A colleague recently complained that MiKTeX (a LaTeX distribution for Window) runs much lower on his full-featured workstation than on his less powerful
It was not just a minor difference: Compilation took several minutes on the Workstation, but only a few seconds on the laptop.
The only difference that we found was the way that MiKTeX was installed. When he ran the installer on the workstation, he thought that there would be enough space to make a full install with all included packages. On the laptop the space was rather limited, so he chose a standard install.
Apparently the full package database is processed every time, the compilation process is started. So installing a smaller number of packages not only reduced the necessary space, but also massively improved the runtime.