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What is a Trading Computer?

Why traders should own a dedicated trading pc versus lower cost alternatives.

What is a trading computer?

Let’s ask a seemingly straightforward and uncomplicated question – what constitutes a trading computer? In the past two decades, we’ve been posed this question many times from our customers, and understandably so. Is a trading computer unique in any way, or can an off-the-shelf system suffice for trading purposes? Many customers ask if they should just buy a gaming computer and use that for trading.

Essentially, a trading computer is a purpose-built system that possesses the requisite hardware to accommodate a trader’s software and more demanding performance that is required. Its purpose is to serve as a tool for trading, and it must, at a minimum, be able to keep up with the trader’s pace. The primary objective of a trading computer is to enhance the trader’s ability to execute their strategies effectively, without slowing down or lagging.

Although any computer can technically be used for trading, you’ll be at a serious disadvantage in many ways. In this article, we’ll cover all the ways a trading computer is a much better choice than a typical store bought computer.

Engineered for Fast Performance

Modern-day trading software is highly demanding and places a significant strain on the processor, particularly during periods of intense market activity, when the system must process an enormous amount of data and calculations. Blue Aura trading computers are equipped with the necessary extra speed & peformance to help traders keep pace with the markets and place their orders promptly, ensuring that they are ahead of the competition.

Reducing Slippage

The term “slippage” refers to the discrepancy between the expected outcome of an order and its actual outcome. A faster computer is better at reducing slippage since it ensures that the order reaches the market faster. In contrast, utilizing slower store-bought computers leads to higher slippage, which can result in significantly more losses.

Fastest Processors

This might sound incredibly obvious, but low-cost computers don’t have powerful processors. Also, a Core i9 processor in a laptop is not the same in any way as a Core i9 processor in a desktop. They might share the same “Core i9” designation but the processors used in portable devices are engineered to run slower and use less power, they need to generate less heat and allow the device to function longer with a battery.

Newest RAM

Simply increasing the amount or speed of RAM in an older computer will not necessarily improve its performance, you’re going to be limited to the processor and chipset capabilities. While adding more RAM may be beneficial if the computer is running out during normal usage, it’s only a temporary solution if the real problem is the overall performance of the computer.

Overclocked RAM should be approached with caution and configured properly in the motherboard BIOS by experts, as it can cause system instability. To ensure you get a 100% stable computer, we normally advise against overclocked RAM. It’s best to use the fastest RAM speed the chipset can safely handle without needing to increase power settings with the RAM and CPU.

For optimal performance, it’s important to have the latest RAM technology, such as DDR5, and an appropriate amount of RAM for your needs. While most traders can manage with 32GB of DDR5 RAM, we recommend our 64GB kit to provide ample RAM for the foreseeable future. We can even build systems with as much as 128GB of RAM.

Advantages of DDR5 RAM

As time progresses, software requirements for RAM continue to increase. DDR5 technology represents a significant improvement from DDR4, especially in terms of total capacity. DDR4 modules can accommodate up to 32GB per stick, whereas DDR5 technology can offer a massive four times that capacity. For example, a standard trading computer with four DDR4 DIMM slots can hold a maximum of 128GB of RAM. In contrast, a new system with DDR5 support could theoretically support up to 512GB of RAM. We’re still a few years off from that amount of RAM, but someday we’ll even see computers with an astounding 1TB of RAM! Today, that would be unneccesary and a waste of money as even the most hardcore users would struggle to utilize 128GB of RAM.

Multiple Monitor Support

Low cost computers and most laptops can’t support very many screens. Even if they can, they usually lack the CPU and RAM resources to perform well during heavy market activity.

A key aspect of a trading computer is its capacity to accommodate multiple monitors, often more than just one or two. Most traders rely on six to eight monitors, while some may use as few as three or four. This can initially seem daunting to novice traders, but with experience, it becomes clear why having multiple monitors is necessary to effectively monitor various market trends and make informed decisions.

Once you use a computer with multiple screens, you’ll never want to go back to just one! Over the years, we really feel that 4 to 6 monitors is the ideal amount for the majority of traders. More advanced traders can really benefit from an array of 8 monitors, and we can even build them to support up to 12 monitors.

Can you use a gaming card for trading?

Yes, you can use various gaming card models in a trading computer, although we generally don’t recommend it. Here’s the catch, although you can use one, you don’t need a really expensive gaming card to trade. The best trading cards are NVIDIA Quadro and RTX cards. The RTX T600 and RTX T1000 are our preferred cards as they are purpose built for multiple monitor setups, not gaming.

It’s important to note that gaming cards have a shorter lifespan than professional cards like the T600 or T1000. This is due to their tendency to run at high temperatures and fail prematurely. If you’re planning to use a gaming card for trading, it’s recommended to opt for mid-range cards that run cooler instead of investing in expensive high-performance gaming cards.

It’s not necessarily wrong to use an expensive gaming card in a trading computer, it just ends up being a waste of money because unless you actually play games with it. Typical trading activities don’t utilize the 3D capabilities of a gaming card. At times, we may offer mid-range or lower-cost gaming cards in our trading computers based on customer needs, provided they maintain optimal temperature levels to ensure longevity, and the cards are appropriately priced.

Advanced Cooling Capabilities

Whenever your computer is under heavy load, either due to a demanding application or multiple applications running simultaneously, the internal components produce a lot of heat. The more intense the workload, the more heat is generated. The computer attempts to cool the components by using the cooling system designed by the system integrator. If the system overheats, it may either freeze or shut down to prevent damage to the hardware.

Trading computers typically feature advanced cooling solutions to keep their fast processors running optimally. At Blue Aura Computers, we use powerful Noctua air coolers and the best AIO 360mm liquid coolers available.

A low-cost computer’s cooling solution is often inadequate for processors being pushed to their limits. If a processor operates at high temperatures consistently, it can reduce the lifespan of components and cause thermal throttling. Thermal throttling is a safety mechanism that helps cool and protect CPU and GPU chips from overheating due to heavy workloads. However, it may cause a performance drop as it lowers the chip’s speed to maintain a safe temperature.

Cooling the M.2 SSD drives

Proper heat management ensures a system’s optimum performance and longevity. Not only is the processor cooled better in a trading computer, so are the NVMe M.2 SSD drives. In our trading computers, at a bare minimum, the primary operating system M.2 SSD drive will have a heatsink attached to it. Heatsinks are thermal conductors that come with the motherboards we use that transfer heat away from the solid-state drive and cause it to dissipate throughout the rest of the computer.

Trading Computers are More Reliable

If you’re putting real money at stake, you need equipment you can depend on. At Blue Aura Computers, we conduct a thorough range of tests to ensure that our computers are fully prepared for demanding tasks. We use performance testing to determine the ideal settings to optimize the computer’s stability, functionality, and dependability. Additionally, we carry out stress testing to uncover any components that may defective before they end up in our customers homes. We also use anti-static packaging so ESD is not an issue during shipping.

Final Thoughts

Trading computers excel at processing vast amounts of market data, which is crucial for successful stock trading. As online trading has evolved into a career for many, a desktop PC tailored to trading is the most valuable tool you can purchase. Multi-monitor computers for trading are engineered to handle non-stop streams of market data during high trading volumes. With robust processors, trading computers can handle the data flow required for day trading and investing. When the market is highly active, a computer that can keep up is essential to avoid missing key investment opportunities. If you don’t use a trading-specific computer, you may experience slippage, where you expect one result but get a different outcome due to a slow processor.

When analyzing a trading system from an engineering perspective, you can see there are a lot of differences that make it unique compared to other types of computers. At Blue Aura Computers, we are dedicated to building the best custom computers possible. When you are ready to explore all of our trading computer options, get in touch, we’ll be happy to help!