What is a good computer system for day trading? (August 5, 2000)

  With the machines available today, the day trader and the trend trader can have excellent machines at excellent prices. As most of you know, we use eSignal for our trading and investing whether we are making a trade for the day or a trade for years. The key is the entry point on the front end of the trade and the exit point. You have to have accurate and timely data. You need (1) a service that provides accurate data direct from the exchange (not routed to your provider and then to you; that loses too much time); (2) a broadband connection for the fastest transfer of information; and (3) a machine capable of running all of the programs you want to run, and running them fast.

As for the first, we like eSignal because it is easy to use, easy to view with its color schemes and charts, and is directly connected to the exchanges. That means fast and accurate updates.

As for the broadband access, DSL or cable are great if available. DSL is a dedicated access that allows lightning fast downloads. Cable is even faster, but it will slow with the number of users on the line. These allow you to receive large amounts of information much faster. When the markets are changing on high volume, that can be critical.

As for the machine, you need to know what amount of RAM is needed for each program to run well. Not the minimums, but what will let it run at its greatest efficiency. That would include your realtime service such as eSignal, browser, charting program, and any other software you use. You need to be able to load them all and have plenty left so you don't have problems with programs locking up on you at the wrong time. We have machines with 128 and 256 megs or RAM. We can run eSignal, Explorer, a charting program, Word and Excel on the 128 megs with no problem. Over the net, clock speed is not that crucial, but you want a good speed. The Pentium III chips of 500 megahertz or faster are reasonably priced now, and the AMD chips are a bargain and are very good. We like the bigger monitors, 19" or larger. We also like to use two monitors so we don't have to jump back and forth, but that is not really necessary to start out. More of an as needed addition.

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