When trading, having a powerful processor (or CPU) can be the difference between making money or losing money. Working on a trading computer with the right CPU allows you to execute trades efficiently. Knowing which is the right CPU for your needs is key. A trading PC prioritizes speed, calculation capacity, and the ability to multitask.
Having the best CPU for your trading computer is crucial.
There are many parts to any trading computer, but the CPU is the most critical. The CPU is like the human brain, it is responsible for making most of the intense calculations required for running computer programs, trading workloads (trading software), and processing data. A fast processor is important because it leads to fast trade execution.
Choosing the correct processor when purchasing a trading computer allows you to have an effective trading setup. Day traders need a high speed CPU because they are trading extremely volatile markets. Others, however, have a tight budget or have a trading style that need CPU cores over CPU speed. To understand the difference, and what to look for when choosing a CPU, continue reading.
There are six vital specifications to look for in a CPU:
As mentioned above, many trading platforms can only utilize one processor (or CPU) core at a time. Some popular single-threaded trading platforms are: Thinkorswim, TradeStation, and eSignal. If you are using a single-threaded platform, you should purchase a processor with a high clock speed.
The clock speed is measured in GHz; the higher the number, the better. For example, an Intel Core i9 13900K/KF CPU has a base clock speed of 3 GHz and a turbo of 5.8 GHz. The turbo frequency will ramp up as your trading platform requires more to be done. When you increase the GHz, you increase the amount of work it can achieve in each clock cycle. Leading to a much more fluid trading experience.
Some trading platforms are able to utilize more than one CPU core at a time. These are known as multi-threaded applications. Multi-threading is the ability of a program to use more than one CPU core simultaneously. Some popular multi-threaded trading platforms are: NinjaTrader, TradingView, Multi-Charts, and MetaTrader.
If you are using a multi-threaded platform, you should purchase a CPU with many cores and a high GHz. The number of processing threads is important because the more threads you have available, the faster your trading platform can ramp up operations, saving you time. The Intel Core i9 13900K/KF processor has 24 cores and 32 threads, making it ideal for crunching numbers while also delivering a turbo speed of 5.8GHz.
Trading computers comes equipped with either an Intel or AMD CPU. Both companies make processors at multiple levels and performance levels. Keep in mind, however, that many trading application developers build their platforms using the compiler that Intel created, and they take advantage of key Intel features.
While AMD has closed the performance gap and, in the past, offered the best price. Intel is still a better choice in many cases for your trading computer. Most traders who have traded for years use Intel CPUs and don't mind the higher price for their trading PC.
Below is a list of the best CPUs from each company that are suitable for trading at all levels.
The is a popular choice for everyday PCs and trading computers because they provide premium performance.
At TradingComputers.com, you can customize your trading computer to provide the power you need or desire. Our CPUs include:
You will notice this list is heavy on the 12th and 13th Gen CPUs. Their architecture has two notable components: the Performance Core and the Efficiency Core. Windows 11 is the first operating system to utilize these difference cores, and the CPU communicates with Windows 11 to more intelligently assign processes to cores.
This is important so that programs that need little processing power are not taking up space on Performance cores that other programs might need. This also prevents processes that need to be run on Performance cores from getting hindered by being assigned to an Efficiency core by mistake.
Note: the Windows 10 operating system does not know the difference between the two types of cores.
Another point of note is that all but one of these CPUs is listed with "K/ KF". To elaborate, these are K models or KF models. The difference being, the K models come with onboard graphics, like having a video card built in. The KF models don't have this built in "video card", but perform better as they have less heat generation thrown off by the integrated GPU. We strongly recommend having a video card or two if you have HD monitors or several monitors.
The different levels — i5, i7, i9 — are discussed below. The difference between 12th Gen i7 and 13th Gen i7 are minimal compared to their i9 counterparts.
The Core-i5 12500 is the minimum processor that a trading pc should have. It provides enough power and speed to get the job done, making it ideal for beginner traders, hobbyists, and those on a budget.
As one of the most powerful CPUs available, the Core-i7 12700K / KF is good for all around, multi-purpose use. It can reach speeds of up to 5 GHz, allowing the processor to manage large workloads with ease.
The Core-i9 13900K / KF is the top-of-the-line choice for traders. It has some of the highest clock speeds around. Plus, Intel's new hybrid performance architecture integrates two types of cores for smooth and efficient performance.
AMD processors are another highly powerful option for use in trading. These CPUs offer great performance and suitable speeds but at a more affordable price point than Intel processors. We only see one viable option for AMD processors, let's take a closer look at the specs:
This AMD processor is an excellent choice for new traders who are building their first trading setups. The CPU provides all the power and speed necessary to run popular trading platforms and more.
While these are generally good processors at a good price, they are not the best to go in a trading computer. We at TradingComputers.com do not offer these as an option because their singe-threaded process performance isn't powerful enough for trading applications. While many trading applications are multi-threaded (or at least fake it), they still rely on single-threaded performance.
When single-thread processes cannot calculate the data fast enough, it brings even the most robust trading program to its knees. AMD is awesome for many things, but they still don't have what it takes in the single-thread performance category. Plus, when you consider that trading applications are compiled with a compiler that is optimized for Intel, it further hinders the performance of the AMD processor.
When shopping for a trading computer, you will often see that, on the surface, both laptops and desktops have the same type of processor, i.e. Intel Core i7. Looking under the surface, there is a big difference. While desktops will usually have DESKTOP processors, laptops mostly have MOBILE processors. Mobile processors use less energy and are, therefore, less powerful than desktop processors.
Keep in mind, a powerful laptop will have a short battery life. The energy required to run trading software, or other resource intensive programs, means they need more energy. We strongly recommend the laptop be plugged in while running these programs.
Here is a run-down of the pros and cons of trading laptops and laptop mobile processors:
Read our article here for more information on laptop trading computers.
As you can see, the best processor (or CPU) for trading depends on the type of trading you plan to do, as well as the software you will use. Intel and AMD both offer good, reliable processors, but not all of them fit your style or needs. Checking with the trading program developer will help determine which is the best fit.
Intel processors dominate in terms of sheer performance. The Core-i9 13900K, for example, offers 24 cores at speeds up to 5.8 GHz, making it one of the fastest and most powerful processors on the market. The brand also makes great processors for hobby traders who don't need quite as much power.
For beginners, the Intel Core-i5 is a great choice. When it comes down to price/performance ratio, the Core-i5 series offers arguably more bang for your buck thanks to their competitive pricing when compared to similar low end Intel models. Keep in mind that more is not always better.
In the end, both Intel and AMD CPUs have options for beginners in day trading. When you start looking to purchase a dedicated trading computer, there are more factors to consider. Intel processors are a better option for new and seasoned traders in a range of high-powered CPUs that are ideal for all types of traders who prefer top-of-the-line performance. AMD processors are good for those concerned about price, but with the understanding that the Ryzen still can't keep up with Intel in most cases.
Also, remember, desktop trading computers are more powerful than laptop trading computers. Laptops may have their advantages, but they also have their limitations. The best trading computers are always desktops.
Still, no matter which type of processor you choose, you know you'll be getting a great product when you shop at TradingComputers.com. Visit us at TradingComputers.com today to find the best processor for trading and browse all of our high-performance trading setups!
After picking the CPU, it's necessary to choose how much RAM to get for your trading computer. Read about that here.