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Computer Buying Advice
for Daytraders, Active Traders
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If you are a daytrader or investor running real-time charting software, you need specific computer components. Here are our suggestions for a daytrader.
A Daytrader's Computer | Shopping List | The Bottom Line
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Daytraders Have Specific Computer Needs

With all a daytrader must do during the trading day, the last thing you want to think about is your computer. If you are in the market for a new computer system, here is a quick lesson to help you wade through the ads and enable you to ask intelligent questions when you go shopping. You'll soon know more than many computer sales persons.

If you are (or want to be) a daytrader, focus on the following specifics:

  • Excellent video and ability to run dual monitors
  • Excellent quality monitor - 17" minimum
  • 128 Mg minimum memory

Most off-the-shelf systems will not be adequate for your needs so review the ads carefully. Computer charting software is memory intensive, and running multiple charts in real-time is a drain on your video capabilities.

We have put together a short description of each component your system will need, along with average pricing as of the present date (January 22, 2000). Use this Shopping List as a guide when ordering your next system.

To find a good computer vendor, walk into any computer shop (some small shops are excellent) and tell them you'd like to discuss a custom computer.

The first thing they should ask is, "What are you going to use the computer for?" This is to discover whether you need more memory, better video, good sound, etc. If they do not ask you what you plan to do with the computer, get out of their shop and go elsewhere.

Check your community for a local computer magazine. Our local area has two - Computer Bits and Computer Source Magazine, both full of ads from local computer shops who are happy to answers questions.

Reading the Computer Ads

Here are several things to watch out for in deciphering computer store ads. This is an example from the Sunday Oregonian (January 23, 2000), Portland, Oregon.

Intel Celeron Processor 500 MHz -

This processor was a dumbed down chip, geared to the low end home user (who they must think won't actually use the computer). You'll want a Pentium III or the AMD 6 or 7.

15" monitor -

Too small. A good 17" monitor is available for $350, better for a bit more money. For all the hours you will watch your screen, and the multiple windows you'll need (or wish you had), 15" is simply too small. Don't be afraid to spend some money on a good monitor.

If you can't or don't want to go dual monitors, consider buying a 21" monitor. You'll need a big desk to hold this monster, but you will smile everytime you site down to trade in front of this beauty.

Rebates that include Internet access -

In a word, junk. Do not even consider any rebate that includes three year's Internet access. You will be charged an average of $20.00 per month for this with plenty of penalties and fees if you want to quit early. Three years is simply too long to be locked into any Internet provider.

2 Mg or 4Mg Video -

This is laughable. Most games produced even three years ago will not run properly with only 2Mg of Video RAM. Do not skimp on your video. You'll want 16Mg minimum. The card we prefer has 32Mg.

Windows 98 -

Make sure any system you buy comes with Windows 98 SE (second edition) pre-intalled. Do not buy Windows 2000 (experts suggest we all may want to take a pass on Win 2000).

Keep your eyes open. Many ultra cheap systems do not include a CD-ROM, modem, or sound card, all of which you will need.

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