What sort of trading computer do you need to trade like a professional?
What setups do full time traders like myself use?
In the article I’m going to tell you what you need and why.
The great thing is a professional setup doesn’t need to cost that much.
What you Need for a Trading Computer - Contents
How not to trade
Let’s get a couple of things out of the way.
Obviously everyone has a mobile phone these days. Phones can be thought of as a mobile computer as that’s what they essentially are.
That doesn’t mean they’re a substitute for an actual PC when it comes to trading.
Brokers, software providers and other businesses involved in the trading / investing area have developed lots of apps because there is a demand for them. They can be useful (more of that later), but they are still limited.
The same applies to laptops and tablets. They’re a little better as they have more screen space, but they aren’t sufficient for serious trading.
Trading computer multiple monitors
We have to start off with the most important aspect. Multiple monitors.
Take these rather serious looking people looking at very small charts from some distance away…
That’s a typical trading setup – it looks likes the sort of setup you’d find at a broker – but the principles the same.
They’re running 8 monitors per desk. This is too many for my needs and no one I’ve worked with or mentored has needed that many.
I personally run a three screen setup. Three 24 inch monitors side-by-side. I have for the last several years and it’s always been sufficient for my trading.
It’s perfectly possible to work with two monitors.
Why multiple monitors?
Screen size is important. You want to be able to see the detail of the charts you’re monitoring. You want to see the candle sticks, the technical analysis, the movement of of the candles (depending on your trading strategies).
You want to have your broker platform on a screen so you can set everything up ready to trade.
Here’s what one of my three screens has in it.
I want the charts where I make my trading decisions from about 12 inches from my face on a big monitor. Perfect to see the price action.
I use my second monitor for browsing / social media. That’s partly to get market-relevant information, and partly to spend time on other things if there’s nothing to do. Remember that a lot of trading is being patient and sometimes the best trade is no trade. So it helps to be distracted during these times.
I keep this monitor central. If you’re going to be working from a PC for hours at a time, you want to keep good posture and have things positioned correctly.
A nice little side benefit to trading is that sometimes getting lost in YouTube is ‘productive’ (instead of taking bored trades).
Not many jobs where you can say that, is there?
Monitor three is just for my charts as per the screenshot above. I do not trade through these charts. They are a paid for package with direct market data.
The setup is like this.
A computer for all purposes
People search for ‘best Forex trading computer’, ‘best day trading computer’, ‘best computer setup for stocks’.
There are no differences. The main variable would be if you monitor 10s of different markets. You may need extra monitors if so.
The underlying hardware is the same.
Basics of a trading computer
You can buy a basic office computer for not too much money. Trading software isn’t intensive and won’t place much strain on your PC.
You don’t need anything too fancy, but you need to make sure you have a graphics card that can support multiple monitors.
Desktop / tower
This means you’ll need a basic base that looks something like this. You can get refurbished ones for pretty cheap. Just make sure it can support multiple monitors / it can be upgraded with a graphics card that can be.
It’s a minor point, but try and make sure the PC is quiet. There’s evidence that continuous low-level sound isn’t good for us. Regardless of that it’s annoying to be sat next to something that sounds like a jet engine. A basic office PC should be quiet.
A decent office setup
Get some decent office furniture. Don’t be balancing one of your monitors on a bookshelf or whatever else.
This doesn’t need to be expensive. You don’t have to spend too much at a rather well-known Swedish furniture maker.
A high quality chair
If you’re going to be sat for hours you need a decent quality chair which will allow you to have good posture.
Yes this sounds like some health and safety crap from an office work place, but you can genuinely ruin your back / other body parts by sitting poorly.
When to use apps
I spoke at the beginning of the article about when to use trading apps.
I would never make primary trading decisions from trading apps but I am happy to make trading adjustments to existing trades. That could be moving stops, taking profit if a level is hit etc. It would all depend on the strategy and time frame.
This is usually through a combination of using alarms and other things to help with timing when to go on to the app.
My advice is to spend as little time on trading apps as possible. If you’re on it have a purpose for doing so and once you get it done exit the app. The temptation (and what some brokers want) is for you to take some bored trades or get sucked in to the ‘flashing lights’ of a trading app.
A PC setup needs the following:
- Multiple monitors,
- A graphics card that can support multiple monitors (three is usually fine),
- A good supporting office and office chair,
- Use trading apps on mobile phones carefully.
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