Animation, whether 2D or 3D, is a challenging task and requires particular expertise. Besides expertise, if your machine is unsuitable, you won’t be able to produce jaw-dropping results.
For a smooth 3D Animation experience, there are two basic requirements. The first is a laptop with robust components, and the other is a stunning screen.
Likewise, MacBook Pro has become the number one choice for 3D Animation because of a powerful 10-core M1 Chip supported by up to 32 cores GPU, with a 16.2 inches blazing display powered by Liquid Retina XDR technology. The unified memory architecture embeds the RAM and SSD storage, providing the best possible speed.
Before listing why MacBook Pro aces 3D animation tasks, I’d like you to read what we look for in a suitable laptop.
How to Choose a Laptop for 3D Animation?
You won’t be able to create animations if you don’t have a powerful laptop. While selecting a machine for 3D animations, below are some factors you should consider, depending on your goal and budget.
CPU is the most important of all factors because while creating motion pictures, the laptop goes through rendering, which requires a lot of your system resources. Your computer is supposed to run heavy animation software like Maya, Blender, VFX, and more.
Therefore, for 3D animations, you should always look for at least 4 – 5 GHz clock speed with as many cores as possible. If you are a Windows user, you should have at least a Core i7 or Core i9 from the 11th generation or AMD Ryzen 7 or 9 or, the latest generation H. I recommend Apple users opt for laptops powered by M1 or M2 processors.
A good CPU accompanied by a powerful GPU is a complete package for 3D animations. The primary purpose of GPU for 3D animations comes into play while rendering. Rendering is handled by GPU instead of CPU, thus enabling your CPU to process at its maximum capacity. I recommend using Nvidia RTX 2050 to 3050Ti, or Nvidia Quadro, as both somehow work the same. It will also work if you find any other graphics card option with 8+ GB of VRAM.
3. Screen Size and Resolution.
While creating 3D animations on Maya, Blender, and VFX, if your screen’s refresh doesn’t match the software, you won’t have a smooth FPS experience. Additionally, your Animation won’t render fast enough. Screen size is also crucial because the screen size, frame rate, and color give you the desired results. I recommend selecting a screen size of 15”, keeping in view the portability. The minimum resolution of the screen should be FHD (1920 x 1080p); however, 4K is ideal for this task. You can also use an additional external screen for better visibility.
4. RAM & Storage.
The RAM size impacts your laptop’s performance while working on long animations, complex scenes, high-resolution meshes, and multiple characters. If your RAM isn’t sufficient, your system will swap active working files to disk, which is where your PC will halt. I suggest you have 16 GB of RAM if you are a beginner to medium-level animator and 32GB if you are an advanced-level animator. I recommend you avoid using little RAM for 3D or even 2D animations.
Never opt for HDD when creating 3D animations. HDDs are very slow and will seriously affect your performance. Always go for SSDs, as almost all new laptops are, by default, equipped with SSDs. SSDs are pretty fast in loading your operating system, open and close applications quickly, and you can load and save your scenes in the blink of an eye. I recommend an SSD storage of at least 500 GB for beginners and 1TB for intermediate to advanced animators.
The primary goal of choosing a laptop over a desktop is portability. You wouldn’t want a PC for 3D animations that are always connected to the socket. As you might have noticed, I recommend you select a laptop that gives you a backup of at least 3-5 hours. You might compromise on portability, but it is mandatory to have a better battery backup.
Some Best Laptops For 3D Animations:
Here in the list below, we have gathered a few top-performing laptops for 3D animations:
5 Reasons Macbook Pro is Best for 3D Animations
MacBook Pro is a performance powerhouse, especially for graphics and designing-related tasks. Its CPU is powerful. Its screen is insanely good, has a mind-blowing battery backup, and has a wide variety of ROM storage options. Let us dive deep into details and decide how MacBook Pro is better than any other laptop for 3D animations and graphics-intensive tasks.
1. Powerful CPU.
Apple’s M1 Max chip with 10 core CPU and up to 32-core GPU powers the Pro 16-inch. It’s an SoC (System on Chip) setup powered by a 16-core Neural Engine and 400 GB/s memory bandwidth. It is packed with Hardware-accelerated H.264 and HEVC with both ProRes and ProRes RAW, powered by two ProRes encoding and two decoding engines. Unlike Intel’s Core i9- 12900HK, M1 Pro uses a unified memory architecture that significantly reduces the latency with memory sharing and is more power efficient.
M1 Pro has powerful integrated graphics that consume less power than discrete graphics units. To match the graphics of the M1 Pro chip, you will need at least an RTX 3070 Ti graphics card along with a Core i9 – 12900HK, which are both expensive and power-intensive. I recommend you use the Pro variant powered by an M1 Pro chip for 3D Animation, as rendering is speedy.
2. Battery Backup.
In the same way, the M1 Pro 16-inch is equipped with a 100W Lithium-Polymer battery, offering a great backup of up to 14 hours of web browsing and around 17 hours of movie playback. It also supports fast charging with a 140W power adaptor and will charge the crucial 50% within 30 minutes.
While testing its battery with heavy software like Maya, Blender, and VFX, I found that it lasted almost 4 hours on intensive rendering. This performance is astonishing compared to its competitors, like the Asus Vivobook 15 and Razor Blade 15, which offer a battery life of 7- 8 hours on routine tasks.
3. Lucid Screen.
A 16.2 inches Liquid Retina XDR display integrated into M1 Pro is simply the best display you can find on any laptop. With an adaptive refresh rate of 120Hz powered by ProMotion technology, it has a resolution of 3456 x 2234 pixels. The bright screen is mandatory for 3D Animation.
The Pro’s M1 variant has 1000 nits of brightness sustained in fullscreen and around 1600 nits with HDR content only, making it a winner. The screen size is another reason to opt for the M1 Pro version. The bigger the screen, the better it is for animation. That is why I prefer the older version of the MacBook over the latest version, which has a screen size of only 13 inches. It has a 4K display compared to FHD integrated into competitors like Asus ROG Strix with 1920 x 1080p.
4. Considerable Storage.
In addition to CPU, battery, and screen, having sufficient storage will make a massive difference in your productivity. The basic variant has an SSD of 512GB, which is fine for beginner-level animators. But here is the exciting part, you can increase the SSD storage by opting for a different variant at a fraction of the price, and you won’t need to use any external hard drive. This variant can support up to an impressive 8TB SSD storage, unlike its competitors, including Asus ROG Strix, that only support 2 additional SSDs.
5. Convenience and Portability.
Most laptops with high-end specifications for high graphics are usually bulky. The laptops in question are gaming laptops, making them heavy and massive. Comparing the weight of Pro with Asus ROG, there is a reasonable difference; Pro weighed 2.1 kg while Asus weighed 2.3 kg. There is also a difference in the dimensions of both machines. Asus is 14.17” x 10.83” while M1 Pro is 14.01” x 9.77”. Considering the sizes of both devices, MacBook Pro M1 wins the race.
Other Reviews About Apple MacBooks:
Below we have reviewed MacBooks for other types of tasks like gaming, programming, engineering tasks, etc:
Why is MacBook Pro M1 better than Pro M2 for 3D Animation?
Although M2 is the latest release, the M1 is a year old with a comparatively older chip. There are still obvious reasons that make the M1 a better choice for 3D Animation.
A Bigger Screen
By comparison, MacBook Pro, released in 2022, has the M2 chip, the most powerful silicon chip Apple has produced. But the screen size is only 13 inches. The one released in 2021 with an M1 chip has a bigger screen: 16.2 inches. The former is packed with a Liquid Retina XDR display, while the latest has a simple Retina display with IPS technology. There is a significant difference in screen resolution, with M1 having a resolution of 3456 x 2234 pixels and M2 having a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels. Hence, I recommend the M1 Pro 16-inch version.
For 3D Animation, hefty storage is mandatory as the output file is quite extensive. The 13-inch version powered by M2 has only three variants, 4 with a maximum capacity of 2TBs. In contrast, the M1 2021 version has 5 variants with a maximum capacity of 8TB. This is a significant difference; I will always pick the one with better storage.
Better Media Engine
The M1 Pro 2021 is way ahead of M2 Pro 2022, keeping in view the specifications of both models. Both these models feature Hardware-accelerated H.264, HEVC (high-efficiency video coding), support both ProRes and ProRes RAW, and a single Video decode engine. The former has two video encoding engines and two ProRes encoding and decoding engines, while the latter has a single ProRes encoding and decoding engine. It makes the M1 a better choice and my preference while working on 3D Animations.
In terms of ports, the M2 has only two thunderbolt ports. In this contrast, the M1 2021 version has three thunderbolt ports, an HDMI port, and an SDXC port. Adding an HDMI port is a fantastic feature because, sometimes, you may need to add an external display. It is suitable for soothing your eyes and not letting them strain by continuous work. Also, it will give you better visibility of 3D animations by clearly seeing every detail.
Conclusion: Is MacBook Pro Good for 3D Animation?
MacBook Pro is packed with excellent features, including a powerful CPU, integrated GPU, unified RAM within the CPU, a bigger and better screen in terms of resolution, and a high-power battery. All these specifications make this machine an ideal one for 3D animations.
Its portability is another feature of the capability as it is highly portable with the minimum possible weight. I have used it with heavy software and found it works seamlessly, even with heavy rendering.