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Perhaps this is a silly question but I am torn which is preferred. I like the mobility of a laptop that doesn't have to be connected to the web. I hope this an appropriate question. I have been a Wolfram Alpha for about a year now. I have a mac mini M2 and a macbook air m1

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    $\begingroup$ it depends on what license you have. if you buy premium service also, you get to install it on 2 PC's for the price of one. See community.wolfram.com/groups/-/m/t/614864 and you could always call WRI customer service to be sure. They have an 800 number. $\endgroup$
    – Nasser
    Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 1:23
  • $\begingroup$ The answer may depend on the kinds of problems you want to solve and the amount of memory each of your choices have. If you are just going to do pretty small simple problems then it may not make any difference what you choose. But if you are going to give it problems that involve LOTS of data or LOTS of calculation then speed and memory will matter. When anyone asks me how much memory and I suspect the are going to tackle big problems I always say "You always want WAY TOO MUCH memory." $\endgroup$
    – Bill
    Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 3:36
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you Nasser and Bill, I will check out the license options as well as computer specs. I was thinking of a computer upgrade so this great info. $\endgroup$
    – Paul
    Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 16:09

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Check the Benchmark[] on any machine available.

In any generation of hardware, between the cheapest notebook and the fastest desktop you will find factors of 2-4 of benchmark results. For the usual factorial scaling of runtime and memory of a problem with repect to the effective binary dimensionality over time, a problem that is solved in 3d with 10 GB in a minute usually runs days in 4d with hundreds of GB.

But even for small tasks, because Mathematica never makes any attempt to store data in the most memory efficient way in everyday code production, memory is an issue.

With some 6 GB idling, at least 32 GB RAM is a must. From vs 13. on there occure system execeptions by memory overflow, killing all your work done up to that point without notice.

Whenever you hit on a problem that seems to need a high end desktop - images, big data, number chrunching, art production - its much cheaper to use specialized program packages, that are open software in most cases and can be used on a notebook with Mathematica as a command and tool.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is very helpful as I’m considering a computer upgrade. Thank you Roland $\endgroup$
    – Paul
    Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 16:11

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