When it comes to choosing a laptop for 3D modeling, not all students and professionals take the same approach. Some might want to use the laptop as their main workstation while others may prefer to use it as a secondary computer while relying on their home/studio-based desktop rig for more intensive tasks. Whatever your approach, we’ve covered both sides of the story in this list of 10 best laptops for 3D modeling. Laptop hardware requirements aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution; we’ve focused on maintaining differences in specifications, overall chassis size, upgradability, and price points so that this list appeals to varied requirements.
There’s no denying the fact that 3D modeling is an important segment of digital designing and CAD (computer-aided design). However, the segment itself being broad (in terms of specialization and applications) makes it a must for 3D modeling students as well as professionals to be specific with their computer hardware requirements. If your specialization is engineering/product design-based 3D modeling, you’ll need higher CPU core numbers and RAM for intensive tasks such as performing modal and structural FEAs, assembling multi-parts models, and rendering at max resolutions. If you rely on high-level 3D model production software such as SolidWorks, and Inventor, a CPU with non-multithreaded raw power will be the best bang for your buck.
Minimum requirements for Best Laptops for 3d Modeling
To help you get a good head start on your quest to find the laptop that best suits your 3D modeling requirements, we’ve prepared a minimum hardware configuration specification sheet. We recommend checking this specs sheet prior to exploring the laptop models.
- CPU – Core 15 is the bare minimum. Upgrading your options to core i7 will help you gain the benefit of lag-free performance.
- RAM – 16 GB RAM is a must-have if you regularly work on 3D modeling using various tools.
- GPU – Dedicated GPUs have compatible drivers for a number of CAD software. NVIDIA GPUs have better CUDA processing which many CAD software can benefit from.
- Storage – A minimum of 512 GB SSD storage will help you store all your 3D modeling essential as well as quickly access them. 500 GB or 1 TB HDD storage can suffice for storing your high-sized renders.
- Connectivity – Good connectivity options through ports will help you augment the specific or overall performance of your laptop.
Review of Best Laptops for 3D modelling and Rendering
Eluktronics Pro-X P650HS-G – power knows no boundaries
If there’s a term that would be the best fit for Eluktronics Pro-X P650HS-G, it’s unbounded power. This model, without a doubt, deserves a leading spot in this list of 10 best laptops for 3D modeling with its desktop-class performance that’s second to none. Although primarily focused on gaming, the ultra-powerful hardware configuration of this laptop can double up as a well-suited 3D modeling platform.
Inside the rugged chassis of Eluktronics Pro-X P650HS-G is a 7th generation Intel i7 4 core CPU that operates at a base frequency of 2.8 GHz which is good to go for your parts assembly requirements. The 3.8 GHz overclocking power of the CPU, combined with the beastly NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 GPU, helps you render your 3D models at maxed-out resolutions without breaking a sweat. Model parts assemblies in 3D model production software such as VISICAD and Inventor depend on VRAM (video RAM); the GPU’s 8 GB DDR5 memory ensures that you face no lags when working on 3D models that have multiple and intricate parts. Backing up your requirement for running 3D modeling software, opening multiple files, researching via the web browser, and other types of multitasking sessions is the laptop’s 32 GB DDR4 RAM.
In the storage department, Eluktronics Pro-X P650HS-G sports a 512 GB SSD storage which lets you store and quickly access all your important programs, tools, and files. The myriad connectivity options is another important factor that helps the laptop maintain its ‘desktop-class build’ stature. Three USB 3.0 ports, two USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C ports, two mini display ports, one ethernet port, one HDMI port, one 6-in-1 SD card reader, one headphone jack, one mic jack, and one lineout jack provide connectivity options.
- True desktop-class performance
- Plenty of connectivity options
- Bulky body design
ThinkPad P1 Gen 2 – sleek profile doesn’t necessarily mean less performance
Wouldn’t it be awesome if the evolution of a laptop series just got better in every refresh cycle? If this sounds wishful thinking to you, it’s not, at least not with Lenovo’s ThinkPad series. ThinkPads have been long hailed as one of the powerful laptops available. Lenovo has done a great job of maintaining that reputation with its newer ThinkPads. What’s more interesting to know is new models like the ThinkPad P1 Gen 2 carries the top tier performance DNA of its predecessors while embodying a modern flair.
The powerful hardware configuration of ThinkPad P1 Gen 2 makes for a capable workstation. Its 9th generation Intel i7 6 core processor can handle varied 3D modeling requirements with its 2.60 GHz of base operating speed. The dedicated NVIDIA Quadro T1000 4 GB DDR5 GPU of the laptop helps you work on your 3D model assembling and rendering at high resolutions. The overall performance of the laptop also takes advantage of a 16 GB DDR4 RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. Just like other ThinkPads, this model outperforms many other competitors with plenty of connectivity options. This laptop comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB 3.1 Type A ports, one HDMI port, one ethernet port, one optional Smart Card reader, one SD card reader, and one headphone/microphone jack.
Although ThinkPads models have been the go-to choice for working professionals, they’ve somehow lagged behind in gaining a steady following from the young generations. However, the ThinkPad P1 Gen 2 fills this gap as one of the best laptops for 3D modeling students with its tasteful aesthetics. This model owes it to its thin bezels 15.6 inch full HD display and a sleek and lightweight chassis for its modern flair. With its overall weight averaging at 3.73 pounds, this laptop doesn’t fail to check the list of one of the most lightweight units in the powerful performance category.
- Value for money performance
- Lightweight and portable
- Can run a bit hot at times
MSI GS65 Stealth 483 – performance outweighs price point
Sleek profile is the new cool in the gaming laptop realm. This is, without a doubt, good news for creative students and professionals, including those who are into 3D modeling. Sleek build makes way for mobility and portability, but it can cause thermal management to take a hit. Fortunately, brands like MSI have been able to make the right changes to their existing thermal management systems in order to cope with slimmed out profiles. The brand’s sleek gaming laptop from its popular Stealth series, the GS65 Stealth 483, benefits from the improved thermal management system which includes independent CPU and GPU cooling.
A 9th generation 2.6GHz-churning Intel i7 CPU is where the core strength of MSI GS65 Stealth 483 lies. With its 6 core architecture and overclocking power of 4.5 GHz, the CPU makes this model gain a good spot among some of the best laptops for 3D rendering. From a general point of view, the more cores and multithreading execution of the CPU, the better the 3D model rendering performance you get. Apart from rendering, this laptop also scores good points in 3D model assembly performance with its dedicated NVIDIA GeForce RTX2060 GPU. Also, it’s worth mentioning that no compromises have been made in the RAM and memory department which comprises a 16 GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB SSD storage.
The 15.6 inch ultra-thin bezels display of this laptop works wonders in complementing its full-throttled performance with a stunning refresh rate of 240 Hz. MSI GS65 Stealth 483 does not lag behind in the connectivity department as well. Three USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, one Thunderbolt 3 port, one ethernet port, one HDMI port, and one headphone and mic jack provide connectivity options on this laptop. In case you need to adapt to the evolution of the 3D modeling software/programs you use, the RAM and storage upgradability option of this laptop backs you up.
- Desktop-class performance
- Sleek and lightweight chassis
- Accessing RAM and storage slots requires technical skills
Gigabyte AERO 15 – trimmed-out chassis with non-trimmed performance
Combining heavyweight performance with feature-rich convenience at a not-so-premium price point is quite a bit of a challenge. However, Gigabyte knows how to beat the odds and pull off such an offering; the AERO 15 is a tangible manifestation of this. Buyers get a slew of hardware configuration options when choosing this laptop. This particular model is one of the top-tier choices which you cannot go wrong with.
There are many perks you get as a 3D modeling student/professional for upgrading your option to this particular model, one of the biggest being its 9th generation Intel i7 6 core processor. The multithreaded architecture of the CPU gives it the power to blast through uninterrupted transcoding speeds which is beneficial for rendering high-resolution 3D models at lesser time. Like MSI GS65 Stealth 483, Gigabyte AERO 15 doesn’t fail to give even some of the best laptops for 3D rendering a run for the money. For intensive graphics performance, this laptop leads the pack with its NVIDIA GeForce GTX1660Ti GPU that has 6GB DDR6 dedicated memory. The high 2666 MHz bandwidth of the laptop’s 16 GB DDR4 RAM coupled with 512 GB SSD storage help you make the most out of your productivity.
It’s safe to say that Gigabyte AERO 15 has one of the best-looking displays that gives a strong hint of what modern laptop displays will look like in a couple of years from now. The ultra-thin bezels design perfectly complements the display’s ultra HD resolution with a 240 Hz refresh rate and makes way for an immersive viewing experience. This laptop also adds immense value to your 3D modeling portfolio with its robust suite of connections. Despite its sleek profile, it offers connectivity convenience with three USB 3.1 ports, one USB Type C port, one ethernet port, one HDMI port, one SD card reader, and one headphone jack.
- Good overall performance
- Comfortable keyboard in a sleek build
- Bottom placement of the webcam
Dell XPS 15 – the future of modern computing starts here
Sure, performance highly matters when it comes to getting your work done with proper efficiency. But the way your workstation looks and feels also shapes your overall work experience which, in turn, determines your productivity. In terms of modern and sophisticated aesthetics, the Dell XPS 15 is easily one of the best laptops for CAD software for 3D modeling. The laptop sports a premium look and feel of the likes of MacBooks. But it’s not just the aesthetic appeal that makes the Dell XPS 15 a tough competitor in the premium range segment, the laptop doesn’t leave anything behind when it comes to offering solid overall performance as well.
Dell XPS 15 gets its power from a 9th generation Intel i7 6 core processor that can deliver a peak power of up to 4.5 GHz. Together with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB DDR5 GPU, the CPU helps you get even the most intensive tasks such as building frameworks, assembling model parts, simulating and performing FEAs, and rendering at maxed-out resolutions done without breaking a sweat. Joining the high-performance league of the CPU and GPU is the laptop’s 16 GB DDR4 RAM that backs you up for you are varied multitasking requirements such as using multiple tools while running a 3D modeling software in the background, and opening gazillion tabs in the browser while loading multiple programs. Equally amazing is the laptop’s 1 TB SSD storage which you can use to store all your 3D modeling essentials.
The design language of Dell XPS 15’s 15.6 inch display is similar to that of Gigabyte AERO 15. But despite the ultra-thin bezels design, Dell has managed to cleverly sneak in a webcam on the top bezel. Like the chassis of this laptop, its external connectivity options have been trimmed down. However, the availability of two Thunderbolt 3 ports and one USB Type 3.1 port compensates for the limited port selection. Other ports include one SD card reader and one 3.5 mm combo audio jack.
- Good overclocking performance
- High-quality metal alloy build
- Can catch fingerprints and smudges
2020 Dell G3 3590 – premium performance in a non-premium price point
If you think that getting a gaming-grade performance at a non-premium price tag is impossible, it isn’t as the 2020 Dell G3 3590 makes it all possible. The unadulterated performance that’s bundled in this laptop for intensive gaming also works great for 3D modeling, making it one of the best laptops for AutoCAD, SolidWorks, and VISICAD. If you are willing to get a power-packed performance over a bit of body bulk and weight, there is no reason why you can’t choose the 2020 Dell G3 3590 as your go-to work computer.
2020 Dell G3 3590 packs a 9th generation Intel i7 6 core processor that is based on an ultra-low voltage platform. The ultra-low voltage platform, combined with a 12 threaded processing capability, gives the CPU the power to handle high-resolution and time-taking renders of multi-parts 3D models. The graphics processing power of this model is on par with premium gaming laptops, thanks to its NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB DDR5 GPU. Also, the high bandwidth 16 GB DDR4 RAM of this laptop lets you enjoy uninterrupted multitasking sprees. In the storage department, this laptop sports 256 GB SSD storage and one 1 TB HDD storage.
2020 Dell G3 3590 comes with a good array of ports; the port options include one USB Type C port, one USB 3.1 port, two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, one ethernet port, one SD card reader, and one headphone/mic jack. The 15.6 inch full HD display offers an immersive viewing experience with stunning clarity and color accuracy. One extra perk that you get with this particular model is a 32 GB Snow Bell USB card that comes included.
- Consistent and reliable performance
- Full-sized backlit keyboard
- Not the best build quality
Acer Predator Helios 300 – an unmistakable rugged and feature-packed build
Acer Predator Helios 300 is a strong player in the segment where the 2020 Dell G3 3590 holds a dominating position. The Predator Helios 300 comes with a tad bit of price bump, but along with it comes CPU and GPU performance advantages. The overall feature-packed build of this laptop alone gives you a hint of what you are in for.
Acer Predator Helios 300 is powered by a 9th generation Intel i7 6 core processor. With its 4.5 GHz of overclocking power and simultaneous multi-threaded execution, the CPU can transcode 3D models that are readied as 3D printing files, putting the Predator Helios 300 under the category of some of the best laptops for 3D printing, 3D modeling, and 3D simulation. Further augmenting the overall performance of the CPU is the laptop’s NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU with 6GB of dedicated DDR6 VRAM. In the memory and storage department, a combo of 16 GB DDR4 RAM and 512 GB SSD storage helps you get the best of multitasking, quick loading and booting times, and a good amount of storage capacity. The availability of one extra SSD slot and one hard drive bay eases upgradability.
The overall performance of Acer Predator Helios 300 also benefits from consistency, thanks to the superior cooling system it employs. The 3D Aeroblade metal fans ensure consistency and power-efficient cooling. External connectivity options in this laptop include three USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, one USB Type C Gen 2 port, one ethernet port, one HDMI port, and one headphone/mic jack. The PredatorSense control center of the laptop gives you the option to manually adjust different performance parameters such as overclocking performance, fan speed, and lighting. Completing the feature-packed design of this laptop is its 15.6 inch full HD display that has 144Hz of refresh rate.
- Reliable performance
- Good thermal management
- Weight is a bit on the heavier side
HP Envy 2019 – there’s no stopping to your creativity
There is no denying to the fact that laptops with 17-inch footprint offer a whole different experience in terms of performance and practicality. Sure, they aren’t as portable as 13-inch models, but their larger-sizes chassis opens up more room for performance, better thermal management, and higher-powered battery. HP Envy 2019 is hands down one of the most valuable 17-inch laptops that you can get your hands on as HP has put the laptop’s 17-inch chassis real estate to full use.
HP Envy 2019 gets 1.8 GHz of base processing power from its 10th generation Intel i7 4 core CPU. With the 4.9 GHz of overclocking power of the CPU, this model is well-suited for being one among some of the best laptops for 3D Studio Max, Inventor, Cinema 4D, and other 3D modeling software that support 3D models assemblies of 500 parts or more. Nvidia MX 250 GPU works in conjunction with the CPU to help you benefit from uninterrupted and short 3D model rendering times. The 16 GB DDR4 RAM of this laptop also ensures that all the parts of your 3D models stay in memory so that you don’t have to reload them again. This, in turn, helps you maintain good work productivity.
Given the spacious 17 inch footprint, it’s obvious for 1 TB SSD storage to make its way inside the chassis of this laptop along with an upgradability option. Viewing experience of this laptop 17.3 inch full HD display is on par with top tier desktop displays. The thin bezels sign of the display helps you avoid visual clutters and maintain your work efficiency to the max. The generous port selections in HP Envy 2019 include two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A ports, one USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C port, one HDMI port, one ethernet port, one SD card reader, and one headphone/mic jack.
- Above-average CPU and GPU performance
- Good viewing experience
- Weight is on the heavier side
Razer Blade Pro 17 – zero compromise on performance
Razer Blade laptops have gained quite a bit of good traction in the high-performance territory. Also, Razer Blades are one of the few laptops to offer well-calibrated overall performance in a sleek, future-proof chassis. The Razer Blade Pro 17 is a beefed-up Blade model that makes no compromises when it comes to offering the best-in-class performance. Apart from gaining a strong foothold in the high-performance segment, this laptop also leads the pack with its ultra-modern aesthetic appeal.
Razer Blade Pro 17 gets its top-tier gaming-grade performance from its 9th generation Intel i7 6 core processor and delivers a 2.6 GHz of base power and 4.5 GHz of overclocking power. The NVIDIA GeForce 2060 RTX GPU of this laptop helps you crush GPU-assisted 3D modeling tasks. With 16 GB DDR4 RAM and 512 GB SSD storage of this laptop, intensive multitasking and faster boot-up and loading times aren’t a problem at all. The vapor chamber cooling system of the laptop helps maintain cooler temperatures when the CPU and GPU go override during heavy loads. This way, consistency in performance is maintained.
It’s safe to say that the Razer Blade Pro 17 is future proof in many aspects, one of them being its modern-looking 17.3 inch HD display that has a refresh rate of 144 Hz. Another area where this model comes as a future proof laptop is upgradeability. The laptop features two slotted DIMMs and one vacant M.2 Drive. No compromises have been made in connectivity as one Thunderbolt 3 port, two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, one ethernet port, one SD card reader, and one headphone/microphone provide connectivity options on this laptop.
- Powerful gaming-grade performance
- Sleek chassis with a high-quality build
- Weight is a bit on the heavier side
New MacBook Pro 16 inch – performance knows no bounds
Many would argue that MacBooks aren’t a good choice for 3D modeling. However, that’s not entirely true as 3D modeling software such as AutoCAD, Blender, and Autodesk Maya are perfectly compatible with macOS. If you are an Apple products devotee and want a MacBook even if you need to run Windows for certain 3D modeling-related programs, you do have the option of dual-booting Windows with Parallels 14 or 15. If you do want to get into the macOS territory, you cannot go wrong with the new MacBook Pro 16 inch.
With a 9th generation Intel i7 8 core processor of the laptop, you can fly through high-resolution 3D model rendering tasks at breakneck speeds. Also, the laptop’s AMD Radeon Pro 5500M GPU ensures that you face no lags when assembling multiple parts to your models. The innovative automatic graphics switching to Intel UHD Graphics 630 places this model under the category of some of the best laptops for Sketchup, Autodesk Maya, and other GPU-intensive 3D modeling software. The feature ensures that the power-hungry dedicated GPU doesn’t take a toll on battery backup. 1 TB SSD storage capacity of this laptop makes it a perfect workstation to store all your productions without having to worry about storage insufficiencies.
For external connectivity, the new MacBook Pro 16 inch sports four Thunderbolt 3 USB C ports that offer uncompromised versatility in connectivity. The improved thermal management on this laptop plays a significant role in maintaining consistency in its overall performance. The innovative Touch Bar that is synced with 16 inch Retina display makes the new MacBook Pro 16 inch one of the most utilitarian workstations that you can get your hands on. Also, it goes without saying that the trackpad of this laptop is one of the best in the industry.
- Improved performance
- Premium look and feel
- No USB 2 and 3 Type A ports
1) What laptops are good for 3d modeling
As already mentioned above, choosing a laptop shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. In the context of 3D modeling, if you regularly work on assembling multiple parts to your 3D models, a laptop with a single-threaded CPU performance will be the right choice for you. For 3D model simulation and renders, a laptop with a dedicated GPU will be the best bang for your buck. If your requirements encompass all of the 3D modeling tasks, you can’t go wrong with a laptop that has a top-tier hardware configuration.
2) Do cheap laptops for animation work for 3D modeling?
It’s a fact that laptops that are available in the affordable segment come with low-end hardware configurations. While they can suffice for basic 3D modeling work such as assembling models with fewer parts, they aren’t suitable for high-level/professional-grade 3D modeling work. Whether you are investing in a laptop for learning 3D modeling or professionally working on it, it’s always a good step to keep a medium to high budget and go for a good-specced model.
3) Laptop or desktop for 3D modeling: which is better?
As you would know, the requirements for a computer for 3D modeling are subjective to everybody. While properly-built desktop rigs are affordable and powerful, they are immobile and make you confined to a particular place. On the other hand, laptops come at higher price points but offer the best mobility. Whether you are a student, a working professional, or a freelancer, the benefit of mobility that laptops offer helps you take your 3D modeling technology with you wherever you go.
After you are done choosing the right laptop, it’s important to set it up properly to best address your 3D modeling requirements. From software bundles to add-on accessories such as external GPU, multifunctional keyboard and/or mouse, and USB hub, the way you accessorize your laptop significantly determines the type of performance you’ll benefit from.