Be it 2D, 3D, VR, or AR, professional Animators require some of the most powerful laptops in the world. On the desktop, it’s easy since the size is not an issue. But when it comes to laptops that can do animation, you must be looking for a tough combination of performance, portability, and reliability.
That is when you don’t have to wait for hours to render final content or add new layers to your work. But it should not weigh that much or crash that often. With all these requirements at our disposal, choosing the perfect laptop for animators becomes an irritating task.
One of the easiest options is to go for a high-end gaming laptop or a portable workstation, but even then, you must be left with many choices. Therefore, it makes more sense to choose a laptop that packs a sufficient amount of performance, state-of-the-art visual infrastructure, and overall reliability.
- Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
- Best Laptops for Animation in 2021
- 1. Best Overall: MSI GL65 Leopard
- 2. Best Runner Up: Acer Predator Helios 300
- 3. Best with MacOS: Apple MacBook Pro
- 4. Best from ASUS: ASUS ROG Zephyrus S
- 5. Best from Razer: Razer Blade 15
- 6. Best 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Book 2
- 7. Best Gaming laptop: MSI GS65 Stealth
- 8. Best Display Quality: GIGABYTE Aero 15X
- 9. Dell Inspiron i7559
- Frequently Asked Questions
- The Verdict
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
As said earlier, we are looking for laptops that combine top-of-the-class performance, reliable hardware, and suitable graphics for animation and professional content creation.
|Minimum Requirements||Recommended Requirements|
|CPU||7th Gen Intel Core i7||10th Gen Intel Core i7|
|Storage||256GB SSD||512GB SSD|
|Display||14-inch FHD (1920 x 1080)||15-inch FHD IPS (1920 x 1080)|
|Battery||Up to 4 hours||Up to 8 hours|
|GPU||Intel/AMD Integrated GPU||Dedicated GPU with 2GB VRAM|
Although you can do animation with a laptop that meets minimum system requirements as stated above, the process won’t be as smooth as the ones with recommended specifications. Due to the same reason, we have set as the standard a certain amount of resources such as 16GB of RAM and an impressive Intel Core i7 processor with almost all the picks. Spending some amount on your first animation laptop is way better than replacing your laptop every year.
Best Laptops for Animation in 2021
|MSI GL65 Leopard|
|Acer Predator Helios 300|
|Apple MacBook Pro 16|
|ASUS ROG Zephyrus S|
|Razer Blade 15|
|Microsoft Surface Book 2|
|MSI GS65 Stealth|
|GIGABYTE Aero 15X|
|Dell Inspiron i7559|
Keeping our style intact, we have included products that come from a variety of budget brackets, performance categories, and designated purposes. So, no matter who you are – a budding animator or a proficient one, you will find the perfect laptop that suits your needs and budget here.
1. Best Overall: MSI GL65 Leopard
Locating the best-suited laptop for animation isn’t difficult anymore as you can blindly put your trust in the MSI GL65 Leopard. Loaded with an optimal hardware configuration, this gadget is a worthy desktop replacement and scales beyond almost every contemporary.
Be it working on 2D animation applications like Harmony and After Effects or deploying 3D software solutions like Blender, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, and Maya, the Intel Core i7-10750H chipset comes forth as a reliable asset. This high-end processor allows you to set keyframes with precision or procure the best form of shaded view for the task at hand.
Besides, this CPU strikes the perfect balance between six cores and an exceptional turbo clock frequency of 5GHz, allowing you to get an advantage when both single and multi-threaded tasks are concerned. Despite GPU not being a limiting factor, MSI stacks in an insanely powerful RTX 2070, which can be assistive during heavy rendering. Furthermore, you also get access to 8GB VRAM for getting an edge when texture-intensive rendering is concerned.
Complementing the fastest possible clock speed of the i7 processor is the 16GB RAM module, which allows you to manage multiple processes, images, and meshes with ease. As far as storage support is concerned, you get access to an ultra-fast 512GB SSD module. The existing solid-state drive helps you retrieve completed animations and scenes in no time whilst booting up the Windows 10 Home OS in a heartbeat.
Animators prefer excellent displays and the MSI GL65 Leopard lives up to the expectations courtesy of the 15.6-inch IPS panel. While the cumulative resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels is on the expected side, our experts were more pleased with the 72 percent NTSC color gamut. Besides, the color-accurate panel also assumes a screen refresh rate of 144Hz, which is a reliable asset for both gamers and animation artists.
The MSI GL65 Leopard also stacks in a host of productivity-centric attributes, including the brilliant backlit keyboard, Hi-Res acoustic setup, revolutionary thermal layout with 7 heat-dissipating pipes, and the efficient Dragon Center for seamless resource allocation. Nonetheless, the gadget is expected to be on the heavier side and MSI obliges the buyers with a 5.07-pound tag. As far as connectivity is concerned, you get access to USB 3.1 Type-C, Type-A, Wi-Fi 6 standard, and other relevant perks.
On the other hand, MSI GL65 Leopard doesn’t offer the best-in-class battery backup as the pre-existing module only churns out 4 hours, on standard usage. Therefore, if you are seeking a desktop replacement for your animation-centric workload, this is the perfect laptop to invest in.
- Stellar display
- Excellent GPU
- A sizable chunk of RAM for complex scene handling
- Upgradeable system memory
- Powerful GPU for heavy rendering
- Subpar battery life
- Chunkier than usual
2. Best Runner Up: Acer Predator Helios 300
The Acer Predator Helios 300 comes with everything you’d be looking for in a laptop suited for high-end animation. Whether you’re into 3D animation, graphic designing, drawing, or are a VFX ninja who often indulges in filmmaking or video editing, this machine has you covered.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 is actually advertised as a gaming laptop, however, it’s highly suitable for animation needs. In spite of that, this laptop offers some of the most impressive specifications you can expect for a low budget. Powering the same is an Intel Core i7-10750H processor with a base clock of 2.6GHz. That said, Turbo Boost can take the clock speed up to 5GHz, which is great while rendering.
Going further, you would spot the 16GB of DDR4 RAM in the Helios 300. When combined with 512GB of SSD storage, you are assured of the best booting speeds and multi-layer editing. The higher amount of RAM means smooth transition and rendering at all times. Nevertheless, we wish if the laptop was offering a better amount of SSD based storage.
Besides, you can also play high-end games like Fortnite, Overwatch, Minecraft. Not just that, it even lets you pursue demanding courses such as game development, Android development, web design, and more. What else do you need?
Coming to the visual real estate, the Acer Predator Helios 300 is coming with a bright and crisp, 15.6-inch Full HD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. As far as dedicated graphics are concerned, a heavy-performance 6GB NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 is included and this is a great choice for content creators in general. The laptop does not compromise when it comes to connectivity either, as you get high-speed Wireless & Bluetooth tech.
Because you are looking at a moderately bulky laptop, there is no scarcity of ports. Acer has included one USB 3.1 Type C port, one USB 3.0 port, and two USB 2.0 ports. You also get a full HDMI port and RGB backlit keyboard with sufficient customization options. It does not mention how much battery backup it can provide, but you can expect less than what an Ultrabook offers. Last but not least, this power-beast laptop weighs just 5.07 pounds.
- 10th Gen processor
- Affordable pricing
- High-end performance
- Extended connectivity
- Superb dedicated graphics
- Bulky design
3. Best with MacOS: Apple MacBook Pro
If you are an animator who uses programs that work well on macOS, you might have to consider one of those MacBook products as your desired laptop. In that case, MacBook Pro 16 is a superb choice for what it is worth. Powering this performance-oriented laptop is an Intel Core i7-10750H processor that is clocked at 2.6GHz but it can reach up to 4.5GHz when Turbo Boost is enabled.
As you may have heard, MacBook laptops are perfect when it comes to RAM management. So, the 16GB of LPDDR4 RAM is enough for even the toughest animation software out there. Add to this the power of 512GB of full SSD storage. This means you won’t have to worry about external storage options while still getting the best of multitasking and resource-intensive tasks.
Apple always boasts about its displays and content creators also say the same. In the Apple MacBook Pro, a 16-inch Retina display has been included, with amazing sharpness and color coverage. With a resolution of 3072 x 1920, you won’t miss any details while previewing or rendering. On the graphics side, we can spot a Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of VRAM as well.
The Apple MacBook Pro is one of those Apple devices that have shifted completely to USB Type C. However, you will be getting four Thunderbolt 3-enabled ports that can be used for charging, data transfer, and almost every other need. It also packs Touch Bar and Touch ID, which add convenience and customizability. At the end of the day, Apple estimates a battery life of up to 10 hours in the Apple MacBook Pro and has managed to keep the weight of the laptop to just 4.3 pounds.
- Smooth performance
- Powerful GPU with 4GB VRAM
- Sleek and lightweight design
- Excellent battery life
- Great keyboard
4. Best from ASUS: ASUS ROG Zephyrus S
Another gaming-oriented laptop, the ROG Zephyrus S is an amazing choice if you are looking for a thin yet powerful machine that is best suited for animators who are also into photo editing, 3D rendering, and more. The device is powered using an Intel Core i7-8750H processor with a Turbo Boost speed of up to 3.9GHz. This means a smoother animation process even if you are using some of the toughest software out there.
Because there is a better focus on design, there are some lower sections for sure. For instance, the device has packed only 16GB of DDR4 RAM. However, on the bright side, you get 512GB of SSD storage, which would be enough for launching software packages quickly and faster boot-up speeds. Although not as high as the first pick, this combination of RAM and storage would be enough to keep your animation projects afresh.
Another gaming-based feature of the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S comes in handy when you are an animator. It’s coming with a 15.6-inch full HD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. However, what matters more is the 144Hz refresh rate, which means you can make those snappy changes. On the dedicated graphics side, the 8GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 is more than capable of doing an amazing job.
Its sleek and thin design makes the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S one of the stylish performance-oriented devices you can purchase today. A backlit keyboard and optimized fans make all the difference when it comes to speed and stability. Going in sync with the slim design, the laptop weighs just 4.6 pounds and manages to offer a battery backup of up to 2 hours, which we think is okay for a gaming-capable laptop. Altogether, you are getting a premium experience for the price you’re paying.
- Sleek and thin design
- 144Hz screen refresh rate
- Lightweight form factor
- Optimized for performance
- Quite expensive
- Low battery life
5. Best from Razer: Razer Blade 15
This variant of Blade 15 is known as the smallest gaming laptop in the world for many reasons. The major reason is that it packs so much performance inside a small chassis without adding much bulk. The same reason is why we think it’s a great laptop for high-performance tasks such as animation, music production, data science, machine learning, etc.
At its core, the Razer Blade 15 is powered by an Intel Core i7-8750H, with a maximum clock speed of 4.1GHz. This practically means animation programs would run smoothly.
Multitasking is quite important for every animator and the same has been taken care of in the Razer Blade 15. You are getting 16GB of DDR4 RAM, which is more than sufficient for running resource-intensive software like Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Revit, MS Excel. Not just that, it can easily handle other academic and productive indulgences like web browsing.
As we come to the storage compartment, Razer gives you 256GB of full SSD storage which gets the job done. You may want to purchase a portable SSD for project storage though.
Despite being the smallest gaming laptop you can purchase, the Razer Blade 15 comes with a big enough full HD screen of 15.6 inches. We believe that the restriction to 1920 x 1080 resolution will provide you better battery life in the end. Nevertheless, you get access to 6GB of dedicated graphics, thanks to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 included in the laptop.
Despite the compact design, precision is one of the many things you can expect from the laptop. Because it’s a gaming laptop, you can access a sensitive trackpad, a good keyboard, and extended connectivity. For instance, you get one Thunderbolt 3 USB Type C port, two USB 3.0 ports, a full HDMI port, and a dedicated power port.
To make things even compact, the laptop has a minimal weight of just 4.56 pounds, which is quite a blessing for most animators. Razer, however, does not make any promises when it comes to battery life.
- Ultra thin design
- Precision trackpad and keyboard
- Extended connectivity
- Low storage
- Might heat
6. Best 2-in-1: Microsoft Surface Book 2
If you are looking for an all-rounder laptop with enough performance for animators, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is a great choice in the market. This Surface Book is offering standard performance, thanks to the included Intel Core i7-8650U processor with a clock speed of 1.9GHz on Turbo Boost. So, despite the minimal design and weight, the laptop can handle software in Adobe Creative Cloud Suite with considerable ease.
On the memory side, you get the standard 16GB of DDR4 RAM, which is sufficient for most people. Just like the previous product, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 also packs 256GB of full SSD storage. However, here, you have the added benefit of minimal weight and extended portability. Also, if you are ready to pay a higher price, you can go for a version with extra storage as well.
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is also one of the few laptops with a 4K display an animator can get today. The 15-inch display has a resolution of 3260 x 2160, which keeps everything crystal clear and touchscreen support adds a lot of value. On the graphics side, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 has 6GB of GDDR5 video RAM to keep things afloat at all times. Most animation programs can use these resources.
The design of the Microsoft Surface Book is as important as connectivity. As much as you can use the device like a laptop, you can turn it into a tablet as well. Thanks to the support for Microsoft peripherals, things would be easier for most creators. Despite all the power-packed performance that we saw, Microsoft estimates up to 10 hours of battery life when you are streaming. If you are rendering, though, that’s unrealistic. On the bright side, the laptop has a minimum weight of 2.38 pounds, which is pure class if you ask us.
- Portable design
- Stylus and touchscreen support
- High performance
- Long battery life
- Low storage
- Limited connectivity
7. Best Gaming laptop: MSI GS65 Stealth
MSI has been making some premium gaming laptops in the market, and MSI GS65 Stealth is one of the best offerings. As it turns out, this laptop has enough performance to be suited for 3D animation and CAD-centric activities but is also minimal enough for portability. First things first, the Intel Core i7-8750H processor is clocked at 3.9GHz, which isn’t so high but satisfies most needs. And this isn’t the best part of the laptop.
Coming to memory and storage, things are almost the same as previous picks. You are getting 16GB of DDR4 RAM for standard multitasking. Making things easier for people who like to store their projects on the PC itself, the laptop comes with 512GB of SSD storage. This means you can save the money you could have spent on a portable HDD or SSD. And, things are super-fast on any day too.
The display is perhaps the most impressive thing about the MSI GS65 Stealth. So, if your animation work requires color sensitivity, you’d love the 15.6-inch Full HD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. The panel comes with a higher refresh rate of 144Hz as well. When combined with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 that has 6GB of VRAM, the visual quality of everything is super-fine with the laptop.
Connectivity sector of the MSI GS65 Stealth is pretty rich and you have Thunderbolt 3 support as well. That said, we think the additional features like a good keyboard and high-speed network matter a lot when you’re working online. Because you are dealing with a VR-ready laptop, testing will be super-easy as well. At the end of the day, you can’t expect the battery to last for a day. However, considering that you have a 4.14lbs laptop, that can’t be a tough choice either.
- High-refresh display
- Rich connectivity
- Full SSD storage
- Good build quality
- Standard performance
- Heating issues
8. Best Display Quality: GIGABYTE Aero 15X
The GIGABYTE Aero 15X is definitely one of the best laptops an animator could possibly have if they want a thinner design with no compromise on performance. At the core of this ultra-thin gaming laptop is an Intel Core i7-8750H with a base clock speed of 2.2GHz, but it can reach up to 4.1GHz on Turbo Boost. It should also be mentioned that the laptop has done ventilation and airflow management is the great way possible.
Despite the thinner design, the company has included 16GB of DDR4 RAM in the Aero 15X. This would be more than enough to get the job done in most animation programs. To keep things extra fast, the computer also packs 512GB of SSD storage. Both of these things matter a lot when you want maximum speed among other things.
The display is probably the best thing about the GIGABYTE Aero 15X. It’s a 15.6-inch thin-bezel display with a top refresh rate of 144Hz. So, your animation programs and games can be very snappy. It has the standard max resolution of 1920 x 1080. As far as dedicated graphics go, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 has a huge-enough 8GB VRAM for managing all the graphics-intensive tasks.
As we mentioned earlier, the GIGABYTE Aero 15X is an ultra-thin laptop. However, this has not prevented the company from including attractive features like a backlit keyboard and extended connectivity. The USB Type C ports on the computer come with Thunderbolt 3 support. There is even an SD card reader built into the I/O section. Last but not least, the laptop claims to offer a maximum battery life of up to 10 hours even when the weight has been brought down to just 4.41 pounds.
- Ultra-thin design
- Outstanding battery life
- Good connectivity
- 144Hz screen
- High performance
- A little expensive
If you don’t want to spend that much but want a decent laptop for animation, Dell Inspiron i7559 is an amazing choice in the market. Coming from the Inspiron line-up of Dell, you are getting a decent device that can power through the whole. The laptop is powered by an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor with a base clock of 2.6GHz and it goes to up to 3.5GHz when on Turbo Boost.
Compared to other devices we covered here, the Dell Inspiron i7559 has a lower set of specs when it comes to memory and storage. You are getting 8GB of DDR3 RAM, though it can be upgraded to up to 16GB. On the storage side, Dell has included a hybrid HDD of 1TB capacity. In addition, there is 8GB of SSD cache as well.
It’s also one of the few laptops with a 4K display we have included in the list. If your work requires creating content with maximum precision, you would love the 15.6-inch 4K touch supported display with a maximum resolution of 3840 x 2160. To power the graphics side of everything, the laptop has been equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M, which comes with a GDDR5 VRAM of 4GB. Of course, this is basic-level graphics for the most part.
Connectivity is a stronger forte of the Dell Inspiron i7559-5012GRY. You have enough ports, including three USB 3.0 ports and a full HDMI port. It also comes with a built-in SD card reader, which comes in handy for a lot of content creators. You should also note that this is a Microsoft Signature laptop in that it packs a bunch of useful software from the developer. Last but not least, the laptop estimates a whopping battery life of up to 10 hours. That said, it’s more of a heavy package at 6.07 pounds.
- Built-in Microsoft software
- Extended connectivity
- 4K display
- Touchscreen support
- Long battery life
- Limited storage
Frequently Asked Questions
Is dedicated graphics necessary for a laptop for animators?
Yes. Animation programs require a huge amount of resources and are graphics-intensive in nature. It’s good to have dedicated graphics in that the visual performance can be enhanced. You can also use these cards if you want to test games.
How does a 144Hz screen help the animator?
A better screen refresh rate means that your overall experience would become snappy. This will be useful when you are inside a complex interface and want the smoothest experience. If you are designing games, it will also help you test games at a higher quality.
Is SSD Storage necessary?
We’d say full SSD storage is a necessity in laptops for animators. At the end of the day, we are looking at an experience that is fast and convenient. SSD storage offers better read and write speeds, meaning that you can have better rendering times among other things.
Are gaming laptops bulky in general?
Most of the gaming laptops are bigger in size when compared to the likes of Ultrabooks out there. However, this has been done to take care of airflow and performance boost. We believe performance is your biggest priority while choosing a laptop for animation.
How much should I spend on the laptop?
Depending on the intensity of the animation software you are using, you may have different needs. So, it’s recommended to go for a laptop that can cater to all the needs instead of going for something that may end up spoiling your productivity.
We believe this list of the best laptops for animators helped you choose the right laptop for your needs. As you may have noticed, a lot of the devices are gaming laptops. This is an interesting thing because the kind of specifications you need for gaming can also be used for animation software.
At the end of the day, it’s best if your budget does not limit the choice you want to make because smooth performance is a deciding factor when you’re a professional animator.