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 best laptops for animation in 2021— let’s dive in and take a look!
Recommendations for January 2021
Best Laptops For Animation In 2021
Lenovo ThinkPad E15 – Powerful specs
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 E15, which has enough power to let your software run at top performance!
The E15 has an Intel Quad-Core i7-10510U. This is strong enough to not only do your animation work but handle multitasking with ease.
You want as much real estate for your screen as possible if you are doing animation work, so the 15.6-inch screen is a wonderful inclusion. The (1920×1080) IPS resolution looks great on this screen, and you will be able to produce lifelike animation without a problem.
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.
Hardware specifications for Lenovo ThinkPad E15
CPU: Intel Quad Core i7-10510U (1.8GHz – 4.9GHz, 8MB Cache) | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics| RAM: 32GB DDR4 2666MHz | Screen: 15.6″ FHD Anti-glare (1920×1080) IPS | Storage: 500 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Professional | Battery Life: 3 hours | Weight: 4.3 pounds
Lenovo Flex 14 – Radeon graphics card
Intel is the “known” name in the mobile processor space, but AMD has recently emerged with its powerful Ryzen processors for mobile. The Lenovo Flex 14 features a Ryzen 7 and Radeon Vega graphics, strong contenders with even Intel’s best.
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.
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.
Overall this laptop is extremely portable, weighing only a bit over 3.5 pounds. This makes it easy to carry around in a bag or backpack for an entire day.
This laptop includes 12 GB 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.
Hardware specifications for Lenovo Flex 14
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7-3700U Processor at 2.3GHz, up to 4.0GHz | Graphics: Integrated Radeon Vega 10 Graphics | RAM: 12 GB RAM | Screen: 14″ Touchscreen LED-backlit IPS FHD (1920 x 1080) Display| Storage: 512 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: 8 hours | Weight: 3.5 pounds
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 – Animation And Drawing
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.
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.
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.
If you want to get the most out of this laptop and unleash its 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.
Hardware specifications for Microsoft Surface Pro 7
CPU: Core i7-1065G7 processor | Graphics: Iris Plus 940 graphics card | RAM: 16 GB| Screen: 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824 (267 PPI) touchscreen | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 10.5 hours | Weight: 1.74 pounds
ASUS VivoBook 15 – Affordable and reliable
The ASUS Vivobook 15 is a great overall laptop if you are into animation but don’t have the money to invest in a pricey laptop.
This laptop comes with a 512 GB SSD that is really fast, this ensures that your hard drive won’t take too long to load your animation projects. And it has sufficient memory to hold a lot of video files which is the case for animators.
It also features a decently fast entry level processor with the AMD Ryzen 3 3200U processor and a 8GB DDR4 RAM for faster speeds and rendering for your projects. The only thing not suited for efficient animation is its Integrated graphics card which may not be as fast as other high-specs GPUs.
However despite being integrated, AMD Radeon Vega 3 graphics is still capable of rendering large video files and it’s pretty fast for the low price of the laptop.
Lastly, the ASUS VivoBook 15 has a long battery life of over 9 hours so it’s very reliable if you’re on the move or if you simply don’t want to waste electricity charging.
Overall between the price and performance, this one of the best laptops you can get. You get tons of performance and will not kill your wallet.
Hardware specifications for ASUS VivoBook 15
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Processor Up to 3.5GHz | Graphics: Integrated AMD Radeon Vega 3| RAM: | Screen: 15.6 inch FHD(1920 x 1080) with four-sided wider NanoEdge bezel display| Storage: 512 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home | Battery Life: 9 hours| Weight: 3.75 pounds
HP Pavilion 17 – 17 inches HD screen
The HP Pavilion 17 has powerful specs that you need to animate things properly and it’s being sold at a mid-end price range. The laptops have a powerful Intel Quad Core i5-10210UProcessor that allows for efficient rendering without consuming a lot of power.This explains the laptops surprisingly long battery life of 9 hours despite its high specs. It
The laptop also has 32 GB RAM and a 2 TB SSD which is ideal for handling 3d animation and other processes that require a lot of resources. It has an Integrated Intel UHD which is the only thing that brings this laptop down in terms of animation.
However its 10th gen processors and 32 GB of RAM is more than enough to make up for its graphics card.
Lastly, the Hp Pavilion 17 features a 17.3″ diagonal HD Touchscreen Display that allows animators to admire their work in 17 inches of high quality resolution.
Being touchscreen a stylus also works with this laptop allowing animators to draw with their hands instead of a mouse.
Hardware specifications for HP Pavilion 17
CPU: Intel Quad-Core i5-10210U Processor | Graphics: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics | RAM: 32GB DDR4 RAM| Screen: 17.3″ diagonal HD Touchscreen Display | Storage: 2 TB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 9 hours | Weight: 5.29 pounds
Gigabyte AERO 15 – For gaming and animating
The Gigabyte AERO 15 has one of the best specs on this list. However it comes with a price and we mean that in the literal sense. It’s one of the most expensive laptops on this list and it certainly exceeds the paygrade of most animators.
However if you do plan on buying these, know that you’ll be able to animate smoothly and render files within minutes thanks to its powerful NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card.
You’ll also be able to render super high resolution textures which is great if you’re creating very detailed animation. Needless to say the RTX 2080 graphics card is also good for gaming and you’ll be able to run most if not all high-end games in ultra settings.
It also has a 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10980HK 8 core processor to run multiple animating softwares at once and its 64 GB of RAM will ensure that you can continue animating while rendering some files on the side.
Overall the Gigabyte AERO 15 is one the best laptops for animation. However it just requires a really large amount of money to get it.
Hardware specifications for Gigabyte AERO 15
CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10980HK 8 core processor 2. 4GHz/5. 3GHz (base/max turbo) | Graphics: : NVIDIA GeForce RTX2080 Super Max-Q GDDR6 8GB | RAM: 64 GB | Screen: 15. 6″ 3mm ultra-thin bezel | Samsung UHD 3840×2160 AMOLED display | Storage: 1 TB SSD | Operating System: Win 10 Pro | Battery Life: 5 hours | Weight: 4.6 pounds
Razer Blade Stealth 13 – Upgradable SSD
What’s great about the Razer Blade Stealth 13 is that it was designed for mobility. It features an ultra thin and light anodized aluminum frame that’s very durable despite being lightweight. It’s also Thunderbolt 3 compatible allowing easy file transfers between coworkers.
As for specs, this ultrabook has a Intel Quad Core i7-1065G7, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB SSD. 512 GB of space is sufficient for animators but if you really want more storage space, then you can upgrade it up to 2 TB for that added comfort of knowing that you’ll always have space to store your projects.
Lastly, what makes the Razer Blade Stealth 13 a good laptop for animators is its NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card which helps in rendering videos and files at a much faster speed than usual.
Hardware specifications for Razer Blade Stealth 13
CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7 | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650| RAM: 16 GB RAM| Screen: 13.3 inches FHD Matte 1920 X 1080 pixels (GTX 120Hz Model) 4K 3840 × 2160 pixels (GTX 4K Model) | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 Home| Battery Life: 10 hours | Weight: 3.2 lbs
Apple MacBook Pro – Long Battery Life
The latest iteration of the Macbook Pro makes its way into this list. The 16 inch Macbook Pro features multiple choices and options for its starting specs.
The lowest specs it can have for its RAM is 16 GB RAM and its configurable to reach up to 64 GB of RAM. The same can be said for its storage as it has an initial 512 GB of storage and its configurable up to 8 TB of Space.
This also applies to its processor and graphics card with its Intel Core i7 and its AMD Radeon Pro 5300M. But even its lowest spec processor and graphics card are more than enough to render and handle animation programs with ease.
Animators will also love the new 16-inch display that features a native resolution of 3072×1920 at 226 pixels per inch that supports millions of colors.
Hardware specifications for Apple MacBook Pro
CPU: Ninth-generation 6-Core Intel Core i7 Processor | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory and automatic graphics switching, Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16 GB | Screen: 16.0-inch (diagonal) LED-back display with IPS technology; 3072×1920 native resolution at 226 pixels per inch with support for millions of colors| Storage: 512 GB SSD| Operating System: MAC OS | Battery Life: 11 hours | Weight: 4.3 pounds
Picking The Best Laptop For Animation In 2021
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.
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!