Should You Trade with Multiple Monitors? Here’s How To Tell

January 6th, 2009

buncha monitors

OK, I don’t think anyone on the planet needs a 24 monitor setup like the one above, but it makes a lot of sense to trade with more than one monitor. I trade with the 4 monitor setup pictured below and I would never go back. It’s not cheap, but it was a simple decision to me once I thought about it. (See the end of the post for links to the specific components I bought).

trading monitors

First off, there are a lot of benefits to having multiple monitors. Some are pretty obvious but others I didn’t realize until I used my setup for a while.

1. Much more viewable area to have more windows open

Flipping through open windows is extremely time consuming and inefficient. You don’t realize just how much time you spend flipping through windows until you don’t have to. Let’s say you look at charts in multiple timeframes – the daily, hourly, and 5 minute charts. If there’s not room on your screen to have all three visible at the same time you’re going to spend a lot of time and energy changing between windows to take in the information on each chart. Since the data is changing constantly, you’ll be doing this routine several times just in the course of a few minutes. If you have enough desktop space to have all the charts visible on your screen at once you’ll be at a huge advantage.

2. You’ll miss fewer trades

If you’re not spending time flipping windows, you’ll have more time and more desktop area to find more setups, so you’ll miss fewer trades. Of course, if you have a tendency to over trade you’ll need to be very careful and keep that in check.

3. You’ll be far more productive doing your non-trading tasks

I really underestimated the affect multiple monitors would have on my non-trading tasks. It’s huge! Imagine doing some programming or intense writing and then having to refer to some documentation in a browser window. With one monitor, there’s really just not enough room to position both windows quickly and efficiently on one screen. With multiple monitors there’s plenty of room to place the windows side by side so they’re both visible. I can’t emphasize enough how much more efficient this is.

Making a “Business Case” to Your Wallet (or Spouse!)

Multiple monitors are not cheap. A reliable, supported video card that supports 4 monitors is at least $500, plus at least $180 or so per monitor and you’re closing in on $1400-$1500, which is more than even the computer itself in many cases. Plus you’ll need a mounting setup.

Does it make sense for you to spend that much for a multi-monitor setup for trading? It depends on your trading and how well you know your trading system and daily routine.

The questions I asked myself were:

  • Do I believe that I’d be able to find enough additional trades using the new monitors to recoup the cost?
  • Do you find yourself missing out on setups that have made your watchlist but you miss them because they’re hidden behind another window or minimized?
  • How regularly do you miss trades like this?
  • How many of these trades would it take to recover the cost of the monitors?

As you can see, the answers to some of these questions depend a lot on the frequency that you’re trading, the level of profit you make from your trades, how much size you use on your trades, and the nature of your trading system.

For me, it was a pretty easy decision. I knew my system well enough to realize that I was missing trades on a somewhat regular basis and it would just take a couple of good winning trades to cover the cost. Looking back on my results I figured the investment would easily pay for itself within a month. While at first the upgrade seemed a little decadent considering my normally cheap, bare-bones personality, when I thought about it in these terms I realized that there was really no argument at all and I pulled the trigger.

I bought these several months ago, but here are some equivalent components that I would get if I was making the purchase today – note that, of course, by the time you’re reading this these prices have probably changed:

Any suggestions on the setup? Would you make any changes?

11 Comments »

  1. mrt Said,

    January 6, 2009 @ 11:12 pm

    Can the angle of your screens be adjusted? According to the reviews for the DS100 stand, that functionality is gone, which makes the stand not as good. Any alternatives?

  2. Jaromír Adámek Said,

    January 7, 2009 @ 4:46 am

    Every cheap integrated graphic cards in the MB today have the second video output, so isn’t needed to buy so expensive graphic card.

    For setup with two monitors, you buy only monitor and connect it to your graphic card.

    Only If you need 3 or more monitor, you will buy additiona card and put it inside PC, for example for:

    4 monitors: two will be connected to integreated card on MB + two to additional card

    6 monitors: two will be connected to integreated card on MB + two to additional card + other two to the second additional card

    Personally I prefer one large monitor + one small second to some not so important things, as is playing video :). I don’t like the monitore borders, so i dont bought 4 small monitors, but one large. I bought one 28″ ViewSonic, but if someone need more place, he may buy the 32″ PC monitor. As i told, im loving this clear big nice place without borders, which you have, if you using more smaller monitors…

  3. Jaromír Adámek Said,

    January 7, 2009 @ 4:49 am

    …which you DONT have, if you using more smaller monitors…

  4. Dave Said,

    January 7, 2009 @ 8:37 am

    @mrt – with my stand you can install it to adjust (tilt) vertically or horizontally but not both. I read those comments when I bought it but I haven’t had any problems – it works fine for me.

    @Jaromir – That’s true you can try to get multiple cards for a cheaper price. The reason I went with the Matrox card is that it was a well supported card and a lot of vendors won’t provide support if you use multiple cards.

    I like your idea of having one large monitor and some smaller secondary ones. I’ve got some extra room – maybe I’ll look into adding a large fifth “primary” monitor. 😉

  5. Jaromír Adámek Said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 4:52 am

    Matrox is good card, I used Matrox Mystique and G550 for long time. But I don’t like Matrox speed in 3D games, his real quality is in 2D, multiple-monitors and driverst. So I’m not using it now. And it’s not cheap. Matrox worth his price in 2000, when no monitor was connected digitally, and Matrox have excelend DA converters! But now, when everything is connected digitally isn’t any quality increase from the lowest to the highest card.

    Hmm support for multiple monitors, sure, but one big monitor simply rocks :). Try one 28″ or bestly greater 32″ or BIGGER, and you will hate monitors borders :).

    The large screen place is very nice, it kicking productivity up to the stars. When is the time of 14″ monitors in ’96 and the BIG 15″ :). Now I’m waiting for the monitor walls, it will have additional benefit, that you will don’t need light bulbs in your room :).

  6. Dave Said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 5:55 am

    @Jaromir – yes, your comments got me thinking about adding a large monitor. Do you know if you can have different video cards (using different drivers) in Vista? Matrox said no but they didn’t sound 100% sure.

    Thanks for the comments.

  7. fuzzy Said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

    $500 for a Quad card? Got to be kidding me. I would get a SLI or CrossFire board with two PCI-E x 16 slots and a couple of eVGA 9400GT or 9500GT for $50-$60 each. These cards have two dual-link DVI ports.

    For monitors, Costco has Samsung 23″ 2343bw (2048×1152 resolution) for $259 each. Four of these monitors is equivalent to about eight 4:3 19″ monitors.

  8. Jaromír Adámek Said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 3:24 am

    Sorry, I’m not HW expert, ask your local HW dealer. And don’t forget to buy as big monitor as you may!!! I bought 28″ and I was disappointment :(, why I not buy 32″ or bigger 🙁 (the 32″ ViewSonic stand was bad, so I don’t buy it). This my 28″ ViewSonic was so cheap, it cost me in Czech Republic only 600 USD.

    Only the idea of one big monitor is better, because all this borders in the several-small monitors taking some limits. For example window maximized to all 4 monitors don’t look good, And I’m using it too offen, on my big monitor. Mainly in browser, I zoom the page (increase size of font and images) and read it nice.

  9. Alvin Evans Said,

    January 9, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

    Great idea on having monitors. It may really cost but with the advantages one can get… it will be worth every penny.

  10. Jaromír Adámek Said,

    January 14, 2009 @ 3:45 am

    Alvin: Sure the good extra big monitor, ergonomic keyboard and mouse is priceless.

    It’s better work on 28″ monitor with ergonomic keyb+mouse and on old PC HW, than on the some new PC with cheap not ergonomic mouse+keyb and small monitor. CPU power Isn’t everything…

  11. Dividend Stocks Said,

    January 15, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

    I go with just two monitors. Cost me about $50 for the card and $300 for each monitor. I’d agree with fuzzy though on the $500 quad monitor card. I think you could find a great card that supports four monitors for $100-$200.

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