Top 5 Best Laptops For Animation (2D & 3D) Reviews [2019 Edition]

Looking to create your own cartoon masterpiece or render 3D levels in a video game? Learning the ropes of programs like Dragonframe and Maya is hard enough without having to worry about meeting minimum system requirements.

For animation tasks, you need to be very selective when picking a new laptop to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

Not all portable computers are created equal, and many budget options simply don’t have the power needed to run animation tools.

We’ve taken out all the guesswork and found the top five best laptops for animation available this year — let’s dive in and take a look!

Picking The Best Laptop For Animation & Animators

When picking a new notebook specifically for animation — either 2D or 3D — there’s usually quite a bit of overlap with gaming laptops.

You need many of the same features for both uses, so picking a gaming machine is often a good way to go.

That isn’t the only route to take, however, and there are plenty of other models available if you don’t intend to do any gaming on the side.

In general, look for a model with a dedicated graphics card for rendering, and a high end processor so you don’t get any lag when running CPU-intensive programs.

Have a good idea of what you need? Take a look at our buying guide below to figure out the specifics, and then let’s get started comparing different contenders to find you the perfect fit!

In A Hurry? Here’s The Winner From Hours Of Research

Editor’s Choice

Lenovo ThinkPad P71

Why is it better?

  • The most powerful 3d rendering laptop
  • Fast i7 processor
  • Powerful Nvidia Quadro GPU
  • 32GB of RAM

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Read Review Details

The Lineup At A Glance

The Contenders For Best Animation Laptop

1. Lenovo ThinkPad P71 – Best 3D Rendering and Animation

If you are looking for a workstation capable of handling all of your 3D animation software with ease, there is no better on the market than the Lenovo ThinkPad P71. With Nvidia Quadro graphics, and i7 processor, and a whopping 32GB of RAM, this laptop is ready to handle anything you throw at it.

  • Nvidia Quadro graphics
  • Fast i7 processor
  • Large IPS display
  • Windows 10 Professional
  • Extremely heavy
  • Short battery life

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While there are many options that can run animation programs decently, not many can really unleash their full potential. This is not the case with the Lenovo ThinkPad P71, which has enough power to let your software run at top performance!

Key features & details

Nvidia Quadro Graphics

This laptop is equipped with a rendering powerhouse in the form of the Nvidia Quadro M620M. The Quadro chip and the 2GB of dedicated memory are more than enough to crush all of your animation tasks.

Fast Intel Processor

The P71 has an Intel i7-7700HQ with a turbo clock of 3.8 GHz. This is strong enough to not only do your animation work, but handle multitasking with ease.

Large Display

You want as much real estate for your screen as possible if you are doing animation work, so the 17.3-inch screen is a wonderful inclusion. The 1080p resolution looks great on this screen, and you will be able to produce lifelike animation without a problem.

Portability

This laptop has all the horsepower, but that comes at the price of weight. This laptop weighs over 7 pounds! Combine that with the shorter battery life and the portability of this machine is not great.

If you are looking to replace your desktop computer with something that can be moved from your home office to your work office, this is a fantastic computer. It has all the power to do everything your desktop does, just be sure not to pull a muscle carrying it around!

Specification
Hardware specifications for Lenovo ThinkPad P71
ProcessorIntel i7-7700HQ (2.8 – 3.8 GHz)
RAM32GB DDR4
Storage1TB SSD + 2TB HDD
GraphicsNvidia Quadro M620M (2GB)
Display17.3-inch IPS LCD, 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Professional
Battery Life5 hours
Weight7.3 lbs

2. Lenovo Flex 14 – Best Budget Laptop

If budget is a concern for the blossoming animator, the Lenovo Flex 14 is a great option. It has the newest AMD Ryzen processor inside with Radeon Vega graphics, giving it enough power to handle animation software and kickstart your new passion!

  • Fast Ryzen 7 processor
  • Touchscreen display
  • Lightweight
  • Small storage space
  • Only 8GB of RAM

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Intel is the “known” name in the mobile processor space, but AMD has recently emerged with their powerful Ryzen processors for mobile. The Lenovo Flex 14 features a Ryzen 7 and Radeon Vega graphics, strong contenders with even Intel’s best.

Key features & details

Ryzen Processor

The Ryzen 7 3700U that powers this laptop has a boost clock of 4.0 GHz, giving it a fast enough speed to crush tasks with ease. With 4 cores and 8 threads it is great for multi-threaded applications and software.

Touchscreen Display

Since this laptop is actually a 2-in-1, a good touchscreen is a necessity. Luckily, Lenovo has included an extremely responsive display with decent colors and sharpness.

Portability

Overall this laptop is extremely portable, weighing only a bit over 4 pounds. This makes it easy to carry around in a bag or backpack for an entire day.

RAM

The one main shortcoming of this laptop is the inclusion of only 8GB of RAM. You can upgrade it later, but right out of the box the lack of more RAM will be a hindrance in rendering and computing tasks.

This is a great laptop worthy of consideration if you are on a budget and can not afford a laptop in the multiple thousands of dollars. Save a few bucks and still get a good machine to do your work on.

Specification
Hardware specifications for Lenovo Flex 14
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 7 3700U (2.3 – 4.0 GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4
Storage256GB SSD
GraphicsRadeon Vega Graphics
Display14-inch IPS touchscreen LCD, 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10
Battery Life7.5 hours
Weight4.4 lbs

3. Microsoft Surface Pro 6 – Animation and Drawing

If you purchase the optional pen, the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is the best option for drawing and animating that you can buy. It has a great feel, an i5 processor, and a screen that is absolutely stunning.

  • Beautiful screen
  • Great drawing feel
  • Detachable type cover
  • Only 8GB of RAM
  • Pen not included

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The Microsoft Surface line of tablets is known for being one of the best on the market, and when paired with their type cover, they become a fantastic laptop choice. This specific model is the lowest model of the Pro lineup, which is still more than enough for your animation needs.

Key features & details

Display

The screen on the Surface Pro has tons of pixels, meaning the clarity and sharpness are fantastic. The pen input is the best there is for a laptop device, so drawing feels incredible.

Type Cover

The type cover keyboard is nice and light and protects the screen when closed. When in full laptop mode, the typing experience is great and the key travel feels much deeper than it truly is.

RAM

One of the downfalls of this model is the lack of more than 8GB of RAM. Given that this laptop is not upgradeable, that makes it more of a con than others on this list.

Pen Not Included

If you want to get the most out of this laptop and unleash it’s artistic ability, you will want to purchase the Microsoft Surface Pen. This turns this laptop into a full fledged artist tablet, making it great for animators.

Overall, if you buy the optional pen, this becomes one of the best tablets on the market. The drawing feels amazing on the high pixel density screen, and it is powerful enough to run your animation software without a hitch.

Specification
Hardware specifications for Microsoft Surface Pro 6
ProcessorIntel i5 8250U (1.6 – 3.4 GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4
Storage128GB SSD
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
Display12.3-inch IPS touchscreen LCD, 2736 x 1824 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10
Battery Life13.5 hours
Weight1.73 lbs

4. Acer Aspire E 15 – Top Choice For Animation Students

Need a great laptop that will last for years and offer a huge battery capacity? This should be the top pick for animation students in need of a new portable computer!

  • Very high battery life
  • Dedicated graphics card
  • Less storage space
  • No touch screen display

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For animation students, your primary concerns should be battery life and getting great specs at a reasonable price.

With the Acer Aspire E you can get a full day’s worth of classes without ever needed to charge the battery.

In terms of specs, most of our other contenders will beat out the Aspire E, but this laptop is no slouch on the hardware. 8GB of RAM, a low end dedicated graphics card, and an 8th gen, i5 processor will handle most animation software.

Want a thinner model for easier transportation between classes?

Check out the Acer Spin instead. While it loses the dedicated graphics card, it’s also two pounds lighter and quite a bit thinner.

Specification
Hardware specifications for Acer Aspire E 15
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8250U (Up to 3.4GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4 RAM
Storage256GB SSD
GraphicsGeForce MX150
Display15.6-Inch Full HD IPS Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life15 hours
Weight5.27 lbs

5. ASUS VivoBook Pro 17 – Best Overall Laptop For Animation

Looking for the best all around option that isn’t too cheap or too expensive? This is your perfect well-rounded, mid-range model for animation!

  • Plenty of storage space
  • Excellent overall specs
  • Large screen
  • Low battery life
  • Runs hot

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The ASUS Vivobook Pro is a great overall laptop if you are into animation. It has the specs and the screen worthy of your best work.

Key features & details

Storage Space

This laptop comes with a 256GB SSD that is really fast, and a 1TB HDD to store all of your files. This ensures you have plenty of performance and a ton of storage space as well.

Fast Processor

The Intel i7 8550U is a fast 6-core processor capable of running all of your animation software. It’s boost clock of 4.0 GHz will fly through even the toughest of tasks.

Nvidia Graphics

The Vivobook Pro has a GTX 1050 dedicated GPU at its core. This will give you the graphical horsepower you need to tear through your animation application of choice.

Battery

The battery is one of the only weak areas of this laptop. While just doing daily tasks it will perform fine, once you step up to more resource intensive tasks the battery life goes down by a lot.

Overall between the price and performance, this is the best of the group. You get tons of performance and will not kill your wallet.

Specification
Hardware specifications for ASUS VivoBook Pro 17
ProcessorIntel i7 8550U (1.8 – 4.0 GHz)
RAM16GB DDR4
Storage256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
GraphicsNvidia GTX 1050 (4GB)
Display17.3-inch IPS LCD, 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10
Battery Life6 hours
Weight5.1 lbs

What Hardware Specs Do I Really Need For Animation Software?

In truth, nearly all the hardware specs will play a role if you want to run high end 2D or 3D animation software.

Without 8GB – 16GB of memory, you will notice major drops in frame rates and stability while clipping together art assets or rendering scenes.

The same goes for the processor, which will need to be an i5 at the minimum. An i7 is even better, and make sure to look for an 8th gen version with 4 – 6 cores.

For 3D animation programming, don’t skimp on the graphics card, or you will find that rendering takes hours.

What Sort Of Screen Do I Want With A Laptop For Animation?

There are two ways to approach this particular feature when picking a new laptop, and which way you go will depend on how you use your computer.

For students or animators who frequently work at different locations (such as home, office, and coffee shop) you may want to pick a 15 inch model — or even smaller!

For anyone else, a 17 inch model is usually the way to go. The bigger the screen the better when dealing with animation tools.

Don’t forget however, that most of these contenders have an HDMI out port. That means you can hook up to external display when you need more viewing area.

Finding The Right Laptop For 2D And 3D Animation

Whether you need to run Blender, Maya, Toon Harmony, or any other animation tool, one of these five contenders will be the perfect fit!

What sort of specs are you looking for in a 3D animation laptop, and what did you think of our picks? Leave us a comment below, and be sure to let us know if you end up buying any of our top contenders!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a gaming laptop good for animation?

Yes! Given their powerful dedicated GPUs and fast CPUs, gaming laptops make great animation machines as well. The only thing to consider is their very loud gaming look, that definitely could be a turn off for some.

Are integrated graphics enough to power animation software?

No, if it is Intel. AMD’s new Ryzen chips with Vega graphics are much more suited to animation and 3d processes.

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