Are you a professional video editor who spends huge time using Adobe After Effects? Do you need a reliable laptop that can run After Effects as well other software in the background without any lags? In that case, here are the 10 most suitable options to consider in 2021.
As per our analysis, After Effects requires a lot of power and resources to run and can even bring some high-end laptops to their knees. As a result, most budget laptops ranging from $500, $600, or even sub-$700 laptops cannot run it smoothly. It is very frustrating when you’ve begun your video editing work, but your machine keeps lagging and crashes constantly.
The choice of hardware shall depend on your work requirements. For instance, if you’re a beginner, storyteller, vlogger, VFX artist, animator, etc, then a laptop with 8GB RAM + Intel Core i5 + basic dedicated GPU shall be suffice. On the other hand, if you’re a filmmaker or a professional editor who wants to work on 1080p-4K videos then you should consider getting a laptop with Intel i7 + 16GB RAM + fast dGPU. However, if you work on multiple video files or edit 8K videos then consider getting a 32GB RAM or 64GB RAM laptop.
The power of After Effects can be attributed to the responsibilities it needs to fulfill. For instance, imagine yourself editing a video using the Premiere Pro and rendering it on After Effects to stack in the desired credits, presets, and animations that might lend additional heft to the edited videos. Not only that, any image edited in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, etc, can be paired and amplified visually with the potent After Effects.
Therefore, it wouldn’t be wrong to choose a laptop that has the cumulative power of several mid-range machines, precisely for running After Effects. Furthermore, if you can get hold of such an all-inclusive device, it becomes easier to pair the Premiere Pro and After Effects together via the Dynamic link, to make the edited videos come to life, via relevant visual effects, VR inputs, and more.
- Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
- Best Laptops for Adobe After Effects in 2021
- 1. Best Overall: Asus ROG Strix G15
- 2. Best Runner Up: Apple MacBook Pro
- 3. Best 4K Laptop: MSI P65 Creator
- 4. Best for Leisure Gaming: Razer Blade 15
- 5. Best For After Effects and Cinema 4D: MSI GF65 Thin
- 6. Best for Professionals: Dell XPS 15 9500
- 7. Best Battery Life: Lenovo ThinkPad X 1 Extreme
- 8. Best 2-in-1: HP Spectre x360 15t
- 9. Best Budget Laptop: Microsoft Surface Book 2
- 10. Cheapest Option: Acer Aspire 5
- Frequently Asked Questions
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
The specs listed below are based on Adobe’s recommendations. The minimum specs are expected to be sufficient for doing simple projects in After Effects. However, if you push the hardware to its limits, you might see a lot of lag and a few crashes now and again.
Then again, if you’re just starting out with After Effects and learning the basics, the minimum specs seem like a decent starting point. However, with recommended specs, the laptop is expected to get a much faster and smoother experience, something desired by high-level professionals.
|Minimum System Requirements||Recommended System Requirements|
|CPU||8th Gen Intel Core i5||9th Gen Intel Core i7|
|Storage||256GB SSD||512GB SSD|
|Display||15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080)||15.6-inch FHD IPS (1920 x 1080)|
|GPU||2GB NVIDIA GeForce MX350||4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 or better|
|Battery||Up to 4 hours||Up to 6 hours|
Best Laptops for Adobe After Effects in 2021
After putting in weeks’ worth of research, we’ve selected 10 of the best laptops that can maximize your creative output in After Effects to its fullest (we tested composting, animation, tracking rotoscoping, etc.) These laptops not only have the processing and graphical power needed to edit videos but are also equipped with high-speed storage and plenty of RAM, along with vibrant and color-accurate displays to bring your designs to life!
Besides, each of the mentioned notebooks caters to a specific creative clientele. Therefore, do not get startled if you see the gadgets being segregated according to processing power, productivity-centric resources, autonomy, budget, and other metrics.
1. Best Overall: Asus ROG Strix G15
The Asus ROG Strix G15 is arguably the best laptop you can purchase for running the entire Adobe CC suite, preferably the highly demanding After Effects. While the processing consortium is powerful beyond compare, the visuals exhibited by this notebook are also worthy mentions.
Starting off, the Intel Core i7-10750H processor is probably the most important computing resource to consider, courtesy of the hexa-core architecture and Hyper-threading support. It allows you to handle After Effects animations, keyframes, expressions, presets, and other elements without breaking a sweat. The turbo clock frequency of 5GHz is a good enough attribute for some of the more demanding processes like rotoscoping, 3D modeling, machine learning, and more.
This RTX 2070 laptop allows you to deploy AI-centric enhancements for rotoscoping, via the Adobe Sensei technology. In addition to selecting objects and taking them out of the frame, the existing graphics card also enables you to edit 4K videos intuitively over Premiere Pro and other platforms. Besides, you can also scale, process, and rotate 3D models with ease if you end up purchasing the ROG Strix G15.
In addition to the bells and whistles, the 16GB dual-channel RAM also comes forth as a resourceful inclusion. While it lends added support to the mobile SoC, it also allows you to get rid of intermediate rendering and supports the amalgamated usage of Premiere Pro and the AE. The ultra-fast memory speed of up to 2933MHz enables the device to pair both these demanding processes together.
As the edited, 3D enhanced, composited, and animated videos take up a lot of space, the 1TB SSD makes sense. Besides, the solid-state drive is loads the Windows 10 operating system in less than 4 seconds.
We were most impressed with the 15.6-inch screen that assumes an overall resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Furthermore, photo editors, graphic designers, 3D artists, and filmmakers can also make use of the 240Hz screen refresh rate for managing frames without lags or holdups.
The device also takes good care of the productivity-centric specs, including the RGB keyboard, dedicated light bar, and a potent thermal setup, led by the Intelligent Cooling technology. As far as the connectivity suite is concerned, there are USB Type-A, Type-C, DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI, and other resources to account for, followed by Gig+ Wi-Fi 6 support.
Then again, the gadget isn’t the lightest one around and weighs well above the 5-pound mark. Besides, the battery backup is restricted to 5.5 hours, which isn’t great but good enough for high-level creative professionals. Overall, if VR processing, intuitive video editing, and animation using After Effects are some of your preferences, the ROG Strix G15 from Asus is just the perfect gadget to purchase.
- Class-leading processor
- AI-enhanced GPU for better Rotoscoping
- High-speed RAM
- Massive storage capacity
- Stellar visuals
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3 support
- Middling battery life
2. Best Runner Up: Apple MacBook Pro
We have always been a bit biased towards the MacBook Pro, especially when high-end professional tasks are concerned. This is why the MacBook Pro 16 features at the second position on the list for running After Effects and the varied processes that come along.
Processing requirements are taken care of by the Intel Core i7-9750H chipset. While the featured mobile SoC is more than equipped for handling diverse VR-centric processes initiated by After Effects, it also comes across as a holistic creative resource and has the ability to drive the entire CC-suite sans stutters. The turbo clock speed of up to 4.5GHz is also a handy feature for a majority of 3D-centric tracking, keying, and animation-centric tasks.
The AMD Radeon Pro 5300M helps with GPU acceleration and allows you to manage several graphics-centric processes with minimal hassle. Moreover, if you are a top-level After Effects professional, this professional-grade graphics card, clubbed with 4GB VRAM can assist with 3D layering, color grading, multi-cam scene management, and other relevant processes.
Coming to the system memory, the MacBook Pro 16 stacks in 16GB of high-bandwidth RAM for efficient multitasking. Besides, if you are into After Effects, the mobile chipset and the featured RAM allow you to import images and videos from other CC applications, as a part of a holistic process. As far as storage support is concerned, you get access to a 512GB SSD. However, you might have to pair additional, external storage units if you are planning to indulge in professional-grade AE usage.
As far as the OS is concerned, you get macOS Catalina out of the box but the same can be upgraded to Big Sur, if and when required. Not just that, it is the 16-inch Retina Display that impresses us the most, courtesy of the cumulative resolution of 3072 x 1920 pixels. The LED panel is worth immersing in for each of your diverse creative processes, including After Effects animation, rotoscoping, and more.
What works well is the extended P3 color gamut followed by sharper viewing angles and true-to-life visuals. Coming to productivity, there is a Magic keyboard to rely on, followed by the responsive Touch ID and the innovative Touch Bar for better app accessibility. Besides, Apple also integrated a T2 security chip for the creative professionals who are always wary of online threats.
When it comes to aesthetics and functionality, this metal-clad notebook weighs close to 4.3 pounds and but brings in quite a few resourceful attributes, including a 6-speaker setup, high-end webcam, and studio-grade microphones. However, professionals are best served by the availability of 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, with support for charging, external workflow management for film making, and ultrafast data transfers.
Besides, you also get access to the USB 3.1 Gen 1 legacy port followed by Wi-Fi 5 support. The battery on offer is one of the best in the retail space and capable of pushing through to 11 hours, on moderate usage. Therefore, if budget isn’t a concern, the MacBook Pro 16 is probably the most-sought after MacBook for After Effects, courtesy of the excellent software-hardware integration in play.
- Fast, 9th gen processor
- 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Workstation-grade GPU
- High-speed RAM
- Enthralling display
- Doesn’t come with Wi-Fi 6 support
- Average storage space for top-tier professionals
3. Best 4K Laptop: MSI P65 Creator
The MSI P65 Creator is one of the most competent, creator-ready notebooks, capable of running almost every application relevant to the Adobe Creative Cloud. However, the exceptional processing conglomerate and enthralling visuals qualify the P65 Creator as the best device for After Effects and other applications that render high-end visual effects.
The P65 creator houses the Intel Core i7-9750H mobile SoC, which is capable of reaching turbo clock speeds of up to 4.5GHz. This attribute clubbed with hexa-core architecture, make it a reliable laptop for animation, 3D scoping, tracking, keying, and even VR-centric edits. Lending graphics-centric support is the RTX 2060 GPU, which comes equipped with 6GB of Video RAM. The discrete graphics card shoulders a majority of relevant processing requirements, when AE usage is concerned.
The ray tracing and AI-centric capabilities of this GPU make it a good enough resource for advanced viewport rendering and compositing. However, it is the 32GB RAM that makes the most sense to the professionals. This attribute allows them to handle multiple processes and presets without slowing down the system. Storage-wise, MSI offers a 1TB SSD.
In case you are concerned about the OS, the MSI P65 Creator offers Windows 10, straight out of the box. Besides, there is also a brilliant 15.6-inch screen to rely on, bolstered further by an overall resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. The Ultra HD screen is exceedingly color accurate, which in turn enhances the quality of edits and visual effects.
Apart from that, you also get access to an extensive productivity suite, comprising a backlit keyboard, integrated webcam, smooth touchpad, stereo speakers (for high-quality music) and a nifty fingerprint scanner. What works in favor of creative professionals is the minimalist thermal setup. However, despite the processing power and relevant resources, the laptop is still quite light at 4.19 pounds.
The connectivity-centric specs sheet deserves a special mention with the P65 Creator accommodating a Thunderbolt 3 port followed by HDMI, USB Type-C, Mini DP, and Wi-Fi 5 standard. Lastly, the 7-hour battery backup is worth applauding, considering the power-draining processing consortium on offer.
Therefore, if you are looking for a memory-intensive laptop that can handle After Effects with precision, the creator-ready, MSI P65 Creator is the perfect option to go with.
- Powerful processor
- RTX 20-series GPU
- A massive chunk of system memory
- Sizable storage capacity
- Class-leading display
- Doesn’t offer Wi-Fi 6 support
- Heats up a fair bit
4. Best for Leisure Gaming: Razer Blade 15
The Razer Blade 15 is one of our favorite gaming laptops that can be used for After Effects, owing to the brilliant aesthetics that come along with an otherwise potent specs sheet. However, the functionality isn’t restricted to AE as you can manage the entire Adobe CC suite and the aligned processes with this notebook by your side.
For starters, it is the Intel Core i7-10750H chipset that makes a lasting impression, owing to the hexa-core architecture and the turbo clock speed of up to 5GHz. These attributes allow you to use After Effects for lending text and add visual effects to images and videos. Besides, the RTX 2060 GPU opens doors to animation, key lighting, rotoscoping, and other complex processes.
The potent GPU also comes equipped with AI-centric abilities and allow you to indulge in cartoon animation with precision. Moreover, if you are a gamer, this discrete card and 6GB of Video RAM allow you to indulge in high-end gaming titles including World of Warcraft, Fortnite, PUBG, LOL, Sims 4, and CIV 6.
There is 16GB of high-bandwidth RAM to account for, allowing one to get ahead of the multitasking requirements. As far as storage is concerned, Razer throws in a 512GB SSD, best known for the high-speed file retrievals.
Coming to the display, you get a 15.6-inch screen with exceptional, creative abilities. While the overall resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels makes sense, it is the 144Hz refresh rate that helps you accentuate the After Effects output, with precision.
The Razer Blade 15 also brings forth a backlit Razer Chroma keyboard followed by a precision touchpad, high-end webcam, and stereo speakers. Moreover, the laptop aesthetics are best-in-class, courtesy of the sleek chassis and the availability of four, storage upgradeable PCIe slots. Despite the aluminum chassis, the Blade 15 is still one of the more portable machines on the list at 4.70 pounds.
As far as connectivity is concerned, you get access to a Thunderbolt 3 port followed by HDMI, Type-C, and even Wi-Fi 6 support. The battery on offer is more than capable of churning out close to 7 hours of extended backup, which justifies the sub-$1500 price tag and the inclusion of such an impactful specs sheet.
If you are planning to purchase a good-looking notebook for After Effects, Premiere Pro, and other creative applications, the Razer Blade 15 is the one to invest in.
- Exceptional processor
- High-end GPU
- Thunderbolt 3 support
- Decent battery backup
- Upgradeable storage support
- Shallow keyboard
- Not the best speakers
5. Best For After Effects and Cinema 4D: MSI GF65 Thin
The MSI GF65 Thin is one of the more portable gadgets on the list, especially if you are a creative professional. While you can deploy this notebook for almost every designing, video editing, and 3D rendering tasks on Cinema 4D, you are better off using the same for After Effects.
The Intel Core i7-9750H processor is a feature worth-mentioning, courtesy of the hexa-core architecture. While the mobile SoC is more than capable of handling several complex creative processes with ease, it outperforms others when cartoon animation, visual effects rendering, and other relevant tasks are concerned. What sets this chipset apart is the highest possible clock speed of up to 4.5GHz.
Coming to the graphics-centric processes and GPU acceleration, you can work around the Turing-based NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics card. While the GPU misses out on AI-enhanced capabilities, it is still good enough for text-based animations, keying, tracking, and connecting visual editing with Premiere Pro videos and edited images over Photoshop, Illustrator, and other resources.
Next in line is the 16GB, dual-socketed RAM, which allows you to handle multiple editing tasks and creative processes without slowing down the system. Besides, you can always upgrade the RAM up to 64GB, if and when necessary. Files, edits, and videos can be efficiently stored in the 512GB SSD, which exhibits NVMe support and the ability to boot-up the pre-existing Windows 10 Home OS in almost no time.
The 15.6-inch display is also an all-inclusive attribute, courtesy of the IPS panel, thinner bezels, and an overall resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. As MSI offers an IPS screen, you can expect better color accuracy, contrast management, and wider viewing angles as compared to TN and VA displays. Besides, the 120Hz refresh rate is also a good enough addition for enthusiastic gamers and creative professionals.
What impressed us the most is the exceedingly light chassis, making it one of the lightest creative notebooks on the list! Besides, the 4.10-pound MSI GF65 Thin also makes room for a reliable backlit keyboard and a reliable thermal setup, led by the Cooler Boost 5 technology.
Connectivity-wise, MSI accommodates Type-C, Type-A, HDMI, and Wi-Fi 5 standard whereas the 8-hour battery backup ensures better consumer coverage. Therefore, if you are fine with a GTX 16-series GPU for your demanding After Effects indulgences, the enviably light and slim GF65 Thin is the best laptop to invest in.
- Ultrafast processor
- Turing-based graphics card
- Dual-socketed RAM
- Exceptional display
- Light and portable
- Not the best acoustic support
- GPU doesn’t offer AI-centric creative abilities
6. Best for Professionals: Dell XPS 15 9500
The new and improved Dell XPS 15 9500 is one of the better creative resources in the market, especially if you are deeply invested in After Effects and other creative applications.
The main feature that makes the Dell XPS 15 7590 stands out from the competition is its excellent 15.6-inch 4K UHD+ (3840 x 2400) OLED display. It also exhibits the 94% DCI-P3 color gamut coverage, and great viewing angles, which can be an asset to the creative professionals, owing to the color accuracy on display.
Besides, with a sturdy aluminum chassis, carbon fiber accents, and a smooth silver finish, the XPS 15 also scores big in terms of design and build quality. Not just that, gadget credibility is furthered by the anti-reflective, touch panel in play followed by Gorilla Glass 6 support and the Eyesafe anti-glare display.
Furthermore, it also offers an excellent contrast ratio with true blacks. In fact, OLED panels are generally superior in this regard compared to IPS and TN panels. It’s because the pixels themselves produce light, and no backlighting is needed. Thus, pixels can be switched off individually in dark areas. Other panels, however, have grayish blacks instead of true blacks that you can only find on OLED.
As a result of this, you’ll notice that the content you create on this laptop stays true to what you actually see, even when it’s published online and viewed on another device. This, of course, is a big plus for you as an After Effects user and content creator.
Powering the laptop is a hexa-core 10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU and a GTX 1650 Ti GPU. This combo gives you sufficient power for using After Effects, and other video editing programs like Premiere Pro. Firstly, the Intel Core i7-10750H processor allows you to manage 3D space, text animations, and other visual effects without breaking a sweat. Besides the turbo clock speed of 4.5GHz makes things easier for this mobile SoC.
While the GPU might not have the skills of an RTX module, it can still help you navigate, add intros, transitions, and other effects to the edited and RAW videos. Additionally, the 16GB of RAM paired with the 1TB SSD ensures that your projects load quickly, whilst ensuring plenty of headroom for heavy multitasking and other creative processes involving Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, and more.
Then again, for content creators and creative professionals, even 1TB SSD might not be enough in terms of storage space. As your After Effects projects start adding up, it’ll fill up pretty quickly, especially if you’re working with high-resolution footage.
The XPS 15 is equipped with two USB ports, one Thunderbolt 3 port, one HDMI port, and one audio jack. As you might expect, this should be sufficient for any content creator and creative professional. You can transfer data quickly, attach external displays and other peripherals, and also charge the laptop on the go.
Furthermore, it also comes with an HD webcam, which is great for Zoom and Skype video chats. Additionally, you get a backlit keyboard and a precision touchpad, which would also improve your workflow and user experience. What stands out though is the minimal screen and keyboard flex.
While 8.5 hours of battery life should be enough for most users, in some cases when you use it outdoors you might have to carry along a power bank or the charger. This affects portability as well for an otherwise light Dell XPS 15 9500 that is tagged at 4.53 pounds.
So, in conclusion, the XPS 15 RTX graphics support but makes up for that in power and features. It is an excellent laptop that offers a vibrant display, powerful specs, and a great user experience. It’s an ideal choice for any content creator working with After Effects and any video editing programs.
Then again, if you aren’t looking for a portable creative device but planning to go a bit rugged and with loaded storage support, the Dell G5 15 is the perfect alternative to consider. In addition to the dual storage module, i.e. a 256GB SSD and a 1TB HDD, this laptop also features an LCD panel, anti-glare screen, and a 9th Gen processor with comparable base clock speed to the 10th Gen variant.
Besides, it is the thermal design that stands out, putting After Effects users in an advantageous position.
- Excellent display
- Professional design
- Great build quality
- Plenty of ports
- Decent battery life
- Doesn’t come with RTX support
- Shallow keyboard
7. Best Battery Life: Lenovo ThinkPad X 1 Extreme
In case resourcefulness is your only concern, the ThinkPad X 1 Extreme is probably the best laptop to invest in. While the aesthetics aren’t exactly path-breaking, the power seething underneath is more than adequate for running After Effects, Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and other Creative Cloud applications.
Powering the laptop is the Intel Core i7-9750H processor, capable of assuming turbo clock speeds of up to 4.5GHz. Moreover, the six processing cores also pave the way for better end-credit animations, preferential video editing, 3D panning, and other complex processes. As far as graphics-dependent tasks are concerned where you need to 3D transform selective projects, the GTX 1650 GPU is worth relying on. The 4GB VRAM helps manage creative designs and edits via other Adobe CC apps.
As far as the memory allocation is concerned, you get access to 12MB of high-speed cache memory and a 16GB SODIMM RAM module. While the existing chunk of system memory isn’t actually known for the processing speed, the 512GB SSD module more than makes up for the same by offering a decent storage capacity. The SATA storage drive isn’t the fastest but can still boot up the existing Windows 10 Pro OS in virtually no time.
Coming to the display, creative professionals can actually benefit from the 15.6-inch 1080p screen. Despite the lack of display-centric bells and whistles, the featured panel still wins over the critics with the 16:9 visual aspect ratio. Therefore, you can view the animations and visually-endearing effects with enhanced visual clarity.
Furthermore, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme also brings in a solid and durable backlit keyboard whilst persisting with the one-touch scroller. However, the gadget is surprisingly light at 3.75 pounds, which isn’t actually evident from the chunky chassis. As far as the connectivity is concerned, you get access to the HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, USB 3.0, Wi-Fi 5 support, and the elusive Thunderbolt 3 port.
These specs allow filmmakers to pair external workflows with ease, provided a separate screen is required for working on 3D transitions and other VR-centric edits. However, we were most impressed with the 15 hours’ worth of autonomy, which readily qualifies as one of the more portable professional notebooks on the list.
- Powerful processor
- Mid-range GPU
- Light and portable
- Comes equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 port
- Excellent battery
- Predictable design
8. Best 2-in-1: HP Spectre x360 15t
In case you have a penchant for convertibles, the HP Spectre x360 15t comes forth as one of the best gadgets to purchase. While the moderately-powerful processing setup can handle every creative application with ease, including After Effects, it is the visually-enthralling display that furthers the creativity quotient.
As far as the processing performances are concerned, the Intel Core i7-9750H is a reliable ally. In addition to managing 3D transitions, effects, cartoon animations, and other creative tasks like music production, podcasting, accounting, etc., this mobile chipset is also capable of handling several intricate academic and business-centric processes without breaking a sweat. What works in favor of the creative professionals is the turbo clock speed of up to 4.5GHz.
HP also makes room for the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, which works in tandem with 4GB VRAM. Despite being a mid-range processor, it is more than capable of handling several gaming titles like Overwatch, Minecraft, League of Legends, etc and more at 1080p settings whilst offering adequate support to the Premiere Pro and AE dependent professionals.
When it comes to the system memory, you get access to the 16GB SDRAM, which is slightly slower as compared to that in other devices. Supporting the dual-socketed RAM is the 512GB SSD unit. The best thing about the storage module is the NVMe-compatibility that allows you to load several applications and boot-up the Windows 10 Pro OS in a heartbeat.
Creative professionals and enthusiasts can also make great use of the exceptional and bright, 15.6-inch display with touch support. The 4K display is stacked with possibilities and even boasts slimmer bezels for amplifying the existing screen real-estate. Besides, the existing IPS panel is further strengthened by the Corning Gorilla Glass. Not to mention the highly responsive touch panel with stylus compatibility that eases out certain processes for the creative professionals.
Besides, you also get access to a backlit keyboard, stereo speakers, True Vision webcam, and a pretty portable chassis with 360-degree flip-and-fold support. However, we would still not recommend the same for single-handed usage as it weighs close to 4.81 pounds. Coming to the port arrangement, you get access to two Thunderbolt 3 slots followed by HDMI, Type-A, and Type-A outputs. Other reliable specs include Wi-Fi 6 compatibility followed by Windows Hello authentication support.
The gadget autonomy is a handy asset for the After Effects users as it allows you to experience 15 hours of unabated backup, regardless of the usage. Therefore, if you are a globetrotter and looking for a portable and all-inclusive notebook for running diverse Creative Cloud applications on, the HP Spectre x360 15t is the best option in the entire retail space.
- Excellent battery backup
- Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
- Reliable hexa-core processor
- Good-enough GPU
- Class-leading display
- Chunkier than usual
- RAM is slower than usual
9. Best Budget Laptop: Microsoft Surface Book 2
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is the ideal choice if you’re looking for a light-weight and portable laptop for your creative indulgences. However, this detachable doesn’t let you down if you want enough processing and graphical power to work on After Effects projects on the go.
Coupled with a powerful quad-core 8th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU and a GTX 1060 GPU, this laptop gives you more than enough power to run After Effects smoothly. Firstly, the featured, quad-core i7-8650U, despite being a low-power mobile SoC assumes turbo clock speeds of up to 4.2GHz. While it is good enough for keying, rotoscoping, and other relevant tasks, the graphics card and 6GB of dedicated VRAM help you take care of 3D effects, transitions, and other graphics-dependent processes.
Plus, with 16GB of RAM and a high-speed SSD, you can also get quick render times, multitask as much as you want, and run several programs at once. Not to mention the ultra-fast boot-up speeds, pertaining to the Windows 10 OS.
The high-resolution 4K (3260 x 2160) touch display covers 100% of the sRGB color gamut, has 400 nits of brightness, and a high contrast ratio. This makes it perfect for any kind of creative visual task, not only After Effects, but also photo and video editing, animation, drawing, and digital art. Plus, with the 15-inch size, you’ll be able to see tiny details in your projects without needing to zoom in. Furthermore, it’s also great for watching movies and TV shows, surfing the web, reading & writing articles, and leisure gaming.
On top of being such a beast, this 2-in-1 laptop also does a good job of adapting to your workflow. It can be used in four modes: laptop mode, tablet mode, view mode, and studio mode. In laptop mode, you can use it as a regular laptop. In tablet mode, you can detach the display from its base and use it as a tablet.
In view mode, you can flip the display around and use it as a tablet, but still have access to the ports, and longer battery life. In studio mode, you can flip the display, place it on top of the base, and use it as a drawing tool. The multi-mode operability makes it a resourceful AE-compatible device as most professionals prefer viewing edits and effects in different aspect ratios.
This feature, in addition to a battery life of up to 17 hours, and a weight of only around 2.38 pounds, makes the Surface Book 2 a very portable laptop, and ideal for working professionals, business users, digital nomads, and even college students. However, there are a few downsides to keep in mind as well.
First of all, the 256GB SSD isn’t sufficient for working with After Effects, and for photo and video editing projects. Rendered video file sizes can be huge, and the SSD will fill up fast, especially if you’re working with high-quality 4K 60FPS footage. So, you’ll need to buy an external storage drive, connected via a USB port, for your storage needs, and carry it along with the laptop, which definitely affects its portability.
Secondly, the Surface Book 2 isn’t the best laptop in terms of ports. It comes with two USB Type-A ports, one USB Type-C port, one full-size SDXC card reader, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. This port arrangement is sufficient for most creative professionals. In fact, it will enable you to transfer data quickly, attach an external display and other peripherals, and more. But, a few more ports would’ve been better, like an Ethernet and HDMI port. Plus, depending on your particular use-case, you might need to use a few USB dongles. So, that lowers the portability of this device as well.
In conclusion, if you can look past the limited storage capacity and the port arrangement, the Surface Book 2 is a great 2-in-1 laptop for creative professionals. It’s light-weight, versatile, and has a professional design, while also having powerful specs and a vibrant display.
- Professional design
- Light-weight, versatile, and portable
- Powerful CPU and GPU combo
- Backlit and responsive keyboard
- Great battery life
- Limited storage capacity
- Limited ports
10. Cheapest Option: Acer Aspire 5
The Acer Aspire 5 is easily the most affordable After Effects compatible notebook on the list. While Acer persists with a good-looking form factor, we were particularly impressed with the value for money, exhibited by the same.
At the core, Acer stacks in the graphics-optimized, Intel Core i5-1035G1 chipset. Although this isn’t the most powerful mobile SoC around, it can still handle a majority of editing, keying, tracking, and animation-centric processes, owing to the turbo clock speed of up to 3.6GHz. Supporting the quad-core processor is the entry-level MX350 GPU, which comes equipped with 2GB of video RAM.
Despite not being much, the existing graphics card is more than capable of handling edits and renders, if and when initiated by the Adobe Creative Cloud applications. The 8GB RAM module is strictly basic but can still handle multitasking requirements like a pro. Storage-wise, Acer offers a reliable 512GB SSD module, bolstered further by NVMe support. Despite the budget price point, the existing storage space is more than adequate and capable of loading the Windows 10Home OS in no time.
Although the Acer Aspire 5 is one of the more affordable notebooks on the list, it still manages to put together a stellar, 15.6-inch display. The Color Intelligence enhancement makes the After Effects edits come to life whereas the BlueLightShield anti-glare panel keeps ocular strains to a minimum. The overall resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels followed by a widescreen viewing experience further the visual clarity and quality of the creative tasks.
Acer also makes room for a standard backlit keyboard with a dedicated Numpad (easy for accounting students, quickbook users, realtors, or anyone who is into calculations) and a reliable HD webcam.
The port arrangement is pretty diverse with Type-C, Type-A, HDMI, and Gig Ethernet support being the standard inclusions. Apart from that, Acer also makes room for Wi-Fi 6 support and an 8-hour battery backup. It comes with an aluminum-clad top cover, True Harmony speakers, and a cumulative heft of just 3.97 pounds.
Apart from running After Effects, this notebook is ideal for more basic tasks like running Microsoft Office, managing spreadsheets, attending online lectures, live streaming, doing finance analysis, etc. In conclusion, the Acer Aspire 5 might not be the most powerful laptop but it still gets the job done when basic transitions, visual effects, and moderately demanding edits are concerned.
- 10th gen processor
- Light and Portable
- Wi-Fi 6 support
- Sizable storage space
- Excellent battery life
- Not meant for power users
- Speakers could have been better
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, in most cases a powerful gaming notebook is good enough for running creative applications like After Effects. However, you need to choose one with an excellent thermal design, precisely to keep throttling to a minimum. Not just that, high-end gaming notebooks have stellar screens with excellent refresh rates. This attribute ensures better video and VR editing performances.
An H-series processor boasts the highest possible base clock speeds. While this attribute, alongside the turbo clock frequency, is good enough for running single-threaded tasks like keying, tracking and more, these chipsets are also capable of running several multi-threaded applications. Besides, only H-series processors are good enough for lending 3D Transform, multi-cam effects, and other forms of composition to the videos and images.
A good GPU allows you to make the best use of the ‘dynamic link aggregation’ feature, thereby allowing you to pair Premiere Pro edits with After Effects. Besides, a good RTX 20-series GPU allows you to indulge in data-driven and cartoon animations with precision. Moreover, if you want to edit VR snippets via Comp Editor, Rotate Sphere, VR tiling, and graphics, a good graphics card with a decent chunk of VRAM is necessary to rely on.
Each of the mentioned notebooks is an extremely capable computing resource, provided you are reliant on After Effects as your go-to creative tool. However, your laptop of choice depends on the budget that you are willing to spare. Besides, you also need to take the aligned personal, professional, and leisure requirements into account before selecting a laptop.
- If we were to recommend certain options, our first preference would be the MSI P65 Creator, especially for the massive chunk of RAM housed by the same. Besides, if you aren’t dependent on the Windows 10 OS and budget isn’t a constraining factor, the Apple MacBook Pro is easily the best bet for After Effects.
- In case you are planning to purchase a gadget that doubles down as a professional gaming laptop, there is nothing better than the Asus ROG Strix G15 from Asus.
- For aesthetic lovers, you can either select the Razer Blade 15 or opt for the Dell XPS 15 9500, which comes with a 4K panel.
- Lastly, if you are a budget-minded professional, we would suggest in favor of the Acer Aspire 5, which is a capable creative notebook, despite missing out on an H-series chipset.
Which one are you getting? If you’re still confused, please comment below or contact us, we’ll love to assist you.