Which is the Best Laptop for Stock, Option Trading

by OptionPundit on February 23, 2010

Isn’t this a question that, we as a trader go through all the time, especially when either we are setting up our trading room or simply want to replace the old system? I also went through similar question before I could make my latest purchase. Needless to say it was a time consuming process.

The very first question was to decide between Mac and Windows and then the Brand. What could have been a better idea to research vs simply surveying an active trading community i.e. OptionPundit Newsletter (OPN) Trading community. This post is therefore to capture my process of selection, share some feedback from real traders so that others can benefit too. Thanks to OPN subscribers for this otherwise a difficult decision making process.

There were 3 areas I focused on-

  1. Display screen-  I spend considerable time with computer and therefore I don’t want my machine to a) look ugly and b) be tiring to my eyes. I don’t trade with many computers/screens. Only 2, one of trading and another one for answering e-mails/forum questions of OPN subscribers.
  2. Reliability- Reliability was not such a major factor as either I choose Mac or Windows; both have reliable manufactures. It’s pretty much a commodity market. Laptop/notebooks doesn’t trouble much in the first year. These machines starts to trouble from 2nd year onwards. But still I wanted to have it from an established brand.
  3. Flexibility to run Multiple applications- I research and read a lot and therefore I need to have several windows/software opened and hence I wanted a fast data processing machine; faster browsing and downloading I took care by contacting my broadband connection provider.

Though I am not an IT whiz, I think “Powerful” is a misconception. You may define powerful in many ways. For me, most computers use Intel processors. The latest in the series is core i3, i5 and i7 processors. Frankly, there is no need to go for “the ultimate” processor; my old “core duo” was doing just fine for a number of trading platforms that I was using. So in order to seek perspectives from other like minded traders, here is what I asked all the OPN traders who kindly responded with details, part of which I am posting below-

I am planning to replace my current laptop computer ; thought to check with other traders which one do they find more useful; mac or windows? Which brand would you recommend and which one to avoid? Any thoughts, I shall appreciate your suggestions.

As you can see below there is a clear distinction between Mac and Windows users. Those who love Mac, they simply love it. Windows users have their reasons to use it.

Let’s start-

  • go for windows, A DELL or HP or ACER, you can buy two for the price of a MAC. secure your backup, HW and SW
  • stay away from dell – their computers break regularly, imo
  • I am actually using Windows 7 64bit and I am fully satisfied (in contrast to XP or Vista). But most of the trading tools are available in Java so if you prefer Mac I think it is not a big deal. For notebook I am using Hewlett Packard (HP), but Dell and IBM are also pretty good. After my previous experiences I would avoid Acer and definitely I would not buy any not well known brand. The last tip – look for connection to docking stations (HP/Dell/IBM have them) and Dual-DVI output (to connect high resolution display like 30inch LCD).
  • I’ve never used a Mac for trading, though I have heard they run TOS quite nicely. I have personally had great luck with Sony Laptops. I’ve had some other off brands before and they were useful for about 6 months and then I started running in to problems, overheating, cracked cases etc. I’ve also heard that Dell’s are starting to become a quality machine again, but I stopped using those a long time ago due to low quality components. Whatever you get I hope you enjoy your new machine!
  • Consider to use a fast SSD-Drive as harddisk. It is expensive but brings good performance!
  • Well, I have used both with TOS platform. I am a software developer by profession and have been developing on Windows for Windows since 1990. I also developed on Macs for Mac’s staring in 1985 and recently got a new Mac Book Pro about a year ago. From an average user and trader’s view, the Mac is alot better. It doesn’t crash. It doesn’t hang. It just works. And it’s FAST. The underlying UNIX OS kernel just keeps running. You can just close the lid of the laptop and open it again. I have had my Mac running non-stop for the last 3 months without a reboot (with daily close and open of the lid into sleep mode).Virus’s are less of an issue. The hardware is so nice also.
  • I use 3 laptop computers – each w/ an additional monitor for a total of 6 monitors. I use a free program (http://www.inputdirector.com/) that allows me to control all the computers w/ one keyboard/mouse. I can easily shut one down and take it with me. The advantages are I can distribute the work over three computers instead of running all my programs on one computer. I prefer pc over mac cause they are less expensive, there is a large selection of manufactures, software is less expensive, tech support is easier/faster/better.
  • Actually I am also looking for a computer, I have an old mac that serves me well. Depends on what broker you have, you might be limited to windows only pc, e.g. tradestation.
  • I would buy a mac book pro personally if the broker does not limit you to use windows.
  • I use Windows PCs and have not used a Mac in a very long time. So I really can’t help you with which one is better now. But from my days as software developer, a couple of years ago, I know that new software features generally are given to Windows first; Mac version comes next. This is because there are simply more computers running Windows. Having said that I should note that 1) many software are now developed in Java so there is no difference in developing for Mac or Windows and 2) Mac has the ability to install Windows OS and you should be able to run Windows software after that. How easy is it to go back and forth between Mac OS and Windows OS? I don’t have any idea. If you are used to using a Windows, it might take a some time to get used to using a Mac. I know when I switched to Windows I had some issues using the quick keys. You should try a Mac first. In terms of Windows PC, I’ve read that Toshiba tends to be top rated in terms of reliability. I had a HP laptop die on me.
  • The Mac is the quality machine, and even though compatibility is less of an issue these days, you may still run into some problems with programs like Excel. I have own three Dells and have had problems with all of them. I had purchased extended warranties on two of them so the repair process was not too disruptive. Dell’s service is O.K., I think better than most PC’s but you pay for it. Apple service and support is the best. My wife has a Mac. If you want a PC, I would suggest Fujitsu or Lenovo, I’ve owned both and the quality was very good. Of course now you can run Windows 7 on a Mac and get all the viruses. Good luck. What ever happened to slide rulers?
  • I am “Windows” user.. so there is a bias out there. I have both HP and Dell laptops with 4 GB memory. Either one work great
  • I’ve thought about goin Mac a few times but most financial and charting software is Windows only. I just got a new desktop with Windows 7 and am very happy. That’s all I can say.

There are polarizing views and also experienced based. Someone likes DELL while other person hates it for all the good reasons. Based on my criteria and feedback from other traders, I concluded that I need a laptop that has-

  1. Windows 7 as most of the trading platforms runs on Windows. Say it another way, not all the trading software run on Mac.
  2. Roughly 4GB of RAM in order to process multiple application.
  3. Core I series processor, but I’ll settle for the mid range i.e. I5
  4. Roughly 400 to 500GB hard disk drive, though I shall have a 1TB back-up too.
  5. Looks cool and is equipped with a graphic card (Ge Force, 512MB at least) so I can enjoy games/videos when I am bored.
  6. All others features are point of parity (i.e. WLAN, Built-in camera, etc.)

Finally I zeroed on Dell Studio, HP Pavilion and SONY Vaio(s). Look-n-feel, pleasant screen and soft/stylish keyboard favored SONY. So for my style of trading, for me, here is the best laptop.

SONY VAIO VPCCW Series with the following specifications-
Sony-Vaio-VPCCW Red

  • Processor: Intel® Core™ i5-520M Processor 2.40 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 2.93 GHz*1
  • Operating System: Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit (English Version)
  • Chipset: Intel® PM55 Express Chipset
  • Memory: 4 GB DDR3 SDRAM *2 (upgradeable up to 8 GB*3)
  • Display: 14 (35.6 cm) wide (WXGA++: 1600 x 900) TFT color display (VAIO Display, LED Backlight)
  • Optical Disc Drive: DVD±RW/±R DL/RAM Drive
  • Hard Disk Drive: 500 GB*4 (Serial ATA, 5400 rpm)
  • Graphics Accelerator: NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 330M GPU with CUDA™ Technology
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 341.3 mm x 27.5-38.5 mm x 233.1 mm
  • Weight: 2.4 kg (including the supplied battery)
  • Camera: Front Side Camera: Effective pixels: 640 x 480
  • Keyboard: Approx. 19 mm key pitch / 2 mm keystroke , 82 keys
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth standard Ver. 2.1+EDR
  • Others: Built-in stereo speakers, Built-in monaural microphone and Intelligent Touchpad
  • Extended warrant for 3 years (I from SONY and 2 from the vendor)- This is an important point. As I mentioned, most laptops will start trouble after 1 year.

It’s been about  a week since I have been using it. So far a fabulous machine. I shall continue to update performance of the machine. If you are already a user of this machine, I shall appreciate your feedback/ comments.

Profitable Trading, OP

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6 Responses to “Which is the Best Laptop for Stock, Option Trading”

  1. saeed says:

    That was really helpfull!! I was lost for awhile , Now I got some prospective on how a trader best freind should be !! or may be ;) !!

  2. chris says:

    I suggest Asus B series,
    just because they are reliable business notebooks,
    they also look pretty cool AND they have a extra jack
    so you can plug in an extra monitor and run split screen.

  3. Peter says:

    These specifications still stand as of today?

    Any amendments or additions?

  4. Peter says:

    Theses specifications still good?
    Any changes?

  5. OptionPundit says:

    Still Windows.

    While, I am still using the same computer that I purchased (i.e as per above post) without any major issues, since then a new generation of parts have become available and thus it might be a good idea to try for better spec (above can work as a good reference point). If it’s possible to wait, then it might be a good idea to wait for Metro (new windows) launch and go for touch screens.

    Make sure screen resolution is the best.

  6. Rudy says:

    today is july 6,2013. i would like your input on purchasing a new 17″ laptop to trade stocks,futures,forex

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