We spent 80 hours testing out 11 laptops and 6 different manufacturers for this.
It was a tough decision. We decided to shortlist the 5 Best Laptops for Animation.
Editor’s Choice for the best overall laptop for animation goes to the Apple 15.4″ MacBook Pro Laptop. There are two options for this laptop, if you want super sleek animation project work – go for the 2.6Ghz 6-Core with 512Gb SSD.
Also, when we say laptops for animation please note that no laptop is designed specifically for this. But we have selected laptops that are going to run smoothly on animation software like:
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- Autodesk Maya & 3ds Max
- Cinema 4D
- Adobe Animate
If you’re a student on a budget, check out our definitive guide to budget laptops for college students.
Let’s get straight into it…
Best Animation Laptop Comparison
The most recent version of the flagship laptop line up from the folks at Apple, this MacBook Pro offers plenty of power under the hood for graphic designers, web developers, and anyone else looking to take advantage of the next generation integrated graphics card from Intel.
With 16 GB of 1600 MHz DDR3L RAM leading the charge, you’re going to be amazed at just how fast and snappy this laptop feels right out of the box. Pair that with a 256 GB solid-state drive (not expandable) and you’ll be powering up your laptop from a cold start and opening powerhouse applications like Photoshop faster than you can sneeze!
The latest Mac OS, OS X Maverick is already preloaded in you’ll be able to take advantage of the standard fare of Apple applications that have come with most every MacBook and MacBook Pro right from the beginning. Nothing too fancy, but it’s nice to see productivity suites and some pretty reliable photo/video editing programs thrown in for nothing – especially when you’re paying the premium price tag that all Apple MacBook products are going to command.
Battery life on this version of the MacBook Pro has been increased significantly. You’re looking at eight hours of run time off the charger consistently, though if you are plowing through batch edits or working on resource intensive photo/video editing projects you’re likely going to see that runtime slashed in half.
Thankfully, you’ll be able to juice this MacBook Pro back up to 100% in no time at all thanks to the improved magnetic charging capabilities.
As close to a desktop replacement set up as you are going to get from the folks at Apple right now, the top of the line MacBook Pro is a powerhouse tool for serious designers and developers that want to be able to work on something that looks as good as it runs.
When the very first Microsoft Surface products were released just a handful of years ago they were seen as nothing special, a product that didn’t fit a niche, and nothing that the folks at Apple had anything to worry about.
Nothing could be further from the truth today.
The latest version of the Microsoft Surface Pro has just been released and it is an absolute monster when it comes to performance. Featuring an iPad like form factor (with a better screen, most would agree), a kickstand, and one of the best integrated keyboards you’ll find anywhere on the planet, this powerhouse contender has been chewing into Apple market share – and for good reason.
The latest version of Windows, Windows 10, is the brainchild behind this platform but it’s the hardware that really helps this Surface Pro to stand apart from the rest of the pack.
The touchscreen is incredibly responsive and the included Surface Pen is maybe the most useful touchscreen based peripheral we’ve ever seen. The things that you can do with the Surface Pen cannot be replicated on any other device, aside from those using the styluses from the folks at Wacom – a set up that costs thousands and thousands of dollars more than this Surface Pro.
With this model, you get the latest generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of RAM standard, and 256 GB of solid-state storage. You also get 13.5 hours of battery life even when you are flipped to the “high performance” setting, quite literally letting you use this device all day before you need to throw it on the charger at night.
Better looking than any of the other hybrid laptop/tablet devices on the market today – and some would say even better looking than recent Apple product launches – you are going to fall in love with everything Microsoft has been doing with the new Surface Pro.
Dell definitely hit a rough patch for a number of years after being sold by their founder Michael Dell, but now that he has regained ownership of the company that he created in his back bedroom they are on a rocket ship to success.
One of the high-end Dell laptops money can buy right now, but not necessarily available at a price point that will ever threaten to break your bank account, Dell has found a way to shoehorn top-tier components into a sleek and compact 15.6 inch body without adding any extra weight or heft along the way.
Fit and finish, as well as overall aesthetics, was a big problem for Dell devices after Michael Dell left the organization. All of a sudden you have the opportunity to pick between two different extremes – something that looked like an alien civilization dropped it off from the future or something that looked like the beige boxes most of us haven’t seen since the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Today, this Dell Inspiron laptop showcases the new approach that Dell is taking when it comes to their overall aesthetics. Sleek, minimalist, and with a relatively toned down color scheme you will never confuse this for something from Apple or the new devices from Microsoft – but it’s still a nice looking computer.
Graphic designers are going to appreciate the 8 GB of RAM, the hybrid 1.08 TB SSD/HD storage solution, and the availability of an external graphics card from the folks at Nvidia. The GTX 960 has 4 GB of DDR5 under the hood, more than enough to tackle any project photo and video artists are looking to take on.
The Acer Predator laptop is a finely tuned piece of technology, a hot rod in the laptop gaming space, as well as a fantastic desktop replacement laptop for graphic designers and graphic artists that need the extra “juice” that this computer brings to the table.
Right out of the box, you’re going to be confronted with very modern aesthetics with this gaming laptop – aesthetics that don’t necessarily belong in the board room, but aren’t going to look at all out of place amongst a bunch of designers or developers.
Under the hood, this Predator gaming laptop more than lives up to its namesake. You’re looking at the latest generation Intel Core i7 processor running at 2.8 GHz with Turbo boost technology that can bump that up to 3.8 GHz. The site from that “brain” of this computer, you’re also going to be able to get your hands on an external Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card that will be able to handle anything and everything you throw at this bad boy.
Photoshop with a million and one plugins and macros won’t even skip a beat when you fire it up, mostly because this computer has been designed to run the latest generation video games at blazing speeds. It has more than enough horsepower to handle anything you might need to tackle as a graphic artist.
Keeping the computer running smoothly is 16 GB of DDR4 RAM that has been perfectly made it to a 256 GB solid-state drive. That’s a lot of memory to handle multitasking and multi threaded applications, and a solid-state hard drive large enough to handle all of your application needs without running out of room.
Of course, the Predator also includes a 2.5 inch chassis compartment that can be used to accept a whole host of different accessories – including another graphics card (running in SLI) or the addition of extra storage space with a solid-state or traditional hard drive.
It doesn’t get a lot more flexible than this!
Compared to the Acer Predator we mentioned above this computer looks positively docile, but don’t be fooled and judge this book by its cover.
Sure, it has the same kind of sleek, high-end, and metallic finish you expect from the folks at Apple but you might not be expected the amazing performance this device is capable of when you glance at its price tag.
This looks like the kind of laptop you’d find somebody in IT using but it’s easily one of the fan favorites for serious graphic artists, designers, and animators that want to make sure they have plenty of power “under the hood” to get work done.
The latest version Intel Core i5 processor is on full display here, offering speeds upwards of 3.4 GHz when Turbo mode kicks on. You get 8 GB of dual channel memory (expandable up to 16 GB) as well as a 256 GB solid-state drive that keeps this computer nice and responsive – even when you have a number of resource intensive applications opened up all at the same time.
Solidly built, reliable, and certainly more than capable (thanks to the external MX 150 graphics card built right in) if you are a graphic designer, artist, or animator that needs to get your hands on a quality computer without blowing up your bank account or breaking your budget into tiny little pieces this Acer Aspire computer is going to be right up your alley.
There’s a lot more power under the hood of this computer than you’d expect.