The 10 Best Trading Computers and Laptops

By November 1, 2018trading plan
The Best Laptops And Computers For Traders

If you want it done right—no matter what “it” is—you need to have the right tools. In this post, we look at the top trading computers & laptops.

As a stock trader, no amount of talent can make up for a lack of great tools. And since most trading is conducted online these days, one of the most vital trading tools is a laptop or desktop computer.

Don’t misunderstand: A great computer in and of itself won’t make you a great trader. But the quality of your laptop or desktop setup can have an impact on your effectiveness as a trader, so it’s important to choose one that can perform the tasks you need.

With high-tech gadgetry, the choices can be overwhelming. Laptops and desktop computers come in all shapes and sizes. As the consumer, you’ve got to strike the perfect balance between reliability, durability, functionality, and price.  

Download the key points of this post as PDF.

In this post, we’ll share our favorite picks for both laptop and desktop computers for traders.

Scroll down for additional tips on what to look for in a laptop or computer and answers to FAQs.

The Best Trading Computers and Laptops

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for!

Here are several of StocksToTrade’s picks for some of the best laptops and desktop computers for traders. In no particular order:

Laptops

 

Huawei MateBook X Pro

huawei-matebook-x-projpg

What it is: A higher-end lightweight (only 2.93 pounds!) 13.9-inch touchscreen laptop with a very slim profile.

Why it works: An eighth-generation Intel Core i5 8250U processor boosts performance up to 40% over its predecessor, which means it’s a fast and powerful machine.

Where to Buy: Find it on Amazon

A high-resolution display ensures that you can see everything clearly and in living color, and it’s a great laptop for streaming content, so you can watch your favorite trading videos without hiccups.

 

MacBook Pro (Quad Core)

apple-macbook-pro-quad-core

What it is: The latest MacBook Pro, featuring a powerful quad-core processor. It comes in various screen sizes and includes a lot more bells and whistles than prior models.

Why it works: A seventh-generation Intel Core processor helps this laptop deliver an amazing performance. This means you can move fast, even when working in multiple windows.

Where to Buy: Find it on Amazon

The video quality is incredible, so can watch lessons on this laptop without stalls. The display is possibly the best ever in a MacBook, meaning that every chart and screen will dazzle your very eyes.

Oh, and the battery power is incredible. While trading software might challenge the 10 hours it’s advertised to last, it will hold its power longer than many other laptops.

 

Dell XPS 15

What it is: A slim, lightweight performance laptop with a borderless display.

Why it works: This laptop packs a pretty big punch in a small package. With an eighth-generation Intel Core processor, it’s a powerful machine and can handle all of the trading programs and platforms you might be running.

Where to Buy: Find it on Amazon

It has an UltraSharp 4K Ultra display, making for an even better visual than full HD, with smooth, seamless color and display.

An anti-reflective screen can be viewed from multiple angles and won’t hurt your eyes. The touchscreen is optional but handy so that you can quickly interact with the technology.  

 

ASUS ZenBook 14 UX430

What it is: A thin, super-light (2.75 pounds!) laptop with a nano-edge bezel display.

Why it works: For an affordable option, this laptop delivers great results. It’s equipped with the latest eighth-generation Intel 1.8 GHz processor and has great storage and memory.

Where to Buy: Find it on Amazon

Visually, the ZenBook 14 has a high-resolution display with wide viewing angles and good color. It has good visual performance and its display is easy on the eyes, so you won’t suffer strain.

Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UN

asus-zenbook-13-ux331un

What it is: A slightly smaller and even more lightweight version (2.47 pounds) of the aforementioned laptop.

Why it works: The technology is comparable to the ZenBook 14 but in a slightly smaller package. It’s perfect for traders on the go.

Where to Buy: Find it on Amazon

Desktop Computers

If you prefer a desktop (or want a desktop in addition to a laptop), here are some of our picks.

iMac 27″ i7

What it is: An all-in-one desktop system (this includes the screen) with a quad-core processor.

Why it works: The massive screen means that you’ll be able to see all the trading action, and the powerful processor and memory ensure that you won’t drop out while making charts or executing trades.

Where to Buy: Find it on Amazon

Oh, and while it’s not the most important thing, it’s a slick looking desktop unit.

iMac 21.5″ i7

apple-imac-21-5-i7

What it is: A slightly smaller all-in-one desktop system (this includes the screen) than the one above, also with a quad-core processor.0

Why it works: Same benefits as the 27-inch version, so if space is at a premium, it’s a perfect pick that’s generous without dominating your entire desk.

Where to Buy: Find it on Amazon

Dell Inspiron 5680 Gaming Desktop

dell-inspiron-5680-gaming-computer

What it is: A high-powered desktop designed for gaming with an Intel Core i7 processor. Note: This is a computer tower only, not the monitor.

Editors Note: See our Top Trading Monitors Here

Why it works: While it’s called a “gaming” desktop, that same responsiveness can be applied to market quotes and charts, which can employ a similar amount of processing power.

Where to Buy: Find it on Amazon

Not only is the computer powerful, but it’s quiet, too. It features a thermal design, smart component placement, and optimized graphic solution to help make this one of the quietest computers of the bunch.  

Dell XPS Tower Special Edition (8930)

What it is: A tower desktop with an eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8700. Note: This is a computer tower only, not the monitor.

Why it works: The powerful processor is designed for lots of action and multitasking, which is helpful for traders who are running charts, monitoring positions, and doing research in multiple tabs. The unit features award-winning audio, so as you watch trading tutorials or stream on YouTube, you won’t have weird crackles or pops.

Where to Buy: Find it on Amazon

Another Option: BUILD YOUR OWN EPIC COMPUTER!!

What it is: A self-built system using components you purchase separately.

We suggest using:

This option is best for those that know how to build a computer, but it’s fun none-the-less!

Why it works: By putting together the components yourself, you can build an extremely powerful trading machine and customize it to suit your needs.

Before You Buy

Before forking over your credit card, it’s important to first consider your tech needs as a trader. While a laptop might look sleek and professional, you’ve got to know you can count on it when you’re ready to dump shares immediately after a quick mid-day spike.

Also, a word on price: Don’t pick your laptop or computer purely based on which one costs the least. Everyone wants a good deal, but is it really worth it if your computer crashes and you miss a $500 or $5000 trading opportunity?

Evaluating Laptops

There are two critical elements to consider when evaluating a trading laptop: functionality and reliability. Why?

Picture this: You’re mid-trade and your laptop powers off when your so-called eight-hour battery fails you.

Or, maybe your computer keeps crashing when you open your tenth Chrome tab because it can only process a few tasks simultaneously.

While these might cause momentary blips in your technology, it can have huge ramifications on your trades.

A laptop or desktop computer needs to be able to handle intense trading software, multiple tabs, streaming videos, and other activity. If using a laptop, the battery has to have staying power so that you can keep monitoring your watch list, timing your trades, and striking when the iron is hot.

The good news is that there are great laptops available for a variety of different price points.

What Does a Professional Trader Look For in a Computer?

Before we get into the top picks, let’s hear some common questions that people ask about trading laptops and desktops.

Q: What type of laptop does Tim Sykes use?

A: Well, until January 2015, Tim used a MacBook Pro. Unfortunately, while he was making a video about how it’s great to be able to make money while chilling next to a pool, the wind blew it into the pool. If you haven’t seen the video footage of this yet, you should. The scream is worth it.

To replace it, Tim bought another MacBook Pro … then in short order, he spilled water on it and fried the circuitry. To replace that one, he bought … another MacBook Pro. Safe to say, Tim’s a MacBook Pro fan.

Q: Is there anything special about laptops for traders? Can’t I just buy a regular laptop at my local Staples or Best Buy?

A: Trading software can be a beast. It hogs lots of resources and sucks battery power like you wouldn’t believe. Trading software is chart-heavy, and traders typically view multiple graphs at a time, so it’s important to have great graphics to see all those bars, lines, tails, etc.

Q: Don’t all laptops have the same things on the inside? Does it really matter which one I choose?

A: Like a car, yes, laptops have the same vital organs on the inside. So, in that way, yes, they have a lot of basic similarities. That said, some cars have 6.2-liter engines, while others have 1.5-liter engines.

Some cars go 0 to 60 mph in under three seconds, while others may struggle to beat 11 seconds.

You get the idea. For laptops, the main differences to look out for are processor speeds, RAM, graphics cards, and cooling mechanisms.  

Fun fact: Gaming computers often work particularly well for traders, because they focus on graphics and running large programs that are similar in size to trading software.

What to Look For in a Laptop or Desktop Computer

Let’s talk about some of the things you should look for in a computer. Here are some of the most important things to consider:

RAM

RAM (Random Access Memory) is largely misunderstood.

Contrary to popular belief, adding RAM doesn’t necessarily make your computer faster. However, having enough RAM can keep your computer from slowing down.

You need enough RAM for your computer to run your programs. Too little and it will crash, not run or slow down. While if you have too much RAM it might go unused, it’s better to have too much than too little.  

Processor speed

Way back in the dark ages of the 80s and 90s, you’d just choose the fastest processor you could afford and be done with it.  It was pretty straightforward. Each processor had a numerical value assigned to it that showed how fast it was.

Today, there are a crazy amount of processors that don’t fit so neatly onto a linear speed scale. We have AMD, dual core, quad core, i3, i5, A8 and gigahertzes, to name a few.

And they all have their own strengths. For instance, dual core is faster than quad core, but quad cores are better at processing multithreaded applications.

Because of this fact, it’s important to know what your needs are so that you can seek out the machine best suited to your work.

Hard Drive

This is the thing that spins around inside your computer (most of them, anyway).

The faster it spins, the more responsive your computer will be. Hard drive speeds are measured in revolutions per minute. Solid-state drives (SSDs) are much faster than spinning ones.

Yes, the price tag for those are quite a bit more, but the increase in boot speeds for applications is noticeable.

You also probably guessed that the absence of moving parts makes SSDs the more durable choice.

Size matters, too. No, you probably don’t need to get that 3 terabyte hard drive. But you might want to set your sights higher than 500 gigabytes (GB).

If you use your laptop ONLY for trading, there may not be a call for a ton of storage space, unless you’re saving chart images and such.

Display

The display on your laptop or desktop computer matters. Since you’re going to be logging many hours staring at that screen, you want to make sure that the display is adjustable and as gentle on the eyes as necessary.

Consider where you’ll be working (in an office with little natural daylight? Outside on your patio?), and make sure to choose a computer with a display that’s well suited to your work environment.

Battery Life

When it comes to laptops, the battery life matters … big time. You can’t always plug in your laptop when you’re in a cab, plane or train. If you’re camped out on the beach, electrical outlets can be scarce.  

Please note that while you’re running trading software, there is absolutely NO WAY that your battery is going to last as long as the manufacturer says it will. Not even close. Prepare yourself for this reality.

Weight

Usually, battery power usually comes as a tradeoff to weight. The longer the battery life, the more the laptop weighs.

However, you’ve got to keep your comfort in mind. You may be hauling your laptop around for hours on end, so you want a unit that won’t strain your shoulders to carry.

Screen Size

Small computers, and therefore, small screens, are easy and convenient to carry around.  However, trading charts are awfully hard to look at on a tiny screen. If you view multiple charts simultaneously, a larger screen size can make a big difference.

What kind of computer do you use for trading? Share your comment below.

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Join the discussion 33 Comments

  • jerry pageot says:

    i have a surface pro 4 and stockstotrade appears very small i cant really read anything i dont know what settings to adjust so i can get the screen to be bigger if you have any idea please let me know thanks

  • jerry pageot says:

    hey Tim,
    i ran in tho this problem when STT first came out to the public a few months back at the time there was a free trial but i do not have a screenshot of it. i want to get the month to month subscription now but i’m kind of scare that i will have the same problem. also even when i change the text size settings to more than 200%on the surface pro it still was not working.

  • jerry pageot says:

    not yet i will try it again and let you know how it works for me. thanks

  • Roudy says:

    Macbook pro on the delivery truck should have it by the evening

  • James says:

    As I have seen the system requirements for STT, it recommends Quad Core i5/i7 but the listed laptops above don’t have quad core in all of them..So, my question is, will a Dual Core i5/i7 with 8 GB RAM and 256 SSD will be a good choice to run STT, DAS trader and other Trading Softwares while runnig 5/6 charts at a time?

    Thanks in advance

  • cola says:

    how do you use a macbook pro to trade? none of the trading software I’m trying to use will run on my mac OSX!!!

  • Mark says:

    I have a new lenovo g50 with an i3 processor and an 8gig ram would that be enough to trade one at a time? I’m talking one trade per day..is that enough?

  • Abdellah Kadiri says:

    I am currently struggling between bying the proface 4 or the surface book

  • Arabisc says:

    If you, like me, loves to open TONNES of screens, charts, Baron, Moody, Youtube, Tradestation, etc etc. you really need to think about the processor and the amount of memory
    I use Dell Precision 5510 with the Xeon processor and 32GB memory. I find the Xeon processor to be superiour to the i7-67xxHQ in terms of handling calculation intensive application (graphs, spread sheets, and any floating point processing in general). dedicated video card is also a good option so I can power UHD 46 screen I use for charting and a 2×21″ screen combo for trades, surfing, etc. I keep the main screen for email and off time 🙂 total setup (without screens) $2400

  • Nick says:

    I’m thinking of ordering a Macbook Pro 15” model with the following configuration:

    2.8GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7
    16GB 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM
    512GB Flash Storage
    Intel Iris Pro Graphics

    How will this perform for trading. It is the largest processor and most amount of RAM available. Also, the storage is the mid-point of what is offered, but I think I don’t need that much storage considering this laptop will be primarily for trading. What do you think?

  • love spell says:

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  • Craig Morton says:

    Tim,

    I am considering day trading. I read the above article and was surprised that you use a Mac. I have an iMac at home and my son has a Mac book but I was under the impression that there are not any trader software programs for Mac operating systems. Was I misinformed?

  • Nic says:

    Macbook doesnt support alot of broker and charting softwares though.

  • Dominique089 says:

    My first experience @ furcoins can simply be described as trading bitcoins made easy and cheap!

  • Johanna Anderson says:

    Thanks so much, Tim. I have been counting on you for advice for a long time, and once again, you have come through. I really appreciate your dedication to the day trading community.

    Regards,
    Johanna Anderson

  • Slayer says:

    I like my W8 laptop with 128 GB SSD, 32 MB Ram, i7 quad-core, 17″ screen. I have run up to 2 additional monitors off it. It handles a couple trading platforms running at the same time. Back light keyboard. I believe if you want to be serious about trading then do not let your equipment get in the way. Pay up and prosper.

  • Mari says:

    Tim,
    Your timing for this post is PERFECT! I’m needing to get a computer just for trading… this will help me in that decision!

  • Melvin says:

    2 year old tech advice?
    Trading patterns don’t change much (Thanks, Tim, I’ve been studying)
    But, tech does. Some of these models are no longer available as new products.
    The basic advice is good – speed, memory, weight and battery life are the keys to a great laptop.

    I appreciate all the advice, and, for the cost of the training, I’d appreciate it more it if was current.

    • Jeff says:

      Hey Melvin

      We agree! We consulted our #1 Techy and are currently re-writing this post to include the 5 best laptops AND desktops for trading for 2018 & 2019. It should be live in the next week or two. 🙂

      Jeff

  • Preetha says:

    Hello,

    I have the DELL Windows 10 laptop with 4GB RAM and Intel i3 processor (64 bit operating system) . I haven’t started Trading yet but wanted to know if this is good to start with? Thanks!

    Preetha

  • Pierre Joanis says:

    I want to place orders(trade) today, what companies and how? I do have a laptop.

  • Pierre Joanis says:

    That is a reasonable thought.

  • Zekria Zaki says:

    Great and very important info, Thanks for your time and detailed info. I am so exited to start investing in stock market however I have 0 experience ????????‍♂️

    I will highly appreciate if you could help me out on coaching me on one on one basis ????

    Very respectfully,
    Zekria Zaki
    209-900-1111

  • Halvard says:

    Windows vs mac, are there still trading software out there that only runs on windows? I really want to say goodbye to windows for good:-)

  • Tim says:

    MSI GE72VR Apache Pro, Intel I7 770HQ CPU @2.8GHz, 16GB Ram, NVIDIA Geforcre GTX 1600, 128GB SSD, 1TB HDD. Big screen, heavy laptop, but very nice…a high end gaming laptop should be capable of running any trading software out there IMHO…I got it just for trading and business.

  • Malen says:

    Hi,
    As this post is fairly “old” I am not sure i’ll get an update / comment / reply. I have to change PC. My current IMac is getting old and unfortunately most advanced “trading ” charting tools and application do not run on Mac system. One needs to get a windows operating system or Linux. So for simplicity , i’ll concentrate on Windows …i was using Windows and made the change to a Mac …i find it hard to switch back to a windows especially version 8 or 10…I’ve read above that Windows will bug your system or pc after a while …care to explain a little more , in what way? If choosing a Macbook pro , i suppose the problem will be the same if I make it compatible to run windows ? anyone knows ? The downside with a Macbook pro is the size of the screens..even a 15 inch is small …thanks for any feedback

  • Ishan says:

    Thanks for sharing this information regarding laptops And MacBook I really found this very helpful. And your blog help me so much. Blog is also very interesting and very useful for know more about laptops.

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