Trading Computers

Trading Computers: Ultimate Buyers Guide For Traders 2023

trading computers buyer's guide

If you're a trader, you know that you need a powerful machine. In fact, your machine can make or break your trading day. A slow, clunky stock computer is one of the biggest reasons many experienced in trading experience slippage.

Slippage means there is a significant change in the buy or sell price when you actually enter the trade from when you choose to do so. Having the best trading computer allows you to interact with the market and make the trades you want in real-time. You can trade without fear.

However, you may not know what to look for to get the best trading computer. Listed below are features, stats, and information you need to consider when shopping for one. Whether it is a laptop or desktop computer, this guide will help you find what you need.

What is a Trading Computer?

desktop computer for trading

A trading computer is not hard to come by, but you might be concerned about getting a big-box, pre-built machine. Will it match your needs? Fortunately, trading computers can have the power and specs you need to make your trades effective, but they aren't found at Walmart.

At TradingComputers.com, we specialize in providing you with a custom trading computer that best fits your trading needs. We know from experience what your trading platform needs and the computer system requirements to match those needs. We can help you get the right trading setup.

When considering a trading computer setup for any type of trading, it's important to know what specifications (specs) to focus on. Some of the most important specs of high-end trading computers include:

  • Processor (CPU) power and speed
  • Cooling system
  • Random Access Memory (RAM)
  • Multi-Monitor support
  • Video Card(s)

Processor Cores And Speed

trading computers buyer's guide

The processor, or CPU (Central Processing Unit), is one of the most important facets of a trading computer. When comparing processors, take a look at the number of cores and the speed. It's important to remember that just because a processor is fast doesn't always mean it's efficient.

Get a Mult-Core CPU

Multi-core processors are the name of the game for trading computers. To get the most out of your new computer setup, you should go for a computer with a multi-core processor. Fortunately, every desktop computer or laptop these days has one, but specifically, the best trading computers have an Intel Core-i7 or -i9 operating at peak performance..

The biggest benefit of a multi-core processor is that it can handle huge amounts of data, and at the same time handle all the multi-tasking you do daily. Single-core processors have a much harder time with running multiple tasks, and have to stop processing data in order to switch between tasks. A multi-core processor, like an Intel Core i-series, can process data at the same time as managing multiple tasks, keeping your trading computer operating efficiently and smoothly.

But how many cores is enough for trading? There are different levels of trading, and some require more cores than others. No matter your level, you'll want to look for a trading computer with at least 8 processing cores. For the best result consider a trading computer with 24 cores.

Get a Fast CPU

As mentioned previously, having the right processor is more than just the number of cores. You need to also keep in mind the processor speed offered. An average, run-of-the-mill computer has a multi-core processor, yes, but with speeds ranging from 2.0 GHz to 4.0 GHz. That is simply not fast enough when your livelihood depends on the performance of your computer. The best trading computers offer Intel Core i-series processors with a max-boost speed (the fastest the processor can run), of 4.5 GHz to 5.8 GHz on all cores.

It's important to keep in mind that the processors we're talking about here aren't something you can get in a standard off-the-shelf machine. These specs require a custom-built machine put together with your specific needs in mind.

Intel Core-i7 & -i9 Processors for the best trading computers

Some of the best multi-core, fast processors out there include:

  • Intel Core-i7 12700H (found in the best trading laptops)
  • Intel Core-i9 12900K / KF
  • Intel Core-i7 13700K / KF
  • Intel Core-i9 13900K / KF

AMD Processors

With the release of the 12th gen Intel processors and the 13th processors, we currently do not recommend AMD processors as they have lower single thread performance than their Intel counterparts. We will revisit this topic once the 7950X3d is released, as the narrative may change, but currently, all 7000 and 5000 series AMD processors are inferior for trading compared to the Intel lineup.

Cooling

trading computers cpu cooler

A trading computer's CPU works hard, putting out a lot of heat, so you need to make sure that you're providing enough cooling to keep it going. Traders who don't prioritize a high-quality CPU cooler soon discover why it is important. You don't want your computer overheating and shutting down right in the middle of the trading day! Even beyond the concern of the processor overheating, if you regularly run hot, you run the risk of wearing down the processor faster than expected. That ends up costing you thousands of dollars in the long run - money you can save simply by investing in a proper cooling system.

For trading desktop computers, there are two types of processor cooling systems, either of which can be included in the best setups: an air cooling system with phase change; or a liquid cooling system. While either type of cooling can help extend the life of your processor, there are some pros and cons to each.

Air Cooling

An air cooling system is standard with most computers, whether desktop trading computers, gaming systems or computers for everyday use. It's a good idea, however, to understand how these systems work. At TradingComputers.com, we use phase change cooling systems that take the processor's heat to evaporate a liquid coolant. This cooling cycle is natural because it does not require a pump to establish and maintain outstanding cooling. Using the latent heat of evaporation to remove heat from the processor is far more efficient than using conduction, as is common in off the shelf computers.

The vapors from the evaporated coolant condense back to a liquid state in the condenser unit. The capillary structure of the tube array completes the cycle by conveying the liquid back to the processor for re-evaporation. Once the coolant begins to vaporize, it is not necessary to increase the temperature of the processor by more than a degree or two to greatly increase the heat removal rate. The more pipes in the phase change cooling block, the more efficient the cooling. Also, the size of the heat pipes matters. Standard heat pipe sizes range from 3mm to 8mm, with 8mm being the best as the 8mm heat pipes can more efficiently transfer the heat to the fins of the heatsink due to the larger size it dramatically increases the surface area and the amount of coolant available in each heat pipe.

When using the more common conduction method of cooling computers, the temperature of the processor will need to rise far higher to conduct heat away during periods of higher processor workload.

Liquid Cooling

Consider upgrading to a trading desktop with a liquid-cooling setup for the best, most high-end cooling. A trading system can give off a lot of heat, and the efficiency of a liquid cooling setup can't be beaten. The heat is transferred away from the processor to a self-contained, liquid-filled block and tubing system. The liquid absorbs the heat, moves through the tubing to a radiator, and from there the heat is dispersed from the computer, much like a car radiator system.

This is different from the All-In-One (AIO) systems that can be purchased and added after the fact to off-the-shelf computers. AIO systems cannot keep the processor as cool as the custom-loop system can, and they have a much higher failure rate and are often not as good as a high quality air cooling system.

Check out our Falcon F-1 series for the best liquid-cooled trading desktop computers.

Memory

how much is enough ram?

It's no surprise to most that trading computers require a lot of memory. Random Access Memory (RAM) allows the computer to temporarily hold onto information the processor needs, acting as a bridge between the slower hard drive and the super fast Intel Core processor, making that information quick and easy to access. Having adequate computer memory for your trading system ensures that it runs as smoothly as possible.

When considering the memory for your trading computer, you want to make sure that you get high-quality, high-reliability options. Most trading computers today have either DDR4 or DDR5 memory, which gives the highest transfer rates available. While DDR5 is absolutely the best option - and the most recent version - DDR4 can still perform at speeds that make it a viable option.

It's also important to make sure that you have enough memory. For a trading computer, you want at least 8GB of memory. The best trading computers come with 32GB or more – even though, in most cases, more than 32 GB does not help you.

32-bit vs 64-bit trading software

All trading programs have a cap on the amount of memory they can use, and 32-bit trading programs have the most severe cap. These programs can only use a total of 4 GB of memory, but some programs, like Tradestation, get around this limitation by launching multiple 32-bit processes. Each process is called an ‘instance,' and each instance can only use up to 4GB. If you are using only one instance of a 32-bit trading program, and most people are, then 8 or 16 GB is enough.

Other trading software, like Ninjatrader 8, are not only multi-threaded, but are also 64-bit programs. They can use more memory than programs like Tradestation, but our experience is that most won't need more than 6 to 12 GB to run at their best. Purchasing more memory for these 64-bit programs might sound like a good idea, but anything more than 32 GB is simply of little benefit.

Another factor to consider when purchasing memory is how many monitors you want to use with your trading computer. A standard rule of thumb is that you need 0.5 GB of memory for every Full HD monitor resolution (that is, 1920 by 1080 pixels). For larger resolution monitors, that number increases. If you're running the Big Six Monitor Array, 12GB of memory is needed. How you utilize the trading platform has an impact as well. If you have a lot of tick charts or use a specialty indicator package, that can easily increase your memory requirements to 1-1.5GB per HD monitor. That would be 36GB of memory usage for a Big Six Monitor Array on your trading computer.

If you are needing that much memory, contact us and we can assist in selecting the right desktop trading computer with enough memory to do the job required.

Multi-Monitor Display

multiple monitors

When trading, you need to have your eyes on so many things at once. Because of this, it's crucial to have multiple monitors for your trading computer system. You can choose from any number of monitors depending on what works best for you and your setup. At the very least, you should consider having a two-monitor array. In general, your monitors' screen size should be at least 24 inches (measured from corner to opposite corner) and have a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels (known as Full HD). If you have diminishing eyesight, increasing to 27-inch monitors is fine, but keep to the Full HD resolution.

As stated before, Full HD monitors work well for trading, but some customers prefer to have more “real-estate” for their charts. There are two ways to go about this. First, you can add more monitors, but that can get expensive if you want to have 8, 12, or even 16 monitors for all your charts. The second, and perhaps more practical way, is to purchase higher resolution monitors. Most are familiar with 4K TVs, also known as UHD (Ultra-High Definition) TVs. The resolution of 4K is easy to remember, as it is simply 4 times the resolution of Full HD, meaning it is equal to four Full HD monitors stacked 2 by 2. Another way to put it is: one 4K monitor or TV is the same as having a 4 monitor array. This also translates into fewer video cards needed to support the same amount of screen real-estate. Keep in mind there are some disadvantages to using 4k TV screens with your trading system, such as burn-in, and a glossy finish of the 4k TV screen can cause increased eye fatigue due to the reflective glare from other light sources in the room.

DPI / PPI

One of the most important topics to cover regarding monitors for your trading setup is the DPI (dots per inch). If you have a monitor with a high DPI, such as a 4k resolution which is (8,292,400 pixels) crammed into a 17" screen, the DPI will be around 259.17 dots per inch which on the surface sounds great! Packing more pixels in will result in a sharper image and more precise text, but there are some significant issues with having an extremely high DPI monitor.

  • If using the monitor at the native resolution will result in very tiny text inducing extreme eye fatigue, and you may not be able to read it at all if your eyesight is below average.
  • Charts and elements in the trading application could be too small, making it hard to make informed decisions about the market.

A Windows feature allows you to increase the DPI, basically blowing up the pixels and expanding them. There are two issues with this feature. One causes excess strain on the GPU, which can cause trouble with rendering your charts. The other issue is that many trading applications do not respect the DPI setting within Windows, leaving you with just being able to increase the font size within the trading platform itself, which is often very limited in their text options and may still leave you with elements in the trading application that are too small to click on.

We recommend keeping your DPI around 80-140 DPI. The lower the number, the larger the object appears. All of this is to say that if you get a high resolution display, ensure to purchase a large enough display to spread the pixels out so that your text and charting will be stellar.

Keep in mind, the more monitors you want to use, the more video cards you need.

Video Cards

trading computers video card

While some think that a top-of-the-line video card is required for a trading computer, the reality is that you can get away with less. Some still need a powerful graphics card, especially if you are streaming your trades, but there are the NVIDIA Quadro cards for the rest. These workstation cards have the video memory needed for running your trading workstation charts and are specially designed for financial markets, which means the drivers are more stable than their gaming equivalents.

NVIDIA Quadro cards also come in various forms. The newer forms are compatible with 4K monitors or TVs discussed previously, have plenty of video memory, and can even support up to 5k resolutions. The best Quadro cards come with 4 GB of video memory and have 4 monitor support.

For those who want to stream your trades or wish to be able to game on your trading computer, you want to look at the NVIDIA GeForce RTX line. These had 3 or 4 monitor support. But, if you are using more monitors than a single RTX card can support, you can save money by adding an NVIDIA Quadro video card instead of doubling or tripling up on the RTX cards. The two NVIDIA card lines are compatible and easy to manage. This is also a better option because multiple Quadro cards can fit in your computer (with or without the RTX card), whereas multiple RTX cards require a larger computer chassis (case) and a larger capacity power supply. The best day trading computers for trading and streaming / gaming are the Falcon F-1 series.

More Buyer's Guides

Trading Computers Buyer's Guides

Work With the Best

Let's be real - having the best computer for trading isn't something to take lightly. Because of this, many traders work with professionals to create the best custom trading computers. However, when you're getting ready to buy a new computer for your trading business, you should know who you're working with and how they can help ensure that you have the best computer possible.

Quality

One of the first things you should check is the quality of the part brands used for your custom computer. There are a lot of computer brands out there, and they don't all offer the same level of quality. Do some research on the brands listed for the computer you're interested in, to see what others say about the reliability and durability of the parts. Consider comparing the options and variations offered, to ensure you get what you're looking for.

Knowledge

When talking about trading computers, your custom build needs a lot of knowledge backing it up. Putting a computer together in general requires an understanding of the parts, how they work together, what the best brands and parts series are, and more. However, you need more than this when choosing a trading computer. It's best to work with a custom shop that understands not only computers, but trading software as well. This helps ensure that you get a computer that has the specs you need for your business.

Support

Another important aspect you should consider when choosing someone to build your machine is how receptive to contact they are. If there is no response to emails after several days, or you can't ever reach them by phone, they aren't worth your time and definitely not worth the money. You need to be sure they'll support the computer for at least the warranty period after you make a purchase, so they need to be reachable.

Get the Best Trading Computers with:

Trading Computers

Whether you're just starting out in your trading career or you're a pro looking for a new, upgraded trading setup, make the most of your purchase. At TradingComputers.com, we are trading PC experts who ensure that all of our custom-built trading computers have the best parts and options available. We know your industry and are traders ourselves. This gives us the knowledge needed to ensure that your system stands up to the rigorous work you put it through.

TradingComputers.com is owned and operated by Falcon Trading Systems. All of the trading computers built by Falcon Trading Systems are custom-built in the United States. We also work with traders of all types around the world. Wherever you are, we can help improve your experience with a new trading computer.

From the highest quality parts to helpful and enthusiastic service, we offer everything you're looking for. Make the most of your next trading computer purchase when you check out our customized desktop and laptop options. We'll even provide a custom quote if you need something outside our listed options. Contact us today with any questions you have!

 
 
 
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