Best Laptop for Animation

Animators make our hearts happy. Just look at the latest animated films. But it’s not easy: they (or probably, you) use complex programs and tools to design beautiful, crazy, literally out-of-this-world art for the rest of us to enjoy. You need the right tools to make your job easier.

We’ve created the ultimate guide to the best laptop for animation, detailing all the best qualities, what factors you need to consider, and what animators need in a laptop.

The Best Laptop for Processing Speed

A processor is a chip, usually with multiple cores, located on the motherboard that powers the computer. Each core has a clock speed, and (you guessed it), the higher, the better. Animators work with huge files and massive projects. They need mighty processors with a high clock speed that can run more than one program with ease.

There are multiple indicators of a good processor (amount of cores, amount of threads, clock speed, etc.), but the most important factor for animators in this case is clock speed. If you don’t have a high enough clock speed, lag, and latency are inevitable. Choose a workstation with a high Base-Clock and Boost-Clock.

The Lenovo Legion Series has a clock speed of up to 4.4 GHz and is ideal for animators looking for a snappy laptop.

The Best Laptop for Speedy RAM

Programs that you install on your computer use up RAM, and need an ample amount of disk space to operate efficiently. CAD and other 3D animation software, such as Maya and Blender, will lag if you don’t have enough RAM.

The best laptops for animation have an excellent processor with 4.0 GHz or more of clock speed, and, at the very least, 8 GB of RAM, (though 16 GB + of RAM is preferred). If they frequently use multiple animation programs at once, most advanced animators prefer to have at least 32 GB of RAM to ensure tasks run smoothly.

The Best Laptop for Stacks of Storage

Animators need workstations with incomparable amounts of storage. While it isn’t as important as before, because now you can save your files on the internet (AKA cloud storage), animation takes up a lot of space with bulky files and huge projects.

SSDs (solid state drives) are recommended over traditional HDDs (hard disk drives) because they are lighter, more reliable, and read and write data faster. Some music animators choose to go with a dual drive, which is both an SSD and HDD, to boost speed and performance. As far as storage goes, the recommended amount is at least 256 GB SSD, though many professionals like the dual drive option with a 1 TB HDD and 256 GB SSD.

The Best Laptop with Ports to Spare

You need enough ports for all your toys. Accessory tools such as graphics tablets, monitors, monitor calibration devices, and many others vary on a scale from absolutely necessary to nice to have, but it’s vital to have the ports for these tools.

The best laptop for animation has all the basic ports, plus the extras you’ll need for animation, with ports to spare.

Graphics Cards – NBD (no big deal)?

Animation doesn’t use many graphical calculations since animators work with a rough viewport preview rather than a final rendering, which means the graphics card, or GPU (graphics processing unit), isn’t as significant as you might think.

There are two options for graphics: a dedicated (or discrete) GPU, which is independent from the processor, or an integrated GPU, which is powered by the processor.

Today’s integrated GPUs are much more powerful than before and can hold their own with the best of them. If you’re not working with GPU Render Engines, which use your graphics card instead of your CPU, you’ll be more than fine with an integrated GPU.

Size Matters

When working with animation, enough room to run multiple programs and do multiple tasks at the same time is vital. This is referred to as screen real estate. Most animators like to use at least a 15-17” HD screen to ensure enough room for efficient multitasking.

You also need a beautiful display that can reproduce a vast spectrum of colors. The best laptop for animation has a display that accurately reproduces colors and contrasts. If not, your creations may not be represented correctly.

Lenovo’s Legion 5 Series uses FHD displays that boast up to 240Hz refresh rates, 500 nits brightness, and 100% sRGB that animators love. And of course, all Legion Series displays are 15 -17”, another plus for animators.

What about battery life?

The average battery life is anywhere from 1-5 hours, but there are plenty of laptops out there that last well over 10 hours. The intense programs you use will drain your battery quickly, so it’s important to make sure you get at least 7 hours. You want a laptop for a reason; you don’t want to be plugged in all day.

Factors to Consider

If you’re an animator, there are a few crucial features you need to consider when choosing your ideal workstation.

Processor – The best processors for animators provide more than 4.0 GHz of computing power (clock speed). The amount of cores aren’t as important to animators because the types of computational tasks they are running are different. A single or duo core processor with 4.0 GHz clock speed will work great for animation.

RAM – Cloud storage makes RAM a little less important, but programs still rely on RAM for memory, so it’s important to have enough to support your compute-intensive programs. For animation, the very minimum you need is 8 GB, however 16 + GB is standard, and 32 GB for those who work with highly complex scenes or use multiple animation programs at once.

Storage (SSD, HDD, and External drives) – The best laptop for animation has at least 256 GB SSD (solid state drive), as traditional spinning HDDs (hard disk drives) are heavier and have a slower boot-up speed. Most animators prefer a 512 GB + SSD, or even a dual drive 256 GB SSD and 1 TB HDD to improve speed and performance.

Display – An ideal display for animators has a large, clear, high-resolution display, that reproduces colors and contrasts correctly, with enough screen real estate to open windows side-by-side and multitask efficiently (15-17”).

Graphics – It’s not always necessary for animators to use a dedicated (discrete) graphics card. Animation doesn’t use graphical tasks (unless you utilize GPU Rendering), so you can save money by buying a laptop with an integrated GPU. Today’s integrated GPUs have incredible amounts of power, so you won’t have to compromise.

Plenty of accessory ports – The best laptop for animation has enough ports to accommodate all your necessary accessories, like graphics tablets, wide gamut monitors, a wireless mouse, and the other fun tools you use daily.

Wireless/Wi-Fi – In 2021, everyone needs lightning-fast Wi-Fi. With appointments, meetings, uploading your projects, and everything in between, you’re bound to need fast internet. The new IEEE standard is 802.11ac (5 GHz, up to 1300 Mbps), which is almost three times the previous standard (802.11n, up to 450 Mbps).

Long-lasting battery – Demanding programs take a lot of battery life, so don’t bother with a laptop with a battery life of anything less than 7 hours. Most professional animators prefer 10+ hours of battery life.

Lightweight but sturdy – You bought a laptop for a reason, so you want it to be lightweight, but you still need it to withstand a few bangs and bumps. Make sure the workstation you’re considering won’t break the first time it falls off your recliner.

Webcam – A great webcam is crucial for any workstation in 2021. Online meetings, appointments, consultations, and more all require a high-definition webcam that provides a clear, crisp video. A good microphone is great too, but most people prefer to use headsets.

What Do Animators Need in a Laptop?

The two most important features of a laptop for animators are a fast processor and a lot of RAM, but don’t forget about these others.

The best laptop for animation has everything you need for inspired creativity on-the-go:

  • CPUs with a high Base-clock and Boost-clock that can run even the most hardcore animation programs effortlessly
  • Lightning-fast Wi-Fi to upload files - 802.11ac (5 GHz, up to 1300 Mbps) is the new IEEE standard, which is almost three times the previous standard
  • At least 512 GB SSD (solid state drive) storage, though many professionally prefer a dual drive with 256 GB SSD and 1 TB HDD
  • Integrated GPU will work fine, as long as the integrated GPU is a newer version, unless you are doing GPU Rendering. If so, go with a dedicated GPU
  • Large, high-resolution display that reproduces accurate colors and contrasts, 15-17”
  • Lightweight yet durable to withstand bumps and bangs
  • Plenty of accessory ports for smart devices
  • Long-lasting battery of at least 7+ hours

Yes, animators do a lot for all of us. The profession has come a long way, and so have the tools.

With a powerful processor, loads of RAM, and all the ports you could want for your accessories, the Lenovo Legion Series has everything you need for animation in a sturdy, highly efficient laptop.

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