Thanks to modern-day technology you can now trade or invest no matter where you come from. But in order for that to happen, you need to have a good computer with you. And even though it’s possible to grab a few trades using a laptop or iPhone, if you want to make the most of your time and money you need to invest in a good PC.
But isn’t building a computer setup expensive? You might be wondering. Well, this undertaking doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive and, therefore, you don’t need to worry about coughing up more than $3000 for a simple setup.
You can start with a small platform and upgrade it over time. Most importantly, you can always upgrade the different components of your setup without having to spend a lot of cash on buying a completely new system.
But in order for you to do that, it’s important to first understand some of the features that comprise a complete trading computer set up.
The Hard Drives
This is the storage space of your computer. Hard drives come in two different makes. The most common make is the HDD variety which is cheaper also. HDD drives have been used for quite a long time and they’re perfect for beginners looking to cut the cost of setting up a platform.
However, if you’re looking for a hard drive that provides you with ample storage space, versatility, and speed, you’d be better off settling for a solid state drive (SSD). On the flipside, though, SSD drives are slightly expensive.
The Virtual Memory (Random Access Memory)
Also known as the RAM, this is a virtual form of memory that’s established to enable your computer system to undertake multiple tasks simultaneously. Computers with a limited RAM capacity tend to hang when too many tasks are initiated at the same time.
One thing you need to know is that the RAM memory is an example of a short-term memory as opposed to the hard-drive memory which is a long-term one.
As a trader, you’ll need to run multiple programs at the same time. Some of these include:
- The trading software
All those come with their fair share of memory demands and that’s why you need to go for a beefy RAM. In general, we’d recommend settling for 4GB as the minimum RAM to start with. But if you can afford an 8GB or 16GB chip, that would ultimately be a good acquisition for you.
How Powerful Should A Processor Be?
The processor is the heart and soul of every computer. The more powerful a processor is, the faster and efficient a machine can be. It’s no wonder some geeks dub the processor as the brain of your computer.
The power of a processor is simply measured in GHz. You can find processors starting from as low as 1GHz to as high as 4GHz. Of course, the higher the GHz offered, the better.
Moving on, it’s always a good idea to settle for something that provides you with more than 1 core. So a dual or quad core CPU would be much better than a single core one.
With technologies such as hyperthreading, multiple cores can tackle incredibly complex tasks with ease. That’s because the individual cores are able to distribute the workload amongst themselves, effectively.
With that in mind, we’d specifically recommend a minimum of a Quad-Core processor with at least 2.8GHz for a basic trading platform.
Improving the Visuals with a Graphics Card
Everything you’re seeing right now on your screen is a product of its graphics card. That’s why this tiny accessory is extremely important.
One unique aspect of trading computers is that they’re required to provide multiple displays. As you can imagine, you’d need to go for a graphics card that’s powerful enough to process heavy graphics, videos and anything else.
So, our basic recommendation is that you should settle for a dedicated GPU graphics card. It should have a minimum of 2GB, the more, the merrier.
NVIDIA and AMD Graphics are quite awesome. And also, if you’re going to use two monitors at the same time, we’d recommend going for at least 4GB and so forth.
Getting the Perfect Monitor(s) For Trading
Even the most powerful CPU on the planet still needs a monitor to relay its content. A monitor basically provides you with the user interface and, therefore, helps complete your computing experience. The good news is that monitors are pretty cheap and you can always find some awesome options to choose from on sites like Amazon.
You can go for as many or as few monitors as you like (or as you can afford). If you are not sure how many to go for, we’d recommending starting out with 2 monitors. You can scale up as and when the need arises.
With 2 monitors, you can easily fit 4 charts on each bringing you to a total of 8 charts. That’s pretty substantial, isn’t it?
So at one point if you decide you want to track more than 8 charts, you can always upgrade to 3 or more monitors.
The Best Specs for a Monitor
A high-resolution monitor will help enhance your viewing experience. It can also complement the output of your graphics card. Basically, the higher the pixels, the higher the level of clarity and also the more the stuff you can comfortably fit onto a single screen.
The 1080P monitor is the most common variant on the markets so far and is generally provides you with a 1920×1080 capacity. And although it’s pretty rich in detail, it’s smaller than the 2560×1440 monitor. Therefore, if you want to display extra stuff, it would always be a good idea to upgrade into the latter monitor.
At the same time, if you’re looking for perfection and wouldn’t like to take anything to chance, it’d always be a good idea to explore the 4K resolution. This presents you with a decent 3840×2160 capacity which as you’ll agree is quite generous.
The size of the room at your trading office should always dictate the size of screen you settle for. That said, we have generally found 27-inch and 32-inch monitors to be pretty good for most situations. These present you with lots of real-estate to play around with. Basically, just pick a monitor size that impresses you – don’t overthink it.
Mounting is an ingenious thing to do especially if you want to enjoy the view. The good thing is that there are different kinds of mounts to choose from. Desk mounts, for instance, are liked by people who like working from an office desk setup.
Wall mounts area fantastic option especially when one wants to accommodate a wide variety of monitors. And as you know, it’s not recommended to sit for too long and, therefore, wall mounting provides you with that much-needed level of flexibility.
The other variety of mounts, which is also quite common with beginner traders, is the monitor stands. This one is designed to sit atop the work desk rather than clamping to the side as is the case with the desk mounts. These are pretty limited and typically accommodate a maximum of 3 monitors at a time.
Setting Up A Mobile Trading Unit
If you’re like most traders, chances are that a basic setup will do. However, you’re likely to run into challenges if you want to trade on the go. As you know, a complete set up would be difficult to carry with you at all times.
This is where the mobile USB monitors come in handy. Such monitors can conveniently plug into your laptop allowing you to benefit from multiple monitors even when you’re on the road.
Of course, you can always have an even better experience when trading on the go if you go ahead and get yourself a mobile monitor stand and power bank.
So, as you can see, you don’t need to be a guru to build a perfect trading computer. You simply need to understand your unique needs, buy the right accessories and put them together.
One thing we like about this approach is that it provides you with a great level of flexibility. You always choose to upgrade one accessory at a time.
For instance, you can start out with a 4GB RAM and upgrade it to an 8GB RAM when the demand arises. Likewise, you can settle for a 21-inch monitor and upgrade to a 27-inch or 32-inch one when the need for extra viewing space arises.
As for mobile setups, you need to think of getting USB monitors. And because such a setup would place a great strain on your battery, you’d also need to make sure that you have a good laptop. Luckily, there are many wonderful laptops with awesome batteries that last for well beyond 10 hours. And just to be assured of a consistent performance, it’d be a good idea to carry a power bank with you at all times.
So, there you have it, the complete guide to building a trading computer. We now hope that you’ll gain the confidence you need to get the systems up and running. Happy trading!
Blake is a self-made online day trader with a knack for adventure. On his free time, he loves reading and learning new methods in the trading as well as improving his jiu-jitsu skills. He currently resides in New York City.