If you’re embarking on an online trading adventure, then first allow us to say “congratulations”. It can feel quite difficult to get started in this industry, so taking the first steps should be commended. There are plenty of brokers out there who are rated pretty high for helping newbies and old hands alike, but it’s still you that needs to take those first steps, so well done.
Once you’ve made the decision, though, you’ll want to make sure that your PC is powerful enough to handle your new career. Your PC will be your constant companion; at once your most dependable, reliable employee, and your centre of operations, your activity hub and your most important possession in the world of online trading.
That being the case, you won’t want to scrimp on a decent rig for yourself. Don’t get us wrong; you can easily trade using a less powerful desktop PC, a laptop, or even a smartphone, depending on the intensity and frequency with which you wish to approach this venture. Many traders do just that, and they get by fine.
The truth is, though, you won’t last long doing this if you’re serious about your craft. Realistically, if you want to trade full-time, you’re going to need a powerful PC which is capable of supporting multiple displays and can run processor-intensive applications, as well as being able to display resource-heavy websites without any issues.
The good news is that it’s not difficult to find a PC like this. The market is flooded with excellent options for you when it comes to computers; if you’re tech-savvy, you can even build one yourself at a fraction of the cost that many computer retailers would charge for a fully built unit. Here’s a handy guide to the things you should look out for when building a fully capable online trading PC.
A powerful processor
Don’t be fooled by buzz words like “quad core”; the power of a processor isn’t entirely dependent on how many cores it’s running. Many smartphones and other electronic devices will market themselves as “quad core” or even “octa core”, which simply means that there are 4 or 8 cores powering that processor. This doesn’t take into account how powerful each core is. There isn’t a catch-all, simple way to determine whether a processor is powerful enough to run your trading PC, but as a general rule of thumb, try to aim for Intel’s Core i3-i7 range, depending on your budget. If you’re looking after the pennies, try a Core i3; it’s not as powerful as the others, but it’ll get the job done. Core i5 and i7 are more powerful iterations of the former.
A good graphics card
You’ll want to run multiple displays if you’re thinking of becoming a trader; there’s a lot of information you’re going to need to keep track of, and one monitor simply won’t cut it if you want to make sure you’re up to date at all times. With that in mind, you’ll want a powerful graphics card. Both Nvidia and ATI make great graphics cards with their Geforce and Radeon ranges respectively, so which one you prefer is simply a matter of choice. Unless you’re going to be playing a lot of PC games on your rig, you don’t need to worry too much, but Nvidia slightly nudges it for us thanks to a wider range of compatibility with games. Generally you will want to look for graphics cards with higher VRAM, which means they have more memory to draw on when rendering images on your monitors.
A solid state hard drive (SSD)
The hard drive is your computer’s chief storage medium; it’s where all your documents, photos, videos and everything else will go. You’ll want a fast hard drive with high read and write speeds so that your computer runs quickly and with no fuss. For this, it’s best to opt for a solid state drive, or SSD. Unlike traditional hard drives, solid state drives don’t use spinning disks to access their information, so their access speeds are far higher than traditional drives. As a result, they do cost a little more, but it’s well worth investing in one if you want to keep up with the often-manic world of online trading. If you can stretch to it, try a PC with two hard drives: a solid state drive for the operating system, and a traditional disk-based drive for files which don’t need to be accessed quickly.
A lot of RAM
Your online trading PC will be accessing a lot of programs and browser windows simultaneously, so you’re going to need a lot of RAM. RAM is basically where your computer stores information which will need to be accessed soon; it’s sort of like “generic memory” which is then allocated to programs depending on how much they need at any given time. Your PC is going to be very busy, so a higher number is best. Don’t settle for a PC with anything less than 8GB RAM. 16GB is ideal, but you will be able to perform most of the tasks you need to with 8. You’ll really notice the difference with 16, though; multitasking will be buttery-smooth, and any potential media work you might need to do (webinar editing, for instance, or professional advertising) will be an absolute cinch for your PC.
You won’t get very far in the world of online trading without at least two displays – see these monitor setups. Three might be a little excessive, but if you get far enough into your career and decide that you need three, then don’t be afraid to spend a little extra. You’re going to need to keep track of a lot of information, so having two screens on which to display it is essential. Just make sure the graphics card you opt for has two HDMI ports so you can use two displays.
We hope this has been a helpful guide to getting your online trading PC started! Many modern PC retailers will try to talk you up and down the path with jargon, so make sure you go equipped if you’re going to buy from the High Street. There are many excellent online services which will build PCs for business, though, so do look into those before you make your decision.