I figured I might as well update an old blog post about my trading computer. Now, when it comes to trading, having a fast computer is a lot like having a big penis when it comes to sex: sure it is nice, but knowing how to use it matters much more, and the most important thing is just having a tool that is adequate.
First, the most visible part: I have 8 monitors, with the bottom center two monitors being the same ones from 7 years ago; the rest of the monitors are 22″ to 24″ monitors of various makes. Frankly, monitor quality doesn’t matter for trading so a cheap monitor of decent quality is fine. My monitor stands are a hodge-podge and if I did this over again I would make the monitors all the same and put more thought into proper monitor stands. I have Ergotron quad-monitor stands holding the four bottom monitors. Each of the upper-row monitors is held by its own Atdec monitor pole.
Besides the monitors, the most important part of my computer (not shown) is the APC Pro 1000 UPS — If I lose power I want to be able to have enough time to close out day-trade positions. I have only two monitors and the CPU on the UPS. I have a separate UPS for my internet router and wifi access point.
As to the guts of the computer, I just upgraded to something that is insanely overpowered. Keep in mind that I do some things that are very CPU-intensive that most other traders never do. Here are the specs:
ASRock X99 Extreme4 LGA 2011-v3 Intel X99 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard (one of the cheaper LGA 2011-3 motherboards)
Intel Xeon E5-2680V4 Broadwell 2.4 GHz 14 x 256KB L2 Cache 35MB L3 Cache LGA 2011-3 120W BX80660E52680V4 Server Processor
64GB Kingston HyperX Fury (4 x 16G) DDR4 2133 Desktop Memory DIMM (288-Pin) RAM HX421C14FBK4/64
SAMSUNG 950 PRO M.2 512GB PCI-Express 3.0 x4 Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-V5P512BW (I strongly recommend NVME M.2 solid state drives over other SSDs or hard drives — they are so much faster)
eVGA GEFORCE GTX 970 SC+ ACX 2.0+ (I have two of these; they are about one year old but I saw no need to upgrade)
The most expensive parts of the computer by far are the CPU which has 14 cores and cost $1700 and the two video cards (each with 4 monitor outputs) that cost $300 each. I could easily get similar performance by overclocking a high-end desktop processor but that generates extra heat (already a problem for me in my office in the summer) and risks making the computer less stable. While none of the programs I run require a super-fast processor, I run a lot of programs so having many cores is useful. However, almost any other trader would be fine with a quad-core Skylake processor and 95% of the time my prior six-core processor was fine for me in the past (but I will be requiring a lot more of my CPU presently).