Skip to content

What Is The Best Laptop or Computer for Animation?

Animation tasks can be daunting, from the process itself to generating the final output. This is why you need a high-end desktop PC or one of those well-built gaming laptops.

The biggest consideration you’ll ever make is whether or not your computer is capable of running majority, if not all, of the available animation software in the industry. We’re talking about software that covers 2D and 3D animation tasks, on top of other software for video editing, graphics design, and even some video games.

At its core, the setup that you want for your future computer for animation is close to what you’re getting for a gaming PC or gaming laptop.

With that being said, we’ll take a look at some of the best computers and laptops for animation tasks and more. We’ll feature both high-end systems as well as a budget option for your consideration.

What Is The Best Laptop or Computer for Animation?

HP OMEN 30L

Best Prebuilt Computer For Animation

HP OMEN 30L Computer for Animation

Specifications at a Glance

  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home
  • Processor: Intel Core i9-10900K (Up to 5.30GHz)
  • RAM: Up to 64GB Memory
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
  • Storage: 1 TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD and 2 TB 7200RPM SATA HDD

What’s Good?

  • A powerful and robust workstation for animation and other tasks

What’s Bad?

  • Prebuilt PC, so less room for customization and/or upgrades

All right, this is one of the best prebuilt gaming PCs you’ll ever lay your hands on. Though we mentioned you barely have enough room for upgrades, you don’t really need to.

You’re getting an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 for your graphics card, which is one of the best graphics cards in the market right now (outside of the RTX 4000 series), an Intel Core i9-10900K processor, choice of up to 64GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD combined with 2TB HDD for storage.

This is probably the only desktop computer you’ll ever see on this list, mostly because you can always build one yourself following the same specifications as the HP OMEN 30L, or better.

Just from the CPU and GPU itself, you’re getting two of the best models in the market right now. You won’t be getting bottlenecked as both the CPU and GPU are capable of powering through anything you throw at it.

You’re probably spending a few more dollars on here to upgrade the RAM up to 64GB, which is more than enough for any animation software. Storage-wise, you’re getting 1TB of SSD so you can preload all your games and software into this beast without worrying about running out of space.

Apple MacBook Pro

A Solid Pick From Apple

Apple 2021 MacBook Pro Computer for Animation

Specifications at a Glance

  • Processor: Apple M1 Pro or M1 Max (Up to 10-core CPU)
  • RAM: Up to 64GB Memory
  • Integrated GPU: Up to 32-core GPU
  • Storage: Up to 8TB SSD

What’s Good?

  • Up to 21 hours of battery life, depending on usage
  • Powerful and compact

What’s Bad?

  • Expensive but worth it

Apple fans should rejoice as the 2021 MacBook Pro is on this list, and for good reason. Unlike the MacBook Air, the 2021 MacBook Pro does not hold out on power. You’re getting enough processing power for even the most demanding animation software. And yes, the display itself is a thing of beauty. There’s no surprise here as to why animators are huge fans of the 2021 MacBook Pro.

The Apple M1 Pro competes with the likes of Intel Core i7 and AMD Ryzen 7 processors without difficulty. Its also got a 32-core integrated GPU supported by 64GB of RAM and up to 8TB SSD.

ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro X

A Workstation That’s Disguised As a Laptop

ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro Computer for Animation

Specifications at a Glance

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-9750H (Up to 4.5 GHz) to i9-9980HK (Up to 5.0 GHz)
  • RAM: 16GB to 64GB DDR4 Memory
  • GPU: Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 to Quadro RTX 6000
  • Storage: 1TB+1TB to 2TB+2TB PCIe NVMe SSD with RAID 0 with Physical TPM chips

What’s Good?

  • This thing is packed and powerful

What’s Bad?

  • Probably the most expensive computer on this list.

Where do we even begin with the ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro X? This has everything you need to run video editing software, graphics design apps, and yes, even the most demanding 3D animation software.

If we were to give you just the specs alone, you’d probably assume that this was a prebuilt gaming PC or a powerful workstation. The fact that the ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro X is a laptop makes it even more impressive.

You’re getting either a 9th generation Intel Core i7 or 9th generation Intel Core i9 processor, up to 64GB of RAM, and an Nvidia Quatro RTX 3000 to Quadro RTX 6000 series graphics card. Your storage is either choice of 2x 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD or 2x 2TB PCIe NVMe SSD. You’ll have enough power and storage room for a plethora of animation projects.

At this point, upgrading to the maximum specifications possible won’t put a dent in your wallet. This is already an expensive workstation, so you might as well go all out for this machine.

To sum it up, if you need a powerful computer that you can bring around, the ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro X is a solid pick. There’s enough power for tedious CPU rendering processes, a decent enough battery life that allows you to work on the go without plugging it in, and hardware that puts a midrange gaming PC to shame.

Acer Nitro 5

A Budget Laptop For The Animator On The Go

Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop Computer for Animation

Specifications at a Glance

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-9300H (Up to 4.1 GHz) to i7-11800H (Up to 4.6 GHz)
  • RAM: 8GB to 16GB DDR4 Memory
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 to RTX 3050Ti
  • Storage: 256GB to 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD

What’s Good?

  • Affordable and powerful enough for mid-range animation projects

What’s Bad?

  • Specs could be better, but you get what you pay for

Let no one ever tell you that there’s something wrong with going for budget options. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s subpar, at least for laptops. For animators on a tight budget, the Acer Nitro 5 is the best pick for you.

At the very least, you’re probably spending about $800 to $1,300 for this option because of its upgrade options. For a few hundred dollars more, you could set yourself up with a powerful computer.

Let’s talk about the specs. You’re getting at least an Intel i5 processor and at least 8GB of RAM with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 for the GPU. You get at least a 256GB SSD for storage space. The base setup is probably about $600 to $700. If we’re pushing the limits, you could upgrade the Acer Nitro 5 with an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 (or RTX 3050Ti), and up to 1TB SSD for about $1,300.

The Acer Nitro 5 also boasts of a 15″ HD display with a 144Hz refresh rate, which should give graphic designers and animators enough screen real estate to work with. This portable laptop is light enough to carry around, so you can work on the go.

And as expected from Acer, we get high quality USB ports and HDMI slots if you want to run dual monitors. For those who want to invest in animation projects, this is a good starting point.

Acer Predator Helios 300

Overall Best Value Pick for 3D Animation Work and More

Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop Computer for Animation

Specifications at a Glance

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-10750H (Up to 5.0 GHz)
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 Memory
  • GPU: Choice ofNvidia GeForce RTX 2060, RTX 2070 Max-Q, or RTX 3060
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD (2 x M.2 slots; 1 slot open for easy upgrades)
  • Display: 15.6 to 17.3 inches; Full HD

What’s Good?

  • Solid value in terms of performance and price

What’s Bad?

  • Mediocre battery life

The Acer Predator Helios 300 might be one of the best laptops for animation just because of its impressive spec sheet. It’s packing a lot of processing power because of the graphics cards and its incredibly powerful processor.

The Acer Predator Helios 300 comes with a 10th generation Intel i7 processor, 16GB RAM, choice of GPU between the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, RTX 2070 Max-Q, or RTX 3060. There’s room for upgrades if you want to boost your RAM or storage space. To say that the Acer Predator Helios 300 will give you an impressive performance is an understatement.

For animation projects that need Maya or other advanced software, the Acer Predator Helios 300 has enough RAM for the heaviest animation work. Just don’t run two animation programs side by side. If you want to push it to the limit, you can upgrade to 64GB.

If we’re running on the battery life for animation tasks, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. It’s estimated you’re getting 6 hours of battery life, which isn’t terrible but it’s not ideal either. Remember, you’re probably running browsers and other programs on top of the animation software. So, realistically speaking, you’re hitting about 3 to 4 hours.

What’s The Right Computer Hardware?

We’ve seen great laptops and a premium PC listed in this article. But if you want to build the best desktop PC for 3D animation or want the best laptops for animation, then you want to pay attention to what kind of hardware you’re getting.

And with 3D animation, video editing, and even graphic design, you need mid-range hardware. You don’t need the most powerful laptop or PC for that matter, but you want to make sure that you’re getting the power and performance that you need.

Having said that, what are you looking out for?

Processors

One of the two components you need to pay attention to is your processor. You want something that has the highest clock speed and max turbo speed possible, and that should fit your budget.

We’re not saying you should invest in an Intel i9 or AMD Threadripper, but they’ll probably go a long way in terms of helping you edit and render 3D animation work.

Graphics Cards

Another non-negotiable component is the graphics card, and we’re sorry to say that your integrated GPU might not be enough. Keyphrase there is “might not be enough”. The CPU you get will dictate how far you can take your integrated GPU, but if you want something reliable, then a dedicated GPU is a must.

If you want a solid graphics card that could power through any animation work, you’ll need at least an Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics card (probably 1650 or 1660). You can work with the RTX series as well (RTX 3050, 3060, 3070, and 3080).

If you want something more expensive but with a more impressive performance to price ratio, then you’ll need workstation GPUs. These are more expensive than the usual graphics cards you see in the market, but they are more robust and reliable.

RAM

Your PC or laptop’s rendering capabilities are also reliant on your RAM, so the more RAM you have, the better.

You probably want to settle for at least 16GB, and that should get you enough speed to switch between animation software, web browsers, and other programs. If you want to push it to the extremes, you can probably hit up to 128GB of RAM if the motherboard allows it.

Storage

Storage is pretty much an important component for two reasons:

  • You need something fast to store your operating system, applications, and games.
  • You need something robust to store all the raw files and outputs.

For this setup, you want to go with an SSD storage to house everything, from your operating system to your games to your animation software and so on. SSD is a thousand times faster than traditional HDDs, but they’re a bit on the expensive side if you want a bigger capacity.

Which is why you want to go for a traditional HDD as your backup storage. You’ll be storing all your files and everything else that doesn’t rely on faster load times.

We recommend going with a 1TB SSD and up to 2TB HDD. You can scale up higher with a 2TB SSD and 4TB HDD, but prepare to shell out a lot of money for the SSD.

Display

Whether you’re on a gaming laptop or on animation CPU, you’ll need to work with a great monitor. But performance-wise, it doesn’t really affect your system as a whole.

The reason you want a great display, or set of displays, is you want to have the best view possible when working. This means you get just the right brightness and contrast, the right RGB setting, and even the right refresh rate.

What do you want at the bare minimum?

  • Go for anything that’s at least an 1080p full HD (FHD) screen.
  • For an animation CPU, you want to pair it with at least a 15-inch screen. But bigger will always be better.
  • For laptops, you want at least a 15″ FHD or UHD screen. 13″ screens are too small.

What’s Our Pick?

If we’re talking about the best laptop for animation projects and more, we’ll go with the ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro X. It’s a portable workstation that’s meant for handling even the most challenging task for animating, rendering, and more.

It’s the best computer for animation you’ll ever lay your hands on, but it’s going to cost you a few thousand dollars. But hey, consider it an investment in the long run.

James Stephenson

james stephenson profile picJames is a gaming and tech enthusiast. He has been playing computer games since the Commodore 64 days in the 80s. He has worked as a Broadcast Engineer with BBC News and knows a thing or two about building, fixing, and playing with PCs.