In this article we will discuss the ideal day trading computer setup and some important things to consider when purchasing a trading computer.
The first thing we need to do is to focus on the type of computer that you'll be using; this can be 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.
A laptop based trading setup will probably work for most traders, especially ones just getting into it. Below I'll share you some good computers to use that you can depend on.
Why do you need to 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 in order to handle the demands of high intensity trading.
No amount of talent can make up for a lack of great tools.
Think of a surgeon for example, do you really want him or her cutting into you with a dull knife? No, I didn't think so, and you as a trader should be no different.
You need premium tools to run today's modern trading software platforms. At the Bullish Bears, we highly recommend using TD Ameritrade's Thinkorswim platform for charting. We think they are the gold standard when it comes to trading software.
The table below shows you the latest, at the time of this writing, computer requirements in order to run the Thinkorswim platform. Thinkorswim has some of the highest day trading computer requirements because...it's a beast. AKA a resource hog :).
With these specs in mind, let's take a look at all the different elements that go into making a great day trading computer setup.
When using the world wide web, its a two way communication with you computer both sending and sending and receiving information.
And when it comes to day trading, you need to have the most current picture of the market so you can make a split second decision about when you should buy and sell a position.
If you don’t have a good upload speed then you orders will be delayed
For these reasons, the most crucial factor for day trading is having high internet download and upload speeds.
When trading you need fast download speeds so you can receive current market data. Likewise, you’ll want to have fast upload speeds so you can put in your buy and sell orders without delay.
If your data is delayed, then you may be getting in or out of the trade later then you would like, and that will cost you money!
You’ll most likely want no less than 4 mbps download speed to day trade, which is fairly common now a days. You’ll definitely want to look at which plan you have with your internet provider because, when they say that your internet speed is “X”, that often will be the maximum speed that you will have and it might not be consistent throughout the day.
My recommendation for day trading internet speed is a minimum of 4mb download and 1 mb upload speed for day trading.
For upload speed you need a minimum of .5 mb, but again 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 to have at least a cable broadband internet; do NOT use DSL. I have worked for the cable company in another life, and I can tell you, DSL over copper is not going to cut it.
If you can get something faster like fiber optic internet, that would be even better. Just be sure to remember that internet speeds always fluctuate and the greater number of people around you that are using the network the slower it can be.
Also, you're going to want a nice wireless router for your day trading computer setup. We prefer to have our own, rather than the one the provider will offer you.
We went with a Netgear NightHawk AC1900 Router and love the ease of setup, speeds, and dual core processor!
Now that we have connectivity out of the way, let's get into the computer hardware.
If you are shopping for a computer or building your own, read this paragraph. If not skip over it.
The central processing unit (CPU), is your computer brain and is the primary component that's responsible for interpreting and executing most of the commands from the software that 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 is an individual processing unit, so a dual-core CPU can handle twice the instructions every second than a single-core processor and a quad-core processor can process four times as much information. This drastically improves performance.
We recommend going with a processor or tower with at least a Quad-Core (Intel i7).
Your computer's hard drive is where all your data and programs are kept. Since storage is becoming more inexpensive nowadays, you should try to get a computer with a solid state drive (SSD). SSDs are much faster and more efficient than the older hard disk drives (HDD) also known as "spin drives."
There are also hybrid drives that are half SSD, half HDD. Stick with a SSD for your day trading computer setup as this is fastest. For example, booting a computer from a SSD on average 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 really like the Samsung drives and have upgraded to them in our computers.
Random Access Memory, RAM for short, is what allows your 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’ll want to have so 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 Vengenance allows for plenty of space for your trading software to be installed on. We like the Corsair brand, however, its most important the RAM fits in your computer!
Recommended Specs: At least 8GB but we prefer 16GB. Anything less that that would potentially not allow you to install enough programs on. Make sure you verify your computer's RAM type before purchasing an upgrade.
If you are using multiple monitors, we have personally used the Nvidia quadro K1200. For single monitor setups, the Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1050. If you need additional monitors added simply and easily via USB to HDMI. We are using a external video adapter which 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 plan on using multiple displays, you're going to want a strong graphics card. Your computer's graphics card is responsible for displaying all your computers information.
The more powerful the graphics card is, the better graphics and more screens you can have. You’ll want to have a Nvidia graphics card that has at least a 4GB of its own memory. We stick with Nvidia because of its strong brand name, reliability, and cutting edge processing.
Once you get your trading computer, you'll want to focus on how many monitors you’ll want. You’ll just want to make sure 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.
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 centers worth.
Just remember more isn't necessarily better. Make sure you are using your space and devices to their limit and then ask yourself what you really need. You’ll want to find a balance between real estate space and unnecessary distractions.
Here are a few different trading setups for you to look at. We are using two desks, and 6 screens on one, and a laptop with a ASUS USB monitor on the other. Between Trade-Ideas, Benzinga Pro, Market Club, social media, trading platforms, 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!
Also feel free to join us in the trade room once you get all set up! We are a laid back group of traders who help each other succeed and prosper. Thanks for reading! We have a stock trading course and day trading course available if you need more help with trading.
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