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The best laptop for animation in 2022

Best laptop for animation - woman at laptop
(Image credit: Oscar Wong on Getty Images)

When choosing the best laptop for animation, you'll need to look for power and a screen large enough to display what you're working on clearly and boldly. Unlike in the past, this doesn't mean you need a bulky, immobile desktop PC. As technology improves, many artists are finding they are well-served by a portable, versatile and powerful laptop.

Modern laptops are more than capable of handling animation tasks, with huge screens hiding inside a compact and portable design. You can even get 2-in-1 models with the power to tackle all your rendering and processing needs. 

Clearly this is all very positive, but it does present a challenge when choosing which is best laptop for animation for your needs. We've selected the following laptops based on our own tests, or on the very good authority of industry experts and our sister sites. You can see how we test laptops for more information. 

Every laptop on this page can run the best animation software, including After Effects, Blender, Maya and more, but will differ in terms of cost, screen size and other important features. If you want something to see to your drawing needs, check out our picks of the best drawing tablets for animation, or alternatively branch out to other creative endeavours with one of the best laptop for graphic design

The best laptop for animation available now

MacBook Pro 16-inch reviewCB

(Image credit: Future)
The best laptop for animation overall

Specifications

CPU: Apple M1 Pro 10-core – M1 Max 10-core
Graphics: Integrated 16-core – 32-core GPU
RAM: Up to 64GB
Screen: 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: Up to 8TB

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely long battery life
+
Plenty of ports

Reasons to avoid

-
On the bigger side

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 when we tested it we found that 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. We found it very comfortable for working at a desk, but it is rather large, so if you're after something more portable, check out the 14-inch model below. See our full MacBook Pro 16-inch review for more details.

MacBook Pro 14-inch in the officeCB endorsed

(Image credit: Future)
The best portable laptop for animators

Specifications

CPU: Apple M1 Pro chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 14-core GPU
RAM: 16GB – 64GB unified memory
Screen: 14.2-inch 3024 x 1964 Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: 512GB – 8TB SSD
Dimensions (H x W x D): 31.26 x 22.12 x 1.55 cm
Weight: 1.6kg (3.5lbs)

Reasons to buy

+
Huge battery life
+
Incredible performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Apple's super-charged MacBook Pro is definitely one of the best laptops for animation. It comes with Apple's very own M1 Pro or Max chip, which allows this MacBook Pro to provide some seriously impressive performance, while keeping its thin and (relatively) light design.

As we outlined in our Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch review, 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.

A photograph of the Razer Blade 17 (2022) on a wooden deskCB endorsed

(Image credit: Future)
A powerful and stylish laptop for animation

Specifications

CPU: 12th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
RAM: 32GB DDR5
Screen: 17.3-inch QHD, 240Hz, G-Sync
Storage: 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly powerful
+
Modern design with great keyboard

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Short battery life

The Razer Blade 17 is a great laptop for animation, combining Razer's well-known build quality with some of the most powerful mobile components money can buy right now. This includes the cutting-edge Intel 12th generation of processors, along with Nvidia's latest Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti laptop GPU.

This is the most powerful GPU you can get in a laptop without spending a seriously huge amount of money, and we found that even the most complicated and detailed 3D animations run brilliantly. You can also add realistic lighting effects with ray tracing, taking your animations to a whole other level.

It's very expensive, but for your money you're getting some of the best mobile tech available. Combined with a great build quality and stunning 17-inch screen, this is a brilliant creative workstation for people who need a lot of power. For people doing 2D animations for the web, however, it may be overkill. Read our Razer Blade 17 review for more information.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) on a wooden table with trans pride flags in the background

(Image credit: Future)
Another winner from Apple

Specifications

CPU: Apple M2 with 8-core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 24GB
Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 display with P3 and True Tone technology
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm

Reasons to buy

+
M2 chip is a brilliant performer
+
Excellent battery life
+
Almost silent in use

Reasons to avoid

-
No new design
-
Still only two Thunderbolt ports

Yes, another MacBook on this list, but the brand-new 13-inch MacBook Pro is a worthy addition. It comes with Apple's new M2 chip, and can be configured with up to 24GB of unified memory, and this means it is an excellent, easily portable, laptop for animation.

It comes with the Touch Bar across the top of the keyboard, giving you quick access to tools and shortcuts, and can dramatically speed up your workflow.

The new MacBook Pro 13-inch also boasts an incredibly long battery life. We've tested it ourselves and it's seriously impressive, allowing you to work all day and still have battery life left. It's not as powerful as the MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch models, but it's more affordable, making it a great purchase for many animators.

Read our MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review for more information.

Surface Laptop 4 on a wooden table in an office

(Image credit: Future)
A great laptop for animation

Specifications

CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 /AMD Ryzen 5 - 7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe / AMD Radeon
RAM: 8GB – 32GB
Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSense (2,256 x 1,504) touch
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable keyboard
+
Beautiful screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Not enough ports
-
Alcantara fabric might get gross over time

If you want a stylish laptop with Apple-like build quality, but don't want to use macOS, then Microsoft's Surface Laptop 4 is a great Windows alternative. While Microsoft may be better known as a software company, it's been putting out some great laptops and this one is thin, light and easily portable. 

We were impressed with the PixelSense touchscreen and it comes with cutting-edge integrated graphics from either Intel or AMD, depending on the configuration you go for. It also has very decent battery life – we found it lasted around 13 hours in our tests.

Read our Surface Laptop 4 review for more details.

Providing great performance, excellent battery life, and a 3:2 HD IPS display, the Acer Spin 5 (2020) is an excellent laptop.

(Image credit: Acer)

06. Acer Spin 5 (2020)

One of the most affordable laptops for animation

Specifications

CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.5" (2256 x 1504) 3:2 touchscreen display
Storage: 256GB – 512GB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic battery life
+
Stylus included

Reasons to avoid

-
3:2 display not ideal for 16:9 video

The Acer Spin 5 is a much more affordable option than most of the other laptops on this list, but it can handle at least occasional animation work very well (it'll struggle with complex 3D animations due to its lack of dedicated graphics card). It's a 2-in-1, which means as well as being a traditional laptop, its screen can flip back, turning it into a tablet-like device. 

We find that this can be a big boon to productivity, as you can use a stylus to draw on the touchscreen. The screen has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which we found comfortable for drawing and other work since it makes the screen taller. Unlike most other laptops, the Acer Spin 5 comes with a stylus included too, which makes it even better value. It's a fully-featured stylus too and can really help you with your art and animation. With a 12-hour battery life, this is a device that should get you through a day too.

Microsoft Surface Book 3

(Image credit: Microsoft)

07. Microsoft Surface Book 3

Another versatile two-in-one

Specifications

CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G7 – i7-1065G7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with Max-Q Design
RAM: 8GB – 32GB 3733Mhz LPDDR4x
Screen: 13.5-inch 3000 x 2000 (267 PPI) – 15-inch 3240 x 2160 (260 PPI) PixelSense Display
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB PCIe SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Beautiful design
+
Gorgeous screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey
-
Not the most powerful

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 to handle even 3D animations. It runs Windows 11, so you've got access to the most popular animation suites on the market, and we found this laptop to be thin and light enough to carry around with you with ease. 

The 2020 MacBook Air with M1 chip on a desk.

(Image credit: Future)
Another great laptop for animation from Apple

Specifications

CPU: Apple M1
Graphics: Integrated 7-core /8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch (diagonal) 2,560 x 1,600 LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.61cm; W x D x H)

Reasons to buy

+
Thin and light
+
Silent

Reasons to avoid

-
Fanless design could impact performance

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, as we found in our tests, outlasts many of its competitors (though not the MacBook Pros).

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. See our MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review for more details.

Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel Pro

(Image credit: Future)
A powerful dual-hinged MacBook alternative for animators

Specifications

CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 – 2080
RAM: 16GB – 32GB
Screen: 15.6" 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) 16:9 IPS
Storage: 1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Very powerful
+
Good selection of ports
+
Fantastic 4K screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Quite bulky

The Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel Pro 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, and when we reviewed it we found animations look fantastic. 

We found that the power and speed of this laptop also ensures smooth rendering. 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. See our Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel Pro review for more.

the Lenovo ThinkBook 14S Yoga on white background

(Image credit: Lenovo)

10. Lenovo ThinkBook 14S Yoga

An excellent 2-in-1 for animation

Specifications

CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: up to 24 GB DDR4 3200MHz
Screen: 14.0” FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, glossy, touchscreen, 300 nits
Storage: up to 1TB PCIe SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Great performance
+
Garaged stylus 

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life isn't the best

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.

How do I choose a laptop for animation?

Choosing the best laptop for animation for you will depend upon what level of experience you have, your budget, and how demanding your work will be. Generally speaking, you’ll need a device with a modern processor and plenty of RAM. As a minimum, we recommend 8GB, but realistically you should aim for 16GB or more.

With the increasing popularity of GPU render engines like Redshift and Octane, you should also think about whether you will be using your GPU or CPU to render animations. 

For CPU rendering, you specifically want to look for a high clock speed so the machine can animate in real time and handle the complex calculations needed to render animations.

For more complex 3D animations, you’re probably better off using your GPU, and so we’d suggest looking at laptops with a dedicated graphics card - especially if you’re going to be attempting final-quality rendering. While these will inevitably be more expensive, the drastic impact it will have on the speed of your workflow is well worth the investment.

However, the current cost of living increase makes this kind of investment a lot harder to swallow - which is why we’ve made sure to include laptops at a variety of price points in our guide that are still more than capable to handle your animation needs.

Are gaming laptops good for animation?

Gaming laptops are some of the most powerful machines on the market, and increasingly creatives are finding themselves investing in an RGB-clad laptop to handle their processing and rendering needs - we've even included  a laptop from Razer, famed for its gaming hardware, in our selection of the best laptops for animation above. Most of the best gaming laptops will be perfectly capable of meeting an animator's needs. 

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Matt has been a technology journalist for well over a decade, writing for publications such as T3, MacFormat and Creative Bloq. He's a senior editor of TechRadar, Creative Bloq's sister site, where he can be found writing about and reviewing laptops, computers, monitors and more. He often writes for Creative Bloq, helping creatives find their perfect laptop or PC.

With contributions from