Building a New Trading Computer – Thoughts?

August 27th, 2008

It’s definitely time for me to start looking for another trading computer – I built one back in 2004 and it’s still doing pretty well, but it’s showing its age. My CPU gets humming pretty good around the market open these days with all the tools I’m using.

I told myself I wasn’t going to go the “build my own” route this time, so I started looking around the major PC makers for a decent system. I was surprised at the cost of some of them – still pretty expensive after all these years. I stumbled upon this post (specifically this comment) which got me thinking again about building my own. I did a little bit of research and have come to the same conclusion I did over 4 years ago – you can get a LOT more computer by building your own.

So I’m leaning toward the do-it-yourself route, mainly because of cost. I found some good buying guides that are kept up to date and started putting together some components.

Here’s the list of components I came up with (Newegg is awesome, by the way). I’d love for you to take a look and make suggestions. (Note – I’ll be reusing the monitor setup I have now which uses 4 monitors and requires a PCI (old school) slot on the motherboard for the video card which restricts my choices somewhat, but not much).

Any thoughts?


  1. Michael Said,

    August 27, 2008 @ 6:44 am

    Funny, I’ve long taken the opposite tack that you’re taking. I used to build my own machines way back in the day. But over the last 10 years or so it has seemed to me that it’s much cheaper to just get a pre-built machine. I like the machines that Miro Center builds. (Do you have them in N.C.?)

    But this last time I actually built my own machine, only because I wanted a small form-factor case. So I got a Shuttle XPC case and just threw the top of the line (at the time) CPU in it along with a ton of memory.

    I can’t imagine that any trading software would require one to go through what the gamers go through in putting together super-capable machines. I take it that it’s your ATS that’s sucking up all your resources? If so, does it make sense to run that on its own machine?

    I’ll be interested in seeing what you finally choose.

  2. Dave Said,

    August 27, 2008 @ 6:52 am

    It’s not the ATS – it’s actually got a small footprint. It’s more that I really need to separate development and trading – right now they’re on the same computer which is causing the resource constraint. For example, I might have two instance of Visual Studio running and a virtual machine running in VMWare, plus the trading software, plus just standard apps.

    Do you have a link for the “Miro Center” thing you reference? Google didn’t return anything that made sense.

    I’ll let you know what I go with.

  3. Michael Said,

    August 27, 2008 @ 7:02 am

    Oh, their home-grown systems are the PowerSpec brand. You can see them by going to their desktop systems and filtering by brand.

  4. MikeH Said,

    August 27, 2008 @ 9:23 am

    I’d buy prebuilt also. Unless you really love to put together hardware, I’d rather cough up another $500 or so to have it show up on my doorstep ready to plug in, rather than the day (or more) it’s going to take to put together myself. Not to mention that the manufacturer has (hopefully) tested the configuration, so it’s either going to work immediately or you send it back. For a windows (desktop) machine, a dual core chip, 2GB memory and at least a 7200rpm drive seem to handle development or trading adequately. I’ve got a several instances of Visual Studio runing, along with SQL server, spreadsheets etc… and no real problems on an employer supplied Dell Optiplex 745 (personally I own a similarly spec’d Lenovo). The hassle factor seems too high given the capabilities of most middle tier machines from the major makers.

  5. Max Dama Said,

    August 28, 2008 @ 11:27 am

    I think building your own is better. Your config looks good, maybe get 2 HDs instead of one big one. If you get one little one for the OS and programs and one big one for storage it works really well and boots faster. Plus you can switch the OS later without transferring many files. It only makes it negligibly more complicated to configure. Good luck.


  6. Dave Said,

    August 28, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I’m no closer to a decision, though. 😉

    @Mike – those Powerspecs actually look pretty competitively priced. There isn’t a Micro Center close by, but maybe this means the local computer shop might have something in the ball park.

    @MikeH – I get what you mean, but $500 more is too much for me to pay for the assembly. I’d consider 1/5 of that probably.

    @Max – that’s a good idea about the 2 HDs – especially the fact that it would be MUCH easier to migrate the data next time. I think I’ll add that to the mix.

  7. TraderMD Said,

    September 1, 2008 @ 8:03 pm

    I’ve always built my own systems and I have a feeling that I almost always will, especially when it comes to a trading rig. While you could argue that its about the same price when you have someone built it for you, the options you have when you build it yourself are limitless.

    I also like how when you built a system yourself, you know exactly what you’re getting in terms of quality and the way your system is setup. In addition, all the parts are purchased separately so any warranty/repair issues are easier to deal with.

    Honestly, spending the few hours putting it together for peace of mind, higher quality and something that is easier to deal with in the long run is very important, especially when it comes to a trading rig.

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