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

ASUS VivoBook Pro

Asus VivoBook Pro 17

Why is it better?

  • Great combination of specs for 2D or 3D animation tools
  • It’s thin and light model as well!

If you need a higher end graphics card for 3D rendering however, your best bet will be the MSI GP73, which easily blows away all the competition.

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Read The Details

The Lineup At A Glance

The Contenders For Best Animation Laptop

1. XOTIC PC MSI GP73 – Best Laptop For 3d Rendering Animation

  • Plenty of storage space
  • High end graphics card and processor
  • Heavy unit
  • No touch screen

Need a bleeding edge portable computer for rendering 3D objects or scenes? This laptop should be at the top of your list, without question.

When you will be rendering large 3D files — whether individual characters or even whole scenes — you want the best processor possible to keep up.

This MSI model offers up a cutting edge i7 processor with 6 cores and 9MB of cache. With level of power under the hood, you can expect a very smooth experience.

Add in the GTX 1060 video card and a full 16GB of RAM and don’t need to worry about any slow downs while rendering 3D environments.

Unlike a lot of other gaming-focused machines, buyers frequently mention that this model stays cool even under heavy load.

The only real downside is the weight, as this unit is quite a bit heavier than cheaper machines.

Hardware specifications for XOTIC PC MSI GP73
Processorintel Core i7-8750H (6 Core, 9MB Cache, 2.2 – 4.1GHz)
Storage500GB SSD + 1TB HDD
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB)
Display17.3-Inch Full HD Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life5 hours
Weight10 lbs

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2. HP 17.3-Inch HD+ Laptop – Best Budget Option

HP 17.3-inch HD+ Laptop
  • Low price
  • High end processor
  • Optane memory
  • No dedicated graphics card
  • No solid state drive
  • No touch screen

Want a laptop capable of running Gimp, Anime Studio, Adobe Animate, etc. but don’t have a ton of money to spend? This should be your top budget pick!

A “budget” option will mean something very different when looking for a laptop specifically geared towards animation rather than everyday web browsing.

In this case, your cheapest options will usually be in the $550 – $600 range. Anything under that price tier isn’t going to offer the hardware necessary for serious animation tasks.

HP’s 17 inch model offers up a deep discount over other models in exchange for trading off a few specs.

You don’t get a dedicated graphics card at all, which will be an issue for 3D rendering. For other animation tasks however, you are more than covered with the 8th gen i5 processor and 8GB RAM + 16GB Optane combo.

If you’ve got an extra $100 to spend, you may want to consider bumping up to the HP 2018 flagship 15 inch model.

While the screen is smaller, it offers touch functionality and that model doubles both the RAM and hard drive space. That gives you more room to store your animation projects, and means less stutter or lag when running high end 2D animation software.

Hardware specifications for HP 17.3-inch HD+ Laptop
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8250U (Quad-Core, 6MB Cache, 1.6G – 3.4GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4 RAM + 16GB Intel Optane
Storage1TB HDD
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
Display17.3-Inch HD+ SVA Display, 1600 x 900 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life8 hours
Weight5.42 lbs

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3. 2018 Lenovo Yoga 720 – With Touch Screen Option

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2018 Lenovo Yoga 720
  • 4k touch screen
  • Hybrid model for freehand drawing
  • Doesn’t include stylus
  • Compacted keyboard

Do you prefer using a stylus to work on animation rather than a mouse? This should easily be your top pick.

When you prefer to draw directly on the screen, rather than using a mouse or touchpad, a hybrid model is the way to go.

The Lenovo Yoga is built specifically with using a pen in mind and designed around Windows Ink. Despite the low weight and hybrid design, you still get very high end specs and a dedicated graphics card.

There aren’t many downsides to this model, but there are two potential issues to keep in mind. First off, you have to buy the stylus pen separately and it isn’t included out of the box.

Second, although this is a full size 15 inch model, it uses a compacted keyboard design. There’s no 10 key section, and several of the buttons are pushed down into smaller spaces.

That may not matter if you use the touch screen more than the keyboard, but it’s worth keeping in mind that you may need to pick up an external keyboard.

Want a detachable tablet version rather than a hybrid with a 360 degree hinge? The cost is quite a bit higher, but the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is another fantastic option for free hand drawing.

Hardware specifications for 2018 Lenovo Yoga 720
ProcessorIntel Core i7-7700HQ (Quad-Core, 6MB Cache, 2.8 – 3.8GHz) 6MB Cache
Storage512GB SSD
GraphicsNivida GTX 1050 (2GB)
Display15.6-Inch 4K IPS Touch Screen, 3840 x 2160 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life8 hours
Weight4.41 lbs

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Didn’t find what you’re looking for?

If you need an absolute best laptop for all your school need, we recommend you to checkout best laptop for college students.

Or visit our Laptop for College by Major series for specific picks on various majors (including programming, computer science, music..)

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

Acer Aspire E 15
  • Very high battery life
  • Dedicated graphics card
  • Less storage space
  • No touch screen display

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!

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.

Hardware specifications for Acer Aspire E 15
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8250U (Up to 3.4GHz)
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

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

ASUS VivoBook Pro
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Excellent overall specs
  • Large screen
  • Low end graphics card
  • Average to low battery life

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!

No matter what animation software you use, the same basic hardware options are always going to be in demand.

For the best overall animation laptop, we recommend a high resolution 17 inch screen, like you get with the Asus VivoBook Pro.

Despite offering up a larger display size, the VivoBook is still a very thin and light model, so portability doesn’t become an issue.

Aside from the screen, you get a great intersection of specs here. Each component is high end enough to handle animation tasks, but not so cutting edge that the price skyrockets.

For the vast majority of animators, the VivoBook will more than meet your needs.

Need more power on the graphics card for 3D object rendering? Take a look at MSI contender up at the top of the list, instead.

Hardware specifications for Asus VivoBook Pro 17
ProcessorIntel Core i7-8550U (Up to 4.0GHz)
Storage256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
GraphicsNvidia GeForce MX150 (2GB)
Display17.3-Inch Full HD Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life5 hours
Weight4.6 lbs

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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!

Still Can’t Find What You Are Looking For?

A: Check out these awesome resources:

  1. How Often Should You Replace Your Laptop? (And Signs That You Need A New One)
  2. How To Buy A Laptop With Confidence? (A Laptop Buying Guide)
  3. What To Look For When Buying A Gaming Laptop?  (A Trusted Buying Guide)
  4. Cheapest Laptops To Run Every Major Game (Including Fortnite, Fallout..)

Or Let us know on the comment section below/send us a message here.

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