Picking the best laptop for animation doesn't have to be a chore, and in this guide we look at a range of devices that are ideal for animators of all skill levels.
Laptops these days are more powerful than ever, while also remaining thin, light and portable. This means you don't have to stick with a desktop PC. Laptops can free you up to work on your animations pretty much anywhere you like, and that's particularly important these days, with many of us embracing a hybrid style of working, where some days we work in an office or studio, and other days we work from home.
To make picking the best laptop for your animation work as easy as possible, we've put together this list of powerful laptops. Each laptop on this page can run the best animation software like After Effects, Blender, Maya and more.
When looking for a laptop for animation, you'll want a device with a modern processor and plenty of RAM - we recommend 8GB as a minimum, but preferably 16GB or more. If you're going to be working on complex 3D animations, then a laptop with a dedicated graphics card is worth investing in. This can drastically speed up your workflow, but these laptops can often be a lot more expensive.
In this guide we've included traditional laptops, as well as 2-in-1 laptops that can be used like digital canvases, where you can draw on their touchscreens using a stylus. Be sure to also look at our guide to the best laptop for graphic design as well.
The best laptop for animation available now
If you want the absolute best laptop for animation you can buy right now, then you won't get better than the new MacBook Pro 16-inch. Powered by a choice of Apple's new M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, the MacBook Pro can easily handle even the most complex animations.
It doesn't just offer a huge amount of power, but it has one of the best screens you'll see on a laptop, thanks to mini-LED technology, which will make your animations look their very best.
Apple has increased the screen size slightly, and boosted the selection of ports, including HDMI and a memory card slot, so you can easily plug in additional peripherals such as drawing tablets and external monitors, so when you're working at your desk, you'll be completely comfortable.
It is rather large, however, so if you're after something more portable, check out the 14-inch model below.
Also read: MacBook Pro 16-inch review
Just a couple of months ago, Apple launched its new super-charged MacBook Pro, and it is definitely one of the best laptops for animation. It comes with Apple's very own M1 Pro or Max chip, which allows this new MacBook Pro to provide some seriously impressive performance, while keeping its thin and (relatively) light design.
It's hard to overstate the power this little machine holds, so let's just say it can handle your creative animation workflow with ease, and will do so virtually silently. It's also got the longest battery life ever seen in a MacBook. We've tested it ourselves and it's seriously impressive, allowing you to work all day and still have battery life left. This means it's a great choice for animators who often travel a lot. If you'd like something a little bigger to work on, then the 16-inch model above is a great alternative.
Want to know more? Read our in-depth Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) review.
The Gigabyte Aero 17 (2021) is one of the most powerful laptops money can buy right now, which makes it an excellent choice for animators. Not only does it pack some of the best mobile tech around right now, but it comes with an absolutely stunning display, and plenty of ports.
That 17.3-inch display comes in a 4K resolution, so your work is going to look its very best, and with up to a Core i9 processor and 64GB of RAM, this is an immensely powerful mobile workstation.
There are trade offs, as it's an expensive laptop and battery life isn't great, but if you have the budget and need the power, then this is a brilliant investment. Read our Gigabyte Aero 17 review for more information.
If you need some serious power when animating, and you're doing it professionally, then the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition is the laptop for you. Packed with powerful components from Intel and Nvidia, this is a beast of a laptop that will help speed up your workflow.
As the name suggests, this is a model of the Razer Blade 15 (which is a gaming laptop) that's specifically for professional use. That means it comes with Nvidia's studio drivers. These are been specially made to work with creative apps like Maya, so the laptop works even better when animating on it.
The screen is also gorgeous, with a 4K touchscreen panel that supports 100% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut. It's a very expensive laptop, however, and for many animators it offers a level of performance that they just might not need. In that case, there are more affordable, and more suitable, options below. But, if you need the very best, this is it.
If you're looking for a flexible laptop for doing some animation on, then the Acer Spin 5 is a great choice. It's affordable, especially compared to a lot of the other laptops on this list, but that doesn't mean it skimps on features or performance.
For a start, this is a laptop that can handle pretty much any animation app you rely on (though it'll struggle with complex 3D animations due to its lack of dedicated graphics card), and with a 12 hour battery life, it's a device you can comfortably use for a whole work day.
It's also a 2-in-1 device, which means as well as being a traditional laptop, its screen can flip back, turning it into a tablet-like device. This can be a big boon to productivity, as you can use a stylus to draw on the touchscreen. The screen is also a 3:2 aspect ratio, which actually makes drawing and working on more comfortable, as the screen is taller.
Unlike most other laptops, the Acer Spin 5 comes with a stylus included, which makes it even better value. It's not a cheap stylus either, but a fully-featured one that can really help you with your art and animation.
The Surface Book 3 is a stylish, brilliantly-built laptop for animation. It's got one of the nicest displays you can get on a portable, which means your animations are going to look sublime, and it's a touchscreen as well, which works brilliantly with the Surface Pen stylus - which is sold separately.
It's not just a looker, either. It comes with some incredibly powerful specs, and you can even configure it to come with a discrete GPU, so it can handle 3D animations as well.
It runs Windows 11, so you've got access to the most popular animation suites on the market, and it's thin and light enough to carry around with you with ease.
The Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is another excellent laptop for animation. It's powered by Apple's M1 chip, which is plenty powerful for running any animation apps you rely on. Best of all, it's thin and light enough to be carried around with you, with a battery life that far outlasts many of its competitors.
It has an excellent Retina screen, that is a joy to work on. It has a fanless design, which keeps it thin and light, and also means it's practically silent when in use. This does mean that when under intense loads it won't perform quite as well as the MacBook Pro (which does have fans).
However, for most people this won't be an issue, and the lower price point will make this a much more attractive purchase for animators.
Also read: MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review
The Acer ConceptD 7 is another powerful creative laptop that is a brilliant choice for animating on. It features high-end Nvidia RTX graphics, which makes it an excellent choice for people looking to animate complex 3D scenes.
The Pantone-validated 4K IPS screen is also by far one of the best we've seen in a laptop, which means your animations will look their very best when you're working on them. And all that power will render your work quickly and easily, so you can move on to new projects with ease.
It's expensive, and it's not the thinnest or lightest laptop on this list, but it's well worth investing in if you're looking for a real workhorse to animate on.
The Lenovo ThinkBook 14S Yoga is a solid and affordable convertible that is a great choice for animation. It's got some powerful internals, including an 11th-gen Intel Core processor and Intel Iris Xe graphics, which will handle animation apps with ease.
Best of all, its 2-in-1 design allows you to work on its touchscreen, and the included stylus means sketching is a joy.
It's nice and affordable as well, compared to some of the more expensive laptops on this list, and while the battery life isn't the longest, at around 9 hours, it's still pretty impressive, and should get you through a work day before you need to plug it in to charge.