Laptops

6 Best Laptops For 3D Modeling: Reviewed & Compared

For those of you who work with 3D design, animation, and rendering, you probably already know the importance of having a high-quality laptop. Not every laptop on the market can handle 3D design software and applications, so choosing the right device takes time, patience, and knowledge of the minimum specs for designing in 3D.

This is one of the most graphically-intensive tasks, and it requires a lot more than just high resolution and fast processing. This guide to the best laptops for 3D modeling takes all of these requirements into consideration.

Image

Product

Processor

RAM

Screen Size

GPU

Battery Life

Check Price

Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop PC,...

Intel Core i7

16GB

15.6”

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060

7 hours

ASUS ROG Zephyrus M Ultra Slim Gaming Laptop,...

Intel Core i7

16GB

15.6”

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070

About 5 hours

New Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 16GB RAM, 1TB...

Intel Core i9

16GB

16”

Intel UHD Graphics 630

11 hours

Lenovo ThinkPad P71 17.3'' Mobile Workstation...

Intel Core i7

16GB (with other options)

17.3”

NVIDIA Quadro M620M

6-7 hours

MSI GT63 TITAN-052 15.6' 120Hz 3ms G-Sync...

Intel Core i7

16GB

15.6” or 17.3”

NVIDIA GeForce GTX1080

4-5 hours

Dell Laptop - 7th Gen Intel Core i5, GTX 1060...

Intel Core i5

8GB

15.6”

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060

6 hours


Why Every 3D Designer Needs a High-Quality Laptop

There are tons of 3D design software options available today, like AutoCAD, 3D Max, and Maya. A laptop that focuses solely on general productivity won’t be able to handle these helpful programs. This is the main reason that 3D designers find it so important to invest in a high-quality laptop.

Modeling and rendering tasks are demanding, not just on the human that’s completing the tasks, but also on the device that’s running them. Without a fast processor and a capable graphics card, your designs will fall short of expectations (if they’re even possible at all).


Buying Guide: Laptop Requirements For 3D Modeling

Laptop Specs & Features

So many 3D designers focus on graphics, resolution, and display quality when choosing a laptop. Although these features are important, they’re not the only thing to consider. These minimum specs for 3D modeling will give you an idea of the type of laptop you should be going for:

Operating Systems:

No matter how strong your opinions are regarding Windows vs. Mac, the truth is that either one is capable of handling 3D modeling. The common assumption is that a Mac is the chosen computer among creative artists, but in all honesty, a high-quality Windows device can be just as good.

Processor:

Running 3D software requires a lot of power, which is why your primary focus should be on laptop processing. A device's processor is the life-blood of the machine, controlling the overall processes and productivity. If you’re going with Intel Core, aim for an i7 CPU, but i5 is also acceptable.

Memory/RAM:

RAM basically controls how well the laptop can multitask. A laptop with low RAM (say 2 or 4GB) is much less capable of multitasking than one with 8 or 16GB. For basic 3D modeling, 8GB RAM is suitable, but for more intensive projects and heavy rendering, you’ll want to go with 16GB.

Storage Drives (HDD/SSD):

In recent years, laptop brands have gravitated from hard drive disk (HDD) storage to solid-state disk (SSD) storage. This is because SSD offers more reliability, more durability, and faster-storing capabilities. Just be sure to choose a laptop with adequate SSD for handling high-volume CAD and 3D modeling files.

Graphics Card/GPU:

The market for laptop graphics is dominated by NVIDIA, mainly because NVIDIA’s Geforce cards seem to be the best available. This is the industry standard, but if you're looking for a certified professional GPU, you might opt for the Quadro M2000M.

Connectivity Quality:

Even if you were just shopping for a general laptop for fun and games, you’d want to pay attention to the quality of the connectivity. This refers to how well a laptop can adjust to the WiFi signal, but it also has to do with features like Bluetooth and connectivity ports - USB, Thunderbolt, HDMI, etc.

Screen Size & Display Quality

The screen size you choose is entirely dependent on your preferences, but a high-quality display with lots of pixels is a must - don’t go below a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. 

Business News says that when choosing a laptop, "the important point is to pick the laptop that looks best to your eyes. It can be highly subjective in terms of color quality, whether an anti-glare tech works for you, and if the size is important.”

Portability

The entire point of investing in a laptop is the added portability of the device; you won’t be strapped down to your home or office like you would with a desktop. But this doesn’t mean that all laptops are portable, per se. If portability is important to you, pay close attention to laptop weight and dimensions.

Upgradability

Some laptops come with optional upgrades that can be done at a later date. If you find that your RAM, memory, or processor’s clock speed is lacking, you might be able to upgrade it. Most 3D designers just buy an entirely new laptop when the time comes, but others prefer to only upgrade the device's features.

HP says that the most common method for upgrading a laptop is to move to an up-to-date operating system. 

“In most cases, you don't need to buy a whole new laptop to get the latest operating system,” says HP. “Yes, more modern laptops come equipped with newer OS, but you can generally install the updated system with minimal effort on your end.”

Battery Reliability

Software like AutoCAD and Houdini can quickly drain a laptop’s battery, but only if the battery isn’t up for the challenge. A lot of laptops feature an impressive 10+ hours of battery life, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find something that keeps you going all day.

Price & Warranty

Laptops for 3D design tend to cost a bit more than your run-of-the-mill laptop used for basic web browsing. It’s still possible to find a budget-friendly device, but generally speaking, there are 3 price ranges for this type of laptop: budget (slightly below $1000), mid-range ($1000 to $2000), and high-end (over $2000).

Whichever price category you fall into, choose something that comes with some sort of protection against common causes of damage (like spills, drops, and overheating). The best protection plan is from Apple, but all reputable brands offer some type of protection or another. 


6 Best Laptops For 3D Modeling Reviewed

1. Acer Predator Helios 300

Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop PC,...
  • 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8750H 6-Core...
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Overclockable...
  • 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen...
  • 16GB DDR4 2666MHz DRAM Memory & 256GB PCIe...

Our Top Pick

Processor

Intel Core i7

RAM

16GB

Screen Size

15.6”

GPU

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060

Battery Life

7 hours

Warranty

1 year

The Predator Helis 300 by Acer is the best of the best when it comes to 3D modeling laptops. Not only is this the best value for money, but the Helios 300 is perfectly capable of handling any 3D design tasks that are thrown your way. 

It’s marketed as a gaming laptop, but as it turns out, gaming laptops are great for artsy applications like 3D modeling, rendering, and animation.

The Helis 300 packs a powerful punch with its 8th generation Intel Core i7 CPU. It runs on the Windows 10 operating system and features the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. The 15.6" screen resolution is perfectly adequate with 1920 x 1080 pixels, and the lifelike visuals allow you to see colors more clearly and graphics more crisply.

One thing 3D designers especially love about the Predator is the easy upgrading process. 

The Predator Brand says that “the compartment doors allow you to upgrade storage and memory as you see fit. Remove the covers and exchange the components for quick & easy upgrades.”

If you notice the laptop slowing down over time or decide that you could benefit from added RAM, just make an upgrade.

The refresh rate is extra fast, and even though this is mostly a benefit to gamers, it’s still a positive feature for 3D design. It refreshes at a rate of 144Hz, which is insanely fast, and it means that the time for frame rendering is significantly shortened. In other words, there's no lag, whether you're creating designs or gaming your heart out.

This is a standout device that offers terrific value, even for nongamers, but there are just a few small drawbacks. First, you’re unlikely to get more than 7 hours of battery life from the Helios 300.

Second, it’s quite bulky, weighing over 5 pounds - you definitely can’t classify it as a slim and sleek device. This lack of portability and mediocre battery lifespan don’t overrule all the positive attributes of this 3D design laptop, though.

Good
  • Fast refresh rate
  • Powerful processing
  • Easy upgrades
  • Solid construction
  • Decent port selection
Bad
  • Average battery life
  • Bulky, heavy design

2. ASUS ROG Zephyrus M

On Sale Today
ASUS ROG Zephyrus M Ultra Slim Gaming Laptop,...
  • Ultra Slim 0.78 Inches gaming laptop with a...
  • 8th Generation 6 Core Intel Core i7 8750H (up...
  • 144Hz refresh rate 15.6" Full-hd IPS-Type...
  • 20% reduced temperature compared to...

Best Laptop for Rendering

Processor

Intel Core i7

RAM

16GB

Screen Size

15.6”

GPU

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070

Battery Life

About 5 hours

Warranty

1 year

Second on our list of 3D design laptops is the ASUS Rog Zephyrus M. Similar to the Helis 300, this one was designed for gamers, but it’s also the best laptop for 3D modeling rendering simulations and gaming. It’s got a lot of the same specifications as the Acer, like an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB storage, and an NVIDIA graphics card.

The main difference between the ASUS and the Acer has to do with cost. Even with a lot of the same features and specs, the Acer is about half the price of the Zephyrus M (which is why it was named as the top pick and the best value for money option).

That one definitely offers better value, but the perk of choosing the ASUS is that the design is a bit less in-your-face. It weighs slightly less and isn’t as bulky, so it’s up to you to decide if that’s worth paying extra for.

This is one of the most sophisticated-looking laptops for 3D rendering, partly because of the brushed aluminum finish and partly because of the ultra-slim design. It still weighs over 5 pounds, but at least it ranks high in the looks department.

The heavy weight is mainly because the Zephyrus M comes with both 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD storage, so you’ll never have to worry about running out of space.

ASUS has taken extra measures to keep this device protected from damage caused by dust and heat. 

The company says that “the patented ADC system actively cleans itself by expelling dust particles and dirt through tunnels, preventing build-up in the thermal fins to increase system stability and lifespan.

Two high-performance, dual-outlet fans blow air through ultraslim fins, while the unique heat-pipe architecture cools the CPU, GPU, and chipset power components independently.”

These protection features help to increase airflow, reduce temperature, and improve overall system stability. The main downside of the fan system is that they produce a noticeable amount of noise, and similar to the Helios 300, this device doesn’t have an impressive battery lifespan by any means.

Good
  • Performs like a high-end laptop
  • Tons of storage
  • Thin compared to similar models
  • Protection from heat and dust
  • Excellent graphics performance
Bad
  • Short battery life
  • Noisy fan system

3. New Apple MacBook Pro

On Sale Today
New Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 16GB RAM, 1TB...
  • Ninth-generation 8-Core Intel Core i9...
  • Stunning 16-inch Retina Display with True...
  • Touch Bar and Touch ID
  • AMD Radeon Pro 5500M Graphics with GDDR6...

Top of the Range

Processor

Intel Core i9

RAM

16GB

Screen Size

16”

GPU

Intel UHD Graphics 630

Battery Life

11 hours

Warranty

1 year (with optional extension)

Unlike the Acer and ASUS, Apple MacBooks aren’t specifically geared towards gamers. These devices are often seen as the leading laptops for all design enthusiasts, and that includes the field of 3D modeling.

The best Apple laptop for rendering, 3D modeling, and animation is the MacBook Pro. This top of the range device will set you back quite a bit in terms of cost, but there are plenty of reasons for this.

First of all, the new MacBook Pro is built with a 9th generation Intel Core i9 processor. That's right; we said i9. While most other models are still using i3, i5, and i7, the MacBook is way ahead of its time with an i9 CPU.

That means the performance is fast and smooth, which in itself makes the high price tag worth it. It has 16GB short-term memory and 1TB long-term storage, so it’s essentially a powerhouse compared to all other 3D design laptops.

The high-quality display is another reason that so many digital artists, graphic designers, and 3D modelers are pulling out their credit cards to buy the new Pro edition. Like all Macs, it’s built with a Retina Display, which basically means an insanely high pixel count.

While many other laptops max out at 1920 x 1080 pixels, this one has a resolution of 3072 x 1920 pixels and displays millions of colors.

The 11-hour battery life is another perk, and this laptop weighs more than a pound less than the Helios 300 or Zephyrus M models.

It comes with extra features like a Touch Bar and Touch ID, ultrafast SSD, speaker system with force-canceling woofers, and a Magic Keyboard for easy typing. To be clear, even though the price is high, the phrase you get what you pay for completely applies to the MacBook Pro.

Apple has some of the best security features on the market, saying that “every MacBook Pro is equipped with the Apple T2 Security Chip - second-generation custom Mac silicon designed to make everything you do even more secure.”

You can also count on the AppleCare protection plan to keep you covered, even for unfortunate accidents like spills and drops.

Good
  • T2 Security Chip
  • High-resolution Retina Display
  • Enhanced audio system
  • Long battery life
  • Most updated CPU
Bad
  • Expensive
  • Screen is too large for some

4. Lenovo ThinkPad P71

Lenovo ThinkPad P71 17.3'' Mobile Workstation...
  • Intel 7th Gen Quad-Core i7-7700HQ 2.80GHz (6M...
  • 17.3" Full HD (FHD 1920x1080) Matte IPS...
  • 16GB RAM, ThinkPad Precision Backlit Keyboard...
  • 500GB HDD + 128GB Solid State Drive (SSD),...

Best Laptop for 3D Rendering & Animation

Processor

Intel Core i7

RAM

16GB (with other options)

Screen Size

17.3”

GPU

NVIDIA Quadro M620M

Battery Life

6-7 hours

Warranty

1 year

The Lenovo ThinkPad is a great option for anyone who’s planning on animating their 3D designs. It has a large 17.3” screen for up-close-and-personal viewing with tons of different configuration options.

Our suggestion is the 16GB RAM and 500GB HDD + 128GB SSD model, but you’ve got plenty of options if you’re looking for more or less storage or a higher/lower RAM value. They even have a P71 with 64GB RAM, perfect if you’re planning on running all of your design software at once.

The main reason that this Lenovo laptop for 3D rendering is best for animation is the integrated graphics card. Although the NVIDIA GeForce GPU is a solid choice, video editing and animation professionals often choose the NVIDIA Quadro GPU instead.

Graphics are a critical component of modern laptops, and this is even more true for 3D rendering and animation experts.

When comparing GeForce to Quadro, Engineering.com says that “GeForce graphics cards are meant for gamers and other consumer users, while Quadro cards are meant for professionals: engineers, designers, 3D animators, and anyone who’s job depends on computer graphics.”

The cost of a laptop with a Quadro GPU is often higher than one with a GeForce, but this is because they’re more geared towards professional applications.

Let’s get back on track with other laptop features of the ThinkPad P71. The display has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which could be a bit better considering the fact that it measures 17.3 inches.

Users do love that there’s a backlit keyboard with a NumberPad and a fingerprint reader, plus there’s plenty of connectivity ports (2 x Thunderbolt 3, 4 x USB 3.0 Type-A, 1 x Docking Connector, 1 x Mini DisplayPort 1.2, 1 x HDMI).

Aside from the average resolution, especially with Webcam, the only other major drawback to the ThinkPad P71 is the overly heavy design. It's a whopping 7.3 pounds, so it won’t be easy to carry around if you plan on designing away from your home or office.

It’s definitely not a travel-friendly laptop, but a lot of users have chosen to overlook the heavy design (mainly because of the Quadro graphics).

Good
  • Professional-grade Quadro GPU
  • Large screen display
  • Tons of port variety
  • Variety of configuration options
  • Decent battery life
Bad
  • Extremely heavy
  • Resolution could be better

5. MSI GT63 TITAN-052

MSI GT63 TITAN-052 15.6" 120Hz 3ms G-Sync...
  • Display: 15.6" Fhd (1920*1080), 120Hz 3ms...
  • Processor: new Intel Core i7-8750h 2.2 -...
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX1080 8G GDDR5X
  • Ram: 16GB (16g*1) DDR4 2666Mhz, 4 Sockets;...

Best Laptop for Video Editing & Rendering

Processor

Intel Core i7

RAM

16GB

Screen Size

15.6” or 17.3”

GPU

NVIDIA GeForce GTX1080

Battery Life

4-5 hours

Warranty

1 year

The MSI GT63 is an excellent option for video editing, and a huge reason for this is that it was designed for the gaming industry. Gamers and video editors look for all the same features in a laptop, like a fast refresh rate and high-end visuals.

The GT63 has both of these - and so much more. It’s built with an 8th generation i7 GPU and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX1080 graphics card that can keep up with all of your video editing needs.

The other features of the MSI laptop include 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD storage plus 1TB HDD, Windows 10 operation, and a 15.6" display with the option for 17.3". On the 15.6" screen, the resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels with a laptop weight of about 6.5 pounds.

Aside from the GeForce GTX1080 graphics card, video editing pros and hobbyists love the audio quality of the GT63.

MSI uses Dynaudio technology, saying that “Dynaudio is the leading producer of hand-crafted high-end loudspeakers created by impassioned music lovers… Dynaudio has no needs for superfluous design or trendy symbols to beautify our speakers. Their mission is to create the best sound possible. This means to reproduce music and sound as close as possible to the natural experience.”

This enhanced audio was initially meant for gamers to enjoy, but video editors can benefit from it just as much.

Another great video editing feature is the connectivity variety; the GT73 comes with 1 SD, 3 USB-3 ports, a Killer LAN, an HDMI, a USB Type-C, a Mini Display, and an AC power port. You definitely won’t be short on options for connecting to your video and audio equipment.

And now for the drawbacks of the GT63. The design can feel bulky and cumbersome, especially if you’re taking the device with you for a day out (or even just moving around the house). The battery life is short, so having access to an outlet is a smart idea.​

Lastly, it’s expensive - nearly in the same price range as the MacBook Pro, and some users feel that the high cost doesn’t justify the value. But the undeniable fact is that this is a great choice for video editing, mainly because of the high-end audio features.

Also Recommended: 6 Best Graphics Cards for Video Editing

Good
  • Anti-glare screen
  • Impressive audio technology
  • Lots of connection options
  • Color Boost technology
  • 6-Core processors
Bad
  • Expensive
  • Short battery life

6. Dell Laptop

Dell Laptop - 7th Gen Intel Core i5, GTX 1060...
  • 7th Generation Intel Core i5-7300HQ Quad Core...
  • 8GB 2400MHz DDR4 up to [32GB], (additional...
  • 128 GB (SSD) Boot + 1 TB 5400RPM SATA (HDD),...
  • Height: .98 inch Width: 15.32 inch, Depth:...

Best Budget Laptop for 3D Modeling

Processor

Intel Core i5

RAM

8GB

Screen Size

15.6”

GPU

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060

Battery Life

6 hours

Warranty

1 year

3D designers on a budget don’t have a lot of options, but there is at least one affordable laptop on the market. Dell offers a quality device that is not only the best PC laptop for 3D modeling but the most affordable one.

The i5 processor is a bit lower than the other 3D modeling laptops we’ve covered, but for the price, it’s hard to beat the 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD storage availability.

It’s built with a GTX 1060 graphics card, which is perfectly adequate for completing a variety of 3D design tasks. It runs on the Windows 10 OS and is built with a well-crafted keyboard, superior connectivity, and next-level graphics. It doesn’t have the same impressive specs as the Helios 300 or the MacBook Pro, but once again, you get what you pay for.

Dell has done what they could to deliver a more immersive sensory experience to users of this device. 

The company says that you’ll be able to “witness everything on screen with stunning clarity and superior color richness thanks to IPS FHD display. Equipped with anti-glare panels to create a wider range of environments.”

The high-end sound quality is a surprising feature for such an affordable laptop. The device is constructed with two front-firing speakers powered by Waves MaxxAudio Pro, so you’ll be able to hear every sound with amazing clarity and definition. It’s conveniently quick with its 2x2 WiFi antennas for improved speed, range, and stability.

The Dell is built with a mono-hinge design for better display positioning, but more importantly, it helps to maximize airflow throughout the device. This feature prevents it from overheating and keeps the system staying cool, no matter how long you spend on your next design project.

It’s not a lightweight device by any means, weighing about 6.3 pounds, and the i5 CPU struggles to keep up with devices built with an i7 or higher. But these are just minor flaws considering the affordability.

Good
  • Best budget option
  • Sleek design
  • Cooling technology
  • Well-crafted keyboard
  • Minimal loading
Bad
  • Lower processor and RAM
  • Heavy

About 3D Modeling & Design Software

There’s no shortage of 3D modeling software available, offering a variety of features and functionalities. 

Creative Bloq says that “when it comes to creating incredible artwork and animation, having the right 3D modeling software for your style, skill level and budget certainly helps.”

One of the most popular among 3D designers is AutoCAD, a tool that helps with commercial computer-aided design and drafting. It's mainly used for 2D and 3D architecture, construction, and manufacturing, and it's prevalent among engineers, graphic designers, and city planners.

Another one is Maya, which is great for modeling projects like texturing, lighting, and rendering. It has tons of advanced features (some of which you may never use), so if you're not familiar with the field, it can quickly become confusing. But if you're well-versed in 3D modeling, this is a must-have tool.

Here are a few more popular design applications for 3D modeling tasks:

  • 3D Max
  • Revit
  • Houdini
  • Modo

Laptop Cleaning, Maintenance & Troubleshooting

One of the main perks of choosing a high-end laptop that's specifically geared towards 3D design is a fast operation.

But failing to clean and maintain your laptop can turn even the fastest device into a slow-moving, frustrating hunk of junk. If you’re experiencing slow operation, it could be due to overloading the storage or failing to clean out the ports and vents.

For troubleshooting a laptop that won’t start, the first step is to check the battery. In many cases, the issue is the battery and not actually the laptop. You can check it by removing it from the device and running the laptop from just the AC power. If this works, then your battery needs replacing. 


People Also Ask (FAQs)

What is 3D rendering?

According to RealSpace, 3D rendering “refers to adapting the likeness of an object in the form of an image. 3D rendering—both technical and artistic—employs the use of 3D software to help create images to help better explain or advertise concepts and designs.”

It’s most commonly used for applications like architecture, real estate, interior design, and product renders.

How much RAM do I need for 3D designing?

Some 3D designers say that 8GB RAM is enough, but it really depends on the intensity of your tasks. If you’re working on heavy-duty projects, you’re better off with 16GB RAM.

Are gaming laptops good for 3D modeling & design projects?

Yes, gaming laptops share a lot of the same characteristics as laptops for 3D design. Both laptop types focus on graphics, fast processing, and memory. If you plan on gaming as soon as you’re finished with a design project, the MSI GT63 Titan is a solid choice.

What are the differences between a budget laptop for 3D modeling and a more expensive device?

The main difference between budget-friendly and high-end laptops for 3D modeling is processing. A top of the range device is likely to have a more up-to-date process, say a 10th generation i7 rather than a 7th generation i5. This can make a huge difference in laptop performance, so if you have the money to spend, it’s recommended that you spend it.

Which is better to use for 3D modeling - desktop, laptop, or tablet?

A lot of designers claim that no device compares to a powerful desktop. Although this may have been the case in the past, today’s laptops rival even the best desktops for 3D modeling. Plus, a laptop offers the convenience of versatility and portability. A tablet is a useful additional tool, but it’s not nearly as powerful as a laptop or desktop.

Should I also buy a 3D printer together with a 3D modeling laptop?

It’s up to you, but if you plan on printing out your designs, the answer is yes. A lot of 3D designers simply create their models for online access, so in this case, having a 3D printer isn’t as crucial.


Conclusion

The Acer Predator Helios 300 ticks all the boxes for the best 3D modeling laptop. It has plenty of RAM, reliable processing performance, and unbeatable value.

Not only is it a great choice for 3D design enthusiasts, but also gamers who are looking to unwind after a long day of designing 3D masterpieces. But for a more high-end laptop, you'll want to go with the newest version of the MacBook Pro.