and life would be better.

I assumed the easiest thing to do would be to find a micro computer with thunderbolt and use that to run Lightroom: switching my peripherals between work and play would then just be as simple as unplugging my USB C docking station from one machine and plugging it into the other. Problem is, the only micro computer I can find with thunderbolt is this EliteMini TH50, but a) that seems to have more spec than I need in most areas and so is a bit more than I was hoping to spend; and b) it's not clear to me that it actually has the appropriate graphics card to run LR.

Would that computer do what I need it to; and are there simpler options that I am overlooking? I was wondering if there was some way of combining a KVM switch with the USB C docking station and then buying a more basic machine to run lightroom.... but I can't see how that could actually work. Any advice welcome. Thanks!
Last edited:
Sponsored Links
Rather than change hardware each time why not remote (from the laptop) into the lightroom computer to run it?
Perhaps look into that.
Think you have a choice between lots of cables into a KVM switch. One input from the PC, one from the USB-C Docking Station. Output of the KVM connects to the peripherals. I'm not sure if Win7 will support the USB-C dock though.

Seems to me it's time to consider a replacement computer. I'd not worry about replacing the Win& machine (you could consider upgrading of course -easier with PC than with Apple)
Thanks both. On the first suggestion: the laptop is a work computer - my employer owns it and I'm not sure I will be with them much longer.
On the second idea: thanks. I definitely need a new computer, that much is a given. THe current one is huge and by the time I've replaced the bits that need replacing it probably wouldn't be much more expensive to just get a new one anyway, and I'd pay a premium for a dinky little mini PC. I am still not quite sure how teh KVM/USB C interaction would work, but my windows 7 computer definitely doesn't have support for the USB C element.

I think I'll end up going with the TH50. I feel I am paying a £100 premium for the thunderbolt thing, but by the time I've bought a KVM, sorted out other bits and pieces..... might just be easier to buy a computer that I am 99% sure will do the trick.
Sponsored Links
I feel I am paying a £100 premium for the thunderbolt thing
You may be worrying a little too much about the thunderbolt issue - most monitors now have multiple inputs, with auto switching depending upon which computer is on - have you checked what's available on yours?

This leaves the docking station - which can be used with a USB3 adapter. It won't support the display, but the docking station should still work as a USB hub.

You may want to check the graphics requirements for Lightroom CC, the integrated graphics of mini computers aren't always great.
Amen to what Mattylad said. I have 5 computers for various tasks, with gigabit network between them. Only one has a keyboard, mouse and displays, printer, audio headset etc.. it also has a bank of icons on the desktop and double clicking any one of them connects to another computer - keyboard and mouse input are sent to that computer, all 3 monitors are used for its display, and it can access all the relevant resources connected to the main pc- printer, audio devices etc

Give it a try; it costs nothing

You may need to go into system properties and enable Remote Desktop on the lightroom pc and also "select which users can remote into this computer" if the user you log onto the lightroom pic with is not an administrator