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4-6 Monitor Day Trading Setup

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January 19, 2012 3:53:09 PM

So I'm a trader/software engineer wanting to build a new computer to replace my almost six year old (!!!!) desktop. Needless to say, I'm not a hardware junkie. But my trading platform is really grinding down my system so it's time to replace it.

I've spent a lot of time reading through various graphics card posts to answer my own questions but I'm still finding myself at a loss when it comes to graphics cards. I do not game. My current setup is 4 monitors running off of two separate cards. (Radeon 4670 and 4300/4500 series.) Given the state of video cards, I figure I will satisfy my monitor fetish and build a system that will accept 6 monitors.

First question: Everyone keeps replying to multi-monitor questions saying to get eyefinity for 6 monitors. But from what I've been able to read, eyefinity is aimed at creating one very large monitor. I have 4 monitors, different sizes, resolutions and rotations. I have no desire for a single large virtual monitor. I don't actually want/need eyefinity, correct? Don't I just need two cards with 3 ports or 1 card with 6?

Second question refers to card performance: I know everyone says if you aren't a gamer, you don't need a fast video card. And I'm not looking to spend hundreds on a single video card. But any day trader is going to have many windows and many, many charts open at once. I know the images are relatively static but they are still be updated constantly and I can't help but think that I want more than just any old cheap video card.

Googling, I found the following Feb 2010 response from ThinkOrSwim tech support (a trading platform) which implies that the graphics card does in fact play a large role in performance:

Quote:
Collect garbage forces the system to take back any system RAM that is no longer in use by the thinkorswim app so it can be reused. You are running 2 monitors in HD resolution on a average middle of the line video card. What is happening basically is the video card is running out of ram because the processor is not fast enough to process all the info for all the charts you have open and producing that information in 1080 resolution. When this happens, the video card is forced to use System RAM to compensate, you only have 2gb here. When you run low on system ram, the error message comes up. Being that it is the video card that is using the system ram, it doesn't release the ram cleanly, so a collect garbage forces the operating system to take back all the ram that is not in use. Of course this works, but you would have to click the collect garbage whenever this happens, and to most, this is unacceptable. Have you tried lowering the number of charts you are using? Have you tried dialing down the resolution of your monitors? You can also upgrade to the better faster video cards out there (faster video card, can process the data fast enough, hence not needing to count on the memory to hold data while it crunches the data). Now a days a good video will cost around 150-200 dollars. They are in the 9800gt series or gt2xx series nvidia cards. The faster the GPU the better.

Of course, once I go from a Pentium D / 4GB RAM setup to a probable i5 / 16GB setup, the above issue might be a moot point. Regardless, what are people's thoughts on this? Does anyone have recommendations for video card(s) to allow for a 6 monitor productivity setup? I guess I'm debating between sub $100 cards or something closer to $150, and between 1 card or 2.

Any help is appreciated. I feel like this is the bottleneck preventing me from moving forward with specing out my computer.
a b U Graphics card
January 19, 2012 4:25:15 PM

The new AMD Bulldozer architecture sucks for gaming... but in your application the AMD would give you the best performance for the $.

I'd recommend for you an AMD FX-8120 or FX-6100 processor
Any 990 FX Chipset Mobo like:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You would certainly not be disappointed with any of the i5 procs from Intel.
For your application you would not need to spend extra for the K series i5 2500K.
An i5 paired with a board like the ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 would work out great.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As far as running 6 monitors:
A single card like the AMD 6950 can run 6 monitors. It has 5 outputs but one of the DVI outputs can run two monitors with a splitter.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
you have to check the specs to see which cards can run 6 monitors. In general you want to find a card that has a lot of memory to run 6 monitors. look at cards with 2 Gbs and up.

As far as RAM:
It's cheap right now... 8 Gb is the sweet spot and will fulfill all your needs. Get sticks that are no more than 4 Gb each. The 8 Gb sticks have been problematic. Get 4x4Gb if you want 16 Gb or 2x4 Gb if you want 8 Gb. 16 GB really is overkill... but like I said RAM is cheap right now.
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a c 174 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
January 19, 2012 4:54:23 PM

You don't need a fast card, but you need one with enough RAM. A couple of 2GB HD6570s with three outputs each would work well for you. Your only issue might be that each of two cards will have one each of DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI. Here's one that is silent: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... for $80, so that's $160 for the pair.
If your trading application is well-threaded, I agree that Bulldozer probably won't suck the way it does in games, but I still suspect you'd get equal or better performance from something like an i5-2400.
a b U Graphics card
January 19, 2012 4:59:00 PM

Onus said:
You don't need a fast card, but you need one with enough RAM. A couple of 2GB HD6570s with three outputs each would work well for you. Your only issue might be that each of two cards will have one each of DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI. Here's one that is silent: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... for $80, so that's $160 for the pair.
If your trading application is well-threaded, I agree that Bulldozer probably won't suck the way it does in games, but I still suspect you'd get equal or better performance from something like an i5-2400.


I agree, get the cards with 2Gb for better performance with 6 monitors.
January 19, 2012 5:14:14 PM

pacioli said:
That would work...
When you use Crossfire you only get to use the RAM on one of the cards. The 1GB of ram might be a bottleneck.



NO. you get to use 2gb of ram..
that rule applies if one card is a 512mb card and one is a 1gb card you are only able to use 512mb from each card..

So with two 1gb cards you get to use a total of 2gb of RAM.. (2x 512mb = 1gb , 2x 2gb cards = 4gb )

Crossfire is for using two GPUS on one monitor

With multi-monitors you do not crossfire them.
January 19, 2012 5:19:34 PM

dual 4670 is good for 6x monitors, thats what we use at church for 6 projectors. You could also just add another different model GPU because you don't want to crossfire that will result in one monitor.

Example you could buy a NVidia or ATI GPU and use them at the same time with windows 7.. ( it allows for multiple drivers.)
January 19, 2012 5:20:01 PM

Onus said:
You don't need a fast card, but you need one with enough RAM. A couple of 2GB HD6570s with three outputs each would work well for you. Your only issue might be that each of two cards will have one each of DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI. Here's one that is silent: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... for $80, so that's $160 for the pair.
If your trading application is well-threaded, I agree that Bulldozer probably won't suck the way it does in games, but I still suspect you'd get equal or better performance from something like an i5-2400.


I like this suggestion. And quiet is a plus as I'm determined to build a quiet machine. No joke, my desktop sounds like a airplane taking off whenever the stock market makes a big move as it processes the increased order flow. (Borderline helpful when I'm not paying enough attention, but overall quite annoying.)
January 19, 2012 5:22:12 PM

xx_pemdas_xx said:
dual 4670 is good for 6x monitors, thats what we use at church for 6 projectors. You could also just add another different model GPU because you don't want to crossfire that will result in one monitor.

Example you could buy a NVidia or ATI GPU and use them at the same time with windows 7.. ( it allows for multiple drivers.)


Since I'm starting from scratch, I want to keep the cards identical. I've had problems in the past mixing cards. It's just not worth the headache.
a b U Graphics card
January 19, 2012 7:51:47 PM

xx_pemdas_xx said:
NO. you get to use 2gb of ram..
that rule applies if one card is a 512mb card and one is a 1gb card you are only able to use 512mb from each card..

So with two 1gb cards you get to use a total of 2gb of RAM.. (2x 512mb = 1gb , 2x 2gb cards = 4gb )

Crossfire is for using two GPUS on one monitor

With multi-monitors you do not crossfire them.


My bad. No crossfire needed.

I'd still go with more RAM on the GPU if you want to run 6 monitors.
January 19, 2012 8:53:07 PM

So reading some other posts, the question came up of faster GDDR5 memory vs more (2GB) memory. Looking at the prices, I can't afford 2 2GB GDDR5 cards.

So faster or more?

Best solution

a c 174 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
January 19, 2012 9:34:13 PM
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More RAM. You aren't gaming, so the speed of the RAM really doesn't matter.
The increased fan noise of your existing PC is probably coming from its CPU fan ramping up if it is processing heavy calculations (unless some of it is being done on the GPU; check your software's documentation). The graphics load shouldn't change. Re-reading your original post, the support forum reply suggests the software may be using the graphics card for calculations. If that's the case, check and see whether or not both AMD and nVidia cards are equally supported; the answer mentions a couple of nVidia cards, but you've been using AMD. That's an important detail to find out, as most nVidia cards support just two monitors. Also, some GPGPU applications run notably better on one company's architecture vs. the other's.
Fanless cards do need some airflow across them, but again since you're not gaming, the cards shouldn't be stressed much, again that's unless your software is using GPU- accelerated calculation; in that case I'd recommend against fanless cards. There are some nice HD6570 cards out there with very quiet fans, although they only have 1GB of RAM on them. Since you aren't gaming, that may still be enough. Check your software documentation or support forum for more information.
If this software performs GPGPU calculations, our recommendations could change significantly. I briefly looked at the thinkdesk manual and didn't see anything that implied GPGPU calculation.
a c 271 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
January 19, 2012 9:36:02 PM

xx_pemdas_xx said:
NO. you get to use 2gb of ram..
that rule applies if one card is a 512mb card and one is a 1gb card you are only able to use 512mb from each card..

So with two 1gb cards you get to use a total of 2gb of RAM.. (2x 512mb = 1gb , 2x 2gb cards = 4gb )

Crossfire is for using two GPUS on one monitor

With multi-monitors you do not crossfire them.


You are so wrong it's not funny. :pfff: 
a b U Graphics card
January 19, 2012 9:51:01 PM

Mousemonkey said:
You are so wrong it's not funny. :pfff: 


I know huh...

The memory is mirrored so the effective memory is the memory you get from using one card.

Also you can definitely use multiple monitors in a Crosssfire setup. The monitor limit is how many connectors are on each card.
a c 271 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
January 19, 2012 10:03:49 PM

pacioli said:
I know huh...

The memory is mirrored so the effective memory is the memory you get from using one card.

Also you can definitely use multiple monitors in a Crosssfire setup. The monitor limit is how many connectors are on each card.

Exactly! xx_pemdas_x was spewing bum gravy.
January 19, 2012 10:12:11 PM

Onus said:
More RAM. You aren't gaming, so the speed of the RAM really doesn't matter.
The increased fan noise of your existing PC is probably coming from its CPU fan ramping up if it is processing heavy calculations (unless some of it is being done on the GPU; check your software's documentation). The graphics load shouldn't change. Re-reading your original post, the support forum reply suggests the software may be using the graphics card for calculations. If that's the case, check and see whether or not both AMD and nVidia cards are equally supported; the answer mentions a couple of nVidia cards, but you've been using AMD. That's an important detail to find out, as most nVidia cards support just two monitors. Also, some GPGPU applications run notably better on one company's architecture vs. the other's.
Fanless cards do need some airflow across them, but again since you're not gaming, the cards shouldn't be stressed much, again that's unless your software is using GPU- accelerated calculation; in that case I'd recommend against fanless cards. There are some nice HD6570 cards out there with very quiet fans, although they only have 1GB of RAM on them. Since you aren't gaming, that may still be enough. Check your software documentation or support forum for more information.
If this software performs GPGPU calculations, our recommendations could change significantly. I briefly looked at the thinkdesk manual and didn't see anything that implied GPGPU calculation.


Awesome response. I really appreciate your help. I just emailed ThinkOrSwim's tech support to see if I can get some insight into their use of GPGPU calculations. I'll let you know what they say.
a c 174 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
January 19, 2012 11:05:55 PM

Ok, I'll wait for their response.

lol@mousemonkey..."bum gravy..." I'll have to remember that one, especially for some of my UK friends.
January 27, 2012 12:20:42 AM

Best answer selected by OsbourneCox.
a c 174 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
January 27, 2012 12:38:03 AM

Thanks. What did they say about GPGPU?
a c 271 U Graphics card
a b C Monitor
January 27, 2012 9:51:02 AM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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