Are you searching for the best laptop for animation?
Whether you’re dealing with 2D or 3D animation, there are several factors that you should consider before narrowing your choices down to one laptop.
The hardware on your laptop plays a huge role in its animation and rendering performance. You can’t expect a laptop with decent specs to give you quality output when dealing with serious animation.
You must spend countless hours researching to find the best laptop for your animation needs. That’s where we come in. We’ve done all the research so that you don’t have to.
After considering several factors, we’ve curated this list of excellent laptops that are perfect for animation and cover a wide variety of users.
Let’s dive in.
Best Laptops For Animation
Take a look at our top picks
- ASUS ROG Zephyrus M – Editor’s Choice
- GigaByte Aero 15 – Runner Up
- Acer Predator Helios 300 – Budget Pick
1. ASUS ROG Zephyrus M – Editor’s Choice
This ASUS laptop is primarily a gaming machine. It comes with all the specs geared up to give you the best gaming experience. But the good news is that you can also use this laptop for animation.
With the hardware inside, you’ll be able to do some crazy animations involving complex effects. The laptop is a good fit for beginners, seasoned animators, and modelers.
The display of this laptop is one of the best features. We have a 15.6-inch display that is LED-backlit and comes with a 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution. When it comes to color accuracy and picture quality, this display does a fantastic job.
You will love the way it displays images while gaming.
Being a gaming laptop, the display also comes with some tricks. It has a refresh rate of 240 Hz, four times what you’ll find in regular laptops. As a result, you get super smooth moments that will make your viewing experience awesome. You will experience this when you are working on the viewport.
Though the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M is a gaming laptop, it is one of the best-designed ones. Thanks to the design, the laptop is only 18.9mm thin and weighs around 4.4 lbs. This is one of the lightest high-performance gaming laptops you will find on the market. It also allows you to game or animate when you’re traveling.
The processor that powers this laptop is an Intel Core i7 9750H processor. This is a Hexa-core processor that comes with a starting frequency of 2.60GHz. As far as power goes, this is easily one of the best processes on the market right now.
When it comes to animation, the clock speed of your processor is more important than the number of cores it has. This processor comes with six cores but also shines in the clock speed department. The maximum clock speed this processor can pull off is 5.0GHz which should be more than enough for any animator.
You can work even on complex scenes with many characters and details. The laptop does get hot, but this gaming laptop’s cooling system is a pretty good job of keeping the temperature under wraps.
The memory department gives a landing hand to the processor when it comes to animation and rendering. We have 16 gigs of RAM that are perfect for running your animation projects and other multitasking efforts.
The graphics card we have on the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M is an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max Q. This is a high-end graphics card with a dedicated memory of 8GB of RAM of GDDR6 type. The GPU has a base clock speed of 1080MHz and a boost clock speed of 1305MHz.
Being a power-saving variant, it does come with reduced clock speeds and power consumption. This is what makes this GPU fit into this slim gaming laptop. When it comes to performance, it can be compared to the regular GTX 1080 graphics card. It does well when it comes to rendering and viewport output.
The solid-state drive we have here is a 1TB PCIe SSD. This SSD gives you both space and the speed you need. Being a higher-capacity SSB, it comes with extraordinary speeds in reading and writing data. You will be dealing with huge files, and this SSD will handle them like a boss.
Overall, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M is an excellent laptop for animation. You can work on any project without holding yourself back regarding detailing and complexity. This ASUS ROG laptop is probably the best laptop for animation.
- Excellent specs
- Lighter than most laptops
- Faster graphics performance
- WebCam placement is weird
2. GigaByte Aero 15 – Runner Up
This high-performance laptop comes with excellent specs and does not disappoint you in terms of performance.
One of the best-selling features of the GigaByte Aero 15 is its display. We have a 15.6-inch display that comes with a 4K resolution. This is easily one of the most pixel-dense displays on the market.
The display has complete coverage for the RGB color gamut, which is nice. As a result, you get excellent colors on the screen that are almost true to life. This is an outstanding feature if you are serious about the colors of your animations. We have an IPS panel, so you should also be getting excellent viewing angles.
Being a 4K display, animators do get a few advantages. You can now render 4K footage on your screen as the screen resolution can handle it. However, be warned that this process is very processor-hungry and can get you in trouble. The 4K screen also allows you to place all the elements on the neat screen.
The processor powers this GigaByte Aero 15 laptop is an Intel Core i7 9850H processor. This is the same processor you will find in our editor’s choice. This processor comes with six physical cores and 12 threads, making it a great workhorse chip. The starting clock speed of the processor is 2.60GHz which means you will get edge power without even using the Turbo boost functionality.
The processor can clock up to a maximum of 5.0 GHz, which makes it suitable for animation. As far as animation is concerned, You will be making a ton of calculations, and this processor can handle them without breaking a sweat. You can even work on complex scenes that involve high-resolution assets, Polygons, and other heavy stuff.
The memory department on this laptop comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM, which is more than enough for most beginners and even some seasoned animation professionals. This memory allows you to do some solid multitasking without worrying about any lag in the laptop’s performance.
One advantage we have over the ASUS laptop is that this one comes with much faster storage. The storage we have here is a 512GB NVMe SSD. This solid-state drive’s reading and writing speeds are better than a PCIe SSD. You will love the speed it handles, even with some of your huge files.
The graphics card we have here is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. This is a high-end graphics card with a dedicated video RAM of 6 GB that is of the GDDR6 type. This is one of the best graphics cards for playing games. The GPU does a pretty good job rendering, and you will have a satisfactory experience.
Wrapped up comes with Wi-Fi 6, which is fantastic. This latest Wi-Fi adapter allows you to have super-high internet speeds without needing any wires. The latency is also reduced, which is great for gaming. You also get Bluetooth 5.0 on this laptop, which has an extended range and much better external connectivity.
Overall, the GigaByte Aero 15 is a solid laptop for animators. You get an excellent processor that does most of the work and gets good support from the memory and the graphics department. This is probably a good choice if you’re looking for a slim laptop or an alternative to the ASUS laptop.
- 4K display
- Beastly processor
- Excellent graphics
3. MSI GF 65 – Honorable Mention
The MSI GF 65 is another laptop that is a fantastic choice when it comes to animation. This laptop comes with excellent specs that are geared toward giving you the best animation experience there is.
Let’s talk about the display of this laptop. Our 15.6-inch LED-backlit IPS display gives you excellent colors and fantastic picture quality. The contrast ratio of this display is incredible, which uses deep blacks and bright whites, making this a good laptop for color accuracy.
Being a gaming laptop, the display comes with a 120Hz refresh rate. This is much better than your 60 Hz refresh rate and gives you fluid movements all over the screen. This refresh rate helps reduce motion blur and can improve your overall gaming experience by a mile.
The display is also anti-reflective, which is a good thing to have. If you work in brightly lit rooms, you may have to tolerate your reflections on the screen. With this display, you no longer have to worry about that problem.
The IPS display gives you excellent viewing angles, so you don’t have to sit in front of the laptop all day. Thanks to the vibrancy of colors and the shrunken bezels surrounding the screen, you will enjoy working on your animations on this display.
The processor we have here is an Intel Core i7 processor from the 9th generation of Intel chips. This processor is powerful and comes with a base clocking frequency of 2.60GHz and a maximum clocking frequency of 4.50GHz. It also comes with an Intel Smart cache memory of 12MB that could come in handy when dealing with everyday applications.
Thanks to the higher clock speeds, working on animation calculations will be much easier with this processor. Though the number of processor cores does not affect the performance, it does help when it comes to dealing with other heavy applications.
The memory department on this laptop is flush with 2 8GB RAM sticks. Ram is of DDR4 type and comes with a band of 2666MHz. This is one of the fastest memories you will find on any laptop, and it does a pretty good job of multitasking. This is particularly useful during the rendering process as it handles everything smoothly.
The storage on this laptop is made up of 512GB NVMe SSD. This SSD belongs to the fastest clash of solid-state drives and does a pretty good job when it comes to reading and writing. The SSD brings the laptop’s performance to a whole new level, and if you’re coming from a mechanical hard drive, you will be blown away by the speed.
The graphics card we have on this MSI laptop is an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU. This is a high-end graphics card, and it comes with 6 GB of video RAM that is of the GDDR6 type. This is a pretty good graphics card when it comes to gaming, and as a fantastic job when it comes to rendering and 3D animation.
There are a lot of connectivity options on this MSI laptop. It has a couple of USB 3.2 Type-C ports, a couple of USB 3.2 Type-A ports, an HDMI port, an ethernet port, and an audio jack. Regarding wireless connectivity, the laptop comes with an Intel 9560 Jefferson peak Wi-Fi adapter and Bluetooth 5.0 built-in.
Overall, this MSI laptop is a solid performer in gaming and animation. Whether you are learning animation or you are a seasoned pro, this laptop will serve you well and give you a solid animation experience.
- Excellent graphics card
- Solid performance
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Average Battery life
4. MacBook Pro 16″ – Mac Pick
If you want to keep your animations strictly to the Apple ecosystem, then the MacBook Pro 16 is your best choice.
This model is Apple’s flagship laptop and comes with the best-ever hardware on an Apple laptop. Remember that you will be paying way more when compared with a Windows laptop with similar specs.
Of all the laptops on the list, the MacBook Pro has the biggest screen. We are talking about a 16-inch display, but it still manages to become the lightest laptop on the list. The MacBook Pro weighs just around 4 lb which is super easy to carry around and does not add extra baggage to your backpack.
The display we have here is a 16-inch LED-backlit display that comes with a resolution of 3072 x 1920 pixels. Apple calls this Retina resolution, and it does give a good pixel density to the display. This display is one of the most color-accurate displays you will find on the market. It covers 100% of the P3 color gamut, which makes this an excellent laptop for animation.
Being an IPS panel, it delivers an excellent contrast ratio. The blacks are pretty deep, and the whites are bright. The true tone technology available on macs ensures that you get colors that are true to life and aren’t artificial. The display also comes with a maximum brightness of 500 nits, enabling you to work even under the bright sun if that’s your thing.
When it comes to processing power, the MacBook Pro does a fantastic job. It has an Intel Core i7 processor at its helm, and with a maximum clock speed of 4.7 GHz, you can expect serious performance from that processor. With 16 gigs of RAM in the memory department, this processor-memory combo does a fantastic job.
As far as animation is concerned, the higher clock speeds allow you to do some slick animations. When working with software optimized for macOS, like Maya or 3ds max, you can make complex scenes with many geometry and high-resolution measures.
The storage we have on this MacBook Pro is a 512GB SSD. This SSD is of the NVME type and is one of the fastest ones you will find on the planet. Apple prides itself on making the fastest SSDs, and this one is no different. This solid-state drive can move even gigabytes of data in just a few seconds, thanks to word reading and writing speeds of upwards of 2GB/s.
The Graphics card we have here is the AMD Radeon Pro 5300M. This GPU comes with a dedicated memory of 6GB which allows you to get the maximum out of your animation process. The fact that we do not have an Nvidia graphics card does not affect your animation. This AMD Radeon GPU is just as good as the Nvidia one, if not any better.
The presence of the Touch Bar helps when you are rendering. Provided your application has a contextual menu for the Touch Bar, you will have great shortcuts to make a workflow much easier. One of the things we love is the way you can scrub to see the preview of the viewport screen, which is nice.
The keyboard on this MacBook Pro 16 is also one of the best possible ever used. Despite having a key travel of just 1mm, this keyboard gives you an excellent experience thanks to its premium build quality. The backlit keyboard does come in handy when there is little light around. The trackpad on this MacBook Pro is the best track, but you will never have a laptop, thanks to its extraordinary performance.
Another area where the MacBook Pro demolishes other laptops is in the battery department. With light use, the laptop can easily last for about 10 hours which is incredible for a high-performance laptop. Even when you’re animating, you should get around 3 to 4 hours of battery life from this laptop, and that’s quite impressive.
Overall, if you favor macOS, the MacBook Pro 16 is the best Apple laptop for animation. It comes with an expensive price tag and an experience that tries to justify it. If you are used to Apple products, you won’t have much to complain about, making this laptop a good fit for your needs.
- Vibrant display
- Excellent performance
- Solid graphics
- Only USB type C ports
5. Surface Book 2 – Convertible Pick
If you prefer the convenience of a convertible laptop over a regular laptop, then the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is the best choice for you.
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is a 15-inch laptop with excellent specs and offers you the flagship Microsoft Windows experience. Microsoft has been pushing its touchscreen devices for the last few years, and this Surface Book 2 is the pinnacle of it.
Our display is an LED-backlit one that comes with Microsoft’s Pixel Sense resolution. This resolution is much better than a QHD display and gives you excellent picture quality with sharp text. Thanks to the widescreen, you will have a great time working on your animations and interacting with the elements of your favorite animation software.
The Surface Book 2 has an Intel Core i7 processor at its helm. This processor is a Hexa core processor and does a fantastic job when it comes to handling serious, power-hungry requirements. The processor’s clock speed can go up to a maximum of 5 GHz, making it perfect for all the calculations you will be doing in your animations.
The memory department comes with 16 gigs of RAM, which should be more than enough for most animators. This RAM allows stress-free rendering and is the perfect choice for machines solely focused on animation. When it comes to everyday multitasking, you’ll be able to do that without any restrictions.
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is different from other convertible laptops in one unique way. The laptop allows you to convert it into a tablet by folding it. Another way to do this is by completely detaching the keyboard from the laptop. This way, you will only have the screen on your hands, and you can use it as a regular tablet.
Most convertible laptops give you the ability to do a 360° flip, and that’s it. You will still have to carry the entire laptop, even in tablet mode, which adds quite a bit of bulk. Here, removing the keyboard reduces the weight by more than half. With the keyboard, the laptop weighs around 4.2 lbs. But without the keyboard, the weight of your tablet is less than 2 lbs which are great for portability.
The keyboard on the Surface Book pro is our minor gripe. It is a much better keyboard than what we have in the new surface pro series, but it is different from the MacBook Pro keyboard. And there is a decent bit of travel, but the typing experience is a bit soft, which could disappoint some of you.
The trackpad on this laptop, however, it’s fantastic. Coming from Microsoft, you can expect this trackpad to have the best support for Windows gestures. It also has a super smooth surface perfect for gliding your fingers and making those gestures.
The storage on the Surface Book 2 is high-speed and comes with a 512 GB solid-state drive capacity. This solid-state drive does a fantastic job when it comes to opening applications. Even the heaviest animation software launches quickly without making you wait. The SSD also boots off the operating system in just a few seconds which is a great way to start things up.
The graphics card we have on the Surface Book 2 is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. This GPU comes with 4GB of dedicated video RAM, which is perfect for most beginners and even some seasoned animators working on smaller and less complex scenes.
Surface Book 2 also does a brilliant job regarding battery life. With light use, you can work on this laptop for about 15 to 17 hours, which is crazy. However, with heavy work like animation, this battery life could come down to about 3 to 4 hours which is still pretty good.
Overall, the Surface Book 2 is an excellent convertible laptop that does not skimp on hardware. It is also not that expensive and gives you the flexibility And the performance you desire for an animation laptop.
- Detachable keyboard
- Excellent performance
- Epic battery life
- No Surface Pen included
6. Acer Predator Helios 300 – Budget Pick
Our budget choice for animation is the Acer Predator Helios 300 laptop. When it comes to animation, you’re not going to be able to do much with a $500 laptop. You would have spent $500, and you will have a useless machine in your hands.
That’s why we chose the Acer predator Helios 300 as our budget Pick. The laptop costs a little more than $1000 and gives you solid performance when it comes to animation. This laptop will be a fantastic choice if you don’t want any bells and whistles.
Let’s talk about the display of this laptop. We have a 15.6 full HD LED-backlit display with a refresh rate of 144Hz and an overdrive response time of 3ms. Being a gaming laptop, you can understand the specs and what they are trying to achieve.
When it comes to picture quality, the display does a fantastic job. The colors are vibrant, and you will love the sharpness of the images and the text. The IPS panel presents us with excellent viewing angles so that you can view the display from anywhere in the room and still get the same colors without losing accuracy.
The refresh rate of 144Hz plays a significant role in eliminating motion blur when you’re gaming. This refresh rate also does a pretty good job when you’re working on getting the final image out of your animation project. The laptop does give you enough real estate to see what’s going on with your application. You will have a good time observing the elements on the screen without having to squint.
The processor that runs this Helios 300 gaming laptop is an Intel Core chip from the ninth generation. This Hexa-core processor comes with a base clock speed of 2.60 GHz and a maximum clock speed of 4.70 GHz. It also comes with a smart cache memory of 12MB, which will be handy for most people.
To work on complex projects, you need to have a process that has a good clock speed. The number of cores on the processor is not as important as the clock speed. This processor nails this requirement, so you can work on complex scenes with a lot of geometry and still do a fantastic job.
The memory department on the Acer Helios 300 laptop comes with 16GB of RAM, and I have a clock speed of 2666 MHz. This RAM is excellent for an animation laptop and does a good job. You will be able to run multiple applications side-by-side without any issues regarding performance.
The storage department on this laptop is made up of a 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD. This is one of the fastest solid-state drives you will get your hands on, and it does an excellent job of reading and writing data. There are two slots for solid-state drives on this laptop, and only one of them is filled. This gives you the option to upgrade the memory later, which is nice to have.
The graphics card we have on the Acer Predator Helios 300 is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 TI with 6 GB of dedicated video RAM of GDDR6 type. This is a high-end graphics card, and the reliable video RAM will play a major role in handling rendering.
The performance of the graphics card is more than satisfactory when it comes to animation. It matches the performance of its predecessor and does a good job when it comes to running most modern-day games.
Overall, the Acer Predator Helios 300 is a fantastic gaming laptop for a price that is very affordable for a lot of people. If you’re looking for a laptop for animation that won’t cost you a lot of money with few compromises, this is the right laptop for you.
- Excellent processor
- Solid graphics performance
- Tad heavy
What To Look For In The Best Laptop For Animation?
So none of the models above piqued your interest? That’s fair.
Do you want to find the right laptop for you? If that’s the case, then here is a guide to making that research processor more streamlined and easier.
Hardware And Animation
By now, you would have understood that you need a high-end laptop for animation.
Before you go and select the first high-end laptop you see, let’s see how animation uses hardware.
When it comes to animation, you need to beef up every aspect of your laptop to get the smoothest experience. This is not true and is so far from it.
Animation utilizes some of the hardware components in different ways. Most people think you need a high-end graphics card for a good animation rig. That’s not true, either. We don’t need a high-end or workstation-level graphics card on our laptop to work on animations.
Your laptop’s most important hardware component that needs to be top-notch for animation is your processor. The CPU must work on many calculations related to objects, simulations, rigs, soft body dynamics, etc.
Only when the processor has done all the hard work of a ton of calculations does the GPU display the final result on the screen. Simply put, the GPU will not affect your animation’s final output as much as you thought.
Every other hardware component is just as important, but the CPU has the most impact on animation.
The software you plan on using also plays a role in deciding on the right laptop.
If you focus on 2D animation, you can have a laid-back approach. Most contemporary laptops will do fine for 2D animation as they come with decent specs.
But if you plan to have a career in 3D animation, then the game changes completely. Here, you need a laptop with excellent hardware to meet the needs of your 3D animation workload and applications.
Let’s talk about specific software and see how they affect your laptop selection process.
Some of the most commonly used 2D animation software is Adobe After Effects and Pencil2D.
The requirements for running these applications are not as heavy as 3D animation applications. As we mentioned above, you can do a fine job with a modern laptop with decent specs. Let’s talk about the specs in detail.
The processor should be at least an i5 chip with good clock speed. Minimum memory of 8GB will be perfect for 2D animation. The presence of an SSD will also benefit you.
Stop-motion animation is another style that needs similar to 2D animation. You can do some serious stop-motion animation on a machine for both 2D and 3D animation.
3D Animation Software
The following are the most used 3D animation applications.
Maya is mainly used in the animation industry for making 3D models and 3D assets. You can create models with varying complexity and many layers to them.
You can use Maya for animation, modeling, shading, and rendering other 3D assets. Being one of the most widely used 3D animation applications, you can easily create complex animation.
Autodesk 3ds Max
Autodesk 3ds Max is a 3D modeling and animation that is web-based.
It is used in game development, films, tv, and even product prototyping. We can use Autodesk 3ds Max to simulate scenarios and physics, making it one of the most useful 3D animation applications.
Some famous films that have used Autodesk 3ds Max are Transformers, Avatar, and many more. Even World of Warcraft and Call of Duty have 3d models and elements made in Autodesk 3ds Max.
These are the most used 3D applications by people in the industry. Look at the specs you need for a proper 3D animation experience.
3D animation is much more taxing than 2D animation; you need some serious hardware to handle that.
You need a high-end processor that comes with very good clock speed. The more cores you have, the better. For memory, you need at least 16GB of DDR4 RAM to help you multitask effortlessly.
You can go with a high-end laptop if you’re an animation student. But if you’re a professional, you should go for a premium like that comes with bells and whistles.
Whether it is 2d or 3d animation, you need a good laptop. A high-end laptop that comes with an excellent hardware lineup. Below, we will discuss every component of your animation laptop in detail for better clarity.
When selecting the processor for your laptop, you must focus on a few aspects, namely clock speed, the number of cores, cache memory, and brand.
We have already mentioned that the CPU is the most important component in a laptop for animation.
So which aspect do you concentrate on the most?
The answer is clock speed.
Whether your processor has 4 cores or 2 cores, the clocking frequency of your processor is the one that decides the animation performance of your laptop.
The higher your clock speed, the better will be the animating capacity of your laptop. Even your viewport performance depends on the clock speed, meaning a lower clock speed can result in a sluggish output.
So when picking your processor, ensure it has a base clock speed of at least 2.0GHz. It’s okay if it is in the 1.6-1.8GHz range, provided it has a high turbo boost clock speed. Also, the processor should clock up to a maximum of at least 4.2GHz for stellar performance. The higher it clocks, the better.
Which processor do you go with? An i5 or an i7?
Since we are fixated on getting the processor with high clock speed, getting an i5, or an i7 will make little difference.
But if you’re looking for a high-performance laptop, we recommend going for an Intel Core i7 processor with 6 cores.
Also, if you’re going for an i5 chip, ensure you don’t go way back in a generation. Get a processor that belongs to an 8th generation or above, preferably from the 10th generation.
While having more cores may not help in animation, it can come in handy for other everyday tasks. Go for a processor with 6 physical cores and 12 threads to perform excellently.
Selecting a high-end processor is not all fun. There are also some issues to look out for. Your laptop will get super hot when running a high-end chip at its highest clock speed.
You must find a laptop that comes with a good cooling system built-in. Gaming laptops, generally, come with a very good cooling system in them. This is usually overlooked, so make sure you avoid getting a toaster.
Selecting the brand of the processor is your personal preference. Intel is the leader when it comes to high-performance laptop chips. AMD has recently given some serious competition, and if you want to save some money, you can go with an AMD chip that has the same performance or spends the same money to get better performance.
Do you need a dedicated graphics card for an animation laptop?
Having a dedicated graphics card on a laptop purely meant for animation is one of the unwritten rules when finding a laptop. Whether you need a mid-range GPU or a high-end GPU depends on your workload and the complexities of your projects.
One simple way of figuring out which GPU is perfect for you is by taking the recommendation of the software you are using. But, in most cases, you will hit a bottleneck when you take the minimum requirements seriously.
So how do you know which GPU is the best one for animation?
A simple thumb rule is to find a GPU that belongs to the latest generation, has a modern architecture, and comes with a lot of video RAM.
The video RAM is the amount of dedicated memory you get from your GPU. This RAM can be of GDDR5 type or GDDR6 type. The latter is the latest and gives you better performance.
Regarding GPUs, the latest generation ones will constantly have improved performance compared to their predecessors. For example, the newest RTX 20XX series graphics cards will consistently outperform their predecessors from the 10XX series. The performance improvements can be minuscule in some cases and huge and others, but they always exist.
If you are a beginner working on small projects with simple scenes, then a GPU with 4GB of RAM will be more than enough. You should get good results on the viewport without any lag.
Suppose you are going to work on complex projects with more simulations, many characters, high-resolution meshes, and multiple polygons.
In that case, you’ll need a graphics card with a dedicated video memory of at least 6 GB. This dedicated memory will guarantee a smooth viewport experience in other places where the GPU will be needed.
What if my GPU needs more dedicated memory for my projects?
The performance on the viewport will be super sluggish. You will see a lot of lag and need to figure out what is happening on the screen. If you are a graphics card that belongs to the 10th or the 20th generation, then the chances of this happening are bleak.
Do you need workstation graphics?
The answer is no.
Workstation graphics cards have an advantage over regular consumer graphics cards. Still, that gap has reduced over the years, and regular graphics cards do the same amount of work without any loss and performance.
This means you don’t have to spend a premium to get a Quadro or FirePro graphics card to help you with your animations.
If you want the absolute best performance, you can get an Nvidia or an AMD graphics card for the same price, and that would easily give you more performance for your money.
Should I get an Nvidia GPU or AMD GPU?
Performance-wise, Nvidia graphics cards are much better than AMD ones.
Nvidia comes with CUDA core technology, one of its major selling points, and delivers excellent performance. Another advantage of the Nvidia graphics card is that most software supports them and offers solid compatibility.
AMD GPUs are cheaper, and for the same price, they will give you better performance. You will have to figure out a way to deal with the heating, but it will be only marginally higher.
We recommend going with Nvidia GeForce graphics cards, as they give you the best performance.
RAM is another important component in a high-end laptop. You don’t want to skimp on RAM as it can seriously handicap the performance of your laptop.
When it comes to working with many characters, long animations, high-resolution meshes, and complex scenes in general, you will have an advantage when you have a lot of memory onboard.
So how much memory is enough?
If you’re an animation student or just trying to master the art, then you’ll be fine with just 8 gigs of DDR4 RAM. Make sure the clock speed is good, and you should be fine with small scenes.
Let’s say you know how animation works, and you’re on your way to slightly bigger projects with more detail. In this case, you will greatly benefit by having at least 16 gigs of DDR4 RAM with good clock speed and minimum CL latency.
If you’re a seasoned animator who works on complex projects, you will need 32 gigs of RAM or more, depending on the project. 64 gigs might be unnecessary for animation as it is overkill. But you will use that RAM if you do a lot of rendering.
You can either buy a laptop with high memory or get one and do the upgrade yourself. The latter is the preferred way as it costs a lot less. But be sure to know what you’re doing, as you can damage your laptop when done incorrectly.
Always get a laptop where you can upgrade the RAM later. This gives you the freedom and ability to add more memory to your laptop as and when needed. Also, you don’t have to replace the entire machine just because memory became a bottleneck.
The size of your animation files, especially 3d ones, is huge. They will eat up your storage very quickly.
Since you’ll have more storage on your laptop, you might levitate toward getting an HDD. But do not make that mistake, as it could drastically reduce your system’s performance.
We know that HDDs are much cheaper. For the same price, you can get a lot more storage from an HDD than from an SSD, but that doesn’t make it a better option.
We recommend going with solid-state drives all day. These drives don’t have any moving parts, so they are much faster when it comes to reading and writing files on storage. You will also save a bit of battery with SSDs.
SSDs are also much more durable than hard drives. They are also shock resistant to hard drives, which means the failure rate is much lower.
The problem with SSDs is that they are costly. We haven’t reached the adoption stage where we can get SSDs at a cheaper rate. But do take it from us that an SSD is worth every penny you pay.
Let’s talk about the amount of storage. This is where things get tricky. It is better to have as much storage as possible. But getting a 1TB SSD will make your laptop very expensive. If you don’t have the budget for it, you can’t waste all of it in the storage department.
We would suggest getting a 256GB or a 512GB solid-state drive. Once you fill her up, you can move your existing libraries or add more storage to your device.
If you already have a huge library and are moving it from a hard drive disk, we suggest a hybrid storage drive. This is a combination of both an SSD and an HDD.
You can get 256GB of SSD storage and match it with a 1TB or 2TB HDD to get maximum storage. Install the operating system and your most important applications on the SSD so that they will launch quicker and won’t lag in performance.
Ideally, our best combination would be a 512GB SSD with a 2TB HDD to get a lot of space and the speed you need for a seamless user experience.
There are different speed categories in SSDs too. The following are SSDs ordered from the slowest to the fastest.
- SSD on SATA2 interface
- SSD on SATA3 interface
- SSD on PCIe
- SSD w/ NVMe
As you guessed, the price of the solid-state drive also goes up as the speed of the drive increases.
In addition to whatever storage you get, always have backup storage for your main laptop. Get a cheap external storage drive; it can be an HDD, and back up your data regularly for security reasons. We don’t know when an SSD or an HDD could give up, so it is better to be safe than sorry.
Finding the right display for your laptop is crucial for animation.
We always recommend going with a 15.6-inch laptop as this screen size is perfect for observing everything on the screen. This screen size gives you enough real estate to view all the elements of your favorite 3D animation software.
Regarding resolution, you should opt for a minimum of 1080p screens. A full HD display gives your excellent pictures without compromising on clarity. From a given distance, it is hard to find individual pixels which offer you an excellent viewing experience.
If possible, you should go for a higher-resolution display. Whether it is a QHD display or a 4K display, you will get a much better experience when it comes to animation. For example, a 4K display will have many more elements on the screen, giving you access to more information.
Keeping a native resolution could result in very small elements on the screen that can be hard to look at. Always scale your resolution to get more elements only when you’re animating.
Should you go for an IPS panel?
An IPS panel gives you excellent details when it comes to both colors and clarity. The colors on your display will be more vibrant, and you will get deeper blacks with an IPS panel. You will also get excellent viewing angles which could come in handy.
If you want to save on the cost of your display, you can also go for a TN panel. This panel is inferior to an IPS panel, with bad viewing angles and slightly less color accuracy. If your work routine does not care much about color accuracy, you wouldn’t have a problem with a TN panel.
If possible, you can get yourself an antireflective display. These are also known as matte displays As they are not glossy even in a brightly lit environment. This display will reduce your distractions and allow you to focus on what is happening on the screen.
All popular animation software’s available in both Windows and macOS. Next para, if you’re going to work on May and final cut pro, then Mac is your weapon of choice.
If you’re going to work with software that is not mainstream, then Windows probably has better compatibility and is ultimately the best choice.
Regardless of the operating system, the hardware on your laptop does most of the lifting. Don’t skimp on the hardware; you will get a stellar performance on your laptop, whatever the operating system.
One of the main reasons people go for laptops and not desktops is because of portability.
If you travel a lot, there is no reason you shouldn’t be working on your project just because you’re stuck with a laptop. Many portable laptops are out there that keep you high-performance when it comes to animation and rendering.
If you’re looking for a portable laptop, we suggest going for a 13.3-inch laptop with a high-end processor. Ideally, we would go with an Intel Core i7 processor, which gives you the best per-core performance.
In this case, we suggest finding a laptop with an excellent cooling system. A 13.3-inch laptop has a very small body and can quickly get hot. Running animations will heat your laptop much faster, and you will have shunted performance without proper cooling.
If you don’t want to work on the small screen, you can opt for a 15.6-inch laptop. Several laptops on the market come with a big screen and still much less. Also, cooling on this laptop is much better compared to the smaller ones.
A good example of a 15-point-inch laptop that is also very portable would be the Apple MacBook Pro 16. This laptop has a 16-inch display and still shaves a lot of weight. The laptop weighs around 4 lbs and can easily be carried around without feeling any extra baggage.
Connectivity & Battery Life
Your laptop must have excellent connectivity options.
You should get all the essential ports on your laptop, allowing you to connect to external devices, transfer data, and do much more with your device.
Some of the essential ports that can be very handy in R
- USB Type-C port Gen 3.2
- USB Type A-port Gen 3.1
- HDMI port
- SD card reader
- Audio jack
The first 2vUSB ports are super handy when it comes to transferring data. The USB type C port comes with multiple uses, like sharing data, charging a laptop, and connecting your laptop to a high-end external display.
The HDMI port also is helpful in hooking your laptop with an eye and external display. An external display will surely come in handy so having a port that enables it is essential.
A laptop should also come with the latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth standards. You should be able to connect to the internet and get high speeds without the need for wires that clutter your workspace.
Since you’re looking for a laptop, we would assume that you are also interested in getting good battery life.
If that is the case, you should get a laptop that will give you all-day battery life with light use. When you are working on your animations, there is no way your laptop will last for more than 4 to 5 hours.
If you have to work on small animation projects while traveling, having a good battery life will come in handy.
Having a good keyboard and trackpad might not look like the most important thing for an animation laptop, but having a faulty keyboard or trackpad can break your day.
Make sure your laptop comes with an excellent keyboard that has good travel. A backlit keyboard is also preferred as it gives you more flexibility even in dark environments.
If you get yourself a Windows laptop, you might want to ensure that it comes with a precision trackpad. This will give you full compatibility with Windows gestures, and you will have a complete Windows experience.
When finding the best laptops for animation, there is no one size fits all solution.
Each one will find a different laptop attractive and attend to their needs better than other models. This is precisely why we have one Editor’s choice and two other alternatives that will serve people from different sectors well.
If you are still unable to find the laptop of your dreams, don’t hesitate to shooters an email so that we can help you nail that one perfect laptop.