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How To Choose a Laptop for Stock Trading

Read Best Laptops for Stock Trading to find out outstanding laptops available within the different price ranges.

Dual monitor laptop for stock tradingThe reliability and stability of modern laptops are so impressive that it is no surprise that many active stock traders are ditching their desktops and solely using mobile workstations, like the HP EliteBook 8730w or Toshiba Tecra A11, as their primary trading computers. These machines are left on virtually 24 hours a day so they must be able to withstand a lot of punishment. Of course, the other reason many traders use laptops for trading is for their mobility, especially when they have to monitor and trade the markets while on vacation or on a business trip.

Buy Reputable Laptop Brands

It is vital, when buying a laptop for trading stocks, to get it from reputable manufacturers like HP, Lenovo, Toshiba or Dell, to name a few. It is illogical to skimp on a few bucks on an inferior product only to have it cost you thousands of dollars during a system crash or malfunction. As much as possible, insist on a 3-year warranty for peace of mind as it is very expensive to replace a dead LCD screen or repair a laptop which is no longer under warranty. One of the best places to get great deals on quality laptops is at Newegg.

Choice of CPU

The current generation of multi core 64-bit CPUs like the mobile Core i3, i5 and i7 or the slightly older Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Extreme CPUs are powerful enough to handily run any trading or financial related applications like Tradestation, Neoticker or WealthLab with relative ease. Even an entry level Core 2 Duo CPU like the P8400 will more than suffice for trading stocks and shares and running technical analysis programs.

How much RAM is enough?

This is one area where you should max it out and get as much RAM as your budget and system allow. The bare minimum for a smooth and stable experience is 2GB running on a 32-bit Operating System like Windows XP Professional. If running on 32-bit Vista, you should have at least 3GB, but preferably 4GB. Anything above 4GB of RAM, you will need to upgrade to a 64-bit OS like Windows XP 64, Vista 64 or the latest Windows 7 64-bit to fully utilize the extra RAM (read Windows 7 on a Trading PC). Multi-tasking various applications will be greatly improved on a 64-bit OS with sufficient RAM.

Graphics Card for Multi-Monitor Capability

Most entry level laptops will be equipped with integrated graphics adapters like the Intel GMA 4500MHD, which are generally adequate for displaying 2D financial data and stock charts and basic 3D gaming. The higher end laptops will normally be equipped with discrete graphics adapters like the ATI Mobility Radeon 3000/4000 series or the Nvidia Quadro NVS series. These discrete graphics cards will give a smoother and more efficient experience, especially when using dual monitors and also the ability to drive higher resolutions e.g. 1920 x 1200 or higher in analog mode. Read Multi-monitors for Laptops for more information on external multimonitor capabilities.

Display Screen Size

The choice of screen size depends on how much mobility is desired. 14 and 15 inch models will be good for travelling while the 17 inch ones will be ideal as desktop replacements. If possible, go for LED backlit displays as they are mercury-free and above all, generate 25% brighter displays, boast crisper colors and consume less power than conventional CCFL displays.

Battery Life

An average battery life of about 4 hours should suffice for most trading needs as almost all of the time during trading hours, the computer is expected to be plugged into a power source for greater reliability and performance. It is important to always keep the battery connected to the laptop as it will act as an Uninteruptible Power Supply (UPS) in cases of sudden power failure.

Hard Drives

Although an 80GB 5400rpm hard drive will more than suffice, it is recommended to go for the faster 7200rpm ones and if possible ramp up the capacity to 160GB or more. Solid State Drives (SSDs) will be ideal for a laptop but the prices are currently still too high to be cost effective. Some of the higher end models include accelerometers within the laptop to protect the hard drive in cases where it detects a sudden drop from height. Also useful for traders is the option for a second hard drive so that backup solutions such as RAID 1 can be readily implemented. In such cases, recovery from a hard drive failure can be made very fast and painless by just inserting a new hard drive to replace the failed one and the RAID 1 solution will recover and restore all your data within minutes.

Conclusion

The primary job of a stock trader is to make money trading the markets. Getting sidetracked by hardware issues that may potentially cost a lot of money, can easily be prevented by choosing a reliable and stable laptop from a reputable manufacturer like Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba or HP. Read Best Laptop for Stock Trading to find out outstanding laptops available within the different price ranges.

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