Computer Equipment for Traders
In the world of trading, reliable computer equipment is critical for success. Ever-changing market conditions and rapid price movement require traders to have powerful systems that provide a competitive edge in the markets.
At Brightstar Training, LLC, we are sometimes asked for recommendations related to computers, accessories, and peripherals. As a result, I have created a special area for traders who want to move beyond outdated technology, dive into details, and stay ahead of the game.
Traders should acquire the best equipment that they can afford! The financial markets are great places to make money. But you can also lose money through the use of slow and inefficient technology. I know people who have computers that are more than 10 years old. The thought sends chills up my spine. I realize that good computer equipment is more affordable for some people than for others. If you want to participate in the markets conscientiously, however, money should be invested in equipment and training before it goes into a brokerage account.
Laptop vs. Desktop
A laptop is a popular choice for people who want mobility and versatility. It offers the freedom to trade anywhere, whether in a bustling coffee shop, comfortable office, or private residence. With high-performance drives and processors available in laptops, you can embrace much of the speed that was once only available in a desktop computer. Overall, however, a desktop still has an edge in power and performance. While it is possible to connect multiple monitors to a laptop, using several monitors with a desktop computer is much easier.
The tricky part about buying a computer is selecting components. If you get a machine “off the shelf” in a store, you should at least be aware of what’s inside. Do some advance research to determine the CPU speed, amount of RAM, and video capabilities that are needed for trading. If you build your own machine or have one built for you, it is best to select gaming components. For your own sanity, I also recommend that you select quiet parts and a noise-reducing computer case. Fractal Design offers some of the best cases on the market for people who like a computer that purrs.
Hard Disk Drive vs. Solid State Drive
Many computers still contain hard disk drives (HDD). These are the traditional drives with magnetic disks (metal platters) inside that spin around to process data. Reliable brands are Western Digital and Seagate. HDDs are particularly good for long-term storage of information. When they begin to fail, they will often give off signals that something is wrong. In contrast, solid state drives (SSD) use electronic circuits to store and retrieve data. As a result, they are much faster than HDDs—as much as a 100 times faster. They are also quieter than HDDs because they do not rely on moving parts. Here, reliable brands are Samsung and Crucial. SSDs can fail with little or no warning. Thus, in all cases, it is important to backup data on a regular basis.
The two most common forms of SSD are SATA and NVMe. In the computer industry, a SATA SSD is affectionately known as a “2.5-inch drive” because of its size. It fits comfortably inside the drive bays of most laptop and desktop computers. An NVMe SSD (also known as M.2) is 3-5 times faster than a SATA SSD and appears as a flat “stick” of circuitry that plugs directly into a slot on the computer motherboard.
For builders, it is certainly possible to have both types of drives in one machine. In my own computer, I use an NVMe SSD as a boot drive, access files from another NVMe SSD, and store files on an HDD.
Most people are accustomed to backing up their computer files either to a local drive or to the cloud. Personally, I favor local storage because I have immediate access to my files if needed and the files remain private. With the cloud, access is cut off if your internet connection goes down and risks exist with privacy and security.
Beyond backup, advanced computer users sometimes clone their boot drives to protect themselves from drive disaster, i.e., the drive fails or becomes sufficiently corrupt to require replacement. If you have a lot of applications on your boot drive, replacing a problematic drive with a cloned drive is a massive time saver.
Cloning can be accomplished with software (not recommended) or through use of cloning equipment. Devices for HDDs and SATA SDDs have been available for a long time. Devices that clone NVMe (M.2) drives are newer and require close inspection before purchase. After evaluating several units, I concluded that the Sabrent USB Type-C unit for NVMe SSDs is a fine piece of equipment. It has a sturdy metal box that doesn’t overheat, grommets that hold drives securely in the unit, good cables, and easy instructions. It is also fast. I was able to clone a 1TB M.2 drive in less than 15 minutes.
For computer navigation, I have never enjoyed using a touchpad, trackball, or joystick. These pointing devices are old technology, not to mention the fact that they require more time and effort to use than they are worth. Thankfully, many modern computers require a mouse that can operate wirelessly. A mouse enables efficient access to elements on a computer screen. The wireless aspect of the device eliminates the need for a cumbersome wired connection.
If you sit in front of your computer for long periods of time as I do, you may want to have a quieter mouse experience. A traditional mouse makes a lot of racket with the “clicking” sounds that emerge from regular use. My remedy for this problem is a Logitech M330 SILENT PLUS wireless mouse. This mouse reduces most of the noise from clicking sounds while enabling me to feel the clicks. It is also a very comfortable mouse to use.
When it comes to features, computer keyboards are pretty standard across the industry. As a trader, I insist on a keyboard that has a built-in number pad and can be raised or lowered if desired. Oddly enough, price is the one variable that truly distinguishes one keyboard from another. Mind-boggling variation exists between units ($20-$200) and there is no need to overpay. Personally, I use a Logitech MK120 which has a wired USB connection. It is made of sturdy plastic and remains fairly quiet as I press the keys. Best of all, the price of the keyboard resides on the lower end of keyboard prices. Though the MK120 is spill-resistant, a big benefit of the low price is that you can replace the keyboard easily if you happen to spill too much of your beverage on the thing.
[FULL DISCLOSURE: I am not being compensated for product mentions and recommendations on this page.]