Dual or Multi-Monitor Desktop Computer for Stock Trading
The majority of serious traders and investors who monitor the financial markets closely have trading hardware setups with at least 2 monitors. For traders, the advantages of having multiple monitors far outweigh the disadvantages of using too much of their desk space. Modern flat-panel LCD monitors make having multiple monitors on your trading desk possible without the clutter.
Installing multiple monitors on the latest generation of Intel Core i3, i5, i7, Core 2 Duo/Quad and AMD's Athlon and Phenom family of computers is relatively straightforward. Basically it depends on what kind of graphics card is installed in your present system. Financial business workstations, like the Dell Precision T3500 series of desktop computers, which are a favorite among active daytraders and finance professionals, already come equipped with dual or quad-monitor capable PCI Express (PCIe) graphics cards as a standard option. Other desktop computers vary widely with the type of card installed, although most newer PCs will only be equipped with single display integrated or dedicated PCIe video cards. You may still however be able to find some vendors selling older PCs with the previous generation AGP graphics cards based motherboards. There may also be a small minority of traders who are still using older and almost obsolete Pentium 3 or 4 based computer systems which are fully PCI (not PCIe) based. Here are the various options available to implement multi-monitor support for the various system configurations one may encounter:
Out-of-the-Box Multi-Monitor Capable Trading Computer Solutions
If you are a stock, futures or currency trader, and are trying hard to find the most hassle-free method of getting multi-monitor support for your trading system, then an out-of-the-box solution is the answer for you. Off the shelf systems like the Dell Precision T3500 and NTI’s QuadStation Systems are some options you can choose. These systems are powerful and have very impressive specifications and best of all, they are ready for work right out of the box. If you go with the Quadstation Systems, NTI will be able to assist you in creating your own powerful trading environment with 4, 6, 8, 10 or even 12 independent displays! The Trading Computer Hardware Guide will provide you with all the necessary knowledge on multi-monitor computer systems suitable for traders, in order to help you make a more informed choice when buying a new trading PC.
PCI Express (PCIe) Video Graphics Card Solution
PCI Express based graphics cards are currently the latest technology bus for video graphics adapters. They have become ubiquitous in new PC's post 2006. These PCIe cards have the capability to be much faster than the previous generation AGP 8X cards so it is a no-brainer to go with PCIe if buying or building a new PC. In order to operate multi-monitors on such a system, you have to get a dual-head PCIe card like the NVidia Quadro NVS 290 or the Matrox Millennium P690 PCIe graphics card. These cards have become the standard for business graphics and widely used in high powered business workstations.
AGP Video Graphics Card Solution
If your current card is a single head AGP card, then you can either get a dual head card like the Matrox Millennium G550 or retain your present card and add an additional PCI based VGA card. PCI cards (not PCI-e) are the previous generation graphics display cards and are a tad bit slower than the newer AGP cards but the difference is hardly discernible in trading systems.
PCI Video Graphics Card Solution
If your current system is only equipped with the older PCI slots and your present VGA card is PCI based, then all you need to do is to add additional PCI graphics cards for each additional monitor you want to add. PCI VGA cards are very inexpensive nowadays, however, you need to take into account compatibility issues if you get graphics cards from different manufacturers. The best approach would be to get VGA cards from the same manufacturer, unless you are sure the combination you chose is compatible. Another option for you is to purchase a dual-head PCI VGA card like the hugely popular Matrox Millennium G450. The Matrox 450 series cards also come in versions which support quad (four) monitors.
LCD Display Monitors
Read LCD Monitors for Stock Trading to find out what are some of the best LCD monitors for trading.
When choosing multi-monitors for your trading system, forget about the ancient Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors. Instead, go for the latest generation LCD panels (Why? Read LCDs vs CRTs for Trading Computer Systems for the reasons). One of the most important factors to note is that the screen size should be at least 19" or larger to provide a decent usable viewing area for all your charts. Ideally, you should set your screen resolution to at least 1280x1024 or more. For LCDs, you have a choice of either digital or analog monitors and if budget is not a constraint, go with the digital (DVI), HDMI or DisplayPort ones. The important thing to note about LCDs is that they have a "native resolution" (see the LCD panel's user manual) and if an LCD panel is operated at other resolutions, the resulting display will not be as crisp and sharp. To greatly reduce eyestrain when constantly looking at charts for long periods, you should ensure that the monitor you choose can support refresh rates of at least 60Hz or higher at the screen resolution you will be using. Read LCD Monitor for Stock Trading for a more detailed and updated LCD panel discussion.