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technology changes rapidly, if you are reading another article written a year ago (or longer) then the information is outdated.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 components going into 2018 and we’ll keep it updated as components change over time.
It’s important that you seek advice from professionals that have experience building, testing and configuring thousands of trading computers.
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Now, let’s get to the components!
The answer to this is easy – every trading computer in 2018 should have an 8th generation Intel Core processor. Most of them are priced around $400 or less 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 8600K. Our advice is that this is not an area to penny pinch, buy the 8700K if you can.
Also, Intel does sell a lineup of more expensive processors with 8 or more 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.
The best overall pick for speed, price and overall performance is the Intel Core i7 8700K. This processor is found in our Trader 8000 Series trading computers, specifically the Trader 8000 Elite model. The 8700K is 3.7GHz six core and goes up to 4.7GHz with Turbo Boost.
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 we would 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. 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 we’ve found that often (but not always) MicroATX boards have slightly lower performance with the same processor than the ATX equivalent. The ASUS TUF Z370-Pro motherboard uses the Intel Z370 chipset which performs slightly faster than other Intel chipsets on Micro-ATX motherboards with the same 8700K processor installed. The performance difference isn’t huge, but we have verified this with testing, usually less than 2% difference. It’s best to make sure your system has a full size motherboard to get the maximum performance out of your processor.
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? 16GB would be the minimum amount, if you are on a tight budget you can get by with 8GB but we wouldn’t recommend going that low.
What brand of memory is best? Do not use Corsair memory! We have had such bad luck with Corsair sticks in the past that we can’t recommend that brand. The top brand has always been and always will be Kingston & Crucial. Their RAM is priced slightly (not much) higher than others but it is well worth it, it’s rock solid and rarely goes bad. We really love Crucial brand memory and have been using it for years.
You can install up to 64GB on our systems right now by using multiple 16GB sticks. We recommend going with a full 32GB kit, you won’t regret it!
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 our opinion, speed is more important that size. Any trading computer built or purchased in 2018 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 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.
There is 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. This is the future of SSD technology. Most of the new motherboards now have two of these special slots so you can install two M.2 drives.
250GB or 500GB Samsung 960 EVO. These drives are amazingly fast, our customers have been very happy with them. The 960 EVO series are a much better bang for the buck vs the 960 PRO series and the speed difference is minimal.
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 don’t 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 P600 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 & Cables
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. Our favorite case is the Fractal Design Define R5. It has removable fan filters, a front fan speed controller switch and it supports 140mm fans where most cases only support 120mm.
Our 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. We could spend an hour telling you all the benefits, but we’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.
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
We wouldn’t go less than a 620w unit, you won’t save much money so why bother going with less wattage? The 620W SeaSonic is the power supply we sell in 90% of our systems. If you purchase one of our systems with an NVIDIA 1060 GTX or higher video card then we’d recommend the 750 Watt or 1000 Watt SeaSonic power supplies.
Top Power Supplies for a Trading Computer in 2018:
This seems like a no-brainer – Microsoft Windows. I know some are still nervous about switching to Windows 10. We are 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.
Home vs Pro? Home is what most customers go with. Pro has support for connecting to a network domain and it also has a useful tool called Bitlocker Encryption.
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.
We recommend sticking with only the major brand names. If we 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.
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 we would just use the stands that come with the monitors. With four monitors we would us a quad stand, 6 monitors a hex stand. 8 monitors we would use two quad stands and 12 monitors two hex stands.
Free standing monitor stands are the best type – 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.
We’ve been selling Microsoft’s Natural Ergonomic Keyboard for over 10 years now. This is our overall 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.
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 or Trader 8000 Extreme trading computer. 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.