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General discussion

stock trading workstation

Nov 22, 2007 12:30AM PST

I would appreciate recommendations for components for a high quality desktop workstation (dual monitors) to be used primarily for stock trading and portfolio management.

Discussion is locked

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At the office...
Nov 22, 2007 12:45AM PST

We have many Dells that are used for such. We use those since we don't want to build our own and support them.


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$800 laptop and a 22" monitor
Nov 22, 2007 3:00AM PST

today's laptop are more than powerful enough to handle trading apps. with a 22" widescreen monitor, you'd have a good system for daily work and still be able to take it with you when you travel.

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My Bloomberg station...
Nov 25, 2007 2:14AM PST

... is fairly typical of a heavy-duty machine used in the financial sector. A Dell Precision 490 with dual dual-core Xeon 3Ghz processors, 4Gb of RAM, 32-bit Windows XP and a dedicated PCI-E SAS controller with two 15Krpm SAS drives in RAID1, and I use two 2407WFP monitors on that PC running off the NVidia Quadro FX4500 display adapter (which is overkill for this use - a Quadro NVS-series card is all you need if you're not doing 3D visualisations, etc). These are all factory options if you go to, although the FX4500 has been superceded.

A direct HP alternative would be the xw series, with the xw8400 range being a suitable candidate. We have a few of them down at the lab, and the quality / performance / service is broadly comparable to the Dell - although the HP's might have a slight edge.

In terms of power that you'll need, even running the giant Bloomberg link-infested Excel models from the fund managers / other industry types I work with, the horsepower required is actually well within the capabilities of a low-end quad-core consumer PC. The distinction between buying a workstation or a PC for this kind of task is almost purely about what sort of resilience and support you expect. With the Precisions I get same-day onsite service, the machines are rated to run continuously at high loads in high ambient temperatures - as well as other features adding resilience in operation.

If on the other hand you're looking for a more general-purpose machine on which you can do your trading then slack off at the end of the day and have some fun, then I can recommend the Dell XPS H2C desktops, although I'm also looking to acquire a couple of HP Blackbirds as soon as it is available in the UK. I've found the H2C computers quiet, powerful and reliable under stress although not as future-proof as the ubernerds would like. Next-business day service only though, and the support follow through isn't in my experience as thorough as the Precisions.

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Oh yes...
Nov 25, 2007 2:29AM PST

... If you are doing anything with Bloomberg and many other financial apps with Excel hook-ins, avoid Vista and avoid Office 2007. I don't know why it takes these companies so long to do it, but many have been late to the table with stable Vista & Office 2007 compatible apps and plugins. I have a seldom-used license of Bloomberg installed on another PC with Vista and 2007, and the combo causes problems when I'm sharing stuff between other people most of all - links disappear, change or just don't work, and neither does some of the other finance and non-finance Excel plugins I use.

eBay a (taking the usual precautions that it is a genuine license) copy of Office 2003 (since they won't be sold with new PC's), and specify XP with your machine.

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And more...
Nov 25, 2007 3:18AM PST

... I was assuming you were asking for recommendations as you were starting out on your own in this field and were tech-savvy. From your wording though, I note that it's also possible that someone in this field has asked you to build them a PC.

If the latter is the case, here's very good advice. Don't build them a PC yourself, even if you think you know a thing or two about building PC's. Because the chances are very high that a) it won't be as reliable as the workstations above and b) you won't be able to support problems effectively without having a spare machine to hand.