Do you absolutely need a trading computer as a forex trader? Well, no, I guess not. Then again you don’t absolutely need to drive a Corvette either…but they’re still really useful if you need to pass someone in about 5 seconds on a winding mountain road. Besides, Corvettes are more fun – and, well, so are trading computers.
Seriously, if you are an intraday trader, and especially if you are a short-term or scalping trader, having a trading computer is definitely beneficial and definitely worth the extra expense, because it will make and/or save you money over time.
One of the most noticeable ways in which having a high-end trading computer can help you is in the area of avoiding “slippage” . That’s when your screen shows one price, but when you click the “buy” or “sell” button, you’re filled at a different (and usually worse) price. Most traders aren’t even aware of how much slippage occurs in their trading that is NOT because of rapidly moving markets, but because of their slow-moving computer. The simple truth is that the common, mass-produced computers like the ones usually found in large electronics stores are in no way even designed to be able to keep pace with the rapidly-streaming data flying through the internet (and certainly not at the rate data changes in an actively trading forex market). If you’ve ever simultaneously watched a satellite-fed, high definition television and an over-the-air-antenna-fed standard television, you will have noticed that not only is the picture better on the HD television, but the picture and sound on the HD television will be running a second or two ahead of that of the more conventional television. That may give you an idea of the difference in data speed and overall performance between a high-end trading computer and a standard desktop computer.
Overall computer performance is markedly improved as well when your computer is built using the higher quality components packed into specifically designed trading computers. You need to keep in mind that as a trader, you’re asking your computer to do a lot more multi-tasking than is someone who just has several tabs open in Google Chrome or Internet Explorer. You’re running a trading platform with very high-speed data feeds, charts, news sources (which also may be streaming data), video, etc., in addition to having all the regular things (like email, Twitter, Facebook) that regular (non-trading) computer users usually have up and running. And so the demands for trading – for processing speed, memory, storage, video performance, and more – are significantly more than those of the average computer user.
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