The Best Computer Equipment for Day Trading E-Mini Futures

The Best Computer Equipment for Day Trading E-Mini Futures

I sometimes get questions about the computer equipment I would recommend for day trading e-mini futures. They come from my regular clients and some prospective ones. Just recently, I got a question along these lines, but this time it concerned a laptop and a trading platform.

I thought I might as well address this issue here, if only so that many others having similar questions could benefit from it. In a nutshell, it’s the issue of hardware and software for day trading e-mini futures. I will try to address it in a most basic manner with the beginners in mind.

First of all, I really don’t recommend a laptop for day trading e-mini futures.

You need a bigger screen than what the laptops, even the biggest ones, can offer. These days you can easily get an inexpensive 20 inch monitor, something that most laptops will not be able to beat any time soon. And 20 inch is a relatively small size for a desktop monitor these days. You may also choose to hook up more than one monitor to your machine. Many traders opt for such a solution. When I was starting as a day trader, I was using 3 monitors, the biggest was a 21 inch beast, too heavy to even get rid of it now, so it’s just lying around in my place along with some other monitors and old computers, only some of which remain functional.

These days I really don’t need more than one monitor, but I may spring for two when upgrading my desktop in near future.

When it comes to the desktops, what you want to get is a computer with the following parameters, that are not that hard to meet as of late 2015, and many relatively inexpensive machines meet them rather easily.

Here are these parameters.

Processor (CPU): at least 3.5 GHz,
RAM: at least 8 GB,
Hard Drive: at least 1 TB.

When it comes to the operating system, I think that Windows 7 is better, more stable, less radical an operating system than Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, but to many Windows 8 computers may be as fine as those running Windows 7 and if you feel comfortable with Windows 8 there is probably no need to go for one of the Windows 7 desktops that are less available these days.

However, these days Windows 10 computers are slowly entering the market, so you may choose one of those if you are a bit more tech savvy. If not, you may want to wait until 2016 when all the major imperfections are ironed out or until Service Pack 1 (the first major upgrade) is released, which I would expect in 2016 as well.

Desktops with parameters mentioned above are routinely offered by Hewlett-Packard or Dell, and by many other, lesser known, computer makers, and you can purchase them locally or you can buy from or a similar online outlet.

Let’s talk about the trading software now, that is, the charting and trading platforms.

The trading platform is something that you usually subscribe to on a monthly basis and it depends on what broker you choose. Most e-mini brokers offer more than one trading platform, though some platforms may be limited to only one broker, as is the case with Bracket Trader, for instance. You often also need to subscribe to a charting software, which may not be the same as your trading platform. Amibroker, which is only a charting software, is an exception here in that it is not subscription based. There are others too, usually much more expensive if you decide to purchase a life-time licence, though they usually also offer monthly or quarterly subscriptions. MultiCharts or NinjaTrader are good examples in this regard.

I trade through Interactive Brokers. They offer good commissions, but their margins are not among the lowest ones and you need to deposit $10,000 to open an account with them, so you may choose another broker. Look at the sites of and to see what brokers support these platforms. Both of them are trading and charting platforms and I suggest you choose one or the other.

I use Sierra Chart for my charting and Bracket Trader for my trading. Bracket Trader works only with Interactive Brokers, but it’s just $100 (one-time payment for life) compared to $60 a month for NinjaTrader. If you choose Interactive Brokers, I recommend these two software packages as the most cost-effective combination.