Monday, January 27, 2014
How Fast of a Computer Do I Need
Your trading computer should have a direct correlation to your trading plan. If you are an investor or swing trader, your computer needs are not as demanding as a scalper or day trader. It’s very similar to how your broker and your trading plan must be supportive of your particular trading style.
Your trading computer must be able to perform (and perform well) during the most crucial and hectic times of the day when you are putting on trades and following your trading strategies. The majority of brokerage software and charting applications take an incredible amount of computing power. However the requirements on their websites seem low. Usually they specify only the requirements needed to install the application; minimum specifications listed by brokers and software vendors do not take into account all of the other variables that are different for every trader. What other applications do you have open; how many charts do you have open; how many order entry and level II market depth bars do you have; how many monitors do you have operating; and how many strategies and indicators do you have computing the data and transforming them into easy to read visual and graphical formats.
Consider RealTick, a feature rich software vendor, as an example. On their web site you can read that the system requirements are a Quad Core and 4GB of RAM. How many traders do you know that would ever consider functioning with only 4GB of RAM.
Let’s consider a combined broker and software package for example, Tradestation. Their minimum system requirements are a single core 1.5GHz processor and 2GB of RAM. For a power user they recommend a multi-core at 3GHz or faster and 4GB or more. TradeStation defines a power user as one that uses any EasyLanguage studies, large amounts of tick or intraday data or an active trader. In other words anyone who is using their platform to follow the markets within the trading day. This is why you purchased TradeStation therefore everyone is a power user. There is a big difference between the minimum and power user requirements and then they indicate “or faster”. How much faster? Their job is to make sales and develop and grow new accounts. Your job is to configure and setup your trading computer system.
The bottom line of all this is that the total system must be able to perform as you wish and not be running into continuous constraints. First, you need to ask yourself what type of trader you are. How many trades do you go through on a monthly, weekly and daily basis? What is the average time frame in which you hold a position? And how many different software applications do you run throughout the trading day? The answer to each of these questions will have a direct effect on what your needs are for your trading computer system.