I was researching a feature for one of our products and I came across a familiar sight. The image was a picture of an Intel vPro sticker, which was directly related to the feature I was researching. Sure enough, I looked down and saw the same sticker on my PC.
Intel vPro is a hardware technology that includes a feature called Active Management Technology (AMT). AMT allows users to turn on remote computers, and then connect to them with KVM control even while they're booting up. That's right -- remote power and KVM management, even from a powered-down state! If you don't know whether the computer you want to control uses vPro, just do what I did: Check the Intel sticker on the front of the box. If it say's "vPro" on it, you're golden.
To get started, you have to set up AMT on the vPro machine. This is a fairly complex process, so I won't go into it here; but I found a great article on howtogeek.com that explains it really well: How to Remotely Control Your PC (Even When it Crashes) - How-To Geek. After the computer is AMT-enabled, use a VNC viewer to connect.
As the How-to Geek article mentions, Intel provides some free tools for managing and connecting to vPro machines. But any VNC viewer will work. For example, DameWare Remote Support (previously NT Utilities) and DameWare Mini Remote Control both now support vPro technology for remote power and KVM management. With DRS, you can remotely power on, power off, and reboot vPro machines as long as they're plugged into power and the network. With MRC, you can view the vPro machine, even while it's booting up. That means you can manipulate BIOS settings or even re-install the OS -- all remotely.
To test this out for yourself, download the free trial of DameWare Remote Support, which includes both DRS for the power options, and MRC for the KVM options.