If you are a day trader, you will know that plenty of money can be spent on making sure that your home office environment is up to the task. This is because day trading as a discipline and as a career requires a lot of equipment. You can, of course, manage to make some progress on day trading as a career with the bare minimum of equipment.
However, if you’re wanting to make a profitable and useful career out of day trading, in that it brings you income, you will need to invest in certain items of equipment.
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This is the hub of your day trading work, and for obvious reasons it needs to be up to the job. However, it’s important to remember that day trading is quite manageable by most mid-level computing setups. We do recommend that you invest in a desktop computer, because the power and the speed of these machines will ensure that you are not caught out by any lags in time. With a strong laptop, time lags are not necessarily going to happen, but when trading is thick and fast, you will need to rely upon the computer ‘seeing’ data that can change from second to second.
Multiple trading also throws up a few issues as well. A day trader, especially one that is experienced or growing in experience, will at many points during the day be running multiple trades. It is vitally important that you have a computer set up that can manage multiple trades. And this is where budget and personal choice come into it.
We would recommend investing the greatest portion of your money in two things, the PC unit itself and the monitor or monitors.
We will get to monitors in a moment, but investing wisely in a good computer set up means that you should have a processor that will not let you down when multiple trades are occurring.At the very top end of this particular area you can expect to spend thousands on a good computer.
Some traders even request bespoke trading computers and there are specialist companies that do this. This doesn’t have to be you. But you should still start out with the end goal in mind, and this is buying a PC unit that is able to handle trading at multiple levels every minute, and also one that is able to handle running a number of monitors.
Our expert says…
Choose a computer with a fast processor. Because you’re going to have an absolute bucketload of data flying back and forth every second, speed is your best friend.
When choosing a computer for your day trading setup, it’s all about a fast processor. When viewing your data on the screen, if it isn’t real-time, you’re going to miss something at some point. A fast processor gives you the edge.
Whatever hardware you buy, check out the CPU benchmark score for it. This will give you a clear idea of how the processor inside the box performs speed-wise.
Most traders should be looking at a benchmark score of around 8,000-10,000 Ghz if they want to be active and trading at speed.
Install an SSD hard drive
Using a solid state drive sets you up for a faster experience. Most people new to trading or computing in general think a hard drive is all about storage space. But it isn’t.
A high quality hard drive means a better trading day. Solid state drives give you a faster boot up time, for one thing. They last longer than the standard HDD, and they keep the system cooler through using less power. The best SSDs for read speeds clock in at 3,500 MB/s. And when it comes to writing, the tip-end SSD units come in at around 2,700 MB/s.
People underestimate the importance of RAM. However, the smooth functioning of your computer system depends on having an optimal amount of the stuff. Upgrading the amount of RAM your computer has doesn’t cost a lot either. It boosts your speed and performance because it allows multiple apps to be open, as well as a number of tasks to run at the same time. And that’s pretty much what a day trader needs.
If we’re talking real monsters though, you may want to look at the Corsair range. Alway wells known for for their computing aspects, the latest models have around 3,466 as regards processing speed. And with capacity, you can’t go wrong with 16 GB.
Spend money on RAM as soon as you can. If you can give your computer a RAM boost, you’re looking at a smoother and less frustrating trading day.
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This is the other big area of expense. Monitors are not necessarily expensive, but you will still need to find one that has good screen resolution. This is because the better the screen resolution, the more you will see on the screen. With so much data flying back and forth, you will need the full picture at all times.
Top tip: The general rule is a resolution of 1920 x 1080 px for day trading. This will help minimise the impact of staring at a screen for hours on end. It’s an important consideration because that is what you will be doing.
This resolution should also remove the possibility of ‘backlight bleeding’, where the screen shows lighter areas on a black background. Apart from being annoying, you need absolute clarity to make the best calls.
At the same time, it’s important to have more than one monitor, especially when you start to make progress and build out a career in daytrading. With you having to keep an eye on plenty of different markets, and needing the ability to look at 2 to 3 different monitors at the same time, it makes more sense to have a full picture of your positions with multiple screens.
Basically, it all comes down to making sure you can see all financial markets on different timeframes all at once. This can only happen when you have a number of high quality, high resolution monitors working at the same time. If this is beyond your budget, you need to think about purchasing at least a couple so that you can move quickly when numbers change.
Top tip: The ‘refresh rate’ of a monitor makes a huge difference when those numbers change. This is an area where you can end up spending a lot of money because some monitors offer a staggering refresh rate. It’s exciting, and it looks good. For a trader who wants to see each change as it happens in milliseconds, it initially seems important to buy a monitor that has the best refresh rate around.
However, for a day trader it is perfectly acceptable to buy a monitor that has a refresh rate of 120 frames per second. This means buying a monitor that has 120 Hz. This will easily keep you on top of sudden changes, and make sure that you don’t miss anything important.
This is where a lot of the hard work in planning comes in. A good stand can help with your posture, as well as your general overall physical health. It can also help with decluttering your desk. So it’s worth investing.
Do’s and don’ts when purchasing a stand
Don’t skimp on a stand
Some of the basic stuff that a modern stand comes with is really important. A good stand should be able to offer you an option to tilt monitors for comfort. You can even reasonably expect a clamp mechanism so that the monitors can be raised up a little above the desk, so you have desk space freed up. There are plenty of options here and it’s important that you don’t go for a stand simply because it’s inexpensive.
Do purchase a good stand
The best monitor stands come with a number of mounts that have pre-drilled holes so that you can mount a number of screens easily. Even if you’re starting out with a couple of monitors, it’s worth buying one of these because they allow scope for adding more. It makes perfect sense in the long run to be able to add more as your career grows.
This stand is typical of the multiple mount option that allows for expansion as you grow as a trader.
Don’t buy the wrong mount set-up
Know why you should choose ‘wall’ or ‘through the desk’ mounting. If you’re looking at a selection of stands online, you’ll soon see that you have an option of having a wall-mounted stand or a ‘through the desk’ mounted stand. There are a ton of issues around this, and it’s important to know the difference between the two.
If you’re looking to maximise space, the wall-mounted option makes perfect sense. It’s important to remember that you will need to screw holes in the wall here. This may seem a little obvious, but can be disruptive.
If it’s your wall and you’re able to do this, perfect. If you’re renting a flat, you may want to talk to your landlord first. A through the desk option allows you to keep things focused on the desk and not to cause disruption to the walls and the room. It’s something worth considering if you’re worried about your impact on the room around you.
A good chair
Some people do like to stand up for at least part of their day, but having a good chair to use as part of your trading setup makes a huge difference to the outcomes you’ll enjoy.
Studies have shown that sitting in a chair for too long can bring about serious health problems. It has even been linked to mortality. If you plan to sit in a chair for prolonged periods of time it’s vital that you have a good chair to use. The very best on the market can be incredibly expensive. But there are a couple of factors that most good chairs can provide.
Basically, as opposed to the standard office chair, find one that:
- Has a full back. This will give your back the maximum support, and make it a lot easier to prevent serious back problems over time. The best office chairs in this area have backs that match the shape of your spine.
- Allows your key joints to be at 90 degree angles. Basically, staying with your hips, and then moving onto your knees and your ankles, you should be looking at a 90 degree angle for each of the joints. If this isn’t the case, you’re either too tall or too short to use that chair.
- Is 100% adjustable. We’ve all used office chairs that allow for vertical adjustment, but that isn’t enough. If you can find one that allows you to adjust the seat from side to side, you’re winning when it comes to protecting and promoting good posture.
- Allows you to take care of the arms and the shoulders too. It should feel natural when you place your arms on the arm rests. If at any point you feel you’re making an extra effort to raise up your shoulders etc. it’s probably quite likely that you are looking at a chair that isn’t supportive enough.
This is a wide open field, and there are some fantastic desks out there. If you’re going to be trading seriously, you should be looking for a desk that has the strength to handle a lot of weight (because of the monitors). This means you could well be spending some serious money on a desk.
However, it’s important to just focus on getting a quality desk that has some ability to take heavy weight. If your budget isn’t huge right now, just opt for a standard wooden desk, the heavier the better. You can even get this from second-hand shops.
We thought we’d also point out that it’d be nice to have a stand-up desk as part of your line-up. These are great because they encourage you to stand up and move around. They also help posture because of their head-height approach. But they’re not essential.
And last but not least…the mouse
It’s last, but it’s definitely not in last place. Some day traders would argue that the mouse is easily as important as the chair, or the monitor. And in some ways it is.
Well, when you’re in the thick of a series of trades in a small time frame, the very last thing you want is a lack of focus with your onscreen decisions. Owning a mouse that is responsive and allows for a quick and accurate click could really help to make your trading career more successful.
Think about it. Missing a shift in price by a penny can have huge implications when you’re trading. So your mouse needs to be up to the job.
One of the biggest considerations is the weight of the mouse. It’s generally best to go for a light mouse, so that you can move quickly across a screen. Then, you’re looking for a mouse that just feels responsive as you’re moving it across a screen. It’s all about fast and responsive movement, so that you get the most accuracy.
And just in case you need stress relief…
We all find trading stressful at some times. These little gadgets should help you relax, breathe, and stay focused.
A stress ball
This is one little tool that we think is indispensable. Squeezing the life out of a stress ball (or any other stress ball type toy) is a great way to reduce the pressure that a day of trading can bring. Not that you should have any, read our article on handling emotions while trading.
This is well worth buying if you want to just breathe and relax a little. It’s soothing, and it takes your mind off whatever it is you’re worrying about.
Adult colouring book
These became popular a couple of years ago. There are hundreds around, and they are genuinely distracting, allowing you to pull out of the ‘trading head’ for a few minutes.
When all is said and done, your key items are the computer, monitor and chair. Everything else just needs a little careful consideration and some thought about how you want your experience to be.
Get your emotions in check …