In the guide, we’ll walk you through step by step to help you pick out the best components that go in a trading computer. Computer technology changes rapidly, if you are reading another article written a year ago (or longer) then the information is outdated. This guide is for 2017 and we’ll keep it updated as components change over time.
If you need to save a small amount you can attempt to build the system yourself. If that’s the route you want to go, we’ll show you exactly what components to buy. Many people though don’t want to hassle with trying to build, test and troubleshoot a new computer, if you fall into this category then we can help! It doesn’t have to cost a lot to buy a trading computer professionally built from a company like ours. We started Blue Aura Computers over a decade ago to help traders purchase the best trading computers possible at the lowest prices.
It’s important that you seek advice from professionals that have experience building, testing and configuring thousands of trading computers.
We sell trading computers with the components listed below 100% plug and play – ready to use. We’ll take the headaches out of assembling and testing all the components. We’ve sold thousands of trading computers to customers for over a decade. Click here to see all the trading computer systems we offer.
Now, let’s get to the components!
The answer to this is easy – every trading computer in 2017 should have a 7th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. Most of them are priced below $400 and are the fastest overall consumer desktop processors every made. The Core i7 chips have Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost to give it a little extra speed when needed. If you’re on a tight budge, you could save another $100 or less and go with an Intel Core i5 – either the 7500 or 7600. My advice is that this is not an area to penny pinch, buy the 7700K if you can, or bump up to the X299 platform and get a 7740X or higher. Also, there is no such thing as a “gaming processor”, Intel just sells a selection of different processors at different price points with the top Core i9 being the most expensive going down the the Core i3 processors being the least expensive.
Also, Intel does sell a lineup of more expensive processors with more than 4 cores on the X299 platform, these are our Trader 9000 Series systems. The difference with these are the cores, they have 6, 8 and 10 cores. These processors are going to be much more expensive, and actually the core clock is a little bit slower on them, so you get more CPU cores but at a slower speed.
Our Current Top Pick for 2017
The best overall pick for speed, price and overall performance is the Intel Core i7 7740X. This processor is found in our Trader 9000 Series trading computers, specifically the Trader 9000 Pro model. The 7740X is quad core but has the current highest base clock speed of all the processors in Intel’s lineup.
This section is right after the processor section because the processor you pick out will dictate what motherboard you need to get. The first thing I’d like to do is clear up a little confusion with motherboard sockets.
The socket is the place you put the processor on the motherboard. The type of socket has to match the processor. The socket type on our Trader 8000 Series trading computers is LGA 1151, or commonly referred to as simply socket 1151. LGA 2066 is the socket type for the more expensive processors listed above.
So why is knowing the socket type so important? Because that will dictate what “Chipset” you get on the motherboard. This can seem a little confusing at first but basically if the chipset on the motherboard is compatible with the socket on your processor then you can use that motherboard. Of course, you want the newest chipset so you get the best performance with your processor.
There are really only 2 motherboard sizes to talk about: ATX – normal sized motherboard with more connectors onboard – more usb, hard drive sata connectors, video card slots, etc. MicroATX – much smaller than standard ATX. Usually only 2 video card slots, less usb ports and sata ports. We recommend buying a computer with a normal sized ATX motherboard, the MicroATX boards strip away too many board slots and other features.
Important – only use ASUS brand motherboards. Getting into all the details is beyond the scope of this guide. But brands like Gigabyte and MSI don’t work well in a trading computer, they have a buggy bios interface and have unpredictable unreliability. ASUS is the largest motherboard manufacturer in the world – they have the best designs and their boards provide the fastest performance for Intel chipsets and processors!
This doesn’t get discussed much in guides like this, but I’ve found that MicroATX boards have slightly lower performance with the same processor than the ATX equivalent. The ASUS TUF Z270 Mark 2 motherboard uses the Intel Z270 chipset which performs slightly faster than the ASUS PRIME B250M-PLUS with the same 7700K processor installed. The performance difference isn’t huge, but we have verified this with testing, usually less than 2% difference.
If you’ve owned a lot of computers in your life, you’re probably familiar with computer RAM. These are the sticks that get installed on the motherboard.
How much RAM do you need? I would say right now 16GB would be the minimum amount, if you are on a tight budget you can get by with 8GB but I wouldn’t personally go that low. If I were building a trading computer for myself today, I would get a 32GB kit – two 16gb sticks.
What brand of memory is best? Do not use Corsair memory! We have had such bad luck with Corsair sticks in the past that I can’t recommend that brand. The top brand has always been and always will be Kingston. Their RAM is priced slightly (not much) higher than others but it is well worth it, it’s rock solid and rarely goes bad. A close 2nd place is Crucial memory. We really love Crucial brand memory and have been using it for years.
You can install up to 64GB with the socket 1151 motherboards and up to 128GB on the socket 2011-v3 motherboards by using multiple 16GB sticks. If it were my trading computer, I’d go with the 32GB Kingston kit, you won’t regret it! You could go with Crucial brand also and save a little money, I think their quality is on par with Kingston.
The hard drive is where everything is stored – your operating system, files, music, etc…
There are 2 types of hard drives – mechanical and solid state. Mechanical drives offer more space for less cost, but are slower. Solid state hard drives (also known as SSDs) are more expensive per GB but are much, much faster.
In my opinion, speed is more important that size. Any trading computer built or purchased in 2017 should have an SSD drive as the primary boot drive. If you need additional storage, adding a 2nd hard drive to the system such as a 1TB Western Digital is common.
What brands are the best? Kingston and Samsung are the only 2 manufacturers we recommend. We used to use Intel, but they’ve gone downhill on their quality, and their prices don’t match what you are getting. We don’t recommend Corsair SSDs. Kingston provides the best price/value and they are very dependable drives. Samsung is the current king of speed in the SSD market, and their drives are also known for very high reliability.
It’s also worth mentioning a new type of SSD called an M.2 SSD. It is a type of SSD that looks like a stick of RAM and is installed in a special slot on the motherboard. I really believe this is the future of SSD technology, but for now with the current state of the technology it is not the way to go. These drives tend to be way over priced and have some performance gaps that still need to be addressed. We do sell them in our trading computers and the top brand is Samsung for these drives.
First off, you don’t need an expensive gaming card for a trading computer. There will be no benefit to using one and you’ll end up just wasting money.
Video cards plug into a certain type of slot on the motherboard. MicroATX boards will usually have 2 video card slots. ATX boards will have 3 or 4 slots depending on the chipset.
The MicroATX motherboard we recommended above has 2 video card slots, so you can install 1 or 2 video cards.
The socket 1151 board we recommend above has 3 video card slots. So you can install 1, 2 or 3 video cards.
The Socket 2011-v3 motherboard we recommended above has 4 video card slots. So you can install 1, 2, 3 or 4 video cards.
Only use the NVIDIA Quadro cards if you need 12 monitor support. They offer no performance benefits whatsoever other than the ability to support 4 displays on a single card. The NVIDIA workstation cards are not quieter and they do not perform any better than a standard lower cost NVIDIA desktop card.
DVI and HDMI are entirely interchangeable. They output the same digital signal and can be converted between each other with adapters so it doesn’t matter if the video card has DVI or HDMI – you can use a DVI or HDMI connector on the monitor with the right adapter.
The NVIDIA Quadro NVS 510 comes with the adapters to convert the display port to DVI or HDMI – no need to buy anything extra with those cards!
The standard inputs on monitors is still DVI/HDMI so I wouldn’t get too caught up in needing a monitor or video card with display ports, plus if you do you’ll need to convert them anyway unless your monitors happen to have a display port.
Common Adapters (click on the links to see them on Amazon):
With the trading computers we sell to our customers we include all adapters needed to get you up and running!
There are a TON of cases on the market at any given time. There are more manufacturers than we care to list. Only 2 manufacturers are worth mentioning – Cooler Master and Fractal Design.
Cooler Master is by far the biggest name in computer cases. We’ve stuck with them for our custom computers because of their outstanding build quality. Cooler Master has thick steel so their cases don’t feel cheap or flimsy.
We’ve been using Fractal Design cases for about 3 years now. My favorite case of all time is the Fractal Design Arc Midi R2. It has removable fan filters, a front fan speed controller switch and it supports 140mm fans where most cases only support 120mm.
My favorite case by Cooler Master is the HAF 912 model. It is a more basic case, but has Cooler Master’s awesome build quality. Both cases will support ATX or MicroATX motherboards.
Power supplies have become very standardized with the different outputs. So as far as compatibility, you don’t really need to worry about that. The motherboard has a 24-pin power connector and an 8-pin for the CPU and on a microATX motherboard its 4 pin for the CPU. The connectors for the hard drives are standard SATA power connectors and the case fans are 4 pin power connectors.
Brand? There is one and ONLY one brand to consider – SeaSonic. I could spend an hour telling you all the benefits, but I’ll keep it brief! SeaSonic is an actual manufacturer, most of the other brands are not – they don’t actually build them, they have another company do it for them.
I hope this record streak holds – but in over 6 years now we have not had one single 620w SeaSonic malfunction. They have had 100% perfect reliability for us.
In the event one does go bad, the 620w version is fully modular, just unplug the connectors and pull the unit out, no need to mess with all the wiring.
Our system come standard with the 520w verison which is just as reliable, the only difference is the 520w is not fully modular.
I wouldn’t go less than a 520w unit, you won’t save much money so why bother going with less wattage? 450w is the absolute minimum I’d recommend, but I don’t like minimums, a little cushion in wattage doesn’t hurt – stick with the 520w or 620w SeaSonic.
This seems like a no-brainer – Microsoft Windows. I know some are still nervous about switching to Windows 10. I am convinced that Windows 10 is the most stable, robust and easy to use operating system Microsoft has ever created. Not to mention it has proper support for multiple monitors with separate task bars on each screen which Windows 7 doesn’t. Still, if you absolutely need Windows 7 we are still selling it on our trading computers, as long as we can still get it and the hardware supports it we’ll still sell it. 95% of the trading computers we sell are Windows 10, about 5% of customers still opt for Windows 7.
Home vs Pro? Unless you need to connect to a network, just stick with Windows 10 Home, there is nothing in the Pro that traders really need. Microsoft stopped selling Windows 7 Home, the only version for Windows 7 is Pro now.
In order to properly test our trading computers we have monitors from every size, brand and resolution in our testing stations. We’re very familiar with all the different manufacturers.
I recommend sticking with only the major brand names. If I were to narrow it down to one brand it would be ASUS. They offer the best “bang for the buck” when it comes to monitors.
I like 27″ monitors in my own setup, some people prefer 23″ or 24″. Most 27″ monitors are 1920×1080 resolution, which is a perfect resolution for a screen of this size. There are 27″ monitors with 2560×1440 resolution but they are usually much more expensive and setting your screen to this high of a resolution would cause everything to be very small, increasing the scaling in Windows would be the only way to make things more readable. 4K 27″ monitors are also now sold at 4K 3840 x 2160 resolutions, these monitors are extremely expensive and only worth the money if you are into gaming.
If you’re using from 1 to 3 monitors in your setup I would just use the stands that come with the monitors. With four monitors I would us a quad stand, 6 monitors a hex stand. 8 monitors I would use two quad stands and 12 monitors two hex stands.
I like free standing monitor stands – these rest on their own base. The other type use a clamp to secure it to your desk. The stands we sell on our site are all free standing. We have dual, quad and hex stands that support up to 27″ screen sizes.
I’ve been using Microsoft’s Natural Ergonomic Keyboard for over 10 years now. This is my favorite keyboard! The keys are slightly split in the middle to provide a more natural position for your hands. There is a cushioned palm rest and contoured keys.
I use a 3M Ergonomic mouse, I’ve been using it for 12 years now. I’ve went through 3 of them now and they get pretty heavy use so I believe their reliability and build quality is pretty good. I am on my computer for 8 to 12 hours per day, nearly 7 days a week and this mouse has helped me prevent excessive repetitive strain in my wrist. I admit, this mouse is not for everyone, it’s design is a little strange and it’s hard to get used to. If you get tendonitis in your wrist/forearm, this mouse might help. If the design is just a little to unorthodox then stick with a standard mouse.
During a storm all it takes is for the power to go out for a split second and you’ll lose whatever was actively running on your computer. A good battery backup helps with this, it will give you enough runtime power to allow the safe closure of open files and shut down of Windows. Also, it prevents power surges and keeps your pc safe. We always recommend CyberPower brand, they are sold in different wattages, the largest will give you more time during a power outage. Keep in mind if you plug in more than just your computer tower it will cut into how long the battery will last, if you have an array of monitors hooked up you won’t get too long on backup power.
Want to purchase a trading computer with the components listed in this article? Check out our Trader 8000 Elite trading computer. Also take a look at our Trader 9000 Elite, this model has the new 7740X processor which has the highest clock speed currently available. Blue Aura Computers sells custom desktop trading computers built exactly the way you want it! Our systems are plug-n-play, ready to go right out of the box. Clean installation guaranteed – no junk software.