MetaTrader 4 vs 5 – Which One? (2020 Review)

Choosing the right Forex trading platform is one of the key elements that most traders are curious about. In the list of the top platforms, MetaTrader 4 (MT4) remains as the most popular, however, since the appearance of MetaTrader 5 (MT5) in 2010, the debate of whether using one version or another has grown significantly.

The main difference between the two versions is that MT4 focuses on Forex trading and CFDs, while MT5 also includes other assets like stocks and futures. Secondly, MT4 has hedging, and MT5 has hedging and netting. In regards to algorithmic trading, MT5 has a multi-currency strategy tester and it is faster at testing and optimization in comparison to MT4.

In this article, we will review the differences between the two platforms, so you can make a decision on which one should you use and answer the main question everybody is interested in:

Do I stick with MetaTrader 4 or should I switch to MetaTrader 5?

First, in Part A, we will talk about the core differences between MT4 and MT5. Then in Part B, we will give you something you won’t find anywhere else. A detailed year-by-year analysis of how MT4 and MT5 have been developing over the past decade. Finally, in the third section, we will draw a conclusion.

Part A – MetaTrader 4 vs 5: Core Differences

Often when you read about MT4 vs MT5 you see a table and a side-by-side comparison of the two. However, in this article we will focus on what is crucial for you as a trader, especially if you are getting started.

There are only three core differences between the two platforms. These are:

  • Number of Markets
  • Tools for Market Analysis
  • MQL4 vs MQL5

Let’s go over them one-by-one:

Number of Markets

MetaQuotes had already dominated the Forex market with their revolutionary MT4 platform. The main reason why MetaQuotes developed MT5 is to enable access to markets that are not available in MT4. Here’s a sample list of exchanges which you can access via MetaTrader 5 already today:

MetaTrader5-in-Stock-Markets

Source: www.metatrader5.com

MetaTrader 4 is great for the decentralized, open, and highly unregulated on a global scale FX market. However, it doesn’t check all the boxes as a platform for other markets.

It’s just not designed that way: to connect directly to exchanges, like those listed above, the platform has to integrate with gateways for those exchanges – that’s how it will get quotes and market news, and perform trade operations. Plus, there are heaps of other nuances.

While markets like Warsaw Stock Exchange and ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) are good wins, they are not the main goal for MetaQuotes. The big prize are the US Equity Markets or Stock Markets with there trillions of dollars market cap:

Largest Stock Exchanges 2019

Source: Statista

Access to more markets can be beneficial for experienced traders that want to trade to shares from companies like Tesla or Amazon. However, for the average Forex trader, this makes not much of a difference.

Tools for Market Analysis

Timeframes

While MetaTrader 4 only offers 9 timeframes, MetaTrader 5 offers 21 timeframes; this can give traders an edge for more analysis of the market. However, if you like to code in MQL4, in MetaTrader 4 you can rebuild virtually any timeframe in MT4 using the period converter script.

Types of Charts (Timeframes)MetaTrader 4MetaTrader 5
MinuteM1,M5,M15,M30M1,M2,M3,M4,M5,M6,M10,M12,M15,M20,M30
HourlyH1,H4H1,H2,H3,H4,H6,H8,H12
DailyD1D1
WeeklyW1W1
MonthlyMNMN

Indicators

According to MetaQuotes, MetaTrader 4 offers 30 built-in indicators and 24 analytical objects. Also, there are over 2000 free custom indicators and 700 available for purchase. In contrast, MetaTrader 5 has 38 technical indicators, 44 analytical objects and offers an unlimited number of charts (MT4 has a limit of 128).

Economic Calendar

One of the most convenient features of MT5 is that it offers an Economic Calendar with critical events that can impact the market. As MT4 doesn’t have an Economic Calendar, some traders have used the Forex Factory calendar as a turnaround to track events or perform fundamental analysis.

MetaTrader 5 Economic Calendar

MQL4 vs MQL5

The third core difference is related to algorithmic trading. MetaTrader 4 uses a programming language called MQL4, while MetaTrader 5 uses MQL5.  

MQL4 might be more suitable for beginners due to its simplicity when creating scripts, indicators and EAs. In contrast, MQL5 is an object-oriented program (OOP) based on C++, which is more complex but gives professional Algorithmic traders more room for advanced commands and calculations.

What is OOP?

The whole hype around MQL5 is that it brings OOP into algorithmic trading. That is why a lot of traders/programmers were so excited about MT5 in the first place.

In simple terms, OOP allows you to break down your program into blocks. Each of these blocks is like a black box: something goes in and some result / or action comes out:

mt5-object-oriented-programming

In the world of programming, this is very powerful for multiple reasons. For instance, once you’ve coded one of these black boxes for one of your Expert Advisors you can then clone it and use it in the next system you develop too.

Also, OOP is great for collaboration. You can assign one developer to work on one set of black boxes, and another developer – on another. Then you can bring them together into one final program without even knowing what’s inside each of these blocks.

No Backward Compatibility

As you are probably aware, you cannot simply transfer your MQL4 code into MQL5. MetaTrader 4 initially took Forex Trading by storm mostly thanks to its ability to run Algorithmic Trading systems or EAs. A high percentage of traders use EAs or custom indicators/scripts in their trading. Moving these from MQL4 to MQL5 would be a very costly and time-consuming exercise for most.

On the other hand, MetaTrader 5 has two main advantages on this front versus MetaTrader 4:

  • The Multi-currency strategy tester; and
  • MT5 is superior for testing and optimization. Hundreds of times faster.

While the first would probably be of interest to about 10–15% of traders, the second is a great improvement. Faster optimizations mean less time spent configuring your EAs.

Part B – Historical Evidence, Demand and Usage Trends

In this section, we will take a look at demand trends from both versions.

MT4 vs MT5

Using Google Trends, we can visualize how frequently the terms MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 have been searched for over the past 10+ years:

MT4 vs MT5 Google Trends graph

We can see that hype started building up around MT5 (red) after its imminent arrival was announced in early 2009. However, the trend flattened out right after MetaQuotes released the beta version in October 2009. Nevertheless, since the end of 2017 the trend for MT5 has been picking up. 

The main reason for this is that since the end of 2017, MetaQuotes started investing heavily again on releasing new features for MT5. Also, on April 24th, 2016, MetaQuotes announced released a hedging option in MetaTrader 5 to encourage more brokers and traders to switch to MT5.

On the other hand, searches for MetaTrader 4, had been growing since inception up to early 2010. Then a bit off an extended period in 2010–2012, and again steady growth picked up in 2012 and has been continuing since.

MQL4 vs MQL5

MQL4 vs MQL5 Google Trends GraphBetween 2009 and 2015, MQL4 was searched for about twice as frequently as MQL5; however, MQL4 search growth flattened out at the start of 2009. At the same time, interest in MQL5 grew steadily between 2009–2014 and hit it off in mid–2014, surpassing MQL4 at the end of 2019.

Over the past years, MetaQuotes have been actively developing the MQL5.community (which is for both MQL4 and MQL5 programmers). This could be one of the reasons for the rapid increase in “MQL5” searches. 

Also, the MetaTrader 5 build 1860 release in mid-2018, enabled some key features for algorithmic traders like functions for operations with time series that make smoother the transition of EAs and applications from MQL4 to MQL5.

History of Builds

If we go to the news releases page for MT4 and MT5, by doing some simple web-scraping, we can retrieve all of the dates of the releases/updates/patches that ever occurred for MT4 and MT5 since 2008 until the start of 2020.

Putting all of these updates together creates the chart below, which illustrates the number of updates that happened in each month (the vertical axis on the left ranges from 1–5 updates in any given month).

Note that this chart doesn’t take into account the significance of the updates; it is a simple count of updates.

Here you see 4 distinct areas.

  • A: Prior to the release of MetaTrader 5
  • B: The 2 years following MT5 Beta release
  • C: From 2012 to 2015
  • D: From 2016 to Present

MetaTrader 4 vs 5 Number of monthly builds updates

Before the release of MT5 (Area A), there was about one update to MT4 per month on average.

Area B – As soon as MT5 Beta hit in November 2009, the market updates to MT4 stopped. There were three error fixes along the way there, but those weren’t significant.

This suggests that MetaQuotes were focused on MT5 and they decreased development resources for MT4. They were waiting out for MT5 to takeover to then completely deprecate MetaTrader 4 just like they did with MetaTrader 3 back in 2005.

However, that didn’t happen. There was some resistance from traders to move or try MT5 mainly because MT5 didn’t include hedging at that time. Therefore, in early 2011 MetaQuotes was forced to perform updates and releases regarding MT4. 

Then we have Area C, where the number of builds was very similar in both versions of the platform, MT4 finally started catching up to MetaTrader 5. In February 2012 MT4 for iPhone came out (1 year after MT5 for iPhone), and two months later, in April 2012 MT4 for Android arrived (only 6 months later than MT5 for Android).

Then the Build 600 was in February 2014, which introduced the new MQL4 programming language, added the MetaTrader 4 markets tab, and introduced the User Account Control (UAC) system, which is not very popular, but necessary for an application to have if it’s going to be compatible with Windows 8 and onward.

When everything seemed to indicate that MetaQuotes was going to be pulling back MT5, the trend started to change again. In April 2016, build 1325 was released, adding the hedging option to MT5, which until recently was only supported in MT4. Area D in the graph above shows how since build 1325, MetaQuotes looks to be heavily reinvested on MT5, this was summarized by Renat Fatkhullin, their CEO, as follows:

Why use two platforms, when you can access all the required functionality in one of them?

The MetaQuotes Ambiguity

The dependency of the Forex retail market on MetaTrader 4, has served as a catalyzer of the poor management decisions that MetaQuotes has made during the last decade. 

It is still unclear if MetaTrader 5 will replace MetaTrader 4. However, releases like the build 1325 or MetaQuotes decision to stop issuing new licenses to new brokerages, indicate that the migration from MT4 to MT5 will take place sooner than later. There is still an enigma on how they will solve the backward compatibility issue between MQL4 and MQL5.

Conclusion

To sum up, the main differences between MetaTrader 4 and 5 are:

  • MetaTrader 5 was developed with US Equity & other markets in mind.
  • MT5 5 includes more tools for market analysis.
  • It has MQL5, an object-oriented program based on C++ to code advanced EAs.

However, MetaTrader 4 remains the most popular and preferred Forex trading platform for beginners due to its simplicity and ease of use. MQL4 is more friendly to get started with Algorithmic trading and EAs.

The conclusion for experienced programmers is a bit different. If you think you will need the multi-currency strategy tester as well as the very fast testing and optimization, then maybe give MT5 a shot. However, it will only be worth it if you can commit to building your systems from scratch.

At the same time, MT4 should already have most of the things an experienced coder will ever need, including OOP. If that’s not enough, then instead of MT5, you can have a look into using DLL or even other platforms with good API like jForex from DukasCopy.

What are you waiting for?

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Muhammad Awais

42 Responses to “MetaTrader 4 vs 5 – Which One? (2020 Review)”

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August 15, 2015 at 3:28 am, Nik Boubnov said:

Thank you Kirill for a clear explanation of the issue. I was wondering why mt5 cannot get a traction for so long. Now I know.

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August 15, 2015 at 3:58 am, Kirill said:

Thanks Nik! Glad you picked up some new insights

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August 15, 2015 at 4:21 am, Pastor Charles A. Floyd, II said:

Loved the article Kirill! Thank you for making a difficult subject easy to understand. You articulated what I was thinking and feeling, but did not have the words.

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August 15, 2015 at 4:31 am, Kirill said:

Thank you my friend!

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August 15, 2015 at 11:23 am, Rene Patrique said:

Wow Kirill! – Now I know, once more, that I am SO lucky that I found you, your Udemy Courses and – last but not least – your blog here. – This article surely has saved much precious time and painstakingly efforts (and some headache) for me thinking about what’s the point and switching to MT5 – and now you finally assured me that I really do not have to (I am a german citizen + a beginner in coding EA’s anyway)! – Thank you SO much again for sharing your knowledge + expertise! – 🙂 – Thumbs up – BIG TIME!

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August 15, 2015 at 12:19 pm, Kirill said:

Thanks Rene! If you’re in Europe, then there’s definitely not much point in switching to MetaTrader 5. You have everything you need in MT4.

By the way, glad you are still in the game buddy. We kind of lost contact for a while there. See if you can make it to the live webinar that’s coming – we can catch-up there:

https://www.forexboat.com/webinar

Cheers,
Kirill

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August 15, 2015 at 2:08 pm, Rene Patrique said:

I just signed up to the webinar – thanx for the hint! – 🙂

btw: It’s now possible to run x86 apps on a ARM-based mini-pc like the RaspberryPi2 – check this out: http://eltechs.com/product/exagear-desktop/exagear-desktop-features-and-prices/ – Since the RasPi2 just needs a few watts of power to run, this is imho the cheapest way to set up a little VPS – isn’t it? – For my service I do pay round about 15 USD a month – the server farm is based in Amsterdam (NL) and my Ping to my Broker’s servers is less than 10 milliseconds. – I guess you won’t get this with a home-based VPS running an a RasPi2 – but if you’re not into arbitrage or scalping with your strategy, I guess it’s worth taking a closer look to this solution. – Would be nice to get your opinion on that! – Talk soon! – 🙂 – Cheers!

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August 15, 2015 at 2:09 pm, Rene Patrique said:

I just signed up to the webinar – thanx for the hint! – 🙂

btw: It’s now possible to run x86 apps on a ARM-based mini-pc like the RaspberryPi2 – check this out: http://eltechs.com/product/exa
– Since the RasPi2 just needs a few watts of power to run, this is imho
the cheapest way to set up a little VPS – isn’t it? – For my service I
do pay round about 15 USD a month – the server farm is based in
Amsterdam (NL) and my Ping to my Broker’s servers (based in London (UK)) is less than 10 milliseconds. – I guess you won’t get this with a home-based VPS running
an a RasPi2 – but if you’re not into arbitrage or scalping with your
strategy, I guess it’s worth taking a closer look to this solution. –
Would be nice to get your opinion on that! – Talk soon! – 🙂 – Cheers!

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August 16, 2015 at 11:40 am, Kirill said:

Sounds intriguing! You should put this idea on Kickstarter and create a competitive solution for traders. You can even ship it to them 🙂

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August 16, 2015 at 12:23 pm, Rene Patrique said:

Thanx for your comment! – Well, I don’t see what would be the benefit I could give to people – everyone who’s interested in RasPi mini-PC’s does already know that there is this solution for running x86 apps on a RasPi. I do not own the rights to sell the software that makes it possible to do so – because I did not create it. – As well, I did not build the hardware. – I guess it would simply not be enough to combine those two and then create a Kickstarter project. – Also, I would not be able to put it all together all alone – people would wait a long time (imho way too long) until they would finally get what they paid for (if anyone would pay me to do so, which I do not believe in, as it’s easy to buy a RasPi, buy the software and install it, and then run a MetaTrader on the RasPi). – Maybe this would be worth an article posted in your blog – but I am unsure about a Kickstarter project.

Please elaborate on what you mean with “create a competitive solution for traders”. – What’s on your mind? What would be the benefit for people when they invest in a Kickstarter project instead of simply doing it themselves? – Would you invest in such a Kickstarter project, knowing that you could do this yourself?

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August 17, 2015 at 9:13 am, Kirill said:

I could draw a boardgame myself, yet I choose to invest into one on kickstarter. People like pre-packaged solutions ready to work out-of-the-box. People pay for convenience. Can you make your product more convenient for the consumer than setting the same thing up themselves?

Competitive – your product has to be better than the existing solutions and cheaper at the same time. Simple as that.

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August 18, 2015 at 6:10 pm, Rene Patrique said:

RE: “competitive” – I can’t make it cheaper, as I’d pay the same price as everyone else. – PLUS: If I’d make it an out of the box product, I’d have to put work into it (install the software, validate that it’s working correctly, pack it, send it to customers) – SO: I’d throw my own labour away, if I’d do it for other people with no extra-charging. – And I’d throw my money away if I’d buy it for the same price as everyone else could do, but then sell it even cheaper. – It does not work. Sorry.

The only convenience there would be is the pre-installation of the software. – But I’d still do it for nothing, as I’d earn no money from that, if I’d follow the process I outlined above. – Again: imho it does not work. Sorry again.

Anyway: Thanx for trying to motivate me. I really appreciate that, Kirill! – 😉

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August 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm, Kirill said:

No problem! I’m throwing ideas around – ultimately, it’s all in your hands 🙂

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August 21, 2015 at 2:13 am, Ahmed Elshemy said:

i have no thing to say
really i m in forex trading more than 5 years
your article is amazing more than excellent ,,,i follow your articles and i m a big fan for you …..
keep going
your friend from cairo

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August 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm, Kirill said:

Thanks Ahmed! Will make sure to say hi next time I’m in Egypt 🙂

Cheers,
Kirill

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August 22, 2015 at 9:26 pm, Ahmed Elshemy said:

i think master/ Kirill it s not the first time
Hello and Welcome any time to your Second Country

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August 22, 2015 at 11:03 am, fmemyhashem said:

thank you ahmed

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August 22, 2015 at 9:27 pm, Ahmed Elshemy said:

we have to thank him, MISS
this topic i was searching about from a while actually
have a nice day

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September 08, 2015 at 3:05 am, Rico said:

Fantastic post, Kirill. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge on this.

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September 08, 2015 at 8:20 am, Kirill said:

Hi Rico. Glad you found this information insightful!

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October 01, 2015 at 4:17 am, aaronariel said:

OUTSTANDING… THIS POST WILL BE VERY HARD TO SUPERSEDE… JUST LIKE META TRADER 4.

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November 04, 2015 at 9:27 am, Kirill said:

Thank you friend!

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December 28, 2015 at 5:23 pm, Renato Martínez said:

Great post! Definitely the best explanation I have found regarding differences of MQL4 vs 5. Thank you for sharing this.

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January 10, 2016 at 2:32 am, Kirill said:

Awesome, thanks for the great comment Renato!

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January 10, 2016 at 1:15 am, Tom Dworzanski said:

Superb comparison — the best I have seen. You even gave me a laugh when you said you won’t be comparing button sizes 🙂

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January 10, 2016 at 2:31 am, Kirill said:

Thanks Tom, glad you enjoyed it!

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March 10, 2016 at 10:27 am, Samuel said:

Perfect article. Your article brought me back for 2 years back when I used MT4. MT4 was my favorite. I actually left it and now using VertexFX. No more paying hundreds monthly for features I found built in within VertexFX.

Is it me or is it everyone suffering from MQ support?

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October 01, 2016 at 10:08 am, genericid said:

I instantly lost interest in VertexFX after looking at their pricing:

http://hybrid-solutions.com/sales/plans-learn/sales-plans.html

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November 04, 2016 at 1:01 pm, Sami said:

@disqus_OhSIPyg3xb:disqus I used that platform a couple of months back but the front end and it is great. I’m not sure about the back end for brokers.
@genericid:disqus just curious, are these prices to buy the whole setup (back end and front end)? What’s up with the price?

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May 03, 2016 at 1:08 pm, Jerome Abrahams said:

Thanx Kirill. Brilliant post. I’m new to trading & have just downloaded MT4 & MT5 to my Android device to try & figure out which one to use, now I know which way to go thanx to you. The Android app seem to differ alot from the desktop version but alas it’s the only one i have access to so can you perhaps post a downloadable tutorial on how to use the Android app. Also can you advise of a good broker. I’m in RSA.

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May 03, 2016 at 1:18 pm, Jerome Abrahams said:

Thanx Kirill. Brilliant post. I’m new to trading & have just downloaded MT4 & MT5 to my Android device to try & figure out which one to use, now I know which way to go thanx to you. The Android app seem to differ alot from the desktop version but alas it’s the only one i have access to so can you perhaps post a downloadable tutorial on how to use the Android app. Also can you advise of a good broker. I’m in RSA.

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May 04, 2016 at 3:01 am, Kirill said:

Hi Jerome,

Thanks for the great feedback! I will consider your idea about the Android tutorial, however right now I’m super busy and cannot give a timeframe on this.

Check out broker review here: forexboat.com/brokers

Kirill

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May 05, 2016 at 5:17 am, Jerome Abrahams said:

Thanx Kirill

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May 04, 2016 at 1:23 pm, Tom said:

I am US trader (and software developer) trying to start with algorithmic trading. Kirill, I have bought many of your courses on Udemy and they are fantastic. I am currently with Oanda but they only offer MT4. Reading this blog post it seems like MT4 is not a good choice for US traders. Should I be looking to switch to another broker that offers MT5? Any advice on the best way for me to get the most out of algorithmic trading is greatly appreciated.

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October 01, 2016 at 10:05 am, genericid said:

Hi, what did you end up doing?

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May 12, 2016 at 5:50 am, reggonald dualbridge said:

Out of any subject on the internet, this is the ultimate explanation. No loose ends or new questions bought up needed… I’ve been using forex now for only three years. I think metatrader will slowly dwindle over time. New players in the market such as Ctrader are so muched liked by retail investors not using EA’s.

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May 25, 2016 at 7:10 pm, John Kane said:

Well put.

MT4LIFE 🙂

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June 12, 2016 at 6:06 pm, Pep Peppinov said:

Hey – great post and comparison! However – just one thing I noticed some days ago and maybe you might
have experienced the same while comparing the mt4 vs. mt5. I just compared the charts on mt4 and mt5 and found substantial differences in information on the charts/candles. I explain you in more details: I opened both mt4 and mt5 (both running a Meta-Quotes Demo-Account) on the same currency-pair (i.e.. EURUSD) and the same time frame (i.e. 5 minutes) and … they where showing substantiall differences – e.g. while there was a bullish movement on mt4 there was a bearish one on mt5 … of course with some time lag mt4 was adjusting after a while … but this explained to me why sometimes I was losing some trades! Did you have the same issues or how would you explain this difference in information time lag on mt4 and mt5? Would appreciate some comments on that from other readers – Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas. Btw: I somehow found out that mt5 is much more accurate or real-time re. trading information – so I am not using mt4 any longer although there are much better indicators available for mt4. Cheers and keep on writing that interesting posts!

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June 13, 2016 at 3:35 am, Kirill said:

Hi Pep,

Thank you for the great comments!

In regards to your observations – this may be due to where the quotes are coming from. If you are using the MetaQuotes default quotes feed, then I would check with them. If you are hooked up to a broker on both MT4 and MT5 (the same one), then I would ask them the question why the feeds are different.

Hope this helps,
Kirill

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July 22, 2016 at 2:00 am, Ryen Vybwright said:

Very informative post! So if I am in the US, I shouldn’t be using MT4 at all correct?

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October 01, 2016 at 10:31 am, genericid said:

Hi @keremenko:disqus and thanks for making clarity regarding MT4 & MT5!

I just started trading and your article is now 2 years old so I was wondering if there’s something new to be added or if MT4 is still the way to go.

Has anything changed with NFA? Is the “no hedging” policy still enforced?

Also, what about the brokers moving overseas trend? Did it take up completely so that most brokers now allow hedge trading to US traders too?

Thanks a lot for your help!
Keep up your great work and good luck with your algos 😉

EDIT: as soon as I finished reading your article and wrote this comment, I went out researching and guess what I found? There’s a new MetaTrader 5 build that allows hedge trading, check this out: http://www.metaquotes.net/en/company/news/4678 I’d really love to hear your opinions on this and on how things have generally changed! Again, thanks!

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October 24, 2016 at 1:55 pm, Gerard de Condappa said:

kirill — thanks great write up.

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