Don’t run everything on your laptop

Working on a laptop is really nice since you can carry your office everywhere. Over the last year, I’ve seen a lot of people switching from laptop to tablets for email and word processing, and now use their laptop for what they did on their desktop. I’m no personal productivity expert, but I can give you a bit of advice:

It’s best not to run solvers or optimization code on your laptop. Get it done on a machine designed for such needs.

There is one simple reason for this: heat. Laptops are not cooled and vented so their CPU and RAM can be used at 100%  for long periods of time. Even if it does not melt your computer right away, getting your laptop to high temperature degrades its components and shortens its life expectancy. For years as a M.Sc. student and consultant I ran everything on my laptop. Clawing through two motherboard in the same year did help me change my mind.

I’m not suggesting you should buy a 10k$ server either. Just setup a production environment on another machine that is correctly vented. Some additional suggestions:

  1. Setting up a production environment, even for personal use, yields other benefits besides extending your laptop life expectancy.
  2. Nowadays, Cloud Computing is remarkably cheap. Using the Amazon Cloud, for instance, will probably cost less than buying a computer, unless you plan on using it 24/7.


  1. Good point about heat, which I learned the hard way. There was a time when I was do lots of long MIP solves for a research project, and my university-owned laptop was much faster than my university-owned desktop. So I did the runs on my laptop … until I cooked the motherboard.

    • Based on this limited size sample, I’d estimate that you learn about twice as fast as I am! Actually, after the first cooking, I decided to run only “small” models on my laptop… until I forgot to stop a model before going out for the night and cooked another one.

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