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What RAM Do I Need For My Computer System for Trading Stocks and How Much?

Find out how much memory your system needs. Free Scan & 10% off top memory upgrades

Random Access Memory (RAM) modulesThe amount of Random Access Memory (RAM) required very much depends on the number and type of applications that you run on your trading computer system. 128 Megabytes (MB) of RAM is definitely out of the question as it even has trouble running Windows XP. 256MB runs WinXP fine but your system will get bogged down if you run a real-time charting software like eSignal, QCharts or Quotetracker. An end-of-day charting program like Metastock should run fine on 256MB if the only thing you are doing is viewing charts and doing basic technical analysis. If however, you are running an offline backtest or exploration on Metastock, looking for stocks that match your technical criteria, then your system's performance will definitely take a performance hit.

Easy Method To Figure Out If You Have Enough RAM

  • Load up all the programs that you normally use e.g. browser, MS Word, Excel etc.
  • In your stock charting program, open all the charts for each symbol you plan to track.
  • In FireFox, open as many tabs as you would need on a busy day. (This is because each tab takes up additional memory.)
  • Open your Windows Task Manager (right mouse click on the taskbar), go to the Performance tab, look under Commit Charge.
  • Total Commit Charge should be no more than 75% of your RAM size i.e. if you have 512MB RAM, then the Total Commit Charge should not be more than 384MB.

The Pitfalls of Too Little Physical Computer RAM.

Charting Software, especially real-time applications like eSignal, QCharts & Quotetracker, use a cache to store incoming data and as a source for drawing charts. As the trading day progresses and as these programs continue to collect more and more intraday data, the cache gets filled up. Once the cache runs out of physical RAM, it will use the pagefile on the hard-drive, which is much slower than physical RAM. You will then notice your system slow down to a crawl and your hard-drive working overtime to read/write the incoming data. Many novice computer users will blame it on the CPU's performance when in fact, all that is required is just adding more RAM to solve the problem and get the computer zipping along again.

512MB of RAM is generally sufficient to run most Real-time charting programs, your broker's order entry system and 1 or 2 other small applications like your internet browser and email client in the background. As a guide, your computer will approximately use about 500MB of RAM during a typical trading day monitoring about 40-50 stocks in real-time. As you can see, even 512MB is cutting it a bit thin. 1 Gigabyte (GB) or more is highly recommended for Real-time trading systems, especially those that perform real-time analytics on incoming data like NeoTicker, TradingSolutions and Stockwatch Pro. If budget is of no concern, go for the maximum that your system can support, i.e. fill up all the 3 or 4 memory banks on your computer's motherboard. Most off-the-shelf 32-bit computer systems can accommodate up to 4GB max of RAM.

Faulty Computer Memory

Faulty RAM due to poor quality of components used is one of the major causes of failure of computer systems. Sometimes the RAM chips are OK but they get accidently zapped by static from a computer user's hands when cleaning or changing computer components. Computer chips are highly sensitive items and if you do need to operate close to them or touch them, it is a good idea to first discharge static by touching any metal surface like the computer casing.

Have you had experiences when you remove your RAM modules from their slots for cleaning and upgrading and when you put them back, your computer just refuses to start-up? Well, here's a tip if you ever get caught in a situation like this. Grab an eraser, even the ones at the end of a pencil will do, and gently stroke the eraser against the gold leads to clean out any layers of oil-film or dirt that may have accummulated. Careful not to touch the gold leads again and gently place the modules back into their slots.

Recommended Computer Memory/RAM Manufacturers

When it comes to choosing RAM, it is imperative that you only purchase high quality RAM from reputable manufacturers like Crucial or Kingston. You can use the form below to see if your system's RAM can be upgraded.

The Crucial Memory Advisor™

Select your system and press go!

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