3D modeling and animation software are arguably some of the most resource-intensive. If stations were almost the only option for those who want to invest seriously, today there are laptops whose performance is noticeably close to towers.
It is a fact, laptops are more and more powerful, evidenced by the name of recent Nvidia graphics cards which have abandoned their “M” (for mobile) to mark the notable evolution in terms of performance that brings them closer to their office counterparts.
However, the choice is vast and it is not always easy to distinguish between computers capable of running 3D modeling software without flinching. This is the reason for this article, to help you choose the computer that best suits your use.
Best Laptop For Animation
This guide is intended for 3D artists and animators who use apps like 3ds Max, Maya, Zbrush, Mudbox, Blender, C4D, After Effects, V-ray, Substance Designer, Unity, Unreal Engine, etc. on a daily basis.
Besides the CPU which is the fundamental component of any computer supporting 3D, a good GPU is more than necessary in order to lighten the workload of the processor and the RAM.
A computer with a higher screen resolution, a relatively large screen size as well as a good storage capacity is also appreciable although objectively not essential.
Today’s gaming laptops offer excellent graphics performance and adapt very well to 3D modeling and animation needs, so it’s pretty normal to find quite a few on this list.
So which laptop for 3D modeling and animation? Let’s find out together.
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Best Laptop For Animation | Comparison Table 2021
|Razer Blade 15 Base Gaming Laptop 2020: Intel Core i7-10750H 6-Core, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, 15.6" FHD 1080p 120Hz, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, CNC Aluminum, Chroma RGB Lighting, Black||Razer||Check Price|
|Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD Storage, Magic Keyboard) - Space Gray (Renewed)||Apple||Check Price|
|GIGABYTE AERO 17 HDR XD - 17.3" UHD 4k IPS Anti-Glare, Intel Core i7, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU 8GB GDDR6, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, Win10 Pro, Creator Laptop (AERO 17 HDR XD-73US524SP)||GIGABYTE||Check Price|
|Acer Spin 5 Convertible Laptop, 13.5" 2K 2256 x 1504 IPS Touch, 10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7, 16GB LPDDR4X, 512GB NVMe SSD, Wi-Fi 6, Backlit KB, FPR, Rechargeable Active Stylus, SP513-54N-74V2||Acer||Check Price|
|NEW Microsoft Surface Book 3 - 13.5" Touch-Screen - 10th Gen Intel Core i7 - 32GB Memory - 1TB SSD (Latest Model) - Platinum||Microsoft||Check Price|
|2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop: Apple M1 Chip, 13” Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage, Backlit Keyboard, FaceTime HD Camera, Touch ID. Works with iPhone/iPad; Space Gray||Apple||Check Price|
|ConceptD 7 Ezel CC715-71-7196 Convertible Creator Laptop, Intel i7-10750H, GeForce RTX 2060, RTX Studio, 15.6" 4K UHD IPS, Pantone Validated, 100% Adobe RGB, 16GB DDR4, 1TB NVMe SSD, Wacom EMR Pen||Acer||Check Price|
|2021 Lenovo Yoga ThinkBook 14s 2 in 1 Laptop with 14" FHD IPS Touchscreen, Intel Core i7-1165G7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Fingerprint Reader, Pen, Backlit Keyboard, WiFi 6, and Windows 10 Pro||Lenovo||Check Price|
|2020 Newest HP Pavilion 17.3 Inch Touchscreen Laptop (Intel 4-Core i5-8265U up to 3.9GHz, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 1TB SSD, Intel UHD 620, WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI, Webcam, DVD, Windows 10 Home) (Gold)||HP||Check Price|
Best Laptop For Animation | 22021 Products Overview
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How to Choosing the right Laptop For Annimation | Buyer’s Guide 2021
1 – The CPU
3ds max, Maya, Cinema 4D, Blender, and many other 3D software have built-in and external CPU renderers that all rely on the multi-core performance of the processor.
The more powerful the processor, the better.
It is essential that you have the best possible processor for your new laptop. This unique component totally changes the game when it comes to performance. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to filter out the best processors from the rest.
I recommend – if you are serious about 3D and motion design – that you buy a laptop that has an Intel Core i7 HQ or HK processor. Make sure that your computer is equipped with at least quad-core processors because dual-cores are limited enough to handle 3D applications.
2 – The GPU
Another very important factor to consider when you need to do 3D processing is the graphics card. High-end graphics are vital for working in 3D.
Unless you’ve lived in a cave, you already know that the consumer-level (and to some extent, professional-level) laptop graphics card market is dominated by Nvidia. So focus on this brand as a priority.
There are many points to consider when choosing a graphics card, but right now an Nvidia GTX 1650 is the minimum to be able to do 3D. Don’t go below.
3 – RAM
The amount of RAM installed on the laptop is a significant difference in the performance of the laptop.
Most 3D software vendors recommend a minimum of 8 GB of RAM, but in practice 8 GB is the minimum amount. To be truly comfortable with modeling and 3D rendering work, at least 16 GB of RAM is required.
For storage, an SSD is strictly recommended in a 3D-oriented laptop because its read and write speeds, greatly increase the overall performance of the laptop.
You can choose the amount of storage according to your needs and budget.
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5 – The display
The display is another crucial thing to consider. The laptop screen should be anti-glare with comfortable viewing angles and should also be sharp. Personally, I recommend the IPS display with Full HD or 4K resolution for CAD and 3D modeling work as they are good for all of the aspects mentioned above.
Based on these parameters as well as my personal experience, here is a selection of the 5 best laptops for 3D modeling right now.
An Apple MacBook Pro for animation?
I know a lot of people who would just love to have a MacBook Pro. They look cool and it looks like everyone in the design industry has a Mac or MacBook, right?
Since this is a topic that is usually very controversial and elicits very personal opinions, I’ll just list a few facts here and let you decide for yourself:
- The Cost : The laptop (s) I recommend below are 50% cheaper than the same parts in a MacBook Pro
- Graphics card : Recommended laptops are equipped (for this use case) with superior graphics cards from Nvidia (based on CUDA), on which you can also GPU render in much more 3D software (Apple only offers the AMD Radeon GPU with OpenCL)
- Industry use : All the serious 3D studios I have worked in so far as a freelancer use Windows PCs, not Macs. Some only had Macs in their infrastructure, but these were advertising agencies that still outsourced any serious 3D or animation work.
- Extensibility: Laptops can generally be upgraded more easily
- Cost of repairs: Laptops can usually be repaired cheaply
- Sockets / Adapters: A laptop computer has all the usual connectors already integrated. MacBooks usually need expensive additional adapters for anything external.
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Using the laptop
To be productive on a laptop, it is essential to have a good input device, such as a mouse or tablet and pen.
I’ve never seen someone on a touchpad come close to the speed of someone using a mouse or tablet and pen.
I know that using additional input devices can be quite inconvenient at times, especially if you are in a confined space like on the train or plane.
However, whenever possible, especially at home, work, or school where you have a fairly large desk, use an input device that will speed up your work considerably.
Some laptops come with touch screens, which can also be quite fast if you’re used to using the touchscreen as an input device. You can try it out in a store and see if it’s right for you.
Plus, a mouse is not expensive, you can always get one later.
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Since laptop screens are generally much smaller than the external displays you can buy, you need to make sure that the resolution of the laptop screen is high enough that you can place all of your software palettes. and your windows on the single screen you need.
A resolution Full HD (1920 × 1080) is usually a minimum right to buy, but there are laptops with even higher resolutions such as 4K, on which you can install many more things.
It’s best to get an additional external monitor for a multiscreen setup or even use your external monitor in a single screen setup if it’s much larger.
A screen size of 15 ″ as a minimum on a laptop for animation should do the trick.
IPS or TN panels?
For those working on projects that require higher color accuracy, better contrast, and better screen, your best bet would be an IPS rather than a TN panel.
It is not necessary for everyone. If you do a lot of modeling or animation in your viewport, but don’t use a lot of colors or composites, a TN panel is usually sufficient.
But if you want a more accurate display of colors, go with IPS.
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What are the other important parts of a laptop PC for animation
If you plan to use the laptop with external devices, in order to improve your speed and workflow, you should make sure that it has all the necessary ports.
For external displays, you will need an HDMI port and/or a Display Port port. Some of the older monitors only support DVI or VGA sockets, as these connectors are so large that they are usually not found on modern laptops anymore.
But you can still get an adapter.
If you are using a LAN at your workplace or home, you will need an RJ45 LAN port to plug in an ethernet cable that offers much higher speeds than a wireless connection.
For external USB devices such as external hard drives for backup and storage, input devices such as a mouse, tablet, or headset, you will need a sufficient number of sufficiently fast USB ports like the ‘USB 3.0.
Choosing the “best laptop for animation” would not be viable. It all depends on your own preferences combined with your usage which determines the best machine for your routine.
We think our brief reviews on each animation laptop listed above will help you figure that out, but if you still need some advice on which laptop you should invest in, be sure to check out our previous articles.