Pipsqueaks #24 – Part 1: Trading Machines – The Black Box Build

It’s true – everyone has their passion…with my wife it’s china. Great happiness came to her home the other day in the form of a teapot and several cups and saucers. Not exactly my thing, but to each his own. I myself have my own eccentricities and passions, not the least of which is my weakness for gimmicky gadgets, especially retro-tech gimmicky gadgets of the electronic variety. I have (and still use) a late 70s vintage TI-58 LED calculator, which sits proudly on my desk at all times. In this day and age, there’s little escaping electronic devices in one form or another, and, pursuits such as Forex trading are completely dependent upon them. Today I want to take a look at computers, and in particular, those suitable as trading machines.

precision m4600 dell laptop

Perhaps the biggest dilemma in shopping for trading machine would be…choices! Succinctly and to the point, there’s just too many flavors of machines and varieties of equipment to choose from. So where do we start? What will the machines uses be? Is portability important? Will this be something that will be running all the time? What software will we use? I could keep going on, but I need to keep this column to a reasonable length so I will be brief. Pretty much any Windows machine can run Meta Trader 4, although a more powerful machine will run it better than a slower bargain-basement model. Everyone’s got their own preferences, and I know I have strong opinions of my own. For me, the most important consideration is robustness. I want to be able to run a lot of charts, run them 24-7 if needed, and not feel in any way limited in terms of what I can or can’t do with this machine. Oh, and cost… I’m a bit of a miser so I don’t want to pay more than I really have to, which usually isn’t much.


For my own trading, I’m currently using a pair of Dell precision M 4600 I7 laptops, weight wise a bit heavy as far as laptops go, but they are built like a tank. Why two? Well, part of that is a redundancy scheme. Should something go wrong with one of them, I can always rely on the other. Normally, I do most of my work on one of them, occasionally utilizing the other for extra tasks (like writing this column amongst other things!). The first laptop I bought in support of a previous business activity. I’ve grown fond of laptops for two reasons: one is the built-in UPS (uninterrupted power supply) function the battery provides (nothing can ruin your trading day more than a momentary power interruption), the other is the ease of relocation in the event you have to move it. The latter isn’t so much a big deal for me, but it is convenient for sure. After a fashion this machine developed a problem with its Bluetooth function – something I could have done without, but functionality is a pet peeve of mine, so I had to fix it. The easy fix was simply replacing the motherboard. For a tad over 100 bucks it wasn’t too bad, as I simply just did the work myself. With only a brief interruption in its service, I pondered a backup machine while simultaneously wondering why the Bluetooth function didn’t work on the old motherboard. Turned out to be a bad solder joint, which I was able to fix handily. Then I had an idea…about two years earlier I put together a Vostro 1400 laptop for my father-in-law who is visiting with us at the time (just collected a bunch of parts from eBay and such), so I thought why not put together a “beater” that would make a good backup? So some surfing on eBay landed me a wonderful buy of a nonworking Dell Precision M 4600 for all of $40. My thought was that if this machine wasn’t working, it’s probably because the motherboard was toast. As it turns out I was right, and in no time I had this little gem up and running. To this day my “beater” is the machine I get the most use out of. I travel with it, I run it every day, and in 18 months it’s only crashed once! I can run 30 or more charts at once on it and it hardly notices. Mind you, too many Renko charts will slow it down a bit (despite it being a 2.5 GHz I7), but that’s where redundancy comes in as I can split the chart running chores to another machine, and, as an added benefit, enjoy additional displays to provide some nice real estate for all those charts!


You might ask the question if I’m starting from scratch, and being new to Forex I really don’t want to spend a lot of money because I want to save my capital for my trading account. What are my possibilities? Well, they are many and I wouldn’t be able to discuss all them here. But what I will do is see how far I can get going down one certain path for a budget of $200 or less. So is this possible? Absolutely! And to prove it I built what I like to call the “black box”. To learn about how the build went you’ll have to stay tuned for the next installment because that’s all for part one, until next week take care have great day!

Receive Our New FREE 5 Part E-Course!

Get on the list for premium content directly to your inbox

I agree to have my personal information transfered to AWeber ( more information )

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.