cTrader vs MetaTrader4: Comparing Two Top Trading Platforms

Scandinavian Capital Markets looked at the pros and cons of cTrader and MetaTrader4 (MT4) – top Forex trading platforms to provide the traders with an accurate comparison of the products.

Forex traders rely on trading platforms to conduct their daily operations. Each trader balances functionality, navigability, speed, and reliability.

Two of the most popular programs available include MetaTrader 4 and cTrader. We wanted to offer a comparison between the two that allows traders to make an informed decision.

MT4 brief

No other platform holds the hearts of Forex traders like MetaTrader 4. Since its launch in 2005, the program dominated the Forex trading space.

cTrader brief

cTrader was developed by Spotware. The platform’s claim to fame is that it has been custom designed for use with ECN brokers. It has already become the platform for several leading ECN brokers. The platform works to fill two significant functions: charting and execution.

Market depth comparison

Retail Forex traders continue to demand Market Depth (Depth of Market) functionality. This capability allows traders to see quotes and quantities at different prices of the actual pending orders and trade against potential order flow.

On-exchange markets offer Level II quotes on screen. This displays all the current bids and offers for market participants. However, with no centralized exchange for orders, market depth may not be readily available.

This information though helps Forex traders, especially those trading in large volumes as traders using large volumes often experience slippage on their trade (the difference between where they expected to be filled vs where they got filled).

MT4 Market Depth

Initially, MT4 did not include Market Depth back in 2005 when it was first launched. Traders only received the best bid and the best ask price. Due to the limitations of the MT4 platform, traders couldn’t even see quantities.

Several years later, Metaquotes updated MT4 to include market depth. Yet, full adoption remained elusive. Brokers needed to implement a third-party plugin to allow data to be displayed, which few took the initiative to do.

Nonetheless, the functionality was a step in the right direction of what traders were requesting and allowed for one-click trading in terminal settings. The trade requests go to the Depth of Market instantly without showing a trading dialogue.

Here’s a snapshot of a sample Depth of Market on MT4:

MT4 screenshot
MT4 screenshot

cTrader Market Depth

The next launch of cTrader allowed it to implement the newest functionality, including Depth of Market. 

cTrader created a robust Market Depth tool that became a core component of its trading platform. Consequently, the cTrader platform displays a depth of bids and offers along with available quantities at each price. This was achieved through a direct FIX connection to the liquidity providers and ECNs, something that is not possible with MT4 because it does not offer a FIX/API, which is the standard API protocol for the financial industry.

By making the Market Depth tool a key focus, cTrader’s offering is better in both ease of use and functionality. The only major drawback is the limited number of Forex brokers who offer cTrader.

Here’s a look at their interface:

cTrader interface
cTrader interface


MT4 held its reign for so long due to the ease of implementing custom coded attributes.

Traders use the MQL4 coding language to create custom indicators and algorithms. 

However, newcomers like cTrader capitalized on the growing trend, offering their own capabilities.

MT4 programming customization and automation

Keeping things fresh, MT4 labelled their automated trading algorithms Expert Advisor (EA).

Being one of the first into the Forex programming space, an entire sub-industry evolved around Expert Advisors, similar to other popular coding languages. You can find programmers that build, license and sell their own EAs through various websites and Metaquotes eCommerce marketplace.

MT4 scripts use the MQL4 language. The MQL4 language borrows many attributes from the C programming language. That creates a versatile coding environment for strategies and indicators.

cTrader programming customization and automation

Again, the late entrant status helped cTrader keep with cutting edge technology. Spotware saw an interest in developing customer indicators and algorithmic programming. They created an environment that allowed programmers and traders to build and test custom indicators and algorithms.

Like the Depth of Market tool, cTrader highlighted their programmability as a critical feature. The platform codes in cAlgo, which utilizes C# programming language. This popular object-oriented language has a deep global following. 

However, all C programming languages do require some additional operational steps, unlike python and newer languages. Still, the versatility of the language is second to none in creating compelling and highly customizable programs.

Note: 2calgo.com offers a quick way for users to upload an Expert Advisor script. The program automatically converts the program to work with cTrader.


Many traders incorporate charting into their strategies. It has become an essential element across many different styles and methods. Traders want easy customization options, rich features, and plenty of standard indicators at the outset.

MT4 charting capabilities

Traders flocked to MT4 for nearly two decades for its charting capabilities. Back in 2005, no other platform offered the quality and depth of features created by MT4.

They introduced one novel feature at the time – chart trading or more commonly known as Trading from the Charts.

Chart trading allows traders to directly manage trades from charts with the click of a mouse.

Back in 2005, no other platform compared to the MT4 charting features. It offered a marketplace option for professional tools with rich features and indicators that came standard.

However, the major drawback over time has been a lack of updating. What was once cutting edge is now outdated.

MT4 limits the timeframe options, not allowing for customizable timeframes. That’s been a significant drawback for traders as more and more enter the marketplace. While MT5 expanded the number of timeframe options from 9 to 21, it cannot still customize timeframes.

Additionally, MT4 charts remain on the terminal. This limits the amount you can have visible at any one time and doesn’t allow a user to the user multiple computer monitors if they have them.

cTrader charting capabilities

Similar to MT4, cTrader allows for unlimited charts (which is excellent as some traders open as many as 30-40 windows!)

However, cTrader took the lead by allowing you to export charts out of the platform and onto another computer monitors if desired. Although common on stock brokerage platforms, this capability still remains limited among a lot of Forex platforms. 

Additionally, they saw the flaw in MT4 and allowed traders to export or pop out charts of the platform and put them anywhere within their monitor (aka floating windows).

Similar to MT4, cTrader allows you to trade directly from the charts. MT4 only offers basic functionalities of buy, sell, and quantity at market orders. cTrader, on the other hand, expanded these capabilities. Traders have the option to set pending orders, view market sentiment, spreads, and several other features on cTrader not available on MT4. 

The Bottom Line

Both trading platforms have their strengths. The strength of cTrader lies in its remarkable user interface, sophisticated functionalities like market depth and multiple indicators and timeframes it serves. However, MT4 is famous for its simplicity, inbuilt tools, flexibility, and Expert Advisors. cTrader platform offers fierce competition for the market leader, Meta Trader4. 


When choosing a trading platform, each trader needs to consider their trading style and needs. Feel free to download and test-drive the platforms at our website. We will be happy to hear your comments and experience about the usage of the platforms. Please write to us at support@scandinavianmarkets.com.   

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