There comes up from time to time the question of the type of computer hardward and software traders need to have. The following inquiry that came in by email the other day is along those lines.
I need to get a couple of new computers, one main workstation and a laptop. I had hoped on buying new computers when I had my business plan fully developed and had a much clearer picture of what was required. I realize that no computer is going to make me a great trader, but I assume than a typical PC is needed.
Do traders really need the high performance computer hardware with multi-monitors?
Just for fun to make some of you jealous, let me describe my set-up at work.
As you can see from the left, my work PC isn’t exactly the latest and greatest. My machine at home is significantly more powerful. I don’t expect you to be envious about the machine specs.
Here’s where you may start to hate me, though.
I have four monitors. Yes, I said four. Yes, it’s a lot of monitors, but here’s why I need them.
I’m running Reuters 3000 Xtra (that’s the full desktop application) in one screen, MetaStock Professional in another screen, and Sierra Chart on a third (for price distribution charting). With those three screens I keep track of the forex, fixed income, stock, and commodity markets to a greater or lesser degree depending on circumstances – and news, of course.
The fourth monitor is my main working one where I have my email, IM applications, web browsers, spreadsheets, and authoring tools – as required.
I have all this stuff going because I’m working on a real-time intraday focused service. I need to know what’s going on pretty much all the time. While my main focus is forex, I keep track of everything else because of the cross-market implications. It all ends up in my commentary and analysis at some point or another.
Now most likely you won’t need all the stuff I use. If you are not a very short-term trader who needs to follow things in real-time very closely you won’t really need more than a basic computer with a single monitor and a decent internet connection. Even if you’re a day trader tracking several things at once, it’s probably more about screen space that about a super fast computer, unless you’re running some high intensity data andÂ computational applications.
The best approach for deciding on a computer is actually first to decide what you intend to use for applications. They will define your minimum requirements. You can then go from there based on your budget and other needs. Just realize that only the most active traders among us need to really worry about their computer set-ups beyond generally keeping from falling too far behind the latest developments.
All this said, I don’t claim any specific expertise in this area, so I encourage those with specific experience or know-how to contribute their thoughts by leaving a comment.
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About the Author
John Forman, author of this blog, has traded for more than 20 years, is a professional market analyst, and authored The Essentials of Trading. He is an active participant in trading forums, consults for trading related businesses, as published literally dozens of trading articles, and has been quoted in a number of books and in the media.
** See John’s full bio.
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