Okay so you want to start day trading! You need to make sure you have the right setup (Make sure you read our blog, The 5 Best Tools for Day Trading). As you have probably already realized, you can’t make a living trading from your iPhone.
If you are serious about learning how to trade you need to setup a proper trading platform with a powerful day trading computer.
When it comes to setting up a multi-monitor trading computer you can get as complex as you’d like. I try to keep it simple, but my system has grown over the years. I would suggest starting with a great core system that you add onto when you want to expand. We’re going to review how I setup my system.
It actually started very simply with 1 laptop and 1 external monitor. I slowly added additional monitors as I needed more space until I’ve grown to an 11 monitor layout. Keep in mind that in addition to being a full-time day trader, I’m also running our chat room & trading courses.
This requires more monitors than just trading would require. As you review the specs below, let me know if you have any questions!
The Day Trading Computer
I’m using 3 Lenovo Laptops for my day trading computer. These have a Solid State Drive and 16GB RAM. They are basically gaming computers. The current spec is a Lenovo Y50.
I realized that in general, if you look for any gaming computer it will be well suited for day trading because it will have good amounts of memory plus advanced graphics cards.
As a personal preference, I prefer laptops to desktop computers, but that is because I work 12-14hr days and I like to be able to move around the house while I’m working. Laptops are generally a little more expensive and usually aren’t as easy to upgrade over time, which means you may need to replace it in a few years.
These computers are about $1499 with SSD and upgrade RAM. I have three of them because I multi-task like a mad man! I am trading, running a chat room, and writing blogs/posting on social media. Traders who are solely using the laptop for trading can get away with having just 1 computer but these dive into more specifics on trading computer specs below!
Picking The Right Processors
A good day trading computer needs to be able to process a large amount of information very quickly. Sometimes you will need to have multiple windows open at once all streaming a large amount of real-time data, all while you are executing lightning fast trades where every second (or less) counts.
Your computer’s ability to process all this information depends on its central processing unit, or CPU. Your CPU’s performance, or clock speed, is a measure of how quickly it can perform assigned tasks, and is measured in gigahertz, or GHz. Some CPUs have multiple cores allowing them to process different tasks separately, which can dramatically improve their performance over single core day trading computers.
For day trading you want to go for a quad-core setup, with at least 2.8 GHz, though 3.3 GHz or more is recommended. This is one of our favorite Intel Processor for day trading but there are also more expensive options that may be better as well.
The relatively recent introduction of solid state drives, or SSDs, has made hard drives another area where you can maximize your day trading computer’s performance.
Hard drives are where your computer’s data is stored. While the standard hard drive will have more than enough data storage capacity for day trading, a SSD has overall better performance and much faster boot times, which can be a life-saver in the event of an accidental shutdown.
RAM, or random access memory, is essentially your computer’s short term memory, which allows it to run multiple processes efficiently.
Obviously you will want your RAM to be on the high end for your day trading computer. RAM is measured in gigabytes, or GB. It is recommended that you have at least 8 GB of RAM for your day trading computer, though 16 GB of RAM is ideal.
The right graphic card for your day trading computer comes down to how many monitors you run at the same time.
While some day traders manage with only one or a small number of monitors each running multiple windows or split screens, most successful day traders eventually graduate to a large number of screens so that they can effectively follow more stocks at once.
Your graphic card runs on GPU, which is basically RAM for processing graphics. Your day trading computer should have a graphic card with at least 2 GB of GPU.
The number of monitors that you will need for your day trading computer is a personal choice that you will come to based on experience of what works for you. There are a wide variety of wall mounts and desk mounts available that you can choose from to get your monitors set up just the way you like.
Where your monitor choice does matter, however, is in terms of their resolution. The resolution of a monitor will determine the quality and clarity of any images that are displayed. For your day trading computer you want your monitors to display crisp, high-quality images, so that you can quickly process the large amount of real-time information on your monitors.
It is recommended that your day trading computer monitors have a resolution of 1080p, which will provide you with some of the sharpest images available on a retail monitor. Fortunately high quality monitors are generally inexpensive, so you will not break the bank getting the perfect monitor setup for your day trading strategies.
I’m using Asus 24″ monitors that are connected via HDMI cables. They are relatively inexpensive, about $200 each. I think as long as you are using monitors that have HDMI and can be mounted you’ll be in good shape. They’re pretty much all the same for our purposes.
The USB to HDMI Adapters
I always have people asking me how I can run so many external monitors from a laptop. I use Diamond USB to HDMI adapters. These cost about $50 each. You can find them on Amazon or NewEgg They add a bit of a cost to each monitor but it just makes it easier for me.
Whether you are using a laptop or a desktop, you need video card adapters to run external monitors. I’m happy to use the USB style adapters. Since most laptops won’t have 8 USB ports, I use a simple USB Ports Hub that will let you connect up to 10 USB devices. These are only about $15.00 and you’ll only need one.
The Monitor Racks
I don’t get a lot of questions about this but it’s actually really important. A lot of the cheaper monitor racks are basically 2 big arms that allows you to mount 6 monitors on it, 3 on each arm. The problem is these arms typically have a very slight bow, which means from end to end they can be as much as 6 feet long.
I find this difficult to use because I don’t like having my monitors spread over 6 feet. I prefer to tilt my Left and Right monitors in towards the center, so I’m surrounded my monitors.
This means you want to make sure you get a monitor rack that has ELBOWS! The Elbows allow you to point the Left and Right monitor in towards you. I highly recommend this. I ended up buying the regular style and replacing it with an elbow style rack.
Putting It All Together
Thanks to the widespread use of gaming computers that share most of the specifications that make a good day trading computer, it should be cheap and simple for you to put together a high quality setup.
Take the time to shop around, and remember that you can save hundreds of dollars if you buy your day trading computer in its component pieces, and then either put it together yourself or pay your local computer specialist to do it for you.