I sometimes get questions about the computer equipment I would recommend for day trading e-mini futures. They come from my regular clients and some prospective ones. I recently got a question along these lines, but it concerned a laptop and a trading platform this time. I thought I might as well address this issue here, if only so that many others having similar questions could benefit from it. In a nutshell, it’s the issue of hardware and software for day trading e-mini futures. I will try to address it in a most basic manner with the beginners in mind.
First of all, I really don’t recommend a laptop for day trading e-mini futures. It would help if you had a bigger screen than the laptops, even the biggest ones, can offer. These days you can easily get an inexpensive 20-inch monitor, something that most laptops will not be able to beat any time soon. And 20 inches is a relatively these days. You may also choose to hook up more than one monitor to your machine. Many traders opt for such a solution.
When I was starting as a day trader, I was using 3 monitors, the biggest was a 21-inch beast, too heavy even to get rid of it now, so it’s just lying around in my place along with some other monitors and old computers, only some of which remain functional. I really don’t need more than one monitor these days, but I may spring for two when upgrading my desktop shortly.
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When it comes to desktops, you want to get a computer with the following parameters that are not that hard to meet as of late 2015, and many relatively inexpensive machines meet them rather easily.
Here are these parameters.
Processor (CPU): at least 3.5 GHz,
RAM: at least 8 GB,
Hard Drive: at least 1 TB.
When it comes to the operating system, I think Windows 7 is better, more stable, and less radical than Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. Still, too many Windows 8 computers may be as fine as those running Windows 7. If you feel comfortable with Windows 8, there is probably no need to go for one of the Windows 7 desktops that are less available these days.
However, these days Windows 10 computers are slowly entering the market, so you may choose one of those if you are a bit more tech-savvy. If not, you may want to wait until 2016, when all the major imperfections are ironed out, or until Service Pack 1 (the first major upgrade) is released, which I would expect in 2016 as well. Desktops with the aforementioned parameters are routinely offered by Hewlett-Packard or Dell and many other lesser-known computer makers. You can purchase them locally or buy from Amazon.com or a similar online outlet.
Let’ssoftware now, that is, the charting and trading platforms. You usually best subscribe to the trading platform every month, and it depends on what broker you choose. Most e-mini brokers offer more than one trading platform, though some platforms may be limited to only one broker, for instance, as is the case with Bracket Trader. You often also need to subscribe to charting software, which may not be the same as your trading platform. Amibroker, which is only a charting software, is an exception here in that it is not subscription-based. There are others too, which are usually much more expensive if you decide to purchase a lifetime license, though they usually offer monthly or quarterly subscriptions. MultiCharts or NinjaTrader are good examples in this regard.
I trade through Interactive Brokers. They offer good commissions, but their margins are not among the lowest ones, and you need to deposit $10,000 to open an account with them so that you may choose another broker. Look at the sites of ninjatrader.com and sierrachart.com to see what brokers support these platforms. Both of them are trading and charting platforms, and I suggest you choose one or the other. I use Sierra Chart for my charting and Bracket Trader for my trading. Bracket Trader works only with Interactive Brokers, but it’s just $100 (one-time payment for life) compared to $60 a month for NinjaTrader. If you choose Interactive Brokers, I recommend these two software packages as the most cost-effective combination.
Interested in launching a lucrative career as a day trader? This author believes that KING, an e-mini futures trading course, http://www.eminimethods.com/system_king.html, can put you on a fast track to success in this field. Waldemar Puszkarz, Ph.D., is a web veteran with over 20 years of surfing under his belt. By training, he is a theoretical physicist with broad interests that include science and mathematics and financial markets, sports betting, poker, and researching online business opportunities.
For over a decade, he has traded various financial instruments: stocks, options, futures, and Forex, his instrument of choice being e-mini futures. He is the owner and webmaster of Eminimethods.com ( http://www.eminimethods.com ), which offers free common sense education for traders, simple systems and methods for e-mini futures and stock markets, and a winning e-mini day trading course, KING.