Best Laptop for 3D Modeling and Rendering in 2022

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: May 24, 2022 •  Guides

In this guide to the best computers for 3D modeling and rendering, I’m going to primarily focus on making sure you get the right laptop for your 3D work, to save you time, trouble and money in the long run, and make sure your work is as creative, productive and fun as possible. Let’s have a look!

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If you are in a hurry, here are my picks for the best Windows and Mac laptops for 3D modeling and rendering:

  1. ASUS ProArt Studiobook One Mobile Workstation Laptop
  2. ASUS ProArt Studiobook One Mobile Workstation Laptop

    Best Premium Windows Laptop for 3D Modeling & Rendering


    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. 2021 Apple MacBook Pro 16 with M1 Max Chip
  4. 2021 Apple MacBook Pro 16 with M1 Max Chip

    Best Apple MacBook Overall for 3D Modeling & Rendering

    

    Buy Now on Amazon

Table of Contents

If you are currently involved in 3D modeling and rendering or are looking into it, you probably already know a couple of things:

First, it is one of the most fascinating, challenging, and powerful forms of digital art today, and one of the most important and marketable skills you can possibly have.

And second that you need a really powerful computer to do it properly.

That said and established, the most important thing I can impress upon you then is that, while the right computer can be expensive, buying the wrong computer – especially one that is just not powerful enough – can be far more expensive (not to mention incredibly frustrating) in the long run.

So, in this buyer’s guide, we will answer the following questions:

What Exactly Are 3D Modeling and Rendering?

3D modeling is the process of creating any three-dimensional object using specialized software that mathematically develops a set of coordinates to present, and allow editing of, that object in simulated three-dimensional space.

3D rendering is the process of transforming one or more of these completed three-dimensional objects, or “assets,” into an often hyper-realistic two-dimensional space, for use in various ways.

But, again, you probably know all of that already. Perhaps more important is to mention that 3D modeling and 3D rendering are incredibly important skills to have these days, and the processes represent clear and lucrative waves of the future.

3D imaging work touches on so much of today’s digital world, including character development, animation, videography and cinematography, scientific and engineering rendering, fine art and multi-media art, user interface and front end development – well, the list goes on and on.

It used to be that you needed a dedicated and really powerful computer to do these tasks – especially rendering – or at least a big old array of parallel PCs, and this restricted the work to mostly highly advanced (and highly funded) laboratories or big art and movie studios. 

Now, though, simple folk like us can do both 3D modeling and 3D rendering at home, on our personal computer – given that our personal computer is a bit of a monster! Both processes are extremely power-hungry, requiring lots of memory and storage, and 3D rendering in particular absolutely requires top-end processors – both central and video.

And while this is a little easier to achieve with a task-built desktop computer, it is now also possible with a laptop, and while they can be a little more expensive there are, of course, a  lot of advantages to using a smaller, more portable computer for this (or any) work.

But I can’t impress on you strongly enough that both these processes need memory, speed, power and storage, and if you are thinking about a laptop you need absolutely top-tier equipment.

But before we get into all of that, if you are interested in learning these incredibly valuable and useful skills there are some really amazing online schools you can check out.

And while 3D modeling and 3D rendering are, it should be said, quite complex and specialized processes, please don’t be discouraged. With the right training and the right equipment, you can learn easily, and once you do the complexity and difficulty kind of melt away, and you are back to just making art.

My strongest recommendation for online education in 3D imaging – as well as pretty much any other digital art – is an acknowledged leader in the industry, and offers an amazing selection of courses in the most important areas of digital art today – the Computer Graphics Master Academy.

If you are going to learn such an important, current and marketable skill, you should really learn it completely and correctly, and that’s what CGMA is all about.

How Much RAM and Which Processor is Best for 3D Modeling Laptop?

Here I’ll list the absolute minimum, and then best case, specifications you need for the best laptop for 3D modeling, though you can be sure that any of the below recommendations will at least meet these qualifications:

  • RAM: At least 16 GB RAM:: Best 32-64 GB RAM
  • CPU: At least Intel I7, or AMD Ryzen 7:: Best Intel Intel I9, or AMD Ryzen 9, with preferably at least 6 cores
  • GPU: Latest generation of dedicated graphics card such as Nvidia GTX, RTX, or GeForce, with at least 6 GB VRAM
  • Storage: At least 1TB SSD

With 3D modeling and 3D rendering, and the associated areas of engineering, CAD, manufacturing, animation and others, it’s all about power.

Absolutely the most important thing is to get enough processing power and speed, enough video processing power and speed, enough active memory (RAM), and enough storage space.

Many people think that you need a desktop computer for real 3D work, especially lengthy rendering processes, but in fact these days the high-end laptops are more than up for the task.

But you really do have to be careful, since it is easy enough to find product listings – or even other buyer’s guides – which swear that this or that lower-level laptop is fine for 3D, but in fact, they can’t handle it.

Are Gaming Laptops Good for 3D Rendering?

Buyer’s guides will also often recommend gaming laptops, but in fact, 3D rendering, in particular, is one of the most graphics intensive tasks, that can make almost any laptop on the market today slow, hot and even glitchy, and even the best gaming laptop may not be quite enough.

To be fair, a gaming laptop can have enough processing power and memory, have strikingly beautiful displays, and run cool enough, but you are often paying for premium sound cards, heavy-duty keyboards, and other gaming-centered interfaces and features which are not important here, and they still may not have the best or fastest CPU.

Besides, the gaming laptops also may not have the highest level of accuracy in the display, especially in terms of color fidelity or range.

That’s why this article, unlike other buyer’s guides for the best laptops for 3D graphics work, doesn’t have any gaming laptops at all.

Instead, we will focus on the best normal laptops in terms of processing and graphics speed, display resolution, color fidelity, speed and smoothness, speed of RAM and storage memory, material quality and reliability and overall usability.

The other big consideration for doing 3D modeling and 3D rendering on a laptop is that you need to make sure the computer stays cool.

This is a little easier with a desktop, with its typically large fans, but with laptops it might be a good idea to get a separate pedestal-style fan, or cooling pad. I will talk more about this at the end of the article, in the Bonus section.

How Can You Find the Best Laptops for 3D Modeling and 3D Rendering?

I have assembled a list of the best Windows and Apple laptops for 3D imaging work, based on my own experience and on the advice and recommendations I have gotten from trusted colleagues and professionals in the industry.

But I have also based the list of best 3D laptops on the uncompromising idea that a lesser computer simply won’t cut it – it won’t do the work, and it will cost you so much more in the long run.

As such, there aren’t any real bargain-basement computers here – they are all, to be sure, pretty costly. But if you are doing this kind of work, you are sure to find exactly what you need here, and have a computer that will serve you well for 3D work and for anything else you might ever want or need to do.

And be assured that these computers are not only as good as it gets in terms of performance, but also in terms of material quality, durability, reliability, design and usability and – despite their premium price tags – absolute value.

We will include the following recommendations:

At the end of the article, in the Bonus section, I will briefly talk about what is probably the most important accessory you can get for your new 3D workstation, and one of the best – and cheapest – investments you will ever make: a good laptop cooling pad.

Overview: Best Laptop for 3D Modeling and Rendering in 2022

Windows Laptops for 3D Modeling & Rendering

  1. ASUS ProArt Studiobook One Mobile Workstation Laptop
  2. ASUS ProArt Studiobook One Mobile Workstation Laptop

    Best Premium Windows Laptop for 3D Modeling & Rendering


    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED UX582 Laptop
  4. ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED UX582 Laptop

    Best Windows Laptop Overall for 3D Modeling & Rendering

    

    Buy Now on Amazon
  5. MSI Creator 17 Laptop
  6. MSI Creator 17 Laptop

    Runner Up - Best Windows Laptop Overall for 3D Modeling & Rendering


    Buy Now on Amazon
  7. ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 UX581 Laptop
  8. ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 UX581 Laptop

    Best Value Windows Laptop for 3D Modeling & Rendering

    

    Buy Now on Amazon

Apple macOS Laptops for 3D Modeling & Rendering

  1. 2021 Apple MacBook Pro 16 with M1 Max Chip
  2. 2021 Apple MacBook Pro 16 with M1 Max Chip

    Best Apple MacBook Overall for 3D Modeling & Rendering

    

    Buy Now on Amazon
  3. 2021 Apple MacBook Pro 16 with M1 Pro Chip
  4. 2021 Apple MacBook Pro 16 with M1 Pro Chip

    Best Value Apple MacBook for 3D Modeling & Rendering

    Apple M1 Pro chip with 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD


    Buy Now on Amazon

Best Windows Computers for 3D Modeling and Rendering

Best Premium
ASUS ProArt Studiobook One Mobile Workstation Laptop

Best Premium Windows Laptop for 3D Modeling & Rendering


Buy Now on Amazon

Specifications

Not just the best laptop on the market today for 3D modeling, rendering and even animation, almost certainly the best, and best performing, laptop available for any and all kinds of digital art, graphics, CAD, technical drawing, design and layout, photography and videography, and editing art digitized from traditional media, the Asus ProArt Studiobook One is a truly professional, and truly premium, mobile workstation in every way.

The absolutely stunning, and perfectly hand calibrated, 15.6 inch screen allows you to work with absolute confidence that you are seeing your work with perfect detail, color fidelity and geometry.

But that’s just the start – the Studiobook One has the best and fastest central processor and graphics processor on our list of best laptops for 3D work, tons of memory and hyper-fast SSD storage, not to mention an amazing proprietary titanium cooling system to ensure no problems, high reliability and long product life even while processing at the highest levels.

The Asus ProArt Studiobook One is quite possibly the best laptop on the market today, and is the only one on our list that I can safely say is almost overkill for even the most demanding 3D imaging work.

It will stay with you, though, as 3D modeling software, 3D design and the industry advance, and if you move into animation, advanced user interface work, engineering or scientific imaging processes or whatever your next step is – you can not possibly throw a task at this amazing machine that will even slow it down.

Easily, and by a wide margin, the ASUS ProArt Studiobook One is the best laptop for 3D modeling and rendering on the market today, and the finest Windows laptop for artists available.

Best Windows
ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED UX582 Laptop

Best Windows Laptop Overall for 3D Modeling & Rendering



Buy Now on Amazon

Specifications:

I should say right at the start that this ZenBook Pro Duo is not only one of the sharpest and most beautiful laptops I’ve ever used, with its brilliantly designed dual screen and overall premium look and feel, but is also an almost unbelievable bargain.

Yes, it’s almost 3,500 dollars, but if you’ve been doing some research into top-tier laptops, or understand what you’ll really need for 3D imaging work, you know that this isn’t at all expensive.

But while the ProArt Studiobook, above, is overall a better performer, a better built machine, and has a more accurate, clear and usable display for even the most demanding work, this younger brother is so close as to make the 65 percent lower price really quite astounding.

This Asus Zenbook Pro DuoBook is at the top end of what you would need for any 3D modeling and rendering work. Ultra-fast RAM and SSD make working with even larger and more complex images easy and trouble-free, and the processors make sure that all work is smooth and glitch-free – even the largest rendering jobs.

The screen is so sharp and deep, with startling life and energy, that it not only displays everything with perfect clarity and accurate color, but actually inspires you while you work with its beauty and quality.

And the secondary touchscreen, which can be used as a kind of extended touchpad, a multi-tasking panel or an extension of the main display, is alone almost worth the price of admission, and is a genuinely useful and important innovation.

But while the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo is certainly a slick, clever and incredibly cool laptop, it is also one of the best performers out there – a truly top-level machine.

It is fully up to any 3D imaging and animation work, and even more advanced tasks, with performance to spare, and based on performance, price and, yes, cool factor, is the best laptop overall for 3D modeling and rendering on the market today.

Runner-Up
MSI Creator 17 Laptop

Runner Up - Best Windows Laptop Overall for 3D Modeling & Rendering


Buy Now on Amazon

Specifications:

Between this wonderful all-business MSI Creator and the Asus Duo above it is a bit of a toss-up. The Creator has a bigger, brighter screen, better graphics processing and a larger SSD drive (2 TB!), but the Asus has a slightly faster main processor and the super-cool double screen.

But really they are so close in overall performance and usability for 3D imaging work that either one would be a brilliant choice.

So how to decide? Well, the overall performance – that is, actual practical performance when working on complex graphics or any more advanced task – is almost the same.

The Asus does have a more exciting presentation, with the main touchscreen, secondary screen and tilt keyboard, but the MSI is less distracting in that way, and for some may allow more focus.

It has a really striking, big, extremely bright and accurate display, a more solid and stable feel overall, and just seems more serious somehow, ready to work and almost unwilling to do anything else but work.

The MSI Creator is slightly more expensive too, but for the larger, brighter screen and larger SSD alone the increase is totally justified. It is, like the Asus, a top-tier performer, and one of the most powerful laptops available today.

It is also an equally good value as the Asus, and happily shares the title of best laptop overall for 3D modeling and rendering on the market today.

Best Value
ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 UX581 Laptop

Best Value Windows Laptop for 3D Modeling & Rendering



Buy Now on Amazon

Specifications:

This Asus ZenBook Pro Duo is the only PC with an i7 processor unit I am recommending on my buyer’s guide to best laptops for 3D modeling and rendering, but when you get a good look at the specs of this machine – or if you are lucky enough to sit down and really use it – you will know that this is not just a worthy addition to the list, but a stellar performer in its own right, and especially with advanced tasks and complex graphics.

Yes, sure, if you can afford the difference, you will be better served by the higher end Pro Duo above, which does have a far superior processor and graphics card, as well as more memory in both cases.

As the industry, and the associated software, advance, really any of the above computers will more easily and capably advance with it, and can be thought of as better long-term investments.

And for larger 3D rendering projects, which can take hours or even days, any of the above laptops will certainly be a better choice – more reliable in the work, more reliable over the long term and much faster.

Still, for basic rendering, and for even advanced 3D modeling, or for essentially any other graphics work or computer tasks you may want to do, an Asus ZenBook Pro Duo i7 is fantastic, and among the best laptops out there.

It is a powerful, fast, reliable computer, and the main touchscreen is absolutely fabulous, with incredible resolution, color accuracy, saturation and energy, brightness and overall beauty.

And once you get used to the secondary screen, and really understand how to use it to best advantage, this ZenBook can be a fantastically fun, intuitive and productive computer to use.

The ZenBook Pro Duo i7 laptop is, without question, a very powerful and advanced computer, and has one of the most intelligent and exciting designs of any laptop on the market today.

It is up to the challenge of any 3D modeling work, and is at least adequate for even larger and more complex rendering work – if not up to the level of the other Windows PCs on this list.

It is a great machine and a great choice at its lower price point, and the best value Windows laptop for 3D modeling and rendering on the market today.

Best Apple Laptops for 3D Modeling and Rendering

My Favorite
2021 Apple MacBook Pro 16 with M1 Max Chip

Best Apple MacBook Overall for 3D Modeling & Rendering



Buy Now on Amazon

Specifications:

2021 Apple MacBook Pro 16 with M1 Pro Chip

Best Value Apple MacBook for 3D Modeling & Rendering

Apple M1 Pro chip with 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD


Buy Now on Amazon

Specifications:

Artists are often Apple Macintosh users, and some of us have wrongly assumed that somehow even the top-end MacBooks are not quite as fast or powerful as the best Windows laptops.

I’m not sure this has ever really been true, but now, we can say with absolute certainty – and real excitement – that not only is it a misguided assumption, but in fact exactly the opposite is true.

The 2021 MacBook Pro laptops, with the brand new M1 Pro and (especially) M1 Max chips, are so fast in main and graphics processing that not only can they handle the most advanced and power-hungry 3D modeling and rendering processes with ease, they can leave even the best of the best windows machines in the dust doing so!

The M1 Pro processor is twice as fast as the already smoking previous generation M1 processor, and the M1 Max is twice again as fast. And while they can easily outperform even the best i9 chips, there is something perhaps even more important to keep in mind – they keep much, much cooler doing so.

This means less crashes and less internal degradation during those long, long rendering sessions, and in real terms this means more productivity, less frustration and longer computer life.

And we should keep in mind that you also benefit from the absolutely stunning liquid retina display which, it must be said, is so much more beautiful, detailed, deep and realistic than even the best 4K UHD displays in the Windows world, and a great joy for any artist or designer.

Any Windows PC on our list of best laptops for 3D modeling and 3D rendering is more than up to the task, but one can’t help that even those big, expensive, latest and greatest i9 machines are a bit of yesterday’s news, while the MacBook Pro, and its incredible new generation processor, is a computer for the future.

The Apple MacBook Pro with M1 Max chip is the best Apple laptop overall for 3D modeling and rendering, or for any type of high level processing or any artistic or creative work of any kind, and the Apple MacBook Pro with M1 Plus chip is not far behind, and is the best value Apple laptop for 3D modeling and Rendering.

Either one is a stellar machine, and both receive my highest recommendation on all levels!

Bonus: Keep Cool with the Best Laptop Cooling Pads

As if to underline the amount of power it takes to really do especially 3D rendering, I thought it important, in closing, to mention probably the single most important accessory you can possibly get for your new high-end Windows machine – a good and effective laptop fan.

Now you’ll notice I didn’t say “your new high-end machine,” but instead “your new high-end Windows machine.” This isn’t due to some personal preference or prejudice I have for Apple or against Windows, but simply because the newest MacBook Pro computers run substantially cooler than any Windows laptop.

And those top-end Windows laptops really do get hot! Larger and more complex 3D rendering processes can take hours and hours, or sometimes even days and days, even with the most powerful processors and lots of memory, and the whole time your poor little laptop is being pushed to the limit.

This can cause crashes, of course, and this is something you don’t want at all, but especially if you lose hours or days worth of work.

But more importantly, these extended high-power processing sessions can create so much internal heat that they can quite quickly degrade internal components, causing system failures and requiring costly repairs.

So while even the best cooling fans are not expensive, they are incredibly valuable. And the bottom line is that they are easily one of the best and smartest investments you can make.

I will list 4 highly recommended laptop fans here, from most to least expensive:

Thanks so much for reading my latest article – Best Laptops for 3D Modeling and Rendering: An In-Depth Buyer’s Guide –  and please visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for tons of other inspiring ideas, resources, articles, buyer’s guides and a lot more!

Other articles in the Laptops for Artists and Designers series:

Lis cet article en français 🇫🇷 Le meilleur PC portable pour la modélisation et le rendu 3D en 2022

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 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 wake up your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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