PC Buyers Guide
Speed Versus Price
by Jack K. Hutson
Sooner or later, most traders give in to the urge to purchase a personal computer to help them analyze
the markets as well as manage their money in and out of the markets. One of my tasks here at STOCKS &
COMMODITIES has been to evaluate equipment for our editorial and circulation staff as well as for software
testing platforms. About 18 months ago, I undertook the task of evaluating personal computer hardware
with the hopes of producing a meaningful ranking of these systems for market technicians.
As with all methodologies, I have chosen what I believe to be an appropriate set of criteria. Generally, the
tests for each of these machines were designed so that 25% of the time the machine's time was devoted to
number crunching, 20% to graphics, 20% to spreadsheet-type work, and the remaining 35% to word
processing and report writing.
The machines shown in Figure 1 were all augmented with a maximum speed processor as well as
numerical co-processor. They usually included a large hard disk and the best high-resolution graphics
monitor. If the machine supplier knew that we were testing the machine, they were generally aware that
we were looking for the most performance for the least money. Generally, the relationship between
dollars spent and value received should have shown up as more or less a one-to-one relationship. But as
you can see in Figure 1, this is not the case. Figure 1 depicts price on the y-axis, lower prices at the top of
the axis, higher prices at the bottom, while relative functionality is shown on the x-axis. The higher
functionality is to the right, the lower functionality to the left. Thus, the machines that are represented in
the upper right-hand corner of this chart (listed toward the top of the table in Figure 2) provide the most
bang for the buck.