In any profession, a person’s skillsets and expertise are always the most important factors in ensuring tasks at hand are carried out correctly. However, a big factor that can either aid or impede this process are the tools available. The world of financial trading is no different.
You may have all the experience and knowledge necessary to be a professional level trader, but if the tools you are using are not up to par, your overall results may turn out to be far from professional. Thus, the two most influential components in this regard for any trader to consider are software and hardware.
Having already covered the different options for trading platforms in a previous article, which encompasses the main software considerations, in this article we will focus on what is recommended and necessary in terms of the actual device you will be sitting in front of throughout your financial ventures.
In terms of selecting the type of device to use, there are a few popular options; phones, tablets, desktop computers and laptops. However, if you’ve ever attempted to analyze charts in detail or run multiple operations at a time on a phone or tablet, you have also likely realized that they are a highly inefficient option as a result of screen size, processing power, and a plethora of other drawbacks. As a result, professional traders always opt for the latter two, with the laptop being especially practical for any type of trader as it allows for portability and is often the more cost efficient option.
Taking these considerations into account, we can start to break down what features are most important to look for when selecting the right computer for your needs.
Understanding Hardware Components
When shopping for a new computer, regardless of its purpose, analyzing and comparing specifications can certainly be a tedious task, especially if you are unsure of what exactly it is you are looking for or what all the different specifications mean. That being said, our goal here is to give you a base understanding of these factors so that you know how to go about your search.
Below you will find a list of a few components that you will need to pay most attention to, as well as an explanation of the importance of each and what exactly to look for.
The first thing you will want to consider when analyzing specifications is the processor (CPU) that the computer runs on. To provide an idea of its functionality in simple terms, the CPU is essentially the brain of the computer. This component is separate from the computer’s memory but works hand in hand with the RAM in performing calculations, as well as managing the movement and storage of memory. In turn, the processor is a huge factor in terms of the speed at which the computer can execute operations as well as the amount of operations it can handle at a time.
Moving onto its weight for the average trader, speed and processing power are of crucial importance in order to ensure a seamless process in running the trading platform alongside any other programs necessary for your daily operations. Now, there are of course a multitude of options when it comes to processors as well, but as a general recommendation a CPU with at least 4 or more cores and a minimum speed of 2.8GHz would be ideal. CPU’s such as the Intel Core i5 & i7 are a good reference to have in this regard.
Having referred to the CPU as the brain of the computer, the RAM is essentially its short term memory. Unlike hard drives, which store all necessary data for later use, RAM instead stores all current information relevant to the programs running at a given time in order to provide quick access and as a result quick response times.
Thus, considering traders often need to have multiple programs running at a time, and running efficiently, having an adequate amount of RAM is absolutely imperative. In order to be able to handle all this multitasking, the minimum amount any trader should look for in a computer is 8GB, but preferably at least 16GB. Again, this does depend on the degree of multitasking being carried out, but it is always beneficial to have higher overall efficiency that is underused than lower efficiency that is possibly pushed to its limits.
Moving on from the components hidden under our computers’ shells, another attribute that needs to be taken into account is the part that we all spend the most time looking at in the first place — the screen. Thanks to how far computers have come over the years, most screens you will come across will surely be sufficient in terms of image quality, but there are still a few things to keep in mind.
Starting out with the most simple aspects, the size and resolution of the screen will surely be the first things noticed. It goes without saying that the bigger your screen is, the more detail you should be able to see at once, and in turn the resolution should be a complement to this to ensure that the clarity remains consistent and at a high level. In terms of specifications, there is no one ideal size recommendation as this depends largely on personal preference and also becomes a big tradeoff in terms of portability if you are looking into laptops. There is however, a general recommendation in terms of resolution, which should be at least 1080p. Keep in mind that this is only a minimum and that if screen clarity is of great importance to you, there are certainly options that provide incredible quality visuals.
Lastly, if you are shopping for a laptop specifically for the purpose of trading, chances are you are a fairly active trader and will be multitasking quite a bit daily. That being said, while the above specifications still matter, another factor you will likely want to consider is the addition of external monitors. This is important to consider before purchasing your computer to ensure adequate compatibility going forward. That is to say, taking into account the amount and types of ports the computer has will determine the ease at which you can connect external monitors, or conversely what types of adaptors you might need to purchase in order to do so.
Becoming a successful, profitable trader can be a challenging task in and of itself, but choosing the right tools for the job shouldn’t be. By taking into account the importance of the features detailed above, as well as the specifications to look for, you should have a much better idea of the criteria necessary to evaluate the various options out there.
Also, considering many sites you will come across will be marketing their devices as trading computers, or specialized for that purpose, it is important to be able to split marketing language from actual facts in order to make an informed purchase. This is not to say that these advertisements are absolutely false, but that the degree of “specialization” may be exaggerated and misinterpreted should the reader not have a good understanding of what all of the specifications mean. As long as you have a sound understanding of all these factors, you should be ready to start your search with confidence!