Traveling and Trading – Building the Ultimate Portable Trading Computer
I’m excited to write our first blog post for the traveling and trading series!
In today’s article I’ll discuss the hardware requirements and how to build yourself a powerful and portable trading setup for under $1,000 USD.
I am not one of those naysayers for technology that always shun new traders who want to add more monitors to their setup. Don’t limit yourself.
But at the same time, don’t blow your budget adding monitors if you’re going to use them to surf the web or watch Netflix.
I have a simple rule, you’ll know when you need to expand your setup, versus when you just want to.
Traveling and Trading – What I Used at My Home Office
In my home office I use an i7 machine, with 16 GBs of RAM and a solid state hard drive for faster reading and writing of data. This setup runs one 28 inch monitor, and three additional 24 inch LCDs. I have configured my workspace for a row of three, and one on top – or the 1 over 3 configuration.
Many traders are surprised to find out “I only have 4 monitors”, but I find that anything above and beyond that becomes information over load, and it leads to analysis paralysis.
The last thing I want to do is overwhelm myself, because when the decision comes as a trader to execute a position and put on size, you want to be brisk, decisive and firm.
Looking at too much information has caused me to miss trades and led to over analysis in my experience.
So my setup at home is fairly simple, yet functional for my style of trading.
Oh, I also run daily webinars and a trading room off my workstation as well, so my trading setup could really be limited to 3 monitors if I needed to.
Traveling and Trading – Planning Your Mobile Workstation
Like trading itself, having a solid plan goes a long way to success.
When you’re getting ready to travel, make sure you start planning and researching at least a few weeks before you flight.
This will give you enough time to research, purchase your equipment and test it out before hitting the road.
Here are a few considerations to get you started:
- What style of trading will you be doing? Day trading, swing trading, scalping, etc.
- What is the most imperative information you need to see when making trading decisions
- What can you do without? Which of those indicators on your screen haven’t you used in weeks, but still keeping just in case…
Based on these answers, your next step is to decide how much computing power you need:
- What trading software do I need for my style? Make a list.
- What are the minimum requirements according to these software companies?
- Calculate how much total computing power you need, this includes processor type and speed, RAM and disk storage.
The biggest expense of your budget will by far be the laptop computer itself.
If you already own a unit that can support your computing needs, then you are going to save a lot of money. I was not so lucky, when I tried a dry run on my laptop it went atrocious.
The silver lining in that was that I actually found out that I needed to make a change before I hit the road, and gave myself enough time to find the right computer and test it to make sure it all worked.
What is my setup?
I list the full details at the bottom of this post, with pictures and links as well.
Traveling and Trading – Choosing How Many Monitors to Get
Three weeks before my departure, I had a very brutally honest meeting with myself, aimed to replicate a boss to employee type atmosphere.
I decided that to get the vital information I needed to trade on the road, I can decrease my total monitors from 4 to 3.
This opened up a wide selection of USB portable monitors and many options.
Ultimately, I realized very quickly this mobile trading setup could end up costing upwards of $4,000 + USD if I got all the bells and whistles. I then decided to build a setup that was functional over flashy, because the last thing you want to do is lug an extra monitor between hotels in Bali, or Manila.
Especially if this monitor is gonna be a waste and only going to be used for checking email or watching Netflix.
My advice here would be to go with as many monitors as you think you would need to see all your info, and then remove one more.
The best part for me was that going to less workspace allowed me to compress and combine my studies to help me see more information over less surface area, reducing eye strain and decision making time.
My final decision was to use my laptop’s 15.6″ monitor, and add two more 15.6″ USB portable monitors to have one on each side for a horizontal three configuration.
Here is my favorite monitor after countless hours of research.
This is a value buy, and is not the sexiest or flashiest display, but it is very portable and convenient to hook up through USB.
Both monitors were recognized instantly and the drivers were installed on Windows 10 automatically.
Traveling and Trading – Testing Your Mobile Setup at Home
After purchasing a new laptop, and receiving my new monitors from Amazon, I was ready for the final step.
It was time to put everything together and start it up to see how it holds against the true test, live trading.
I installed the Market Delta software (CQG). Then I installed the two monitors and all associated drivers, along with a USB extension stick.
My new Lenovo laptop only had two USB ports, and that was not going to cut it obviously.
After a final restart at 9AM est, teh computer setup was up and running – three 15.6″ displays, 2.23GHz processing power and 8GB of RAM! And the best part was that it was all so portable. I could unload and setup the workstation in less than two minutes!
I tested my setup with our live trading group, and everyone reported they did not notice a difference between the usual webinars and the mobile setup.
That was a relief to me – as I slowly exhaled and smiled ear to ear. I don’t know why, but the fear of having a mobile setup has kept me from traveling and trading.
With this fear no removed, the world is my oyster, and the possiblities are endless.
I can’t wait to share the next article of our series on traveling and trading with you.
Traveling and Trading – Here is my Mobile Trading Workstation
Here are the laptop specs I needed to run my software bundle and monitors:
The laptop itself is a Lenovo V110 rig. I picked it up for $649 CAD on sale. Considering the computing power it offers, it was a great deal and I am loving the computer (with some minor pet peeves).
The two monitors are Asus 15.6″ 169MB USB monitors. I picked one up on Kijiji (the Canadian craigslist) for $110 CAD.
When I decided to buy the second one, I realized what an amazing deal I had gotten, as they were going for $250 on Amazon.
I managed to find a used monitor that had little wear and tear on it for $184 CAD shipped to my door.
To my surprise, it came in as a brand new unit in the box – so that worked out well, but I would have been just as happy with a used one.
Let’s be honest, new things don’t stay new for long, especially on the road.
Lastly I purchased a USB hub for $20 CAD, which had 5 USB 3.0 ports.
I also paid about $70 for a nice portable mouse.
So the final tally was this, in Canadian dollars:
- Lenovo V110 Laptop – $733 tax in (click here to buy on Amazon)
- 2x Asus Monitors – $294 (buy on Amazon)
- 1x USB hub – $20 (buy on Amazon)
- 1x Logitech M705 Mouse – $80
Grand Total : $1,137
(I’ll upload some better pictures when I get settled in a few days)
But I told you it would be another $1,000 right?
Well as of Fridays rate, the total in USD is $853 approximately.
For a full functioning day trading setup with a lot of power and mobility, that price is a bargain.
Your airline tickets are likely to cost more.
So there you have it, pack the bags (and screens) and hit the road – the cost should not be the barrier.
Of my entire Bali trip, my favorite trading office was in Ubud, in a very secluded and private villa overlooking the rice patties and the calming sounds of a lake in the background. I will cherish this moment for years to come, and I know there is more travel and trading to come in the near future.
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