I hear from customers all around the world who are trading on the BESTDirect 8® platform.  Most have a great experience, but others not so much.  Frequently the difference is the user's hardware.  So, the question is, what hardware should you be using? I bring a unique insight to this question because I have traded both on and off the exchange floors, traded electronically on different platforms, and I am the creator of this trading platform.  I know how much fun trading can be when things work smoothly.  I have also experienced the thrills and excitement one can have when things do not work quite right.  Some of the equipment choices you make will impact your own personal experience.

If you are going to trade electronically, there are really three hardware areas on which to focus. They are the computer running the trading system, the type of video display used, and the network system over which you will be connecting. (Please note that my suggestions are purposely intended to maximize performance. These are not minimum requirements.)

Your base computer should be a newer, multi-core machine. While you can run a trading platform on an older single-core machine, it may not keep up when you begin streaming massive amounts of data in volatile markets.  Imagine a simple computer program that is simply going to count from one to a million.  It will do that in some specific amount of time. With multitasking, multiple processors, etc., two such functions can actually run side by side in your computer without any reduction of speed for each process.  To cut the time it would take to count to one million, you could run two functions at the same time, each counting to a half million, requiring only half the total time. The BESTDirect 8 platform uses this multitasking capability, performing many processes simultaneously. Basically, the more core processors and the more memory your system has, the more work your trading platform will be able to do in a given amount of time.

The second area to focus on is video. A flat panel monitor of some sort is almost a necessity these days.  Just how far you take this, however, really depends on what you are doing. For very utilitarian use of the trading platform, placing single orders, running a DOM panel or two, etc. you can get away with a single, 19-inch monitor. If you are really using it, running multiple charts, quotes, trading panels, etc. all day, you will do better with more screen space.  

Basically, the more space you have for charts, quotes, trading panels, etc. the easier it will be to keep your eye on the markets. Also, bigger is definitely better! To really take advantage of all the features in the platform, consider running a system with two or more monitors. A single large monitor, or even an HDTV, can easily replace multiple monitors. 

Keeping those large, high definition monitors running requires a dedicated video card with a lot of memory. This is an important point. You want to avoid any lower-end system which uses the computer's processor and system RAM for video.  A separate video card takes a lot of the load off your main processor, meaning it can run the platform faster. Also, the more monitors and the higher the resolution you run, the more video memory you will require.

The third category to be considered is your network system.  If you are running an older cable modem, upgrade it immediately. They have come a long way and there is a huge difference between a five year old cable modem and a new one.

The network hardware to which it connects to should also be up to date.  Both of these affect order and streaming data speeds. If you have a choice between wired or wireless connections, definitely choose wired.  A poor wireless connection can induce problems into your system. 

Your choice of Internet service provider is also important. The more bandwidth you have available the better.  Cable or DSL would be preferable to satellite systems. (If you are sharing your network connection with others, make a rule that nobody will be running file sharing software or downloading the latest movies and songs during market hours. That can just kill your data feed!)

You can tell where I am going with these recommendations. Simply put, the best system performance will be achieved by using the best system. Your computer should be so powerful that even under the load of fast markets it is just coasting along. If it is working somewhat hard during normal markets, it may simply fail when things get busy.

This does not mean you have to spend huge amounts of money for a system. Good systems can be had for a few hundred dollars at common retailers. My own preference is to purchase components online and build my own systems. This way I know what parts are going in to the machine.

If I were building a professional system to do electronic trading right now, I would look for a system marketed as a gaming system. This would have a fast processor like the Intel I5 or I7 chips, four to eight gigabytes of RAM, fast graphics with lots of video memory and a fast network adapter, all running a 64-bit operating system. I would go for HD video on one or two large monitors.

For single-monitor systems, I would select a 24-inch monitor or larger.  With multiple monitor systems, you can get away with a couple 19-inch screens, but 24-inch or larger really does let you do more.

Again, these suggestions are really my own personal preferences and are way above minimum requirements for the platform.  However, if your system has the power to easily handle all the data, has clear, crisp displays that are easy to read, and is connected to a network that can deliver the data being sent to you, the quality of your trading experience will really be maximized.  Once you experience that, you will wonder how you ever got along without it!

Commodity futures, securities, options and forex trading involve risk and are not suitable investments for everyone. Any investment should be carefully considered in light of an investor's personal financial objectives and risk tolerance.

This publication is strictly the opinion and conjecture of its writers and is intended solely for informative and educational purposes and is not to be construed, under any circumstances, by implication or otherwise, as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy or trade in any commodities or securities herein named. This publication is not meant to recommend, promote or in any way imply the effectiveness of any trading system, strategy or approach. Information is obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but is in no way guaranteed. Further, there is no guarantee of any kind  that is implied or possible where projections of future conditions are attempted.

Articles contained herein may provide hypothetical or simulated performance results. Hypothetical or simulated performance results have certain inherent limitations. Unlike an actual performance record, simulated results do not represent actual trading. Also, since the trades have not actually been executed, the results may have over- or under-compensated for the impact, if any, of certain market factors such as the lack of liquidity. Simulated trading programs are also subject to the fact they are designed with the benefit of hindsight. No representation is being made that any account will or is likely to achieve profits or losses similar to those shown. Further, past performance does not guarantee future results.