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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.
In a hurry?
Here’s our Editor’s choice:
ASUS ROG Zephyrus M
The hardware on your laptop plays a huge role when it comes to its animation and rendering performance. You can’t expect a laptop with decent specs to give you quality output when dealing with serious animation.
Needless to say, you have to spend countless hours in research 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 a number of factors, we’ve curated this list of excellent laptops that are perfect for animation, and they cover a wide variety of users.
Let’s dive in.
Best Laptop For Animation (Editor’s Choice) – ASUS ROG Zephyrus M
Our Editor’s choice for the best laptop for animation is the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M.
This ASUS laptop is primarily a gaming machine. It comes with all the specs that are geared up for giving you the best gaming experience there is. But the good news is, you can use this laptop for animation as well.
The hardware inside, you’ll be able to do some crazy animations involving complex effects. The laptop is a good fit for both beginners as well as 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 resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. when it comes to color accuracy and picture quality, this display does a fantastic job. You will absolutely love for the way displays images while gaming.
Being a gaming laptop, the display also comes with a couple of tricks up its sleeves. It has a refresh rate of 240 Hz which is 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 just around 4.4lbs. 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 we have here comes with six cores but it also shines in the clock speed department. The maximum clock speed this processor can pull off as 5.0GHz which should be more than enough for any animator.
You can work even on complex scenes that have a lot of characters and details. The laptop does get hot, but the cooling system of this gaming laptop that’s a pretty good job in keeping the temperature under wraps.
The memory department gives the 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 that comes with a dedicated memory of 8GB of RAM that is of GDDR6 type. The GPU comes with 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 when it comes to 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 will be able to work on any kind of project without having to hold yourself back in terms of detailing and complexity. Without any doubt, this ASUS ROG laptop is probably the best laptop for animation.
Runner Up 1 – GigaByte Aero 15
The model is our first runner-up for the best laptop when it comes to animation.
This is a high-performance laptop that 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 display is out there 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 a very good 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 as well.
Being a 4K display, animators do get a few advantages. You can now render a 4K footage on your screen as the screen resolution can handle it. However, be warned that this is a very processor hungry process and can land you in trouble. The 4K screen also gives you the ability to place all the elements on the screen which is neat.
The processor that 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 which makes it a great workhorse chip. The starting clock speed of the processor is 2.60GHz which means you will get an 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 having to worry about any lag the performance of the laptop.
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. The reading and writing speeds of this solid-state drive are easily better than a PCIe SSD. You will absolutely fall in love with the speed it handles even 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 that comes with a dedicated video RAM of 6 GB that is of the GDDR6 type. this is one of the best graphics cards when it comes to playing games. The GPU does a pretty good job when it comes to rendering and you will have a fine experience.
Wrapped up comes with Wi-Fi 6 which is fantastic. This latest Wi-Fi adapter gives you the option to have super high internet speeds without the need for any wires. The latency is also reduced which is great for gaming. You also get Bluetooth 5.0 on this laptop that comes with 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. If you’re looking for a slim laptop or an alternative to the ASUS laptop, then this is probably a good choice.
Runner Up 2 – MSI GF 65
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 towards giving you the best animation experience there is.
Let’s talk about the display of this laptop. We have a 15.6 inch LED-backlit IPS display that gives you excellent colors and fantastic picture quality. The contrast ratio of this display is awesome 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 in reducing motion blur when gaming and can improve your overall gaming experience by a mile.
The display is also an anti-reflective display which is a pretty good thing to have. If you have to work in brightly lit rooms, then you may have to tolerate your reflections on the screen. With this display, you don’t have to worry about that problem anymore.
The IPS display gives you very good viewing angles which means you don’t have to sit in front of the laptop all day long. You will enjoy working on your animations on this display, thanks to the vibrancy of colors and the shrunken bezels surrounding the screen.
The processor we have here is an Intel Core i7 processor from the 9th generation of Intel chips. This processor is a powerful one 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 a lot easier with this processor. Though the number of processor cores does not have much of an effect on 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 with of 2666MHz. This is one of the fastest memories you will find on any laptop, and it does a pretty good job when it comes to multitasking. You will find this I’m 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 performance of the laptop 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 that 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 and 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, and HDMI port, an ethernet port, and an audio jack. When it comes to 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 when it comes to gaming and animation. Whether you are learning animation or if you are a seasoned pro, this laptop will serve you well and give you a solid animation experience.
Best MacBook For Animation – MacBook Pro 16
If you want to keep your animations strictly to the Apple ecosystem, then the MacBook Pro 16 is the best choice for you.
This model right here is Apple’s flagship laptop and comes with the best ever hardware on an Apple laptop. Do keep in mind 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 is the one with 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 any 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 a great laptop for animation.
Being an IPS panel, it delivers an excellent contrast ratio. The blacks are pretty deep and the whites are quite bright as well. The true tone technology available on macs makes sure that you get colors that are true to life and aren’t artificial by any means. The display also comes with a maximum brightness of 500 nits which enables 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 some serious performance out of 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 the software that is optimized for macOS like Maya or 3ds max, you will be able to make complex scenes with a lot of 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 words reading and writing speeds in upwards of 2GB/s.
The Graphics card we have here is the AMD Radeon pro 5300M graphics card. 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 in any way. This AMD Radeon GPU is just as good as the Nvidia once if not any better.
The presence of the Touch Bar definitely 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 a lot 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 key travel of just 1mm, this keyboard manages to give you an excellent experience thanks to its premium build quality. The backlit keyboard does come in handy when there is not a lot of light around. The trackpad on this MacBook Pro is the best track but you will never have any 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 awesome 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 then the MacBook Pro 16 is the best Apple laptop for animation for you. It comes with an expensive price tag and an experience that tries to justify it. If you are used to Apple products, then you won’t have much to complain which makes this laptop a good fit for your needs.
Best Convertible Laptop For Animation – Surface Book 2
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 that comes 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.
The display we have here is an LED-backlit one that comes with Microsoft’s Pixel Sense resolution. This resolution is much better than a QHD display and manages to give you excellent picture quality with sharp texts. 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 comes with an Intel Core i7 processor at its helm. This processor is an hexa core processor and does a pretty fantastic job when it comes to handling serious, power-hungry requirements. The clock speed of the processor can go up to a maximum of 5 GHz making it perfect for all the calculations will be doing in your animations.
The memory department comes with 16 gigs of RAM which should be more than enough for most animators out there. This RAM allows you to do stressfree rendering and is pretty much the perfect choice for machines that are solely focused on animation. When it comes to everyday multitasking, you’ll be able to do that without any restrictions whatsoever.
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is different from other convertible laptops in one unique way. The laptop offers you the ability 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 4.2lbs. But without the keyboard, the weight of your tablet is less than 2lbs which is great for portability.
The keyboard on the Surface Book pro is probably our minor gripe. It is a much better keyboard to what we have a new surface pro series, but it does not compare with the likes of 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 that is perfect for gliding your fingers and making those gestures.
The storage on the Surface Book 2 is a very fast one and comes with a capacity of 512 GB solid-state drive. 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 of 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 and it comes to battery life. With light use, you will be able to work on this laptop for about 15 to 17 hours which is just crazy. However, with heavy work like animation, this battery life could come down to about 3 to 4 hours which is still not that bad.
Overall, the Surface Book 2 is a fantastic 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.
Best Budget Laptop For Animation – Acer Predator Helios 300
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 choice. The laptop costs a little more than $1000 and gives you solid performance when it comes to animation. If you don’t want any bells and whistles, this laptop will be a fantastic choice.
Let’s talk about the display of this laptop. We have a 15.6 full HD LED-backlit display that comes 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 in the images as well as texts. The IPS panel presents us with excellent viewing angles so that you can view the display from pretty much anywhere in the room and still get the same colors without losing any accuracy.
The refresh rate of 144Hz plays a major role in eliminating motion blur when you’re gaming. This refresh rate and 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 that comes from the ninth generation. This is a hexa core processor that comes with a base clock speed of 2.60 GHz and a maximum clock speed of 4.70 GHz. What it also comes with a smart cache memory of 12MB which will definitely come in handy for most people.
In order 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 and as a result, 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 that I have a clock speed of 2666 MHz. This RAM is excellent for an animation laptop and does a pretty 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 a pretty good job and it comes to reading and writing data. There are two slots for solid-state drives on this laptop and only one of it is filled. This gives you the option to upgrade the memory at a later stage 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 that is of GDDR6 type. This is a high-end graphics card and the dedicated video RAM is going to play a major role when it comes to 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 pretty 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 very little compromises, then this is the right laptop for you.
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? Well, if that’s the case, then here is a guide for you to make that research processor a bit 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 makes use of hardware.
When it comes to animation, you would assume that 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 does not utilize every single hardware component in the same way. In fact, most people think that you need a super, high-end graphics card for a good animation rig. That’s not true, either. We don’t need a high-end or a workstation-level graphics card on our laptop to work on animations.
The most important hardware component on your laptop that needs to be top-notch for animation is your processor. The CPU has to work on a ton of calculations related to objects, simulations, rigs, body soft dynamics, and so on.
Only when the processor has done all the hard work of doing a ton of calculations, the GPU just displays the final result on the screen. Simply put, the GPU is not going to affect the final output of your animation as much as you thought.
Every other hardware components as just as important, but it is the CPU that takes the cake when it comes to having the most impact in animation.
The software you plan on using also plays a role when it comes to deciding the right laptop.
If you are focusing on 2D animation, then you can have a laidback approach. Most contemporary laptops will do fine for 2D animation as they would come with decent specs.
But if are planning 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 are Adobe After Effects and Pencil2D.
The requirements for running these applications are not as heavy as 3D animation applications. Like we mentioned above, you will be able to do a fine job with a modern laptop that has 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. You will also be benefited by the presence of an SSD.
Stop motion animation is another style whose needs are very similar to that of 2D animation. You can do some serious stop motion animation on a machine that is meant 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 has a lot of layers to it.
You can use Maya for not only animation but also for 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 animations applications.
Some of the 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 that were made in Autodesk 3ds Max.
These are the most used 3D applications by people in the industry. Now let’s take a look at the specs you need for a proper 3D animation experience.
3D animation is a lot more taxing than 2D animation, and to handle that, you need some serious hardware.
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 that can help you with effortless multitasking.
If you’re an animation student, then you don’t have to go with a high-end laptop. But if you’re a professional, then you should probably 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 each and every component of your animation laptop in detail for better clarity.
When selecting the processor for your laptop, you have to focus on a few aspects namely clock speed, the number of cores, cache memory, and also brand.
We have already mentioned that the CPU is the most important component in a laptop for animation.
So which aspect do you concentrate 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 lower clock speed can result in a torpid output.
So when picking your processor, make sure it comes with 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 also 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 won’t make that much of a difference.
But if you’re looking for a high-performance laptop, then we recommend going for an Intel Core i7 processor with 6 cores.
Also, if you’re going for an i5 chip, make sure that you don’t go way back in terms of 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 definitely come in handy when it comes to other everyday tasks. Go for a processor that has 6 physical cores and 12 threads to get an excellent performance.
Selecting a high-end processor is not all fun. There are also some issues to look out for. When running a high-end chip at its highest clock speed, your laptop will get super hot.
It is important that you 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 don’t make the mistake of 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 spend 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 that is purely meant for animation is one of the unwritten rules when it comes to 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 nothing but the amount of dedicated memory you get out of your GPU. This RAM can be of GDDR5 type or GDDR6 type. The latter is the latest and gives you better performance.
When it comes to GPUs, the latest generation ones will always have improved performance when compared with the predecessors. For example, the latest RTX 20XX series graphics cards will always outperform their predecessors from the 10XX series. The performance improvements can be minuscule in some cases and huge and others, but always exists.
If you are a beginner who works on small projects that has 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.
If you are going to work on projects that are complex with more simulations, a lot of characters, high-resolution meshes, and multiple polygons, then you’re going to need a graphics card with a dedicated video memory of at least 6 GB. This amount of dedicated memory will guarantee you a smooth viewport experience and in other places where the GPU will be needed.
What if my GPU does not come with enough dedicated memory for my projects?
The performance on the viewport will be super sluggish. You will see a lot of lag, and you will have no idea 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 had an advantage over regular consumer graphics cards, but that gap has reduced over the years and regular graphics cards do pretty much 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 which is one of its major selling points and delivers excellent performance. Another advantage with the Nvidia graphics card is that most software supports them and offers solid compatibility.
Having said that, 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 is going to be only marginally higher.
When it comes to graphics cards, our recommendation would be to go with Nvidia GeForce graphics cards as they give you the best performance right now.
RAM is another important component in a high-end laptop. You don’t want to skimp on RAM as it has the ability to seriously handicap the performance of your laptop.
When it comes to working with a lot of 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 someone who is 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 when it comes to 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, then you’re going to need 32 gigs of RAM or more depending on the project. We’ve found that 64 gigs might not be needed for animation as it is overkill. But will make use of that RAM if you are planning on doing a lot of rendering as well.
You can either buy a laptop with high memory or get one and do the upgrade yourself. The latter is usually the preferred way as it costs a lot less. But be sure to know what you’re doing as you can do damage to 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 you have the need for it. 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, are huge. They will eat up your storage very quickly
Since you’ll more storage on your laptop, you might levitate towards getting an HDD. But do not do that mistake as it could bring the performance of your system down drastically.
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 part in them, and as a result, they are a lot 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 than hard drives which means the failure rate is a lot less.
The problem with SSDs is that they are very expensive. 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 totally worth every penny you pay for it.
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 is going to 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 to start with. Once you fill her up, you can think of moving your existing libraries or add more storage to your device.
If you already have a huge library and if you’re moving it from a hard drive disk, then we would suggest taking the route of 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 so that you get a lot of space and also the speed you need for 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 backup 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 all the things that are going on the screen. This screen size gives you enough real estate for viewing all the elements of your favorite 3D animation software.
When it comes to 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 excellent viewing experience.
If possible, you should go for a higher resolution display. Whether it is a QHD display or 4K display, you will get a much better experience when it comes to animation. For example, a 4K display will have a lot more elements on the screen giving you access to more information.
Having said that, keeping a resolution native could result in very small elements on screen that can be hard to look at. Always scale your resolution in such a way that you 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 as it comes with bad viewing angles and slightly less color accuracy. If your work routine does not care much about color accuracy, then 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 are available in both Windows and on macOS. Next para if you’re going to work on May and final cut pro, then Mac is obviously 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, it is the hardware on your laptop that does most of the lifting. Don’t skimp on the hardware, and you will get a stellar performance on your laptop whatever be the operating system.
One of the main reasons people go for laptops and not for desktops is because of portability.
If you are someone who travels a lot, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be working on your project just because you’re stuck with a laptop. There are a lot of portable laptops out there that keep you high performance when it comes to animation and rendering.
If you’re looking for a portable laptop, then we suggest going for a 13.3-inch laptop that comes with a high-end processor. Ideally, we would go with an Intel Core i7 processor as it gives you the best per core performance.
In this case, we would suggest finding a laptop that has an excellent cooling system. A 13.3-inch laptop comes with a very small body and can get hot real quick. Running animations will heat your laptop a lot faster and without proper cooling, you will have shunted performance.
If you don’t want to work on the small screen, then you can opt for a 15.6-inch laptop. There are several laptops on the market that come with a big screen and still way a lot less. Also, cooling on this laptop has a lot better when 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 comes with a 16-inch display and still manages to shave a lot of weight. The laptop weighs around 4lbs 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 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 transferring data, charging a laptop, and connecting your laptop to a high-end external display.
The HDMI port also is useful in hooking your laptop with an eye and external display. Having 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 at 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, then you should get yourself 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 is going to last for more than 4 to 5 hours.
If you have to work on small animation projects when you’re traveling, having a good battery life will definitely come in handy.
Having a good keyboard and the trackpad might not look like the most important thing for an animation laptop, but having a faulty keyboard or trackpad can absolutely 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 are going to get yourself a Windows laptop, you might want to make sure that it comes with a Windows precision trackpad. This will give you full compatibility when it comes to Windows gestures, and you will have a complete Windows experience.
When it comes to 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 exactly why we have one Editor’s choice and two other alternatives that will serve people from different sectors well.
If you are still not able to find the laptop of your dreams, don’t hesitate and shooters an email so that we can help you nail that one perfect laptop.