However, if your situation isn’t as extreme as this, you might be wondering when it makes sense for you to dip into your trading capital and spend a few bucks on a laptop for day trading.
What Portability Costs You
When compared to desktop trading computers, laptop’s portability and compact features come at a cost.
Think about it like this; have you ever seen those super tiny smart cars? Those ones that look like it would only take a gust of wind to knock it into the next town? Let’s say one of those cars cost roughly $20,000.
Seems like a high-ticket price for such a small car, right? A smaller car is certainly made with less material. While smaller might make you think less expensive, often we pay for compact features – such is the case in smart cars and laptop computers. On the other hand, similarly priced compact cars offer you more space and horsepower. The comparison becomes what features you value for your $$.
Features in the Best Laptop for Traders
This is not to say that there is anything wrong with paying a premium for a powerful computer that is still portable. By knowing the tradeoffs, you should be able to make a better, more informed purchase.
When buying a portable computer, there are always trade-offs. Traders should know which aspects of portability are important to their style of trading and computer use. Here are a few main factors to consider when researching which portable device is right for you:
1. Screen Size
Screen real estate is limited on laptops. However, traders have a few options. Most commonly, you will have the choice of a 13”, 15”, or 17” screen. You could always use traditional desktop monitors with your laptop in your home office. Most newer laptops will have an HDMI port, which can support audio and video with one cord – just like your TV. You might also find display ports on your laptop. This will also allow you to connect your laptop to additional monitors, though you will need a special cord. Keep in mind that if you want multi-screens on the go, you can always add a lightweight USB monitor to your travel case. These monitors come in 15” or 17” options and are incredibly useful for those who want their entire setup to fit in a travel case.
Weight is an important consideration for those who have to carry their laptop with them often. In laptops, the weight of the machine is most often related to the screen size. The bigger the screen, the bigger and heavier the laptop will be. Lighter weight machines tend to have screens of 13” or 15” in size. If you commute to your office each day, you will want a lighter machine in your briefcase.
3. Battery Life
Need to be unplugged? Battery life might be on the top of your list. If this is important to you, you should make sure the laptop you buy has good ratings on battery life. Otherwise, you will find yourself lugging out your charger and seeking an outlet to recharge.
What Traders Need in Laptop Hardware
While there are features that you should pick and choose based upon your specific needs, there are also specifications that you should not be lenient on when buying your laptop. Here are the hardware specifications that you need in a trading laptop:
- 4GB – 8GB RAM (Upgrade if possible; the more RAM the better. This is one of the least expensive upgrades – with the most impact. Generally you can double your RAM for roughly a hundred dollars.)
- An SSD hard drive for faster boot times and quick program launching
- A fast processor, preferably an i7, with a high benchmark score for all-around faster performance
These hardware features are important considerations for upgrading to a newer, faster computer. Since you are trading with the goal to make money, your laptop is a business tool. You should have the best tools to make the most out of your day trading.
Laptops for futures trading and day trading are less about a specific lifestyle and more about the features you value in a computer. Laptop trading isn’t an exclusive group. It’s an option that is open to everyone, though making the right purchase is super important for you to trade on a reliable, fast computer. The computer, desktop or laptop, should fit how you prefer to trade.
If you want to grab your laptop and trade from your recliner or make a few trades while you travel, then a solid laptop is a great investment. On the other hand, if you want the most power and the best processing speeds, you should look to a desktop instead for your next computer.
About Our Contributor:
Since the day he took his first Commodore Vic 20 apart, Russ “Eddie Z” Hazelcorn has been obsessed with making computers more powerful and more functional. At the age of 18 he started working on Wall Street filling out paper charts and since then has learned to combine his passion for building computers with stock trading. If you’d like to find out more details about what to look for in a trading computer, he’s created a buyers guide. Go to EZTradingcomputers.com to get your free copy.