Looking for the best laptops for 3D modeling? You’re in the right place. 3D modeling and rendering are some of the most complex tasks you can put a laptop through. Big 3D projects require a lot of processing power for calculations, a world-class GPU for renders, and a good enough cooling system to maintain steady temperatures. And most laptops are simply not built to handle that kind of stress for a prolonged period. Luckily, there’s an emerging market of PCs that are. We’ll be looking at 5 of them in this review.
In a rush, here is our top pick, the Asus Zenbook Duo 15. It was built from the ground up to deliver professional desktop performance and cooling while still being light enough to fit in most backpacks. The combination of an 11th Gen Core i7 with the RTX 3080 makes sure you’re covered for all your graphical and power needs. And the dual-screen and ergo lift give you the real estate to work and maintain reasonable temperature through intense rendering sessions.
A good graphics card and a powerful CPU are not the only features that make a great 3D modeling pc. Many newcomers to 3D have made the common mistake of choosing the computer with the highest and running with them. In this post, we’ll be helping you save money and avoid that problem by recommending 5 of the best laptops for 3D modeling solely based on their specs and performance.
We’ll also attach a helpful guide that breaks down our process and show you what to look for in your ideal machine.
5 of the Best Laptops for Modeling
This fancy-looking Laptop is the proud successor of the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo line, Asus’s flagship creator laptop series. It comes with all of the modern specifications you’d expect from a top-of-the-line productivity machine and so much more.
- 2.4 GHz Intel Core i10 10870H
- Nvidia RTX 3070 with 8GB of DRAM
- 16GB of GDDR4 RAM
- 1TB NMe SSD
- 15.6-inch Screen 4K OLED Screen with Screen Pad Plus
The Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 15 OLED Laptops delivers some of the best performance you’ll find on a Windows Laptop anywhere. The 8-core 10th gen i7 processor is blisteringly fast, delivering a double-digit upgrade from the previous generation. And the RTX 3080 GPU brings mobile users a taste of the performance desktop users have come to expect and love.
The 32GB of Ram and 1TB of SSD provide plenty of storage and memory to handle your more demanding workload. However, the Dual screen technology is why we dubbed the Zenbook Pro Duo 2 one of the Best Laptops for 3D modeling. The extra 4k ergo-lifted matte screen takes take multi-tasking to a whole new level. You can have a second app running on the smaller screen or use it to view an essential docker. The versatility also transfers to other creative fields. Programmers, Video editors, and even writers can benefit from the added verticality.
- Amazing performance
- Improved cooling
- Better battery life than the previous generation
- 4K OLED Matte Screen
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 might look like a Gaming PC, but underneath all of the RGB and casing is top-of-the-line hardware with liquid metal cooling technology.
- Ryzen 9 5900HX with 4.5 GHz
- Nvidia RTX 3080 with 16GB VRAM
- 32GB RAM
- 1TB NVMe SSD
- 17.3 inch Quad HD display with 165 Hz 3ms response time
- ROG Thermal Grizzly Liquid Metal Thermal Compound
If you don’t mind the heavy ASUS branding and lights, the ROG Strix makes a compelling 3D modeling and rendering machine. The Ryzen 9 5900HX is more than a match for the current generation Sky lake processor and will let you blitz through the most demanding software like Maya, AutoCAD, and Blender. When it’s time for rendering, the 16GB RTX 3080 won’t let you down either. Rendering engines like Redshift will jump to life with the VRAM and processing power. While your computer renders, you can rely on ROG’s intelligent thermal cooling system with Grizzly liquid metal to keep it cool
1TB of NVMe SSD is plenty enough to store most of your work, and you can always expand later with the 2 extra slots available. You can also upgrade the RAM up to 64 GB.
The Ultra-fast refresh rate screen will carry you quickly through your modeling, editing, and animation work, allowing you to work without delays. And after office hours, you can game or consume content on this mobile workstation.
- Powerful Specs and Performance
- Liquid cooling technology
- High refresh FHD screen
- No Webcam
If you’re a multi-disciplinary creative with interests in 3D modeling, animation, video editing, and photo editing, then you’ll find no better companion than the GIGABYTE AERO 17 Creator Laptop. It has a powerful processor, powerful graphics card, and a 4K HDR screen for all of your more visual work.
- 11th Gen Intel Core i7–11800H
- Nvidia RTX 3070 with 8GB of VRAM
- 16GB of RAM
- 1 TB NVMe SSD
- 17.3 inch 4K IPS Anti-glare LCD and Pantone Validated Color accuracy
The AERO 17 creative Laptop is a great all-around choice for professionals who want the most color-accurate visuals for their end renders and other visually demanding projects.
The 17.3-inch 4K factory-calibrated display takes center stage with its impressive color accuracy and HDR support. It’s one of the most vibrant screens you’ll find for the price, and that’s why it’s an absolute joy to work within Maya, Zbrush, AutoCAD, Dimension, and Cinema4K.
Creators can work with confidence and higher fidelity, and the powerful hardware keeps up with the increased workload. 16 of RAM gives you a solid base for multi-tasking, and 8GB of VRAM will give you substantially better render times than most laptop processors.
The AERO can support up to 64 GB of RAM, and it comes with an extra 2.5 inch bay for mounting additional storage if you ever need it.
- Color accurate 4k screen
- Powerful graphics card and processor
- Upgradable internals
The MSI GL66 Gaming Laptop is a great choice for modelers looking for a utilitarian PC. It comes with a powerful 11th generation Intel processor, a 3070 GPU if you want to go the rendering engine route, and a decent FHD screen for navigation and multitasking.
- 11th Gen Intel core i7
- 16GB of Ram
- 512 NVMe SSD
- Nvidia RTX 3070 with 8GB VRAM
- 15.6 FHD 1080p Display
The MSI GL66 is a 3D modeling Laptop in all but name. The heart of the PC is the powerful 11th Gen core i7– 11800H, which will carry you through most 3D Modelling software at a brisk pace. The RTX 3070 graphics card gives you much-needed flexibility, allowing you to use a render engine instead of relying solely on your CPU.
Storage and RAM are a bit on the smaller side, but they are both easily upgradable, and the base options are very fast. They’ll be enough to see you through smaller projects.
The MSI GL66 runs fairly cool. It features MSI New Cooler Boost Technology which combines a new heat sink design, 2×64 blade fans, and the MSI afterburner software to regulate performance and temperatures on the PC.
The Laptop panel is also decently color accurate, and you can calibrate it after purchase to get the best visual performance for your work. You’ll also be able to take advantage of the 144Hz display too while you zip around your modeling software.
Whether you’re a professional looking for an upgrade or a beginner in 3D modeling, the MSI GL66 is a great choice.
- Great value for performance
- High-refresh screen
- Innovative cooling technology
The Apple Macbook Pro 14-Inch Laptops is one of the best 3D modeling machines for artists and professionals who work with macOS. The Macbook Pro has never been faster with the new Apple M1 Pro chip, and it delivers the seamless and professional experience Mac users have come to expect from the brand.
- MI Pro chip with a 10-core CPU and 16-core GPU
- 16GB of Ram
- 12-hour battery life
- 1TB storage
Apple’s new M1 chips blow their previous generation 13-inch Macbooks out of the water, delivering up 4 times the performance. Combine that with the new Liquid Retina XDR Display with ProMotion and HDR support, and you have one of the best 3D modeling experiences on any 14-inch computer ever. You’ll be able to handle technical scenes and complex animation, high-resolution textures, and work with the most demanding 3D software from anywhere you want.
The Macbook Pro 14 ships with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, so you should have plenty of space for multitasking and storing projects. However, we recommend opting for the higher storage option if you work with larger files.
Aside from the performance bump, the new refresh also re-introduces Magsafe charging and comes with an SD card for quick photo and video uploads. However, the most exciting feature of the new Macbook Pro 14-inch is the battery life. It has a 70 Whr Cell, and with Apple’s engineering and optimizations, it can last up to 12 hours of casual use. On serious load, expect up to 2 hours of screen time.
- Great performance
- New Pro display
- Long battery life
- Mag-safe support
- Thin and light form factor
What to look for when shopping for a 3D modeling PC
Before you start compiling your shortlist for the best laptops for 3d modeling, it’s important to recognize that 3D modeling is just one part of a multi-layered cake. Rendering is another important layer, and so is sculpting, compositing, video editing, and so much more. At the very least, if you do no other visually creative work, you will need to render what you’ve modeled.
With that in mind, keep an eye out for these features when you’re shopping for the best laptops for 3D modeling.
A powerful CPU is the heart of your 3D modeling machine and will see the most use during your workflow.
There are two important things to keep in mind when choosing a CPU for your 3D modeling computer.
- 3D modeling is a single-core intensive process
- 3D rendering relies on multiple cores for quick renders
Finding the right processor means striking a balance between choosing a computer with a high single-core speed and multiple cores. Most modern i5 and i7 Intel processors manage this just fine. They have a decent single-core score and can turbo up to nearly double the speed when the other cores are not active. And during renders, they maintain their base speed and work within their temperature limits.
Technically, you could forgo GPUs altogether in the rendering process, but thanks to modern render engines like Redshift and Blender’s new inbuilt render engines, you can easily achieve up to 2 times CPU render speed with a powerful GPU. This gives you a wider margin for error and time to iterate and improve upon the final product before turning it in.
We recommend the current generations of Nvidia RTX graphics cards (RTX 3050 – 3080) and first-gen cards (RTX 2050- 2080).
When you model, you deal with thousands of Polygons and other advanced tools. Having more RAM gives you more flexibility and room to work on higher-poly count projects.
We recommend 16 GB of RAM as a start. 32GB of RAM will see you through most projects, and 64 GB of RAM would be better if you work on complex scenes with detailed characters, thousands of objects, and textures.
You need good and fast storage on your 3D modeling and rendering laptop for a few reasons:
Storing project files
- Faster app load times and operating systems
- Loading and storing textures, assets, and finished renders
We recommend at least 512 NVMe PCIe 4.0 storage. You can upgrade the card and add more storage over time.
A good monitor screen is essential to getting the best out of your hardware. A poorly calibrated, inaccurate screen can ruin weeks of work if you don’t take care. For the best modeling experience, we recommend at least an FHD screen with decent color accuracy and a 60Hz refresh rate. Buy a laptop with a 2K or 4K display if it’s within budget.
So, which 3D modeling Laptop will you pick? All five options have their unique strength and appeal, and it can be hard to decide which one is best for you. Let our handy guide help you if you’re still undecided but remember to choose based on your personal needs and budget. If you do complex scenes and need the extra screen real-estate, then the Zen Duo Pro might make the most sense. On the flip side, if you’re an all-around creator, something less specific like the AERO 17 might serve you better.
These are our top picks to help you narrow your options even further:
- Best Laptop for 3D modeling – Asus Zeboook Pro Duo 15 OLED Laptop
- Best for 3D Modelling and Animation – GIGABYTE AERO 17 Creator Laptop
- Best 3D Modelling Laptop for MacOS Users – Apple Macbook Pro 14-Inch Laptop