Since this practice involves high stakes financially, the key things to consider are up time and processing cores. While it is possible to trade using your phone, tablet, or laptop, serious trading requires multiple displays and fast computer or workstation.
Here are things to consider:
The actual applications used for trading are not as demanding as say engineering software. As such a good processor with as many cores is something to consider especially if you will be running many applications at the same time. That includes multiple web browsers as most trading computers run multiple monitors. Quad Core would be a minimal and we would recommend at least dual 8 core with multi-threading capability. The more the better we say.
Although some traders start off with a minimal amount of memory, say 8GB or so, we recommend at least 16GB and even better 32GB. You can never go wrong with having more memory and compared to the price of other components, it is a worthy investment that will pay off handsomely in better performance.
Although a standard magnetic hard drive will suffice, we recommend a SSD or even better yet a NVMe drive for your operating system and programs (remember to configure the operating system to dump any temporary files onto a magnetic hard drive rather than the SSD or NVMe drive). You can then couple the SSD/NVMe drive with a regular hard drive for any data storage requirements you may have. Please note that not all computers are NVMe capable and may require additional hardware components for NVMe compatibility.
Graphic Card (GPU)
Although you can certainly invest in high performance video cards, that is not as important as getting video cards that support multiple monitors. At a minimum a dual monitor card is a starting point but preferably you would want to get something that would support at least 8 monitors and ultimately up to 16 monitors.
Depending on your visual requirements, 22 inch to 30 inch monitors will suffice. What you are looking for are LCDs with good resolution. Refresh rates are not as important and lastly ensure they are compatible with the video card(s) being used.
As you think about your requirements, consider where you will place your computer. Since these systems tend to run for a long time and require much more space than a typical computer installation, ensure there is adequate room and ventilation. In addition, ensure dust and other debris is removed for the internal computers components. Lastly, ensure you have adequate backup capabilities in order to store any critical data amassed during trading operations and research.
Although you don’t have to start at the top, your trading needs and volume will guide you eventually to the professional class. It is something that you should plan for in order to ensure timely and less expensive upgrades. Most successful traders will get there sooner rather than later.
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