If I have a simple A4 document with text only (no images) and only 5 pages, how long should I expect to compile with pdftex file.tex?

I haven't installed TeXLive yet as I am not sure if it is worth it.

Using online LaTeX to PDF services, it usually takes them a few seconds.

Can I expect to compile to PDF on my own system to take much longer? (as my system is likely weaker than their system, but they probably have many more concurrent compiles)

Let's say my system is Intel Core i5-2500K @ 3.30GHz x4

  • If you haven't loaded a ton of unused surplus packages, this should take just fractions of a second. LaTeX is old software and designed to perform on much more limited hardware than is commonplace nowadays. Online platforms may be nice for collaborating on small papers and such, but for larger projects, your really want a local installation. Dec 15, 2017 at 2:23

1 Answer 1


It should take a couple of seconds, with probably no noticeable difference with what servers might provide (you're only talking about a text-only, 5-page document).

The following 102-page document compiles in about 3 seconds (an on Acer laptop, 1.7GHz, 8GB RAM, running Windows 10):






As mentioned in elsewhere, there might also be techniques to speed up your compilation. It depends heavily on what type of content you have, but it shouldn't make much difference if you're just typesetting text.

  • On a MacBook pro (2015) this takes less than 2 seconds. Probably it is worthwhile to mention that the compilation time is not linear in the number of pages. And that a local installation is always good since the internet is down and one may not want third parties to have access to, say, the draft of a groundbreaking paper.
    – user121799
    Dec 15, 2017 at 2:48
  • I will install it and test it for myself before accepting this answer (probably in about 2 weeks - when I figure out how to uninstall TeXLive - see askubuntu.com/questions/986390/…)
    – tfstwbbnb
    Dec 15, 2017 at 6:08
  • I was just concerned it might note be worth it as I have seen quite a few posts complaining about speed - eg. tex.stackexchange.com/q/340542, tex.stackexchange.com/q/275066
    – tfstwbbnb
    Dec 15, 2017 at 6:09
  • @tfs compile time depends on the document. Complaining on the user. Users complain8ng loudest are most likely the ones with the very slow machines which are also m8susing TeX to do something it wasn't optimized to do.
    – Johannes_B
    Dec 15, 2017 at 6:58
  • Wow. It compiles much, much quicker than I anticipated. On my machine, it takes only 0.052 seconds (timed by time pdflatex file.tex)
    – tfstwbbnb
    Dec 17, 2017 at 4:55

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