Best Laptop for Rendering

Best Laptop for Rendering – There are many laptops for you to choose from for a good 3D modelling experience. The aforementioned laptops are much higher in specifications that you would possibly need, but these higher specifications would ensure smoother experience even in the higher versions of the graphics intensive software’s like Auto CAD.

OVERVIEW

Take your pick from this list of specialized computers. I’ve narrowed it down to the best laptops workstation options out there. So whichever one you go for, you can be sure you’re making a wise decision!

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ROUND UP

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1.ASUS ZenBook

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2.HP Pavilion

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3.Asus ROG

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4.HP ZBook

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5.Acer Predator Helios

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6.Razer Blade

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7.MSI P65

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8.ASUS F512DA

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9.Dell Gaming

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10.Dell Inspiron

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Best Laptop for Rendering – BUYER’S GUIDE

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The best CPU in a Laptop for Animation

This brings us to the CPU specifically.

What makes a CPU fast, anyway? Is it the number of cores, clock speed, cache size, or maybe just the brand:  Intel or AMD?

To make it short: For animation, the most important CPU-feature to look for is the clock-speed. The CPU’s clock speed is more important than having lots of Cores or getting a certain Brand.

If your CPU has a low clock speed, your Viewport will become very sluggish, and you won’t be able to animate in real-time. The CPU has a Base Clock Speed, such as 2,6 GHz in the Intel i7-10750H and a higher Turbo-Boost Clock that the CPU can boost to, in this case, 5,0 GHz on some of those Cores.

The CPU Boosting technology can overclock your CPU automatically if:

  • Not all Cores are in use at the same time.
  • The CPU’s temperature is below a certain threshold.
  • The CPU’s power draw is below a certain threshold.

Image-Source: Intel

In Animation, often only one or two CPU Cores are being used because of how animation workloads utilize your hardware.

This means having a high Boost-clock will speed up your Viewport’s snappiness while animating considerably.

Recommended CPU Models to get for your Animation Laptop:

  • Intel 9th gen mobile CPUs: i7 9750H,  i9 9880H
  • Intel 10th gen mobile CPUs: i7 10750H, i7 10875H, i9 10980HK
  • AMD Ryzen 4000 Series CPUs: 4800H(S), 4900H(S)

All of the above CPUs are excellent for animation as they have a high Base-Clock and a great Boost Clock.

Of course, you’ll find the CPUs above will usually be built into somewhat mid-range to higher-end Laptops.

If you don’t have the means to spend that kind of money, you could settle for a lower-tier CPUs. Be sure to always maximize your base- and boost-clocks.

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RAM (Memory) for the Best Laptop for Animation

The second most important factor in getting the Best Laptop for Animation is the RAM, or Memory.

RAM Speed isn’t that much of a factor, but the size of the memory will do wonders when working on complex scenes, long animations, multiple characters, high-resolution meshes, and textures.

The ability to keep preview Playblasts in your memory for comparison and checking the current animation state if you don’t have Real-time playback is a life-saver.

You will want to go with 8GB as an absolute minimum and target 16GB for a much better experience.

RAM usage in the Win 10 Task Manager

32GB will help in some cases. Having more usually isn’t necessary but might help with extremely complex scenes, large textures, animation simulations, and dynamics that are not keyframe-driven but will need to be cached.

Or, of course, when you’d like to have multiple Applications open at the same time.

The thing about RAM is, it doesn’t impact performance all that much unless you have too little.

If you don’t have enough RAM, your System will start swapping active working Files to Disk, and at this point, the overall performance will crawl to a halt.

You definitely want to avoid having too little RAM.

My recommendation for RAM capacity in your Animation Laptop:

  • 8GB of RAM for beginners
  • 16GB of RAM for every day, mid-sized scenes
  • 32GB+ of RAM for highly complex scenes and/or multiple opened Applications
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Best Graphics Card (GPU) for Animation in a Laptop

As discussed above, the Graphics card is responsible for displaying to your in-built Screen or any attached display device.

It will also help display textures and any other Shaders and Real-Time Effects such as SSAO (Screen Space Ambient Occlusion), Realtime Shadows, Anti-Aliasing, Anisotropic Filtering, for a more realistic experience.

The Maya Viewport 2.0, for example, makes heavy use of such effects, and you’ll be much happier with a stronger GPU.

Having a fairly strong GPU will definitely help, but only to a certain point.

As soon as your CPU becomes the bottleneck, the GPU will not help speed up your viewport. It will be waiting for the CPU to finish its tasks to display the result to your screen.

Here are four Laptop GPUs that will perform nicely in an Animation Laptop:

  • NVIDIA GTX 1650 Super
  • NVIDIA GTX 1660 Super
  • NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti

Now, I’ve mentioned a couple of times that the GPU is not an important factor in the active process of animating.

This changes entirely if you plan on using GPU Render Engines.

GPU Render Engines have become quite popular recently, such as Octane, Redshift, Vray-RT, or FurryBall.

These Render Engines utilize your Graphics Card instead of your CPU to render scenes and can be quite a bit faster than using the CPU.

Image-Source: furryball.aaa-studio.eu

If you plan on using GPU Render Engines, then you should invest in a better GPU.

My GPU recommendations if you are looking at a stronger Laptop or want to use GPU Render Engines:

  • NVIDIA RTX 3060 
  • NVIDIA RTX 3070
  • NVIDIA RTX 3080

Beware, though, that having a powerful GPU in a Laptop will make the Laptop bulky and draw more power. It will also make the Laptop quite noisy when Rendering on the powerful in-built GPU.

You might want to consider external GPUs for Rendering on a Laptop. Or try to use an extra Computer or Render node that you can offload any Rendering-intensive tasks to.

Some of you might wonder why there are no AMD GPU recommendations here. The reason is simple:

Nvidia’s GPUs have wider Application and Render-Engine Support, and in many cases, perform better than AMD’s GPUs.

If you absolutely know you will only use Software that supports AMD GPUs, though (like ProRender), then by all means, get a Laptop with an AMD GPU.

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Storage Devices, HDD/ SSD for the Best Laptop for Animation

There has been quite an update in storage hardware over the past few years, and almost all laptops now come with Solid State Drives (SSDs).

In the past, these storage devices used to be Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) that were extremely slow and bottle-necked many aspects of a running system.

SSDs are much faster at reading and writing data, and you can now boot the operating system faster, start your programs more quickly, and load / save your scene updates in a fraction of the time it used to take.

SSDs are also much more robust, they don’t age as fast as HDDs, and they are almost completely shock resistant.

Having an SSD in a laptop is an absolute must.

My Storage recommendation for Animation Laptops:

  • A 500GB (or larger) SATA SSD

For those of you who want even greater speed in saving & loading scenes and general storage-related workloads, NVMe SSDs are the way to go.

NVMe SSDs are about twice as expensive, but you get 5-6 times the speed in many workloads.

The sequential read and write performance of NVMe SSDs, in particular, is phenomenal.

Highly recommended!

Take a look at this comparison of HDD, SSD (SATA), and NVMe SSD Write and Read Speeds:

Image-Source: atpinc.com

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HDD

The conventional Hard Drive still has its purpose, though.

As HDDs are cheaper per Gigabyte, you can use them as long term storage and for archiving and backing up your projects.

Basically, anything that is not directly involved in your day-to-day workflow should be moved to an HDD.

I usually have external HDDs that I switch on in the evening after a day’s work and backup anything I worked on to the external HDD.

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Expandability

The best Laptop for Animation should have the ability to be upgraded as you’ll want to use this Laptop for at least a couple of years.

Because technology progression is so fast, though, the Laptop might not be up to speed anymore after a few years. If you can upgrade your Laptop, this will give you some extra time before you have to buy a new one.

In most Laptops, there are some components that you can swap out on your own and upgrade or have a repair shop replace for you.

For example, you could buy a Laptop with only 256GB of SSD Storage built in, now, and after a year, you might realize that you need more storage space for all the new projects and clients.

A larger SSD would certainly come in handy.

You can now easily upgrade to a larger and maybe even faster SSD as the technology has progressed.

Get a 500GB or even 1TB SSD that will take care of your pressing storage needs until it is time to get an entirely new Laptop for Animation.

The same applies to RAM.

You can usually get a laptop that will have some unused RAM slots, and you can add more RAM later on if you find your memory to be full all the time.

Both the CPU and GPU, unfortunately, aren’t that easy to upgrade on your own.

These are usually hidden beneath parts of cooling solutions, and you would have to talk to the manufacturer or a repair shop to have these upgraded.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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What Laptops do Animators use?

You don’t really need an exotic kind of Laptop or any specific features to animate on a Laptop. There certainly are some features that will make your work more efficient & faster, but any Laptop that meets the minimum requirements for the Animation Software you would like to use, can basically be used to animate on.

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What is a good Computer for Animation?

If you’d rather like to use a Desktop PC instead of a Laptop for Animation, be sure to read on in-depth Guide on what the Best PC for Animation looks like.

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Is 8GB of RAM enough for Animation?

As we already discussed in this Article, 8GB of RAM can be enough for doing Animation on simple Scenes. You’ll be much happier with 16GB (or even 32GB) though, especially if your Scenes have lots of geometry, or if you’d like to use other Software in parallel.

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Are Gaming Laptops good for Animation?

Yes, absolutely! Many Laptop manufacturers market Laptops at Gamers, because the Gaming Target group is much bigger than the Animation or Content Creation Target Group. This doesn’t mean you can only game on a “Gaming Laptop”.

After some quick answers to those questions, here are our Animation Laptop recommendations:

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WRAP UP

Along with a powerful GPU, a large storage and high RAM is also required. A computer with a higher screen resolution and a relatively large screen size serves you the best. The gaming laptops have great graphics and performance, and hence suits your needs for 3D modelling too.

Most CAD applications like Solidworks, Revit have published minimum hardware and system requirements on their website. Solidworks for instance needs atleast 8gb ram and 64bit processor with SSE2 support along with dedicated graphics card. The OS needs to be Windows 7 or above.

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