Markus Heitkoetter: Let’s talk about the best trading computer in 2021. Back in the day, you really needed a big, super-powerful desktop. But is this still the case? Do you need a desktop? Do you need a laptop?
If you do, how powerful does it need to be? How much money do you need to spend on a trading computer? Is it really two or three thousand dollars, or can you get away with a much cheaper model, or maybe even an iPad? That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about right now.
A few years ago you often had to download software onto your computer. If you think about Trade Navigator, TradeStation, Thinkorswim, all of the software had to be downloaded on the computer.
Then you needed a lot of processing power, especially if you have some scanners or filters set up, or even maybe trading strategies.
Mark Hodge: Exactly. I would say up until about 2 years ago, I had a dedicated desktop that was powerful and running 24-7 to power the monitors that I wanted to use and to have a faster speed and hard drive. But things have really changed.
Markus Heitkoetter: Absolutely. These days you can get away with a fairly cheap laptop. We’ll take a look at a few models here in just a moment, but let me just switch to the other camera and show you what both Mark and I are using.
What We’re Currently Using
What you see here is a MacBook Pro. It’s a 2015 I believe. I’m waiting for the Apple event that is going to happen next week where they announce the new one with the M1 chip.
The only reason why I want to have such a powerful machine is because I’m doing all my video production. The software that I run is CamLive, but I’m not using this for trading.
For trading, a MacBook Air would be absolutely sufficient, or one of the older models. If you want to choose a MacBook, I think the most important criteria is RAM.
The more RAM you have, the better. You should have a minimum of 8 GB of RAM, 16 is better, 32 is almost overkill. Do you know how much you have in your machine Mark?
Mark Hodge: I think that I have 16. I bought more that I just haven’t put in there, but 8 is light, 16 is good because you’re going to be using multiple applications.
Having multiple windows open uses a lot of memory. If you have your trading platform open, charting software, maybe even Zoom, that’s where RAM really helps.
Markus Heitkoetter: The other thing that’s super important is the graphics card. Have the best graphics card possible, a so-called dedicated graphics card.
In my experience, good RAM and a good graphics card are more important than processing power these days. The reason why you want to have a really great graphics card is that it makes sense to connect multiple monitors.
Let’s go back to our setup here. You see that Mark actually has an external monitor. Mark usually travels with two external monitors.
Mark Hodge: For traveling, I think these ASUS brand portable monitors are awesome. They’re super light, they connect with a USB cable, so it’s powered with USB. You don’t have to have all sorts of wires. For me, having an extra 2 monitors, at least one really helps.
My office at home is a little crazier. A big 47-inch widescreen curved Samsung monitor, and then I have a couple of 27-inch Dells above, and then the laptop. So at home, it gets a little crazy, but having 2 of these is just awesome if you’re on the road. They can work from the office too.
Markus Heitkoetter: Exactly. Since I travel a lot I have one of these. I had to recently replace it and they were out of stock so I have a slightly different model right now.
But these are the same as my 2 mini-monitors, so I usually have my MacBook Pro, and then I have the ASUS monitors right next to me. And this is the same setup that I’m using wherever I am, wherever I’m traveling because I like to be on the road a lot.
Mark Hodge: One small thing, if you go out and you buy one of those, get a good stand. That’s the one thing that I found that a lot of these portable monitor companies don’t have, the best stand. And this guy is awesome.
Markus Heitkoetter: And here is a LINK for the monitor and stand if you want to take a look.
Let’s talk about the philosophical question, Mac or PC?
Mac or PC?
Mark Hodge: I’ll be honest, this is where my thoughts have really changed. Ten years ago, everything trading-wise was built for a PC. You really had to go out of your way to get things set up and to be able to use a Mac, and it was inconvenient.
You’re charting software, nobody had things set up for a Mac. Very few applications had the same level of support sophistication with their online platform as they did an EXE file that you downloaded and run from your computer.
Now a lot of things are web-based, which makes it more convenient, and that’s where I’m tempted to make the switch here.
Markus Heitkoetter: This is where right now we’re seeing another shift happening. At first, it was really Windows, Windows, Windows. Then it didn’t matter as much because the applications were running equally well on Windows and PC.
But now there’s the shift to just browser-based technology. So now you can even consider possibly just trading off an iPad. In fact, this is what you see me using for these shows here. I’m using this iPad here, I have TradingView open and you see I can mark on it. I can also have then the PowerX Optimizer on it since it is web-based.
The only reason why right now I’m still using a computer for trading is that I currently, in addition to the Tradier accounts, also have a tastyworks account. Yes, I know, tastyworks has an app, but I’m not the biggest fan of the app. I feel that the brokerage apps are not as good as they could be.
Mark Hodge: Yeah. And honestly, I like having a little more real estate when I’m putting on trades. I know some people swear by the apps and they love them, but my fat fingering an order with big hands, I don’t know. I like to be able to see everything. So I prefer at least having a tablet or a notebook laptop instead.
Markus Heitkoetter: Once I’ve moved my accounts over from tastyworks to Tradier then I can use only the iPad. It’s one of these 11 and a half inches or 11.9 inches. It’s the bigger one, for me it’s easier to see it this way.
In terms of screen size for a laptop, we’re pretty much the same. We both use a 15 inch, We’re not going crazy here because, usually, the larger the screen for your laptop, the heavier the laptop.
One of our Mastermind members here showed us an LG, 17 inches and super light. So it seems that it’s not as heavy as it used to be, but I would rather say, you know what, get a 15 inch and then have a portable ASUS monitor, which is also 15 inches. Therefore you have pretty much two screens, same size.
Mark Hodge: I had 17-inch before and it was bulky. And again, for me, I have the 15.7 or whatever it is and a couple of these Asus monitors. I have plenty of screen space.
What Is The Best Trading Computer To Buy?
Markus Heitkoetter: Now let’s talk about what trading computer should you buy? What is a reasonable laptop?
Let’s go to BestBuy.com. It makes sense to go to Best Buy because at Best Buy you see the laptop. Personally, I would not buy a laptop sight unseen from Amazon, Newegg, or any of these websites. I would really like to see it.
I highly recommend you log into the application that you’re using the most so that you see the screen resolution. Surprisingly, screen resolutions have a huge difference, even though you have a 15 inch and a 15 inch, it seems that every graphics card and the screen is optimized for different resolutions.
You want to make sure that you’re comfortable using the so-called native screen resolution and not mess around with enlarging it and making it bigger or smaller. You will get the best quality if you’re using the native screen resolution.
Mark Hodge: Absolutely. It’s always good to see how heavy it is and take a look at it and make sure that it’s something that you want to invest in.
As a nice shortcut, search for a gaming computer. A gaming computer will give you plenty of power that you need. As we mentioned earlier, the RAM right now is key. A lot of the applications that you’re going to use for trading, they’re actually they’re not upgrading things every single day. They’re a couple of years behind.
Markus Heitkoetter: So let’s just take a look here at a few laptops and really dive deep and tell everybody what we are looking for.
The first thing, if I can, is I will go for RAM of 16 GB. I think this makes the most sense if you have 16 GB of RAM.
And you already see if I’m looking at laptops with 8 GB, they’re running around $500 to $600.
However, as soon as you move higher to 16 GB, they’re quickly jumping up to $1,000. So here we have, for example, a Dell that’s being featured for $1,049.99. So this is 16 GB, 512 GB solid-state, this is the RAM.
Hard Drive Size
What do you think about the hard drive? Is hard drive size important?
Mark Hodge: Not so much these days, just because so much is web-based and cloud-based, so not like it was before. I think 512 is great. I think even on my machine I have 256 solid-state.
So the SSD drive, SSD is probably the norm. When I got this, I think it was two years ago, it was about $1,000 and the SSD was optional.
Markus Heitkoetter: Right. So SSD stands for solid-state drive. It basically means that you don’t have any moving parts. It’s like a huge big memory card. This makes it less prone to failure so it’s just a little bit more stable, a little faster, quieter, and not as hot.
I think these days it’s state-of-the-art that you have SSD. If not, you should do it. The only reason why you needed a large hard drive in the past is that often you had to download data, and over time, this built up.
These days, it doesn’t matter. I have 512 GB, you have 256.
Mark Hodge: You can always plug in an external hard drive which is cheap as well.
Markus Heitkoetter: Plus there’s Dropbox and Google Drive. Everything is cloud-based. Usually what takes the most space on your computer are the pictures and videos that you take on your phone. We are just talking about a trading computer right now, so I think 512 will be plenty.
Dedicated Graphics Card
Now the next thing I’m looking for is a dedicated graphics card. And if you don’t know what to look for, walk into a Best Buy. Talk to an associate and say, “I would like to have a computer with a dedicated graphics card.”
So this here is interesting. This is where it goes back to your comment regarding gaming computers. Here you see the graphics card and you get an idea.
“Budget-friendly, entry-level, runs games at low to mid-range,” so that gives you an indication that this is probably not the fastest graphics card that is out there.
Depending on how do you look for a computer, definitely look for mid-range. You don’t need high-end for trading, but I definitely would look for a mid-range graphics card.
I’m not paying attention at all to the processor because honestly, most of the computing these days is done on the servers. If you use, for example, the PowerX Optimizer, we are doing everything on our servers and just displaying the data for you, and this is true pretty much for all applications.
Just if you’re using Google Chrome, you definitely need a lot of RAM, but I’m not paying attention to these crazy processors, whether it is an 11th generation, Core 7 or Core 9, or Quad Core, Dual Core, and so on.
Mark Hodge: For trading, it doesn’t seem to be an issue with all of these mathematical complications. For trading, it’s now basic complications or math these days.
Markus Heitkoetter. Exactly. That’s pretty much it. It’s fairly easy, it’s not that complicated.
Mark has a more sophisticated setup at home with multiple monitors, and for me, it’s really this and the second monitor.
I hope this helps you to decide what trading computer to buy when you want to have a new trading computer in 2021. Again, it really depends on what applications you use.
If you’re completely web-based, you can consider just trading on an iPad. If you still use some applications that you download to your computer don’t go crazy. A computer for around $1,000 – $1,200 will do just fine. I.
They’ve gotten a little bit more expensive with the ship shortage and all the supply chain issues, but you shouldn’t go overboard, rather spend some more money on an extra monitor.
Markus Hodge: One quick thing, would you do a touch screen? Is that important to you?
Markus Heitkoetter: No, it’s not.
Mark Hodge: I’ll be honest, I have a touch screen. Honestly, I thought I’d use it more, and for trading, not at all. So I don’t think that’s as important unless you’re going to use it more as a tablet too.
Markus Heitkoetter: On a tablet it’s important, but every tablet obviously is a touchscreen. But for monitors, I never use the touchscreen and I’m okay with that.
Well, I hope you found this helpful, If you would like to know how Mark and I personally trade these crazy markets, here are 2 videos for you:
One of them is explaining the “PowerX Strategy.“
The other one is explaining “The Wheel Strategy” in detail.
Read Next: Should He Invest Or Trade?