Contributor Since 2009
I'm often asked about the setup of my trading computer and what is a reasonable amount to spend on such a computer. I wanted to a take a few minutes to share my thoughts and help you in creating the best trading computer for your money.
Since starting in the financial industry, I have always worked with Windows PCs (personal computers). I don't have much experience with Apple's Macintosh computers (Macs) so the information I share with you is going to be focused on PCs. All trading platforms and software are PC compatible. The opposite is true with Macs where only a few trading platforms and software are compatible.
Like anything else, you get what you pay for in a computer. There is a premium on Macs compared to PCs, which is usually twice the cost. Macs, however, are well built and come with good parts.
PCs on the other hand are a different story. Brand name PCs, such as Dell, HP, and Acer, use some very cheap components in their computers and the lifespan is not as long as it should be. These cheap parts may not fully utilize some of the key features which you want in a computer, such as the processor. And while you may have a great processor, the other internals in the PC might not optimize the processor as they should. In other words, you paid for a premium processor that you will never fully utilize.
In my opinion, the best bang for your buck is building your own computer. You can purchase the best parts with each carrying its own warranty. It is easy to upgrade parts down the road and to repair individual items if you have issues.
There are companies out there selling trading computers that cost $3,000. You don't need that. It is a common misconception that the faster your processor is, the more of an edge you will get in trading. The truth is that trading platforms and software only use a certain amount of resources on your computer and it is typically on the lower end.
These expensive computers are built with the finest parts for hardcore gamers. Trading platforms and software do not even come close to utilizing the resources that come with these pricey computers. The bottom line is that you are paying top dollar for a state-of-the-art computer that is beyond the scope of what you will need for trading.
I recently purchased a newly custom built desktop on EBay. It is a great computer and here are its components:
Processor - AMD Phenom II 3.10 Ghz
Motherboard - Asus M4A87TD USB 3.0 AMD Motherboard SATA 6GB/s
Hard Drive - Samsung 750 GB (7,200 RPM) 32 MB cache
Casing - Thermaltake Commander Series
Operating System - Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit
Keyboard - Logitech Wireless Keyboard K360
I run three trading platforms and two data feeds and these use no more than sixty percent of my PC usage and 5-6 GB of memory. The total cost for my PC, including shipping, was $370!
Trading Display Screens:
You only need one screen to make money. I used to have six screens at one point because I felt I needed to get a "pulse" on the market. You never need that many screens. Your mind can't even process all that information. I only found myself more stressed, more tense, and making horrible decisions because of all the information that was flashing in front of my eyes. Once I got rid of the unnecessary screens, my decision making became better and I found myself less fatigued.
In the case of visual input for trading, I believe less is more and currently I have two HP 2159M 21.5 inch HD LCD monitors.
A Trading Computer for Travel:
Before I purchased the desktop described above, I was using a laptop with two extra monitors.
Since getting the desktop, I really enjoy taking my laptop with me around the house or on the road. I have the Acer AS5742-7120 15.6-Inch laptop. I purchased it on EBay as a refurbished item for $400 shipped. The specs are a little different as it has the Intel Core i5 processor and 6GB of DDR3 RAM.
I hope this information helped you to realize that you don't need a super computer to trade and that a decent computer for your trading business can be quite inexpensive.
I have shared with you my trading computer setup. Let me know about your trading setup or what you plan on getting after hearing my insight.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.