Trading Computers Buyer's Guide

By Scott Tafel, founder of MarketPirates.net and TradingComputers.com

Final Thoughts

Internet Speed

Internet speed is often a major concern of traders, but speed is often confused with bandwidth. A 10 gigabit Internet connection is not slower than a 50 gigabit connection, it just has more bandwidth. It is like driving on an interstate highway: Bandwidth is the number of lanes of traffic and speed is the velocity that the vehicles are traveling. A bandwidth of 10 gigabits or more is plenty. Speed is hard for the buyer to control in the purchase process because it is primarily dependent on how traffic is routed by the Internet Service Provider (ISP). If you can ping your data provider's servers, you can check the delay time. Most ISP's route Internet traffic based on cost rather than speed. I have seen Internet traffic from northern Colorado routed through Los Angeles on the way to Chicago rather than through Denver in order to save money. Using the "ping" command will help you look into this, but the use of ping is not in our scope here. You can find out how to use ping on various Internet websites. Unless you like to scalp trades on a very small time frame your Internet speed is not worth worrying about because the total time involved is much less than a second.

If your computer has two Internet connections, it is natural to assume that you can plug in two different Internet sources to it and if one goes down then the other will take over. This assumption is false. The Windows operating system can see both Internet connections but it will only use one of them because it only has the ability to use one Internet Gateway IP address. You can use the second one for a safer internal local network that is not exposed to the risk of the Internet.

Wireless connections are OK if you cannot route an Ethernet cable to your computer, but they are more prone to problems from security and channel conflicts (two devices using the same wireless channel).

Noise

The amount of noise that your computer makes depends on the number of fans, size of the fans, speed of the fans, and blade design of the fans. Small fans usually make more noise than large fans. Fans that turn faster than 1,200rpm will make more than those that are slower. Fans that have an unusual blade design usually make less noise than conventional fan blades. The use of proper sound proofing materials is also a way to reduce noise.

Warranty

Not all warranties are the same. A computer warranty differs from other types of warranty in that you have the possibility of receiving a very valuable service: technical support. High quality technical support will save you a lot of money since your alternative is to go to a repair shop and pay a hefty charge. Falcon trading computers offer the highest level of technical support in the industry; including help with configuring and optimizing your trading software and even virus removal.

If your warranty is the mail-in type that most trading computer companies have (Falcon Trading Systems is the exception), you will need to be able to go for an extended period of time without it. Main-in type warranties ship each way by ground and can spend days in the shop. The down time will likely be a few weeks and often longer while they send in the broken part to the manufacturer to be repaired or replaced. What you should get is a warranty that will send the part to you quickly and a technician who will arrive at about the same time to perform the work.

Computers that were top of the line will only be so until the next generation of technology is released. New generations are released approximately once a year. After enough generations have gone by (usually three), the components used to build your trading computer will no longer be manufactured. Warranties that last over three years cover technology of the same level as that originally purchased. After three years, an equivalent component (manufactured cheaply) will be used to replace the higher quality one originally sold.

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