Best Laptop for Animation, Maya, Blender, and VFX in 2022

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Aug 21, 2022 •  Guides

Animation can be quite challenging due to a laptop that is not up to the intensive data processing animation requires – and, conversely, with the right hardware, people are amazed at how much easier the process becomes!

So in this guide, you will find my recommendations on which laptops are best for 2D and 3D animation. You will find out what you need to successfully animate on a laptop and the best choices for both Apple and Windows operating systems.

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Top 4 Laptops for Animation Compared

This is a quick comparison of my favorite laptops for 2D and 3D animation. Find more picks in the overview below, including FHD, UHD Windows, and Apple picks.

Budget Pick (2D)
Budget Pick (3D)
2-in-1 Pick
My Pick
Description:

Best Budget Windows laptop for digital art and 2D animation

Windows 11 :: 15.6 Inch Full HD IPS Display :: 11th Gen Intel Core i5 :: Intel Iris Xe Graphics :: 8GB DDR4 RAM :: 256GB SSD :: WiFi 6

Description:

Best Budget Windows laptop for 3D animation

Full HD OLED Display :: 11th Gen Intel i7 :: Intel Iris Xe Graphics :: 16GB High Bandwidth RAM :: 512GB SSD :: WiFi 6 :: Windows 11


Description:

Best Mid-Priced Windows laptop for 2D and 3D animation

PixelSense Flow Touchscreen with 2400x1600 Resolution :: 11th Gen Intel i7 :: GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Graphics :: 32GB High Bandwidth RAM :: 1TB SSD :: Hybrid Laptop/Tablet Design


Description:

Best Apple laptop for 2D and 3D animation

Newest Model with M1 Pro Processor :: Mini-LED backlit Liquid Retina XDR Display :: ProMotion and TrueTone Technology :: 21 Hour Battery Life :: 3 Thunderbolt Connectors


Budget Pick (2D)
Description:

Best Budget Windows laptop for digital art and 2D animation

Windows 11 :: 15.6 Inch Full HD IPS Display :: 11th Gen Intel Core i5 :: Intel Iris Xe Graphics :: 8GB DDR4 RAM :: 256GB SSD :: WiFi 6

Budget Pick (3D)
Description:

Best Budget Windows laptop for 3D animation

Full HD OLED Display :: 11th Gen Intel i7 :: Intel Iris Xe Graphics :: 16GB High Bandwidth RAM :: 512GB SSD :: WiFi 6 :: Windows 11


2-in-1 Pick
Description:

Best Mid-Priced Windows laptop for 2D and 3D animation

PixelSense Flow Touchscreen with 2400x1600 Resolution :: 11th Gen Intel i7 :: GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Graphics :: 32GB High Bandwidth RAM :: 1TB SSD :: Hybrid Laptop/Tablet Design


My Pick
Description:

Best Apple laptop for 2D and 3D animation

Newest Model with M1 Pro Processor :: Mini-LED backlit Liquid Retina XDR Display :: ProMotion and TrueTone Technology :: 21 Hour Battery Life :: 3 Thunderbolt Connectors


Table of Contents

Overview: Best Laptops for Animation in 2022

There are lots more choices for the best laptop for animation on the Windows platform, but there are not necessarily better choices – and Apple MacBooks are truly some of the best computers of any type available today for either 2D or 3D animation.

And not just for animation – both the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro are superbly constructed machines, beautifully designed, intuitive and imminently usable, and among the finest laptops available for any artist, as well as for all general use.

macOS Budget Pick for 2D Animation: 2020 MacBook Air

Affordable
Apple MacBook Air 13"

Best Apple Laptop for 2D Animation

Newest Model with M1 Processor - 3.5 Times Faster than Previous Air :: 13 Inch Retina Screen with 2560x1600 (WQXGA) Resolution, Wide Color & True Tone 

Get it on Amazon

Pros of Apple Macbook Air 13″ as a laptop for 2D animation

The newest MacBook Air is still, despite big improvements in performance, a very affordable laptop, and yet it is clearly an Apple, with that beautifully premium fit and finish we’ve come to expect from the company.

And for 2D animation it is an ideal machine. With exceptionally high resolution and class-leading color range, saturation and accuracy, the Retina screen has sensational life and realism, and while it’s not as big as some, the clarity, brightness and color make it so easy to work on, even when the work is extremely complex and detailed.

This latest Apple MacBook Air is 3.5 times faster than the previous model, and the super-fast memory and 8-core graphics processing mean that all animation work – and absolutely anything else, for that matter, will be smooth, fast, and glitch-free.

And yet somehow, for all of that, it uses a lot less power, and has great battery life!

A fast, powerful laptop with beautiful graphics, and build quality, the MacBook Air is easy to use and affordable, and is my first choice for 2D animation.

macOS Pick for 2D and 3D Animation: 2021 MacBook Pro 16

My Pick
2021 Apple MacBook Pro 16

Best Apple Laptop for 3D Animation

Newest Model with M1 Pro Processor :: Mini-LED backlit Liquid Retina XDR Display :: ProMotion and TrueTone Technology :: 21 Hour Battery Life :: 3 Thunderbolt Connectors

Get it on Amazon

Pros of Apple Macbook Pro 16″ as a laptop for 3D animation

But for 3D creation and rendering we need the fastest and most powerful machine, and there are few faster or more powerful than the Apple MacBook Pro – especially the newest model.

The absurdly fast M1 Pro processor offers 10 core central processing and 32 core graphics, and can handle even highly complex 3D rendering in stride. The unified RAM memory and SSD storage are about as fast as it gets at any level – not to mention the 3 (!) thunderbolt 4 connectors.

 And while it is nice to know that all work – again, even the most complex 3D animation and rendering – will flow without a hitch, the astounding Liquid Retina screen takes your work to a whole new level.

With an incredibly high 3456 by 2234 pixel resolution, color range and accuracy, ProMotion adaptive refresh technology for smooth motion and continuous clarity, and extremely high sustained and peak brightness, the mini-LED backlit Liquid Retina XDR display is the finest I’ve ever used, and truly thrilling to work on.

The best Apple computer for 3D animation, the MacBook Pro is not an inexpensive computer, but for its performance, beauty and overall quality it’s easily one of the best values on the market today, and receives my highest recommendation.

Windows Budget Pick for 2D Animation: Acer Aspire 5

Budget Pick
Acer Aspire 5 15.6 Full HD Laptop

Best Budget Windows laptop for digital art and 2D animation

Windows 11 :: 15.6 Inch Full HD IPS Display :: 11th Gen Intel Core i5 :: Intel Iris Xe Graphics :: 8GB DDR4 RAM :: 256GB SSD :: WiFi 6

Get it on Amazon

Pros of Acer Aspire 5 15.6″ as a laptop for 2D animation

A powerful budget laptop for 2D animation, the Acer Aspire 5 is also a great overall laptop for any commercial or fine artist, with a beautiful high resolution screen, a super-fast Intel I5 processor with the standard-setting integrated Iris Xe graphics co-processor, 8 gigabytes of high speed memory and a fast and reliable 256 gigabyte solid state storage drive.

In fact, the Acer Aspire 5 could even act as a decent 3D animation machine – it’s that powerful – and is a great idea if you are on a budget and just doing 2D work right now, but still want to have all options open to you.

As it stands, the Aspire 5 can handle the highest resolution graphics and the most complex and demanding two dimensional animation sequences with perfect smoothness, with no lags, glitches or problems – a fully capable computer for even advanced 2D animation software and work, or other top-level art projects, with plenty of reserve for whatever you throw at it.

Fast, powerful and fully capable, with a beautiful screen and excellent overall look and feel, the Acer Aspire 5 is the whole package, a fantastic computer for any artist and the best affordable laptop for animation on the market today.

Tech Features of Acer Aspire 5 15.6″

Windows Pick for 2D Animation: ASUS TUF 17

Amazing value
ASUS TUF 17.3

Best Windows Laptop for 2D Animation Overall

Full HD IPS Display :: 11th Gen Intel Gaming H Core i5 :: GeForce RTX 3050 Graphics :: 8GB DDR4 RAM :: 512GB SSD :: WiFi 6 :: Windows 11

Get it on Amazon

Pros of Asus TUF 17.3″ Gaming laptop for 2D Animation

Gaming laptops are something of a rage these days and for a good reason.

More and more people are realizing that gaming computers are absolutely brilliant everyday computers as well, largely because they offer two things in one great package – incredible toughness and incredible performance.

The performance aspect of the gaming laptop also makes them absolutely perfect animation laptops, as they focus on video speed and quality, high resolution, lots of memory and storage, and overall processing speed – all ultra-important elements in any animation project.

While lots of gaming laptops are also ultra-expensive, the Asus Tuf, with its glorious 17.3 inch full high definition screen, is actually quite moderately priced. It is a no-compromise machine, however, and you can expect absolutely flawless performance with even advanced, power-hungry and memory intensive 2D animation work.

It has, after all, 8 gigabytes of high speed RAM, 4 gigs of video RAM, a blazing newest generation I5 quad-core processor working in concert with the wonderful Nvidia GeoForce GTX discrete graphics co-processor, and a huge 1TB solid state storage space.

Which all means that doing animation work on this laptop is a joy – it could even handle most 3D animation with ease, although the units listed below are more suited for the highest-level 3D animation and rendering.

A truly premium laptop, the Asus Tuf with 17.3 inch display offers astonishing performance for the money, and is my choice for the best Windows laptop for 2D animation, and a great choice as well for pretty much everything else.

Tech Features of ASUS TUF 17.3 Gaming laptop

Windows Budget Pick for 3D Animation: ASUS Vivobook 15

Affordable
ASUS VivoBook 15

Best Budget Windows Laptop for 3D Animation

Full HD OLED Display :: 11th Gen Intel i7 :: Intel Iris Xe Graphics :: 16GB High Bandwidth RAM :: 512GB SSD :: WiFi 6 :: Windows 11

Get it on Amazon

Pros of ASUS VivoBook 15 as a laptop for 3D animation

A remarkably powerful computer for the price, the new Asus VivoBook has the minimum requirements for fully productive and trouble-free work in creating, reviewing and rendering 3D animation projects in the Windows operating system – and then some!

The big, clear and highly accurate 15.6 inch screen displays in full high definition, with fantastic brightness and contrast and superb color rendition.

The main computer processor is the latest Intel I7, with a super-fast clock speed of up to 4.7 GHz. The new Iris Xe graphics processor is similarly speedy, with graphics and animation always presenting smoothly without delays or lags.

The Asus VivoBook is not quite as stout as the two more expensive gaming laptops below, and won’t take the same kind of abuse (not that I advise you to abuse any of these sweet, innocent computers!), but it is also a little easier to tote around, and is still very well built and durable.

An amazing bargain, the Asus VivoBook 15 laptop has an unbelievable array of top-notch hardware components and performance at this price and is easily the best laptop for animation on budget on the market today – and one of the best values period!

Tech Features of ASUS VivoBook 15

Windows 2-in-1 Pick for 3D Animation: Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

2 in 1 Laptop Tablet
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 14.4" Touchscreen

Best Mid-Priced Windows Laptop for 3D Animation

PixelSense Flow Touchscreen with 2400x1600 Resolution :: 11th Gen Intel i7 :: GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Graphics :: 32GB High Bandwidth RAM :: 1TB SSD :: Hybrid Laptop/Tablet Design

Get it on Amazon

Pros of Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio as a laptop for 3D animation

While the Razer Blade (my top choice, just below) is certainly one of the fastest and most powerful laptop computers today, this Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio isn’t far behind and at a substantially lower price. And it is, IMHO, an even cooler machine! And, it must be said, a much more portable laptop…

With the latest I7 processor, the superb GeForce 3050 graphics chip, tons of high bandwidth RAM – 32 gigabytes – and a big, speedy solid state drive, data flow – and workflow – always move at full speed, without any glitches or bottlenecks.

And while there are definitely some pretty brilliant gaming computers at around the same price, with at least comparable specs, performance and capability, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio has something they don’t – the perfect screen for any artist.

The PixelSense Flow touchscreen is incredibly bright and contrasty and has amazing detail, color accuracy, and overall geometry, and the wonderful Microsoft Surface Pen (sold separately) offers a truly optimal working surface, with perfect flow and perfect control and the ability to work directly on your projects with unparalleled accuracy and vision. 

In this regard, the Surface Laptop Studio is perhaps an even more desirable notebook than the big Blade below.

I am fully entrenched in the Apple camp, but I do think more and more that if I weren’t, and for some reason forced to use Windows, there is no doubt I would want a Microsoft Surface.

And this new Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio, with its cool, unique, and highly usable fold-out tablet/laptop configuration, is the best of all, the most powerful Surface made, and the best mid-priced Windows computer for 3D animation.

Tech Features of Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

Windows Pick for 3D Animation: Razer Blade 15

Amazing value
Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop

Best Windows Laptop for 3D Animation Overall

15.6 Inch QHD Display :: 12th Generation 14 Core Intel I7 :: GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Graphics :: 32GB DDR5 RAM :: 1TB PCLe SSD :: CNC Aluminum Unibody

Get it on Amazon

Pros of Razer Blade 15 Gaming laptop for 3D animation

One of the most powerful computers on the market today, the Razer Blade 15, aside from having a slightly intimidating name, is the best animation laptop available for professional  3D animators and animation students.

Definitely overkill for 2D graphics or more casual endeavors, the Blade is up to the challenge of the most advanced 3D animation projects of any kind, including the most complex high definition rendering.

Designed to be the ultimate gaming computer, this monster has an extremely fast and powerful main system processing unit, an almost absurd 14 core Intel I7, and lots of high speed RAM memory – 32 gigabytes of DDR6.

With a stunning 15.6 inch Quad HD 4K Ultra High Definition display that has a super-fast 240 Hz refresh rate, along with the peerless NVIDIA NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti discrete graphics processor and 8 gigs of VRAM, the Razer Blade makes even the most precise, highly detailed or complex work much easier to see and accomplish, and the 1 TB SSD drive allows you to keep both work in progress and full finished projects locally, and access them quickly and smoothly.

A big, superbly built, and powerful laptop, the Razer 15 handles the most memory intensive, complex animations with absolute ease and reliability, with perfectly smooth movement and stunning visual screen display, making creation, viewing and rendering a completely problem-free and joyous experience.

And even though I said it is overkill for “lesser” work, you will find that the Blade will actually perform flawlessly and effortlessly with absolutely any kind of computer task. Its screen is amazing for painting, drawing, photography, video, graphic design, or any other visual work.

Yeah, this is a bit of a spendy laptop, but there are definitely models out there that are substantially more expensive and don’t offer anywhere near this level of performance or overall quality. Anyway, if you are working at this level you know that the Razer Blade 15 is more than worth it, and the best laptop for 3D animation on the market today.

Tech Features of Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop

Main Criteria for Choosing a Laptop for Animation

Animation can be one of the most fun and rewarding of all creative processes, and once you get into it you can see whole new worlds opening up before you. The elements of storytelling, visual art, movement, music, and sound can come together in animation more than in any other art form.

When choosing the best laptop for animation, you must have a computer with enough RAM, a CPU (central processing unit), and GPU (graphics processing unit = graphics card), which are fast and powerful enough to animate, view, and render your work. 

Now, if you are doing 2D animation, you will need less power, and your new laptop’s GPU, in particular, doesn’t need to be quite as fast or have as much dedicated graphics memory.

For 3D animation and rendering, you want the fastest and most powerful hardware, including plenty of high-speed RAM and graphics memory and the latest and greatest CPU and GPU.

What Are the Minimum Hardware Requirements for Animation Laptops?

Laptop for 2D Animation

For a laptop for 2D animation, I would recommend a minimum of:

Laptop for 3D Animation

For a laptop for 3D animation would recommend a minimum of:

I would also recommend getting a good, big screen, 15 inches or larger – you may want a small, nicely portable machine, but you don’t want to strain your eyes and get headaches every time you work or miss important details or errors.

As far as resolution and color accuracy goes, any computer with any of the above components will have more than sufficient display quality for any animation work.

You may also want to look at a touchscreen display – especially popular for 3D work – but this is unnecessary and may drive the price up very well.

Will an Apple MacBook Laptop Work for Animation?

Yes, absolutely, and in fact, they are real favorites among 2D and 3D digital animators and animation students at every level and area. 

While the above hardware requirements are applicable for Windows PC laptops, it is a different world with Apple, and you don’t have any choice, for example, which GPU or CPU you’re going to get or how much VRAM there is.

Luckily, the MacBook Pro, the go-to machine for serious animators and animation students, and even the newest MacBook Air, which is an amazing value, both have the brand new M1 processor – more than sufficient for even the most power-intensive work, but more about that later…

How Can You Find the Best Laptop for Animation?

Even if you’re pretty tech-savvy, finding a Windows laptop with the right stuff – fast enough, powerful enough, and the right graphics processing and memory – can be both intimidating and quite difficult.

And while it’s simpler with Apple, getting one that’s definitely up to the task can make your work so much better – smooth, fast and error-free, easier, more direct, and effective.

And so that’s why I have assembled this buyer’s guide, to ensure you get exactly what you need!

If you know computers and all the tech stuff, you will see that not only are my recommendations more than sufficient for whatever kind of animation – or any other art or computer work – you are doing, but they are also great all-around computers and great values.

And if you don’t know a GPU from a hole in the ground and don’t want to, you can be absolutely certain that any computer on my list of best laptops for animation will be the right machine, and you can click with confidence!

FAQs – Best Laptop for Animation

What laptop specs do I need for animation?

For 2D animation, I recommend at least 8GB of RAM, Intel i5 or AMD Ryzen 5, and the latest generation GPU (even integrated graphic cards work). For 3D animation, I recommend at least 16GB of RAM, Intel i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 with at least 6 cores, and the latest generation of dedicated graphics cards, such as Nvidia GTX, RTX, or GeForce, with at least 6 GB VRAM

Can I animate with any laptop?

No, you can’t animate with any laptop. You need certain specifications, such as RAM, CPU, and GPU, to enjoy the animation process. To start with, I’d recommend Acer Aspire 5 for 2D animation and ASUS Vivobook 15 for 3D animation.

Which laptop is best for animators?

If the budget doesn’t concern you, for 3D animation, I’d recommend either MacBook Pro 16, if you are an Apple fan, or Razer Blade 15, if you like to use Windows. For 2D animation, I’d recommend ASUS TUF 17.

Conclusion

To sum up, here are my recommendations for your new laptop for 2D or 3D animation:

When you look at the incredible quality of both 2D and 3D movies, videos, TV shows, commercials and lots more out there, it can be incredibly intimidating, and easy to feel discouraged before you even begin.

But in fact the newest animation software – either 2D or 3D – is so simple and intuitive, and does so much for you, that if you have an idea and a vision you can create super-beautiful, professional looking animations much more easily than you could possibly imagine.

And I’m here to tell you that, no matter how much I paint or draw, how many beautiful pictures I might create and display proudly, there is something incredibly exciting, something really special, when I can actually create art that is not just beautiful or compelling, but actually moves and flows, taking on a life of its own.

At any rate, the demand for animation artists will just keep increasing, and so even if animation is not your primary interest, it’s not a bad idea to get a computer that, in addition to serving beautifully and capably as an artist’s tool, will handle animation as well, should you decide at some point to try your hand at it.

And yes, every laptop computer in my guide will do just that, and so now it’s all up to you – after all, the sooner you get moving, the sooner your artwork can get moving too!

I hope my guide helped you to choose your new laptop for animation, and you will have a lot of fun with your creative projects!

Visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for other buyer’s guides, online courses, articles, and many other resources.

Other articles in the Laptops for Artists and Designers series:

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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