Day Trading Computers Essential Features
1. A Fast Processor
If you were to boil down trading to its simplest form, it would be clear that data is the epicenter of the entire market.
In today’s market, traders have the best technology at their disposal to allow them to harness the massive amounts of data required to trade.
However, it can be difficult to understand what technology is required to interact with market data and what technology makes no difference in trading. It’s a common misconception that large amounts of data require large storage capabilities. In fact, the most important component you need in the best computer for trading is a super fast processor.
This is the main computer component that is going to enable you to view market data in real time. If your computer’s processor isn’t able to keep up with the speed and the amount of stock market data, you will receive data that is inaccurate or outdated. In trading, this is known as data lag.
To avoid this issue you will need to have an Intel i7 processor installed. Traders should use processors with at least a CPU benchmark score of 7,500 – though a score of 10,000+ is preferred for active traders.
2. Screen Real Estate
Trading is a visual process. It requires you to accurately monitor chart data and trends for multiple stocks simultaneously.
For this reason, many traders choose to use a multi monitor setup for their trading workstation. This allows day traders to monitor market data via multiple charts at once – removing the need to toggle through different application windows.
There are several ways you could go about configuring multi monitors at your desk. These are several common options:
- Dual Monitors
- Quad Monitors
- 6 Monitor Arrays
This is a common option for computer users new to using multiple monitors. Most new computers can support one additional monitor without needing to upgrade any hardware. This makes moving to multi-monitors a fairly painless process – the user would just have to buy a second monitor (and optionally a stand).
In this type of setup, you should by the same size and resolution monitor as you currently own. The continuity of the two monitors is important to ease of use. If there are differences in the monitors, you might find yourself resizing the application windows more often than you would like.
In a quad monitor setup, traders have two lower and two upper monitors. This set up is very common among new and advanced traders alike.
It requires more of a financial investment in comparison to a dual setup. You will need a dedicated graphics card to support the four monitors, the monitors themselves, and a stand.
6 Monitor Arrays
Typically, traders opt for a 6 monitor array setup to capitalize on screen real estate for their trading. It allows traders to view six or more charts at the same time – while still having room for Internet browsers, streaming news, and live trading rooms. All these applications can be open and in sight without having to rearrange any of the open windows to view the different screens.
Many day traders, swing traders, and forex traders find this to be a huge advantage throughout their workday. This setup allows you to keep close tabs on all the required information to successfully trade without missing a beat.
3. An SSD Hard Drive
After your computer’s processor, the type of hard drive installed is the next most important component that affects your computer’s fast performance.
Functionally, the two types of hard drives to choose from, HDD or SSD, are the same – meaning they will get the job done. But, that is where the similarities end.
Simply put, here is why SSD hard drives are superior:
- SSDs are fast. In some cases, up to 10x faster than HDD drives.
- SSDs have a much longer shelf life.
- SSDs offer better overall system performance.
- SSDs use less power, stay cooler, and emit virtually no noise.
Your trading computer’s hard drive isn’t just a place to store information. The speed in which your computer boots up and the fluidity of your applications are all directly affected by your hard drive’s capability. SSDs are fast, reliable and long lasting. All features that equal great performance for your computer.
This is why we ONLY install Solid State Drives as primary hard drives in our computers.
Have you ever heard anyone call trading gambling? It’s frustrating to hear trading categorized in this way. But, it’s a common misconception you have to deal with as traders. This leaves you to explain why trading isn’t at all gambling, how strategies are used, and how profits are earned.
How much RAM you need in a powerful computer is often talked about online. For this reason, there is a lot of bad advice out there – creating a big pool of misconceptions to pull from on this topic.
Here is what you need to know about RAM:
- RAM is super important to the function of your trading computer.
- Too little RAM will cripple your computer – causing it to spontaneously shut down.
- RAM is relatively inexpensive.
- RAM is one of the easiest internal components to upgrade.
- The more complex the application it the more RAM is uses while open.
Trading platform providers often put recommended system requirements on their websites. Honestly, these specifications are misleading. They don’t take into account the RAM demands of other applications and how you might use common applications.
For instance, I am horrible about deleting email. I use a desktop application for my email and it always has several thousand emails. Because I use this my desktop email in this way, it plays a roll in how much RAM is needed by the application each day.
Once I have my email going and open up my trading platform with my daily charts, I am already using at least half of my RAM. Now, add in my Internet browser with several tabs open and Pandora or Spotify. I use a significant amount of RAM each day, all day. Odds are you do too.
Because traders use their computers so heavily, you need a good amount of RAM to make sure you don’t run into any issues. Not having enough RAM will literally cripple your computer. A reliable trading computer should have at least 8GB of RAM.
Upgrading your RAM or purchasing additional RAM in a new computer is highly recommended for traders. Often upgrading RAM is relatively cheap. It could be as little as a hundred bucks to bump up your RAM to 16GB. That’s double the RAM for $100. Money well spent in my opinion.
5. Battery Backup
If you ever experience power outages, you should have a battery backup.
The power outage doesn’t have to be a huge event. Even, a short 30-second outage can cause your trading computer to restart – causing you a huge headache.
If you live in an area known for power supply issues, you might experience dips in power supply often. This can be a stressful and distracting issue. Imagine having several big positions that you are monitoring and the power flickered. Talk about a panic moment.
Traders don’t have to deal with this issue and there is a way to completely eliminate this from your trading. The solution was to install a battery backup.
A battery backup for trading computers is just a small machine that sits right next to your computer. It allows you to bridge a small gap of time until your power comes back on. Generally, battery backups are able to last roughly fifteen minutes. If the power comes back on, then your computer will continue to work seamlessly. If not, you have ample amount of time to exit your trades, save any work, and power down your computer should there be an extended outage.
In summary, if you are looking to buy a day trading computer, you should consider these 5 essential features:
- A Fast Processor – The stock market is driven by data. You will need a fast processor to keep up with that demand.
- Screen Real Estate – Whether its two or six monitors, screen real estate is essential to allowing yourself to have the resources to be more productive.
- An SSD Hard Drive – With speed, reliability, and life span in its wheel house, SSD hard drives are clearly the choice for anyone looking for a fast and responsive computer.
- RAM – You can’t have too much RAM. Its affordable and essential. Not enough RAM can cripple your whole system. For traders, 8GB – 16GB is ideal.
- Battery Backup – If you are prone to disruptions in your power supply, this accessory is necessary.
If you have found this article helpful, you might want to check out my other article, 10 Tips To Buying The Fastest Trading Computer. I am confident that these tips will help you invest in a better computer to help your trading become even more successful.
There are more trading computer tips like this in our buyers guide. Check out our “How To Buy a Trading Computer” e-book.
Remember, we are here to help with all your technology related questions. If you think of additional questions about computer hardware or other questions, give me a call. My team and I are here to help. We’re happy to answer any of your questions about trading computers via phone: 800-387-5250