How to Choose an LCD Monitor for Stock Trading
Read How to choose a Stock Trading PC for more information on the other components that make up a great computer for trading stocks, futures, forex etc.
One of the most vital components of a stock trading PC is the display LCD monitor. You can have the latest and greatest desktop workstation computer with dual SLI PCIe video cards costing thousands, but if your LCD monitor is not up to the task, your daily viewing experience is going to be a burden. Imagine viewing text or charts which are fuzzy. This tends to create a lot of eye strain which consequently may adversely affect your decision making and overall trading business. Most traders have successfully transitioned from the bulky CRTs and have gladly settled with the latest generation S-IPS and PVA based monitors, which offer stunning displays of stock and futures technical analysis charts, greater reliability and lower heat generation. So what are these S-IPS, PVA or even TN based LCD monitors?
Type of Panels
The no. 1 factor affecting the display quality of an LCD monitor is the type of panel used. There are generally 3 types i.e. IPS, VA and TN. Within these types there are further categories but it is beyond the scope of this article.
IPS panels are considered to be the cream of the crop. They offer the best image quality of the three and are also the most expensive. They also have the best viewing angles and are widely sought after by graphic designers or anyone who deals with photo editing and needs accurate colors. Monitors like the 24 inch Dell UltraSharp U2410, 24 inch HP LP2475w and 24 inch NEC LCD2490WUXi use IPS panels. If you have the budget, these are the monitors that are great to have for trading.
S-PVA/MVA based panels offer the highest contrast ratios and are generally similar to S-IPS. However, their viewing angles are slightly lower than S-IPS. These panels are moderately expensive. Most traders use monitors with S-PVA panels like the popular 27 inch widescreen Dell UltraSharp 2709W.
The least expensive are the TN panels. These are great for gaming, which require excellent response times of sub 6ms. TN panels not only have the worst color accuracy of the three but they also have very limited viewing angles. Some higher end TN panels actually have very good displays like the 22 inch Dell Ultrasharp 2209WA and can be considered if budget is a constraint.
How to determine the type of Panel used in an LCD Monitor
Most LCD manufacturers don't openly volunteer this information. The easiest way to guesstimate the type of panel used is to look at the viewing angles; TN will have about 170 degrees and below, PVA is 176 and IPS is 178 degrees. Remember, this is not 100% accurate but it will give you an edge when researching what monitors to buy and enable you to make an informed choice.
Display Screen Size
Traders generally require at least dual 19” widescreen monitors (WSXGA - 1440x900), at a minimum in order to have enough screen real estate to monitor the markets. Other sizes popular with traders are the 20”, 22” (WSXGA+ - 1680x1050) and as prices drop, the 24” (WUXGA - 1920x1200) and even the 30" (WQXGA - 2560x1600) ones. Note that to run at WQXGA for a 30" monitor, your PC must have a dual-link DVI-D compatible graphics card that supports this resolution i.e. two high end graphics cards like the ATI Radeon HD4870 or the NVidia GeForce GTX 280 linked together! Finally, choose a screen size depending on what markets you trade and the physical space available in your trading office.
To fully optimize your monitor for best display, you need to use at least a DVI input to drive your monitor. For greater quality, you can use HDMI or DisplayPort adapters. Using the older VGA adapter is still workable but you will not be optimizing the capabilities of the latest generation video cards and your monitor. To achieve flexibility, choose a monitor which has the capability to accept either HDMI, DisplayPort or both like the Dell UltraSharp 2408wfp.
Warranty and Replacement Policy
A monitor breakdown is one of the most frustrating and time wasting events that can happen to a stock trader. Repair costs for LCDs are high and it may not be cost effective to do so. It is vital therefore when purchasing a new monitor, to get a 3 or 5 year extended warranty on your LCD panel. Most importantly, look to see if the manufacturer offers a 1-day replacement policy, like what Dell does for their premium panels like it's UltraSharp 2408wfp. A quick replacement monitor will enable your trading business to carry on while waiting for your faulty monitor to be repaired.
Reliability and stability of your computer system is one of the key factors to the success of your trading business. Buying a good LCD monitor will give you many hours of joy daily while you successfully trade and maneuver the financial markets. Read How to choose a Stock Trading PC and Best Computer for Trading Stocks for more information on the other components that make up a great computer for stock trading.