If you're an investor with a keen interest in technology, it's only natural to take a look at exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track the Nasdaq. The technology sector is historically volatile compared with the NYSE, and Nasdaq stocks exhibit about 35% more volatility. But volatility can also mean high growth potential and the accompanying financial reward. In 2017, the Nasdaq Composite Index has veered from returns of -14.45% in February to current year-to-date (YTD) returns of 29.36% – it's not for the faint of heart.

ETFs tracking the Nasdaq Composite offer investors exposure to the high-risk, high-reward technology sector while still hedging their bets with a more balanced approach. So if you'd rather not fiddle with individual stocks but still want the thrills of a tech-focused addition to your portfolio, take a look at these four Nasdaq-based ETFs. (See also: The Main Attractions of ETF Investing.)

All YTD figures represent the period of Jan. 1, 2017, through December 18, 2017. Funds were selected based on a combination of performance, assets under management (AUM) and expense ratio. All figures were accurate as of December 18, 2017.

PowerShares QQQ ETF (QQQ)

  • Issuer: Invesco
  • AUM: $58.45 billion
  • YTD Performance: 35.13%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.20%

Fondly known as "the Qubes" on the Street, Invesco's QQQ trust is one of the oldest and most widely traded ETFs in the world. The fund tracks the Nasdaq 100, which is made up of the largest global non-financial companies listed on the market. Moreover, its internal rules skew it even more toward the technology sector, adding to its volatility. The information technology sector, for example, currently accounts for nearly 60% of the fund's portfolio. The fund is weighted heavily toward large-cap growth companies (over 50%).

Despite its potential drawbacks, QQQ is an extremely inexpensive fund compared with its peers. Its one-year, three-year and five-year annualized returns are 33.86%, 16.34% and 20.48%, respectively. (See also: Big Price Tags Send Investors to QQQ.)

Fidelity Nasdaq Composite Index ETF (ONEQ)

  • Issuer: Fidelity
  • AUM: $1.48 billion
  • YTD Performance: 28.73%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.21%

Since its inception in 2003, this Fidelity ETF has attempted to replicate the Nasdaq Composite Index. At least 80% of its holdings are common stock included in the index, and more than 97% of the assets represent domestic companies.

The fund is weighted toward the information technology, healthcare and consumer discretionary sectors, and you'll see lots of familiar names – Apple Inc. (AAPL), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) and Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) are the top three holdings. (See also: Index Investing: The Nasdaq Composite Index.)

iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB)

  • Issuer: BlackRock
  • AUM: $9.84 billion
  • YTD Performance: 19.22%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.47%

Pharmaceuticals and biotech are extremely volatile sectors on an already capricious exchange, but where there is risk, there is also potential for tremendous reward. If you want exposure to these forward-thinking companies, the iShares Biotech ETF is one of the most efficient and diverse funds available.

IBB's top holdings include Amgen (AMGN), Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) and Biogen Inc. (BIIB). The top 10 holdings account for just short of 55% of the fund's portfolio. IBB's one-year, three-year and five-year annualized returns are 15.48%, 1.42% and 18.04%, respectively. (See also: Gilead, Celgene and Biogen Are Ready to Rise.)

First Trust Nasdaq 100 Tech Sector ETF (QTEC)

  • Issuer: First Trust
  • AUM: $2.24 billion
  • YTD Performance: 38.46%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.60%

This fund tracks the technology companies in the Nasdaq 100, with 90% of its assets in these companies. The fund's top industries are semiconductors, software and computers, which together account for over 80% of the fund's portfolio. The top 10 holdings make up just over 33% of the portfolio, with Micron Technology (MU), Qualcomm (QCOM) and Intel (INTC) taking up the top 3 spots.

QTEC has a solid performance history, achieving one-year, three-year and five-year annualized returns of 39.90%, 19.12% and 24.96%, respectively. (See also: Fed to Tighten Policy: Bet on These ETFs.)

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