Trading Computers Buyer's Guide

By Scott Tafel, founder of

CPU / Microprocessor

trading computers

Most people who trade will probably never own software as demanding as trading software. Most non-trading software uses a static set of data but trading software uses a lot of new data which is streaming into it. This requirs constant calculations and updating of the display. If the market is very active, and you are using a standard home & office PC for your trading computer, it will typically fail to keep up during busy market periods. This is because its microprocessor is not powerful enough to handle that much work.

Some processors are more efficient than others. For example, Intel processors will perform at least 35% more calculations than AMD processors if both processors are running at the same speed (in GHz). Also, older generations of processors will be much less efficient at performing calculations than newer generations of processors when both are operating at the same speed. This means that your Intel Core 2 processor operating at the same GHz speed as a new Intel processor will be at least 33% inferior in performance.

The newest Intel processors have what is called a "Turbo" mode. This allows the processor to attain speeds that were not available with earlier processors, providing that certain conditions are met. Building a trading computer which meets the strict thermal and electrical requirements for turbo mode is important. It will unlock much more processing power to keep your computer from falling behind the market during periods when the market is very active. The best processors for a trading computer are the Intel Haswell and the high end Intel Haswell-E or Intel Skylake family of processors.

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