Futures trading works without much hardware

The typical image of a trader is still one that shows the trader in front of numerous screens and an expensive computer. While multiple displays and fast hardware are certainly not a disadvantage, you can get by with much less, especially for a startup.

However, a system with Microsoft Windows is a basic requirement and that was a problem for my own setup. I myself use an Apple MacBook Pro 2021 with M1 Pro chip* in everyday life. Although I could emulate a Windows system on it using Parallels Desktop, this costs quite a bit of performance and sometimes makes too deep changes to the software of the main system.

Therefore, I bought a used Dell Optiplex 3020* three years ago, which I use for my daily trading. It is a compact Windows computer that is not much bigger than a book. The hardware is now very dated and even includes only a dual-core Haswell-based processor, but the system is still available at fairly reasonable prices with updated components. A quad-core processor, such as the Intel Core i5-7500, will suffice. In addition, at least 16 GB of working memory and a 256 GB SSD.

That is easily enough to use SierraChart with three chartbooks for two markets. I use Windows 10 Pro as the operating system, which allows me to connect remotely from my macOS system via the network. This saves me having a second pair of keyboards and mouse on my desk, or even having to constantly reconnect cables, because I can simply use my Mac and switch back and forth between the two worlds.

I also use only one monitor, which can display some content side by side thanks to its extra width and quite high resolution. Specifically, I use a Samsung LS34J550WQU with 34 inches* and a resolution of 3,440 x 1,440 pixels, which I connected to my MacBook via HDMI. For my trading I get a pretty good overview with it: I can directly display the order book, put a footprint chart next to it on a 5-minute basis and use an overview chart with volume profile. I can also view longer-term weekly and monthly charts for the big picture at any time. A cluster chart as well as particularly short term charts with delta profiles, volume data or VWAP also still have room. When I’m in a trade, I focus on just one chart and the order book anyway, which I then display both over the entire screen area.

In the future, I plan to have a second monitor of this type to watch more markets at the same time or to show me more content besides the waiting time. I’m considering a used, refurbished Dell Optiplex 7040 here for not quite 200 Euros*. The Intel Core i5-6500T should offer more reserves simply because of the double core count. A second copy of the screen is available for under 300 Euros*. With all the trimmings, you can get a suitable trading setup for around 600 Euros.

However, if you want to use ATAS or multiple monitors, you need faster hardware especially with regard to the graphics card. SierraChart works very resource-saving.

Mein Trading-Rechner
Mein Hauptsystem
Dell Optiplex 7040 Micro Tiny Computer Intel 6th Generation i5 8GB DDR4 RAM 240GB SSD Disk Windows 10 Pro Pre-Installed - WiFi Connection and HDMI Included (Renewed)*
2021 Apple MacBook Pro (14", Apple M1 Pro Chip mit 8‑Core CPU und 14‑Core GPU, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD) - Space Grau*
Dell Optiplex 7040 Micro Tiny Computer Intel 6th Generation i5 8GB DDR4 RAM 240GB SSD Disk Windows 10 Pro Pre-Installed - WiFi Connection and HDMI Included (Renewed)*
2021 Apple MacBook Pro (14", Apple M1 Pro Chip mit 8‑Core CPU und 14‑Core GPU, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD) - Space Grau*
199,00 EUR
2.193,41 EUR
-
-
Mein Trading-Rechner
Dell Optiplex 7040 Micro Tiny Computer Intel 6th Generation i5 8GB DDR4 RAM 240GB SSD Disk Windows 10 Pro Pre-Installed - WiFi Connection and HDMI Included (Renewed)*
Dell Optiplex 7040 Micro Tiny Computer Intel 6th Generation i5 8GB DDR4 RAM 240GB SSD Disk Windows 10 Pro Pre-Installed - WiFi Connection and HDMI Included (Renewed)*
199,00 EUR
-
Mein Hauptsystem
2021 Apple MacBook Pro (14", Apple M1 Pro Chip mit 8‑Core CPU und 14‑Core GPU, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD) - Space Grau*
2021 Apple MacBook Pro (14", Apple M1 Pro Chip mit 8‑Core CPU und 14‑Core GPU, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD) - Space Grau*
2.193,41 EUR
-

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Andreas Stegmüller

Andreas is the founder and operator of this blog. During his more than ten-year editorial career, he has written for several major media outlets on a wide variety of topics. The stock market has been his passion since 2016.

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