For a trading computer setup, simple is effective, so there is no reason for new traders to splurge on a new PC when starting. A basic “off the shelf” PC (laptop or desktop) can handle what a trader would throw at it. If you are a day trader looking to trade low-float stocks, you will want an upgraded PC. It’s preferable to have a Windows PC since a MAC often conflicts with w/brokers’ applications. However, even an “off the shelf” PC would have the capability to run an additional screen; laptop users can even get a USB-powered (thin screen) up to 17″ to get a little more charting space.
Table of Contents
- Trading Computer Setup and Equipment
- What Computer Setup Is Best for Day Trading?
- What Kind of Processors (CPU) Do You Need for Your Trading Computer Setup?
- What Kind of Hard Drive for Day Trading Computer?
- How Much Ram Do I Need for Day Trading Computer Setup?
- What Kind of Graphics Card Do You Need for Day Trading Computer?
Trading Computer Setup and Equipment
It may seem odd at first, but a lot of traders do not use their trading broker to perform their analysis – they have two brokers (one that has great charting software and one that has great trade execution), so it is recommended that traders either get a broker that offers advanced charting capabilities and then trade at that broker (or get that analysis broker but then get a separate one to get your orders filled).
ThinkorSwim is great for charting and analysis, while using TradeStation, Robinhood, Webull, or TastyWorks is good for trade execution. If the trader is using the broker app – webull has made significant advances toward providing an analysis platform.
It may sound funny to talk about browsers, but several charting and trade websites do not function well on the “Windows” default browser. So it is a good idea to upgrade to something “chrome based,” such as Chrome, Firefox, or Opera.
Opera GX has a unique sidebar with built-in Discord, Twitter, and Facebook Messenger widgets. This is especially useful for monitoring the market w/o having to keep additional web pages open.
While we can trade with our phones, it is not advisable to start this way. Using your phone as a backup (in case you have to leave the PC) is great, and using your phone for alerts also helps a lot. For example, setting various broker, Twitter, and discord alerts is easier with a phone and does not “bog down” your trading PC.
Twitter is a great resource for traders – since “finding something moving” is generally the name of the game. Twitter is often faster than “traditional” news services and has a vast trader network. You can also search by # for information about a particular stock symbol. Please be careful following any trader’s alerts. Use them as a guide but do not buy or sell based on anyone’s recommendations.
Discord has trading bots that can assist new traders with setting alerts, gathering stock company information, running scans, and so much more. It is also where the Bullish Bears trading community hangs out and trades together.
What Computer Setup Is Best for Day Trading?
Here are some good value machines:
- Big power tower Dell XPS 8930 Tower Desktop
- Big monitor for power users Dell P Series 42.51″ Screen
- Best power and performance Asus Tuf Gaming Laptop 15.6 With 64 GB of RAM
- Best value all around and big screen Dell 7000 Inspiron 2-in-1 17.3″ Touch-Screen Laptop
The ideal day trading computer setup would include all the critical components such as high-speed internet, multi-screens for charting, plenty of ram, and at least a dual-core CPU, but ideally quad-core. However, we first need to focus on the type of computer you’ll be using: a desktop tower or a laptop. Tower-based computers can be a bit easier to upgrade over time, but laptops are much more mobile and will allow you to trade nearly anywhere with a good internet connection.
Why Spend the Money on a Day Trading Computer Setup?
Why must you fork out your hard-earned cash for premium hardware and software? Because, as a trader, you need the proper tools to do your job.
Like a professional athlete, your computer needs to be in tip-top shape to handle the demands of high-intensity trading.
Think of a surgeon, for example. Do you want them cutting into you with a dull knife? No, I didn’t think so, and you, as a trader, should be no different.
It would be best if you had premium tools to run today’s modern trading software platforms. We highly recommend using TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim platform for charting. TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim platform. They are the gold standard when it comes to trading software.
The table below shows you the latest requirements to run the Thinkorswim platform. Thinkorswim has some of the highest day trading computer requirements because…it’s a beast. AKA a resource hog for your computer.
Why Is Internet Speed Important?
Investing in internet speed is a no-brainer. High-frequency trading computers operate on fiber-optic networks that cost millions of dollars a year to access. They do this because it helps them get their order before everyone else. For retail traders, we need the very best internet speeds available to ensure our orders get from our computer and through the order book as quickly as possible.
Not only sending orders, but when it comes to day trading, you need to have the most current picture of the market to decide when you should buy and sell a position. This means being able to see every animation of the candlestick chart. If your speed is slow, your candlesticks and moving averages may lag, which could lead to a losing trade.
Your orders will be delayed if you don’t have a good upload speed.
I am using Charter Spectrum with a 400 download x 20 upload package. I pay around $100 out the door without complaints about the package. So that you know, speeds like this will only be useful if your computer can handle the speed. My WIRED computer receives the full benefit of the 400-megabyte download speed. However, my wireless trading computer only gets about 100 downloads. So, if you’re trading wirelessly, you don’t need to pay for a package past 100mbs. Remember that your hardware might not handle the speeds you’re paying for. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re wired, you’re getting the best speed from your router to your computer, and you can rest easy.
Day Trading Computer Setup Speed Requirements
ThinkorSwim is the best comprehensive trading platform, but it also uses many resources, so it’s important to ensure your computer is up to the challenge of running it. With these specs in mind, let’s look at all the different elements that go into making a great day trading computer setup.
You’ll most likely want no less than 4 Mbps to download speed to day trade, which is fairly slow. If you can’t get more than 15vmbs download, you might have an issue if you try to trade often.
My recommendation for day trading internet speed is a minimum of 4MB download and 1 MB upload speed for day trading, but more is always better.
You need a minimum of .5 MB for upload speed, but the faster, the better. At .5MB, you may experience slippage orders being filled a bit away from the prices that you want) and a delay in order execution.
Type of Internet
We recommend having at least cable broadband internet; do NOT use DSL. I have worked for a cable company in another life, and I can tell you DSL over copper phone lines will not cut it. You’re going to have a bad time.
Suppose you can get something faster, like a coax cable or the best fiber optic internet. However, please remember that internet speeds always fluctuate, and the more people around you use the network, the slower it can be. This is why traders usually try to get the fastest packages they can say, so when all their neighbors are home using the internet; they aren’t feeling the speeds slow down to a crawl.
Wireless Router. Get Rid of that old Linksys router from college.
You’ll want a nice wireless router for your day trading computer setup. We prefer our own, rather than the one the internet provider company will offer you. Their wireless routers usually are less nice than the newer models you can get from the store.
We recently upgraded from a Nighthawk 1900 to a Nighthawk AX6600. 1900 lasted five years without issue, but the antenna became worn and lost in the last six months, and the WiFi range decreased. While 1900 sported a dual-core processor, the AX6600 rocked the quad-core. This modern router will set you up for the next five years and keep everyone in your house happy while streaming Netflix or games too! In addition, the router supports Fiber & Internet Plans up to 2Gbps, way more than you would ever need to trade.
Now that we have internet connectivity, let’s get into the computer hardware needed to ensure your trading has the best chance of success.
If you want to run hardcore software for trading, you need a computer to make it all happen without the lag, and potential crashes mid-trade!
What Kind of Processors (CPU) Do You Need for Your Trading Computer Setup?
The central processing unit (CPU) is your computer brain and is the primary component responsible for interpreting and executing most of the commands from the software you are using. The clock speed of a processor is measured in gigahertz (GHz), and it signifies the number of tasks it can process in a second.
Some processors have a single-core, while others may have a dual-core or quad-core. Each core represents an individual processing unit so that a dual-core CPU can handle twice the instructions every second as a single-core processor. A quad-core processor can process four times as much information. This drastically improves performance.
We recommend using a processor or tower with at least a Quad-Core (Intel i7).
What Kind of Hard Drive for Day Trading Computer?
Your computer’s hard drive keeps all your data and programs. Since storage is becoming more inexpensive nowadays, you should get a solid-state drive (SSD) computer. SSDs are much faster and more efficient than older hard disk drives (HDD), also known as “spin drives.”
There are also hybrid drives that are half SSD and half HDD. You can stick with an SSD for your day trading computer setup, as this is the fastest. For example, on average, booting a computer from an SSD takes about 10 seconds.
For size, a 500GB SSD Drive should be more than enough, especially if you only use it for trading and not a general-use computer for the family. We like the Samsung drives and have upgraded to them in our computers.
How Much Ram Do I Need for Day Trading Computer Setup?
Random Access Memory, RAM for short, is what allows the computer that allows you to run multiple programs more efficiently. A computer’s hard drive is its long-term memory, and RAM is its short-term memory.
As a trader, you and your computer will be trying to multitask and run a variety of programs and calculations at the same time. The more programs you run on your computer, the more RAM you want. Such requests don’t get backed up while you work.
You’ll want to make sure to have enough RAM. The powerful and blazing-fast Corsair Vengeance allows plenty of space for your trading software to be installed. We like the Corsair brand. However, it’s most important the RAM fits in your computer!
Recommended Specs: At least 8GB, but we generally prefer 16GB at a minimum. Anything less than that would not allow you to install enough programs. Make sure you verify your computer’s RAM type before purchasing an upgrade.
What Kind of Graphics Card Do You Need for Day Trading Computer?
If you are using multiple monitors, we have personally used the Nvidia Quadro K1200; It’s a good basic multi-monitor video card that won’t break the banks. Unfortunately, video cards have been insanely priced lately. For single monitor setups, the Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1050. Suppose you need additional monitors added and easily via USB to HDMI. We use an external video adapter that connects to your USB port and gives you two extra HDMI connections allowing two extra monitors! We like the ASUS 24″ monitors connected to this.
If you use multiple displays, you will want a strong graphics card. This is because your computer’s graphics card displays all your computer’s information.
The more powerful the graphics card is, the better graphics and more screens you can have. You’ll want an Nvidia graphics card with at least 4GB of memory. We stick with Nvidia because of its strong brand name, reliability, and advanced processing. I am a fan of the new GTX 2080 series and have been running one in my main tower for two years, and I love it.
You also will need some adapters for the mini-display ports to HDMI and some HDMI cables. Also, you will need a DP to VGA cable and a mini DP to DP cable.
Monitors, Screens, and More Screens
Once you get your trading computer, you’ll want to focus on how many monitors you want. In addition, you’ll want to ensure the monitors are compatible with your computer, so you don’t need to buy an adapter.
We are using a Dell P4317Q as part of our setup. We like the single monitor, no bezels, 4k screen, low power consumption, and ease of use to connect four outputs to one device that cleanly breaks everything down into four charts.
Dell makes a great monitor specifically for day traders in mind. If you can spare the extra cash for this monitor – get it! Just make sure you have the space to fit it. It’s big!
How many monitors should you get? Well, that’s both up to you and what your hardware will support. Some people are comfortable using one monitor, while others want an operations center’s worth.
Just remember, more isn’t necessarily better. Make sure you use your space and devices to their limit, and then ask yourself what you need. You’ll want to balance real estate space and unnecessary distractions.
Here are a few different trading setups for you to look at. We use two desks, six screens on one, and a laptop with an ASUS USB monitor on the other. We need it between Trade-Ideas, FlowTrade, all our social media, trading software, and extra charts Trade-Ideas, FlowTrade, all our social media, trading software, and extra charts – we need it!
Below are some handpicked devices that we recommend for a solid trading setup. If you are looking for the best technology with flawless performance for trading, look no further!
Top Laptops for Trading:
Great Power: Asus Tuf Gaming Laptop 15.6 With 64 GB of RAM!!!
Great value and Power: Dell 7000 Inspiron 2-in-1 17.3″ Touch-Screen Laptop
Best Valued Single Screen Monitor:
LG 34″ IPS WFHD Ultrawide Freesync Monitor
Best Dual Monitor Mount For 34″ and Under Monitors:
AmazonBasics Premium Dual Monitor Stand
Top Internet Router:
Budget: NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900
Performance: NETGEAR AX6600