Matlab on MBA

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by jdmac, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. jdmac macrumors newbie

    Jun 12, 2009
    I'm starting an electrical engineering program in the fall and I was CONVINCED that I needed a Macbook Pro until I went to the store and really played with all the laptops. I currently have an '07 BlackBook and a year old iMac at home. I'm an older student (I already have a BS in Biochemistry and a JD) so I have a house and I'll be commuting 20 minutes to school.

    I started thinking about how I'm going to be lugging my laptop to class, library, computer labs, and coffee shops when I get sick of my husband :D Therefore, I'm pretty set on getting a 13" fully loaded Macbook Air when the new ones drop. I'll install AutoCad on my iMac and I know that the MBA will handle any word processing, programming, internet junk and media that I throw at it.

    So my issue (after a terribly long intro, sorry!) is that I'll be using Matlab quite a bit. Does anyone have any experience with Matlab on the MBA?
  2. riptideMBP macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2011
    I bring my 15" with me everywhere on campus and haven't had any portability issues... that being said, I have friends who can run it on their blackbooks just fine, so I doubt the air would have any major issues. how intensively are you planning on using MatLab?
  3. Scuba-EMT macrumors regular


    Apr 19, 2010
    Solomons Island, MD
    I am interested in the answer to this as well. I would not be running MATLAB, but rather a statistical regression analysis package. I currently run it on a Dell M4500 Quad-Core notebook, and it runs well under Fusion on my i7 IMac. If the MBA will handle MATLAB, then it should handle the stats software as well.
  4. tdurden12 macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2011
    Matlab is cpu intensive (if you check cpu usage, it is usually at 100%). I tried the current 11.6 MBA with matlab and it is a dog, programs run really slow and the fans are working hard after a while. When the new MBAs come out, get their benchmarks. If the MBP is 20% faster then the MBA, ask yourself if you care about stuff taking 20% longer in favor of portability. If your stuff runs for a few minutes, it's probably not a big deal. But if it is the difference between 10 hours and 12 hours, it might be.

    Also, sounds like you have been in school for a while. Just curious how you switched from biochemistry to law to engineering?
  5. crspechicn macrumors newbie

    Jan 3, 2011
    Just to be clear... MATLAB itself is not a CPU hog. I'm just finishing my PhD in EE and I've been using it for my entire technical education. The scripts you write are the CPU hogs, and they will be (and should be if they're using the full power of the machine) if you write them right (using parallel computing toolbox, etc. ). I'm sure the air had no trouble with the GUI and editor, but if you're doing simulations that last several hours or days you may want to run them on a desktop or remotely on a server/cluster if you have access to that.
  6. tdurden12 macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2011
    right, the mba is fine for opening graphs and editing programs in matlab. Just don't hit the "run" button, because then once the simulations get started the machine will get bogged down. Ideally anyone seriously using matlab will have it on a heavy duty workstation or server.
  7. axu539 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 31, 2010
    For the last semester, I was using an 11" 1.4 GHz 4 GB MBA for Matlab. It ran fine most of the time, except when I'd have some slightly more taxing scripts. Most of the time though, it was fairly smooth, and I had absolutely no complaints. Of course, if you end up with some sort of coding error that causes Matlab to freak out, it will take longer to resolve. A fully loaded 13" will be fine for sure.
  8. rovitotv macrumors member

    Dec 17, 2009
    Matlab runs good for me

    I have a 11" MBA Ultimate 1.6 ghz/4 gb of RAM and MATLAB runs good enough for me to get work done. For the large jobs I use a server class machine and usually convert to C++. The MBA is good enough for me to perform prototype work in either C++ or MATLAB. Most universities have computers students can log into remotely and run MATLAB/C++ jobs so this use case might work for you. The portability of the MBA is really great. You can always fall back to your 1 year old iMac for the larger more complex jobs.

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