A wise friend of mine has always told me to buy the best tools I could manage to obtain for work. He once posed the question of, “If you were to work construction, what power drill setup would you buy?” to which my reply was, “Dewalt, of course.” My in-laws operate a successful dairy farm enterprise and they have sworn by Dewalt for years. I’ve gotten to see firsthand the abuse these tools take, has always made sense to me. So, when it came time to replace my computer, the concept held true: It was time to get a Falcon Trading Computer.
Falcon Trading Computers, aka TradingComputers.com, have been in the custom computer business for a long time. They have sold professional grade computers not only to individual investors like me, but also institutional groups, hedge funds, trading firms, and the like. Their specialty is providing customers with top of the line machines that are reliable, fast, and can support large multi-display arrays. They don’t mess around either: the extensive amount of testing they do to provide machines that are Ferrari fast and work every time is serious business.
We had the awesome opportunity to have Scott Tafel, President of Falcon Trading Systems, not only assist us with building the trading rig, but also chat with our team about how passionate they are when it comes to providing traders with the best tools possible. Since many of their team members trade themselves, they understand how important is to have a computer system that works day in and day out and provides top notch execution, especially with multiple displays. Their rigs are so good in fact, that they have professional traders who come back to purchase computers for themselves when they retire from their respective trading professions. The best part is they are built in the USA and have an A+ BBB rating too.
As Blain has always stated, “a solid trading computer meets three key criteria: reliability, multi-monitor support, and speed. This three legged chair is dependable on each area, and if one slacks, it is a wobbly experience to say the least.”
When assessing reliability on my end, I was looking at two key factors: Components/Hardware + Warranty.
First, it’s critical to understand the components being used and how they were tested when working together as one system. If you have ever built a custom computer before, you know just how frustrating it can be when various hardware has conflicts with other components. It can turn into a nightmare and cripple what would otherwise be a great machine. Just like anything else, there are various manufactures of parts and subsequently quality levels. So not only do you need to understand who makes the best components, but which ones work the best when meshed together.
Falcon Trading Computers does an extensive amount of hardware testing prior to using components in systems they actually sell. They not only do this performance and stress testing in research, but also apply these same methodologies in their quality control for each computer sold. Using only top of the line components and hardware makes these machines scream, consistently, every minute the market is open.
Second, I’ve always thought it was easy to judge quality in some regards based on the warranty provided. Theoretically, a longer warranty should imply high quality. On the surface, this may seem to hold true. However, it’s always important to read the fine print and really understand what they are truly providing. While a 5 year warranty may seem nice, if the business isn’t providing any sort of support or has a laundry list of exceptions to what qualifies, I’d contest there really isn’t a warranty in the first place.
Thankfully with Falcon Trading Computers, the warranty options are clear and robust. They offer a three tiered warranty setup for customers: Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The Silver is the standard warranty and what I ultimately went with. The most impressive aspect of being a Falcon client is their Lifetime Phone Support. When speaking with Scott, he indicted to give them a call anytime if we had an issue and they are happy to help as they want all customers to be happy with their rigs. It’s no wonder traders come back time and time again to purchase a Falcon rig.
Components / Hardware
As previously mentioned, Falcon Trading takes the components they use very seriously. Extensive performance and stability testing is not only performed on individual components, the same holds true when these components are combined into an actual computing system. The amount of knowledge Scott has, and shared with us when we were ordering, is truly impressive. Falcon’s team knows computers, it’s no wonder they have established such a sterling reputation.
Let’s take a closer look at the Falcon F-37X I ordered.
No detail is overlooked when building one of their computer rigs. Upon opening the side panel, a few items stand out. First, the actual components being used are all well known, high quality brands. Second, the clean wire management is nice to see and very helpful for good airflow, which results in needing less fans to keep internal temperatures manageable. This, in turn, reduces noise and power consumption.
Third, the clean minimalist approach is a nice site to see. Due to using high quality components and custom tweaks like mini-brackets for a large graphics card cooling fan, there is not any noise reduction material. I can attest that none is needed either: this computer is so quite I could barely tell it was on initially.
While the Intel I7-4790 4.0 GHz processor with phase changing Arctic Breeze cooling is the brains of the operation, the two true speed demons for lightning speed are the memory and hard drive. This is also where Falcon Trading really takes the cake.
First, they offer Hynix Memory in their machines. It’s actually the only brand option when going beyond the standard 8GB DDR3. I opted to go with 16GB Hynix DDR3 high reliability memory. Falcon Trading had this to share about Hynix:
“Hynix is the second largest memory manufacturer in the world. They build memory that is used in high quality products (most iPhones, iPads, MacBook Pro, high end Android cell phones, etc.) and mission critical business and government computers (IBM System X, Dell servers, and HP servers). Hynix uses the latest manufacturing processes to make the best memory chips for our memory. You demand reliability for your trading computer and we will deliver it with high reliability Hynix memory chips.”
Second, all computers come standard with an SSD, or Solid State Drive, for the primary hard drive. Think of an SSD as a giant flash drive you use for your documents and pictures. There are no internal moving components like the preceding hard disk drives (HDDs). Key benefits of SSD over HDD beyond the size and lack of internal moving components include no noise, less latency, and lower access time.
I bit the bullet and upgraded to the latest in SSD tech, a form factor known as M.2, which is an improved version of mSATA. The primary benefit of M.2 in a desktop is not necessarily the space savings; instead, it’s how the SSD is completely integrated with the motherboard itself. This in turn reduces even more latency and eliminates issues with cabling. You can read more about M.2 and SSD’s here in this article.
All three of these components, along with the dual GT 730 graphics cards, are mounted to the award winning motherboard that has the recently released Z97 chipset. This board uses the latest high grade tech, including items like its Nichicon Platinum capacitors. The motherboard also has 6 Phase voltage control, which is three times regular motherboards that traditionally have 2 Phase, providing more stability.
Power is provided by a Heavy Duty EVGA NEX750B 750w 80 PLUS Bronze Certified power supply. This model is designed to run a bit quieter, which helps overall with noise reduction. It also has built-in active Power Factor Correction, or PFC, which allows maximum efficiency for power distribution.
Ordering and Un-boxing
The ordering process was quite simple and similar to other ecommerce sites. You first select the model of interest and are taken to its page that provides an overview and detailed information. From there, you can click “customize” to see the various options for tweaking the trading rig to your needs. Each model has its own set of upgrades and options. You then complete the process in typical fashion via a shopping cart.
Production and shipping were relatively quick, a total of about a two week time period. Being that Falcon Trading is located in Laramie, WY, it wasn’t too far to ship the rig to me in Michigan. It came packaged like a tank, including a custom fit foam structure in the thick cardboard box to be sure my rig arrived in the same condition it left the production facility.
Saying I was excited to get this rig and get it up and running is an understatement. I was overdue for a computer refresh so this was highly anticipated.
First thing I did after un-boxing was open the included goodie bag full of several items including setup guides, manuals, a DVD, and two issues of Stocks & Commodities Magazine (a nice touch!). For anyone running multiple displays, it’s important you read through their setup guides, as they actually mark the graphics card DVI hookups for which one is the primary monitor. In addition, the guides provide literally step-by-step directions on setting up the display array. Heck, they even provide a video on the desktop for doing it, a headache saver!
Following the guides, I went ahead had connected everything. Being a speed freak, I wanted to know how fast this rig would boot-up. I ran a very rough stopwatch session from hitting the power button to being in Windows 7 fully loaded. Result was just shy of 30 seconds. Mind blown!
Falcon Trading really goes the distance with their experience beyond other custom computer companies I have used. Once in Windows, they already had customized the theme, complete with a Falcon background image in black. Also, ZERO BLOATWARE was installed, major win!
Getting various software installed was a breeze and they had already gone ahead and updated everything for me. The only item I had to run an update for was the display drivers, during the window of time the rig was shipped to me there had been an updated version posted.
This trading computer is incredibly fast. The Intel I7-4790 4.0 GHz processor, Hynix 16GB DDR3 memory, and M.2 SSD hard drive all running on a Z97 chipset motherboard with dual GeForce GT730 graphics cards purr like a handmade 1,000 HP Bugatti.
The weakest link is the graphics cards. While it would be nice to be running overclocked super high-end gaming graphics cards, the reality is that they are complete overkill. Consistent and stable wins the race for trading. A nice note about the GeForce GT730 card variant that Falcon uses: it has dual DVI outputs vs a mix of DVI, HDMI, and mini display port. DVI is the most optimal option when running computer displays, a detail not overlooked by the Falcon team.
Full Spec Sheet
Below is the full spec sheet for the Falcon F-37X I ordered. A few items were upgrades over the standard components. The most important factor in determining several of the options is the number of monitors you are going to be running. The standard setup can support up to three, with options to max out at 12 total monitors. I already had planned to run a quad monitor setup so some of my specs reflect that game plan.
Customize and Order this Rig at TradingComputers.com
• Power Supply – Heavy Duty EVGA NEX750B 750w 80 PLUS Bronze Certified
• Chassis – The Atlas
• Processor – Intel i7-4790 4.0GHz with Arctic Breeze phase change cooling
• Operating System – Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
• Memory – 16GB DDR3 Hynix High Reliability Memory
• Video Card – 2x GeForce GT 730 for 4 Monitor Support
• Motherboard Technical Features – Z97 Chipset, 2x Video Card Slots, Intel Gigabit LAN, 6 Phase Voltage Control
• Primary Hard Drive – SSD 256GB speed: 675MB/s M.2
• Optical Drive – ASUS Dual Format/Double Layer DVD±R/±RW + CD-R/RW Drive
• Warranty – Silver 3 Year Standard Warranty Service w/ USA On-Site Service
• Subtotal* – $2,015.00 (plus tax & shipping)
For all other items I utilize, most of them were purchased off the web via various sites. I’m a huge fan of four companies for their products based on consistent high performance for both work and home: ASUS, Logitech, UPLIFT, and ATDEC. Here is the list to complete my ultimate trading rig:
• Monitors – 4x ASUS 24” LED HD Monitors VS248H-P
• Various Cabling – BlueRigger (DVI, Power, etc)
• Monitor Stand – ATDEC Visidec V-14T
• Mouse – Logitech G500S
• Mouse Pad – SteelSeries Qck Mass Pad
• Keyboard – Logitech G110
• Power Strip – APC P11VT3
• Desk – UPLIFT 900 Electric Sit-Stand Desk
I cannot say enough about the entire experience and end product. Falcon Trading Computers is a terrific company that focuses on providing the most important tool to a niche market. Their reputation and rigs speak for themselves, not to mention the personal attention they provide to all customers. When it is time to get my next rig for home, I already know what I’m going to purchase: Another Falcon F-37X!
The motto “You get what you pay for” applies 100% with Falcon Computers.
What computer setup(s) do you use for trading? What is your monitor count? Please feel free to share your thoughts and/or questions by emailing us.
Important Note: Falcon Trading Computers was kind enough to donate engineer time and build this computer at a discounted price for me as a contribution towards this review.
About the Author: Brandon is a market enthusiast and partner at Reink Media Group which owns and operates StockBrokers.com, StockTrader.com, and InvestingTeacher.com.