If you’re like most traders, technology is something you need, but not something you should have to worry about. What traders really need is an ultra-fast, reliable computer to handle all their trading needs – from running trading platforms to TradeLog software.
What makes a computer reliable and fast? We asked Eddie Z of EZ Trading Computers to help us answer that question and provide some of the minimum requirements for a good trading computer. Here are the four features he explained:
Every trader should have a trading computer that has a multi-core processor to make it ultra-fast. Instead of a single CPU doing all the work, multi-core processors contain separate CPU “cores” allowing the workload to be split amongst them.
For example, in a “quad-core processor” four identical CPU units are living side by side. They divvy up the work and speed up complex tasks. When one core is over-burdened, the others can take the excess workload or they can agree to share the loads equally. Windows 7 and Windows 8 have the ability to assign what core an application should use in the event it was not programmed to know how to use multiple processors.
Intel CPU’s also support a process that makes them even more efficient than AMD’s processors. It’s called Hyper-Threading. Hyper-Threading can increase number-crunching performance by 30% by breaking up calculations your computer performs.
A 64-bit operating system should be a requirement for your trading computer. This is another way to ensure your computer is ultra-fast. Windows 7 64-bit OS, or Windows 8 are 64-bit. Windows XP is 32-bit. Not only is Windows XP slower, it’s a risk for day traders to continue using.
It is strongly recommended traders upgrade to a Windows 7 64-bit OS (operating system). Windows XP users, or other users on a 32-bit system, run a high risk of data loss and “slippage,” which can throw off your timing entirely. Worse yet, as of April 8, 2014 Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows XP. XP is now completely out of date after 13 years on the market. Hackers and malware are just waiting to exploit your old system. It is a security risk to your trading to continue operating Windows XP.
Processors and operating system matter a lot, but so does your RAM. Having more RAM is going to help make your computer more reliable and feel fast.
RAM is a device which allows your computer to access items in roughly the same time no matter the order. Memory is where your computer stores its information while you use programs. If you don’t have enough memory, your computer will start to slow down or even freeze. As your computer slows, it may begin using your hard drive for memory, or just run out of room. Your computer suddenly gets sluggish. To have the most efficient day trading computer system, you’re going to need at least 8 GB of RAM, although 16 GB would be better.
Having multiple monitors is proven to increase productivity. The University of Utah research suggests multiple monitors could help people “complete tasks as much as 52 percent faster, saving up to 2.5 hours a day”. For traders being more productive is nice, but what’s really important is not to waste time clicking through all your screens, spending precious trading time scouring for the right window. You could be missing an important change in market action. Traders need to spread out their charts and alerts across multiple windows. All your charts and order entry screen should be available at a glance.
To reliably support multiple monitors, you’ll need a graphics card that can support multiple outputs. All the outputs should be digital video, whether DVI or HDMI. Your graphics card should also have a discrete processor of its own. With a discrete graphics card rendering, your charts and indicators never need to steal your processor’s power.
Since the day he took his first Commodore Vic 20 apart, Russ “Eddie Z” Hazelcorn has been obsessed with making computers more powerful and more functional. At the age of 18 he started working on Wall Street filling out paper charts and since then has learned to combine his passion for building computers with stock trading. If you’d like to find out more details about what to look for in a trading computer, he’s created a buyers guide. Go to EZTradingcomputers.com to get your free copy.
Please note: This information is provided only as a general guide and is not to be taken as official IRS instructions. Cogenta Computing, Inc. does not make investment recommendations nor provide financial, tax or legal advice. You are solely responsible for your investment and tax reporting decisions. Please consult your tax advisor or accountant to discuss your specific situation.