Windows PC vs. Mac for Trading: Key Takeaways
- Windows PCs have long been dominant in the world of trading … Here’s how to know if it’s the right choice for your trading setup.
- Think you can’t use a Mac to trade? Read this now.
- Don’t overcomplicate things! There’s a simple way to pick your best trading computer.
So you’re asking the age-old question: Windows PC or Mac for trading?
You may know I’m a tech geek…
But I’m a bigger advocate of KISS — keep it simple, stupid.
No, I’m not calling you stupid. Just don’t overthink your choice of equipment. All you need to know is whether your computer can run the programs you need it to run.
Let’s get into it!
Table of Contents
- 1 The Case for Macs
- 2 The Pros of Windows PCs
- 3 Check Your Apps
- 4 Best Builds for Traders
- 5 Converting a Mac to a Windows PC
- 6 Verdict
- 7 Want to Know What We Recommend?
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions About Windows PC vs. Mac
The Case for Macs
Macs have their advocates… I’m one of them!
They’re more expensive and work with fewer programs. But in the end, you only need one computer — unless you’re a degenerate trader like I am!
Here’s why I love Macs.
1.) Easy to Set Up
Macs are generally easy to set up, start up, use, and even maintain.
A Mac can go from cold boot to live trading in well under a minute.
But a Windows PC typically involves much more hassle to set up. This can be a dealbreaker for the non-tech-savvy.
2.) Higher Reliability
Macs have a reputation for being true workhorses that rarely break down. Everything in a Mac was put there by Apple.
Macs have a reputation for not crashing as much as Windows PCs. Some say that properly-maintained PCs are just as reliable…
Whatever the reason, PC users tend to have more problems. If one crops up in the middle of a trading session, that can spell trouble.
Macs have a reputation for being better at resisting viruses and other malware. Although that seems to no longer be the case…
According to cybersecurity software firm Malwarebytes, Macs are twice as likely to be infected. That said, the threats are more likely to be adware than traditional viruses … So they may be a nuisance, but they won’t completely screw up your computer.
Windows PCs have hits and misses. Some brands are more reliable than others.
A low-end PC might only last two years. Problems such as overheating and cracked cases aren’t rare.
Macs, on the other hand, don’t really have an expiration date. At a certain point, you won’t be able to update the operating system anymore, and the battery will die…
But on an everyday basis, these are reliable machines. Between top-grade hardware and stable software, Macs rarely let their users down.
3.) Better User Satisfaction and Customer Support
When it comes to satisfying the user, I think Macs beat Windows PCs by a mile. Macs have ranked at the top of user satisfaction surveys for more than a decade.
Their customer support is one of the most impressive parts of the Mac package…
If anything goes wrong with your Mac, you can take it down to the ‘Genius Bar’ at your local Apple Store. Even if it’s past the warranty period, these specialists will likely help you out.
4.) Seamless Integration Across Devices
This is one of Apple’s biggest selling points.
Do you have an iPhone? Using a Mac will probably come second nature.
An array of tricks can make life a little easier across the Apple ecosystem. You can unlock your Macbook with an Apple Watch, or paste text in your iPhone copied from your Macbook.
Windows PCs aren’t there yet … although they have their pluses as well.
The Pros of Windows PCs
Let’s not count Windows PCs out. There’s a reason they still account for 83% of the market, according to tech industry researchers Gartner.
Actually, several reasons.
1.) Less Expensive
Some traders use multiple computers for trading. Not just multiple screens — more than one computer.
The $400 or $500 difference between platforms might not be huge for one computer. But it adds up if you have six.
Throw in the higher cost of software for Macs, and the difference might be too big to justify.
2.) More Customizable
If you’re a tinkerer, you might already have your answer.
Sure, you could pay $2,500 for a top-of-the-line MacBook…
But a lot of that cost goes into things you don’t care about.
Macs are geared toward creative professionals. Their video and image editing prowess is legendary.
If you just want to use them for trading, you’re buying power that you may not ever use.
PCs can be customized according to your specifications. As the years go on, you can upgrade them as needed.
This isn’t the case with Macs. Apple actually solders in its processors and storage drives!
3.) Better Compatibility With Major Trading Platforms
This used to be the overwhelming reason to choose a Windows PC. Nearly three-quarters of all trading software used to be designed PC only.
In recent years, however, there’s been a big shift. It isn’t just that more people are buying Macs…
Although that’s true. Mac sales have gone up six-fold worldwide in the last 15 years.
According to Gartner, Macs now account for 8.5% of the PC market globally. Domestically, the number is 16.1%.
And Apple is growing even faster in the business world. Macs now have a 23% share in the U.S. enterprise market — up from 17% in 2019.
More trading programs have become Mac-compatible in recent years…
But many of those programs started out on Windows. Their performance might still be better on the platform for which they were designed.
Check Your Apps
This is the most important point — what will you use your computer for?
If you already have a broker, check their platform. Does it have a Mac option, or is it exclusively for Windows?
For many traders, this is the biggest consideration.
Some traders like non-broker trading platforms. In fact, I’m one of them…
StocksToTrade for Windows PC, Mac, and Mobile
StocksToTrade is the platform I use when I trade.
There are a ton of reasons for this. But the basic one is that it makes my life easier!
There’s no need to have a lot of browser windows open. StocksToTrade’s news feed is the place I go for news, Twitter mentions, and earnings reports.
Like most newer software, StocksToTrade has both Windows PC and Mac versions.
There’s even a smartphone app you can use while you’re on the go!
Ultimately, your software should fit your needs. StocksToTrade is tailored to fit as many active trading needs as possible.
The Online Option
There’s also a growing segment of trading platforms that are exclusively online.
That means that all you need is an internet connection to use them.
If you’re already using a web-based app, the choice of computer is up to you.
It’s likely that more trading will be done entirely online in the future. Having a program hosted in the cloud makes it easier to update. It cuts developer costs too.
Best Builds for Traders
Whether you’re assembling a computer or picking a pre-built one, you need to know what you’re aiming for.
- Storage. You don’t need too much storage space. Just make sure you get a solid-state drive (SSD).
- Processors. A CPU is the ultimate measure of a computer’s speed. Multi-core processors have faster speeds.
- Memory. RAM allows you to run several processes at the same time. Go high and you’ll ‘future-proof’ your computer.
- Graphics card. Do you want multiple monitors? Check that your graphics card (GPU) is up to the task.
Converting a Mac to a Windows PC
For some Mac users, this is the answer…
For others, it’s just a way to complicate things.
There are several applications that make it so Macs can run Windows programs. Only one, Parallels, is compatible with the newest Macs at the time of this writing.
More to the point — running your programs through this type of ‘virtual machine’ will slow them down.
Ultimately, the best choice of computer comes down to preference.
Which operating system are you more comfortable with? Start there and then figure it out.
If you’ve been using Windows PCs your whole life, trading shouldn’t be the reason you change.
Mac users are already used to a smaller software selection. But one good program like StocksToTrade is all you need for high-level trading.
Want to Know What We Recommend?
Picking a computer is a daunting process.
Ultimately, trading isn’t about your equipment. It’s about how you use it.
Whatever you choose, make sure you put as much thought into your trading education!
Which platform do you prefer and why? Let me know in the comments!
Frequently Asked Questions About Windows PC vs. Mac
I know, there’s still a lot to unpack…
Can I Just Use My Mobile Device or Tablet Instead?
Trading should fit your needs, and current mobile apps can do more than ever before. But they’re usually less powerful, with less screen real estate too.
What About Linux and Chromebooks?
Like Macs, Linux computers and Chromebooks have emulators designed to run Windows. The dominant Linux software is Wine — also available for Macs. Chromebooks have a version of Parallels that allows them access.