Update on my trading computer

[Updated 2021-3-15 with picture with new monitor and update to CPU.] I last wrote about my trading computer back in 2016 and I just updated it so here is an updated post about it. Not much has changed but there are a few key improvements. The monitors are the same, except that I bought a Viewsonic 43″ monitor to replace my two right-most monitors. One problem with this specific monitor is the VESA mounting holes are towards the top of the monitor so if mounted in portrait mode it tends to tilt to the side (hence the books under it). Another downside of using such a large, flat monitor is that the far edges suffer some perspective distortion from me looking at them from an angle. I think perhaps the ideal setup would be four ultrawide curved monitors, such as this 49″ monitor from Monoprice.

While having more monitors and a faster computer can improve one’s efficiency, they matter not at all if a trader doesn’t have a good trading strategy and the ability to stick to that strategy. Keep that in mind! Beginning traders should not go out and buy a computer just for trading — anything that runs decently fast for basic computing should work fine for running one or two trading platforms.

I have 7 monitors, with the bottom center two monitors being the same ones from 7 years ago (24″ touchscreens); 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 (when I bought these they were half the price they are now; they are not the most stable).

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. If my internet goes down I can turn my cell phone into a wifi hot spot to quickly reconnect.

As to the guts of the computer, I just upgraded from something that was way overpowered (a 14-core Xeon server processor) to something even more overpowered (AMD Ryzen 5900x). I did not need to upgrade the CPU but it is a good idea to do a clean install of Windows every few years so I used that as an opportunity to upgrade the hardware. Keep in mind that I do some things that are very CPU-intensive that most other traders never do. Here are the specs:

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5950x 16-core (MSRP $799) – All the current-generation AMD processors are in short supply and sell out in minutes whenever they are restocked. I first got an AMD Ryzen 9 5900X because it was all I could find but I have since sold that (used) for more than I paid. For more normal users, the Ryzen 7 5800x (MSRP $449) is a great deal and great processor and it is currently in stock at most stores. I was able to obtain my 5950x directly from AMD by following the Stock Drops Discord chat alerts (free). Current (5000) generation AMD processors use less power and have superior multi-threaded performance to all current generation Intel chips. For a trader like myself, lots of cores are important because I run tons of programs all the time.

Motherboard: MSI MPG X570 Gaming Pro Carbon WIFI ($260) – One of the cheaper X570 motherboards that support AMD’s socket AM4, it has built-in WIFI 6, room for two graphics cards, two M.2 slots, and plenty of USB ports.

CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4 CPU cooler ($65) – I am a huge fan of Noctua CPU coolers and fans and they have worked great for me for years.

Storage: Samsung 980 Pro M.2 2280 1TB PCIE Gen4 NVMe SSD ($230) – M.2 is a far faster connection than SATA and modern SSDs benefit greatly from it. There are other good SSDs out there for a lot less but this is considered to be the best overall. I have found that it has very significantly increased boot speed and file load speed from the 950 Pro I used prior to my upgrade (and that I have in my second M.2 slot). I currently have no SATA drives in my computer other than a DVD drive. I have 8 terabytes of RAID 1 magnetic disk storage (WD Red 8TB drives) in a Synology DS218+ attached to my network.

RAM: HyperX Fury 64GB (4 x 16GB) DDR4 2133MHz DRAM – I just used the same RAM I bought 4 years ago because it is tested/approved for use with my new motherboard and faster/newer RAM would not give me any meaningful benefit.

Graphics cards: EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 XC GAMING, 12G-P5-3657-KR, 12GB GDDR6 – This is of course overkill for trading, but it is a good card and I like the low power usage of the RTX 3060 compared to other current-generation cards. If I do upgrade to 4 43″ monitors this one card could run all of them easily.

EVGA GeForce GTX 970 04G-P4-2974-KR 4GB SC GAMING w/ACX 2.0 – I have two of these graphics cards; I have had them since 2015; I just replaced one with the 3060 listed above while the other remains in my computer. I will keep the replaced card as a backup. They still work fine. If you want to be able to game as well as trade, the Nvidia GeForce 3060 Ti cards offer great performance and are reasonably priced if you can find them for sale (use Stock Drops to find any — they sell out in seconds whenever they are restocked).

Desk: EvoDesk 30″ x 72″ that I purchased 5 years ago when my previous sit to stand desk broke. If you have a lot of monitors pay attention to the weight capacity of your sit to stand desk — if I were purchasing a new desk today I would buy an EvoDesk Pro because they are more stable and have the highest weight capacity I have seen among sit to stand desks.

Computer Case: Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Case – This is the same case I have been using for six years. It works great. I replaced one of the front fans with a Noctua aftermarket fan. If you are in the market for a computer case, this Fractal Design Meshify C looks nice.

Power Supply Unit (PSU): Rosewill Fortress-750 750 watt active PFC Power Supply – This is the same power supply I have been using for the last 6 years. Get an 80 Plus Platinum power supply (or Titanium, which is even better though a lot more expensive) — the more efficient the power supply, the less waste heat generated. Learn more about the power supply efficiency ratings at Tom’S Hardware. Most importantly, go with a well-respected brand — a failed power supply or dirty electricity from a poorly made PSU can damage the rest of the computer.

Accessory: Elgato Stream Deck – This is a nice tool for those who have trouble remembering hotkeys. See the below tweet thread from me:


Computer Building Tips

Building a computer nowadays is easy! There are plenty of guides to do it so I won’t go into details, but following are the most important things that people frequently mess up:
1. Avoid static electricity!
2. Check at the motherboard manufacturer’s website to verify that the RAM you want to use has been verified to work with the motherboard.
3. Make sure you put your CPU cooler on, use thermal paste with it, and verify that all fans are working before you close up the case.
4. Prepare a Windows installation USB drive beforehand.

How to Save a lot of Money

Older high-end PC parts get sold off for pennies on the dollar. You can assemble a powerful computer by buying used CPUs / motherboard / RAM. For example, the Intel Xeon 14-core CPU I bought four years ago cost $1500 new (and costs $750 new now) and is available now for $150 used. Don’t buy used storage media though.

Disclaimer. I may or may not have positions in some of the stocks that are shown on my screen and I may close or add to those positions at any time. I may or may not still subscribe to the chatrooms and news services shown on my monitor. This blog has a terms of use that is incorporated by reference into this post; you can find all my disclaimers and disclosures there as well.

11 thoughts on “Update on my trading computer”

  1. You may not be able to comment, but I am posting anyway. There is a controversy ongoing regarding an OTC stock with symbol TSNP, Tesoro Enterprises, a flooring company that has merged to bring public a fintech start up called HUMBL LLC. The market cap for TSNP is now in the billions and retail traders are piling on. The stock has made a huge move. There have been articles on Seeking Alpha, two bearish and one bullish. I have commented urging caution, but there are plenty more “do your DD and see how great this company is” comments. That may be, but I am skeptical by nature, said skepticism going parabolic when OTC is involved. The reason I am posting to you is that George Sharp through his company Forwardly has made an investment. I see you discussed him in another blog post, mostly favorably. Any thoughts on this strange situation? Thanks for reading.

    1. TSNP by any reasonable measure is vastly overvalued. I doubt HUMBL will be even moderately successful. The stock price could drop 90% and Sharp and Forwardly would still make money on their investment.

  2. Hi and thank you for all your content. I have a questions regarding trading software. I currently use STT. Im with tim sykes program and have in that matter kind off been led into STT. Im super happy with that, but i belive its a quite “heavy” software, and my mac witch is a few years tend to freeze from time to time. Until I have the founds to buy a top of the line gaming pc, I think I have to use another platform. As a European citicen I have an IB acc. (cash).
    It easy to believe that “all” of the students like myself, use STT, but as I now understand, many of his student (like you) use different platforms. I really enjoy using STT, but for now I think I have to use something else. I would like to DAS trader pro with my IB acc. Is that a good alternative for me you think? Will that platform require as much power from my computer as STT?
    Another question. If I`ll use, DAS, I fint it a bit expensive to use STT as a scanner on top of that. Will I have access to more or less the same scanning with DAS and IB? Thank you. God bless.

    1. I would definitely say that STT is a resource hog. It uses about the same amount of CPU power to run my one STT scan (with no current results) as it does to run DAS Pro with 4 or 5 charts and 4 level 2 montages and the high-low ticker (HOD scanner). You don’t need an epic gaming computer to use it but a modern CPU with 8 or more cores is important.

      I don’t see the need to use DAS Pro with IB — it has much better charting, but IB’s platform is fine (except when it comes to OTC stocks — their quotes on those are often inaccurate). IB has some decent (though not very customizable) built-in scanning say to look for top % gainers which I use every day. Both IB and DAS are much more restricted than STT for scanning but they have some pretty useful scanning tools built in.

      1. Thank you so much for your reply. I will check out IB’ plattform since its allready available for me as their customer. And maybe also DAS after that.
        Since english is not my native language, and beeing a newbie (!!), I find it a bit dificult to know which ad-on features to get in IB tws, meaning L2 i gues… Im learning little by little..and currently doing otc and nasdaq.. can you point me in the right direction? There are so many options.. thanks. Hopefully I will be able to thank you at a traders convention in the future.

  3. For IB’s data I recommend (all are listed under North America) for level 1: Nasdaq (Network C) Top of Book (L1) $1.50/month, NYSE (Network A) Top of Book (L1) Billed by IB $1.50/month, Amex (Network B) Top of Book $1.50/month, OPRA (if you want to trade options) (fee waived if you do over $20/month in commissions). For OTC stocks get Global OTC Equities (L2) $1.50/month, OTC Markets Top of Book (L1) $6/month. If you also want level 2 I recommend Nasdaq Totalview-Openview (Bundled) ($15/month) and OTC Markets Depth of Book (L2) ($17/month).

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