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Tradestation vs NinjaTrader: Reviews- Which one is better?

in Day Trading Blog

Deciding whether NinjaTrader or Tradestation is better is similar to deciding which kid is your favorite.  You just can’t do that!  These two programs are the only trading platforms that all futures traders use.  These two platforms are the only ones I have been using for my roughly 10 year day trading career.  I share my day trading tips and more about my strategy on my new Day Trading website at http://thedaytradingacademy.com

If you trade stocks or options then you have different possibilities including the programs that the big brokerages offer.  Big brokerages are much too expensive in comparison to the brokers that are tailor made for the futures market.  This is the reason why most futures day traders and professional day traders use one of these two platforms.

Choosing between the two has gotten more difficult over the years due to the fact that Ninja Trader is new to the charting realm of trading.   NinjaTrader use to be known as just an execution platform but recently taken a significant dive into charting.

tradestation, futures charts, tradestation charting

Picture of a Tradestation Chart

This bodes well for many traders since Tradestation used to be the only platform that was available.  Competition is always better!  We can look at a few areas of charting to really compare the two platforms:

  • Cost
  • Ease of Use – Charting
  • Ease of Use – Execution
  • Features
  • Customer Service
  • Initial Setup & Installation

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Cost of NinjaTrader & Tradestation Platforms:

Tradestation NinjaTrader, Tradestation logo, Ninja Trader, NinjaTraderTradestation is significantly more expensive since you can use Ninja Trader for free when you are practicing or simulating.

Tradestation costs $125 a month unless you make 10 round trip trades per month out of a live account (1 round trip=you take on a position & then sell it).

If you are able to make 10 live round trip trades per  month then you only pay a $25 monthly fee for the data feed.  Ninja Trader is completely free to use on simulation.  In order to trade a live account with Ninja Trader you have to buy a license.  Price details are listed below:

Cost of Tradestation

  • $25 a month with 10 live round trip trades
  • $125 a month using simulation or not having 10 live round trip trades

Cost of Ninja Trader: Purchase

  • $995 for a 1 broker Lifetime License (option most will choose)
  • $1495 for Multi Broker Lifetime License

Cost of Ninja Trader: Lease

  • $60 a month ($180 total – 3 month lease)
  • $55 a month ($330 total – 6 month lease)
  • $50 a month ($600 total – 1 year lease)

Advantage: Ninja Trader (who can argue with free!)

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Ease of Use – Charting:

Tradestation use to win this battle big time before the recent release of Ninja Trader 7.  With the new release both platforms are on par with each other aside from some small nuances.  Most old school day traders like myself use Tradestation.

Most new traders use Ninja Trader since it costs nothing to use until you go live.  I still prefer to use Tradestation for charting since those small nuances to me make a difference in comparison to Ninja Trader.

Advantage: Either

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Ease of Use – Execution:

Ninja matrix, NinjaTrader Matrix

NinjaTrader Matrix

There are some major differences in execution between Ninja Trader and Tradestation.  To put it plainly, Ninja Trader is light years ahead of Tradestation.  Ninja Trader has more options and some cool features that the age old Tradestation platform doesn’t have.

The data feeds that both platforms use are also very different.  I have personally noticed that Trade Station is more sensitive to spikes in volume while Ninja Trader is more sensitive to internet shortages.  When you travel around the world like I do these small differences can cost thousands of dollars.

When spikes in volume occur Tradestation tends to not be able to catch up with the data where Ninja Trader keeps right up.  When the internet cuts out even for even a millisecond Tradestation for the most part stays connected while Ninja Trader loses its connection almost immediately.

Ninja Trader’s feed options are much better than Tradestation’s.  Tradestation still uses a very old data connection that was invented ages ago, updates to the feed may or may not have happened recently.  Ninja Trader on the other hand can connect via various data feed providers that are up to date.

Advantage: Ninja Trader

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Tradestation & Ninjatrader Features:

Chart trader, chart trader ninjatrader, ninja trader chart trader

Chart Trader on NinjaTrader

When we look at the features of both platforms Ninja Trader has a clear edge.  When learning how to day trade and practicing it’s important to be able to simulate in a live environment.

What Ninja Trader provides is the ability to download historical data and replay it like its live.  You can now practice how to day trade any time of the week, day or night.

This is an invaluable tool for both new day traders and those that want to practice.  Most newbies have other responsibilities and having the freedom of time is priceless.

Another cool feature on Ninja Trader is the chart trader option.  This is where you can visually see all of your stops and targets on your chart rather than just your order matrix.  It brings a whole new visibility to day trading that took charting to a whole new level.

Advantage: Ninja Trader

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Customer Service:

Tradestation offers 24 hour customer service except for the weekends while Ninja Trader only offers email support.  While it can be annoying at times Ninja Trader support has a canny way of answering your question right away.  I have been very surprised to receive emails at 2am from a question I asked.  This does not fix the fact that speaking to someone on the phone is much easier than trying to explain it in words.

Advantage: Tradestation

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Initial Setup & Installation:

While both platforms are easy to use they are equal when it comes to setup and installation.  They both have their quirks and you will need help setting up both of them.  Most times when you buy a strategy or software the company you buy it from will assist with the install.

I have found that Ninja Trader has more videos and tutorials than Tradestation but I haven’t needed much technical support for Tradestation.  You can’t take my word on that.  I have found that both technical supports have been helpful.

Advantage: Either

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Recommendation: Ninja Trader

One of the biggest reasons most new traders use Ninja Trader is for the price.  If you are already spending thousands of dollars to start day trading the last thing you need are more expenses.  The extra chart trader features and especially the ability to simulate in a live market environment is invaluable.

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