The Best Laptop for 3D Software

The best laptop for 3D software is the one that suits the needs of the 3D software, workflow and your budget.

A typical laptop for 3D software and 3D animation will cost at least $1,500 / £1,200. Blender, Lumion, Twinmotion, Vray GPU any other GPU render engine will rely on a GPU. For video rendering (GPU rendering) nVidia is preffered especially for laptops. Video Cards as RTX 4050 or higher with at least 6 GB RAM to handle large scenes more than 1 GB.

For architecture students where most of the work is focused on CAD and BIM, more powerful CPU as i9-13950HX vPro® or Ryzen 7 or 9 is a must along side the GPU. In every situation to run 3ds max and other 3D software you need at least 16 to 32 GB of RAM memory to be able to run smoothly the 3D software.

It’s important to note that with in the GPU category nVidia is the better choice for laptops, in the CPU AMD series outperform by price and speed 95% of the Intel models.

For more complex work with 3Ds MAX, Maya, Houdini, After Effects or Davinci the ram must be at least 32 GB Ram.

Either way for your main OS drive (C:\) minimum requirement is 1 TB m.2 or SSD and an additional SSD drive at at least 4 to 10 TB to accommodate all textures; .exr; .obj etc. and projects files.
Ending up more towards the mid-range pricing at $2,000 / £1,600 and above.

When choosing a laptop, it helps to consider the system requirements and recommendations for the specific 3D modeling, animation, architecture, and interior design software you plan to use.

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Disclosure: Last information update on 02/01/2024, we’ve got the most up-to-date insights and recommendations to elevate your 3D computing experience. Whether you’re a gamer, designer, or entertainment enthusiast, these 3D laptops are sure to take your digital adventures to the next level.

As experienced 3D artists and animators at TALLBOX, we rigorously test the latest laptops to find the top recommendations for running demanding creative software and tools smoothly on the go when we are on a holiday.

In this blog post we have listed some of the average cost-effective and high-end price laptops you can buy as a student or freelancer.

If you wonder how you can generate student income with your laptop capapble of runing 3D software like 3Ds Max, Blender, Maya, SketchUP and more, you can learn how to do virtual staging on a laptop. Visit our 12 on-point HOW TO tutorials for virtual staging software

Why invest in a laptop for 3D?

A key component in creating stunning 3D architectural visualizations is having powerful photorealistic rendering software. 

Applications like Autodesk 3ds Max, Lumion, and Chaos V-Ray or Chaos Corona provide sophisticated rendering capabilities to transform 3D models into lifelike scenes with accurate lighting, shadows, textures, and materials.

Running photorealistic architectural rendering software smoothly requires laptops with high-end specs.

You’ll want a potent processor like an Intel Core i7 or i9 or Ryzen 5 or 7 at least for complex renders. Dedicated GPUs are a must – high-tier but old NVIDIA GeForce or new RTX cards handle graphical tasks efficiently.

16GB RAM is an absolute minimum or higher if you aim to work on scene larger than 500mb and with texture size more than 2k resolution. Storage is also vital – SSDs of 1TB or more for the OS, programs, and a separate drive for project files.

When investing in a laptop for 3D architectural visualization, be sure it has the horsepower to handle resource-intensive photorealistic rendering software.

This will maximize efficiency and allow you to fully utilize these powerful programs to create pro-grade visualizations showcasing your designs.

Best 3d Workstation laptop

The MSI Katana 15 and ASUS ROG Strix G16 (2023) are both excellent laptops mid-range choice for architects and designers. Despite their label “gaming laptops” the MSI Katana 15 and ASUS ROG Strix G16 (2023)’s capabilities match those of mid-range workstation. Ideal for BIM modelling of complex and large scenes, 3D printing or animations and CPU and GPU real-time rendering. The RTX will be able to handle any amount of CAD work.

Both comes with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB with the latest 13th Gen Intel Core i9 Core i9-13900H or 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13980HX in the case of ROG Strix G16; running at 4.7Ghz (MSI Katana) and 5.6 Ghz (Asus ROG) with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 GPU.

In any of their variations these laptops can smoothly handle detailed architectural models and walkthroughs.

If you are a newbie, first year architecture student or with limited budget for starters the 16GB and 1TB SSD will allow you to work on small to mid-range scenes (interiors, house with a few rooms and furniture objects, or a building) below 2GB size and under 4K textures.

If your budget is on the mid-low end go for the MSI Katana 15 64GB version, will allow you import complex BIM building models from Archicad or Revit with 8k texture resolution and materials into Chaos Vantage, Twinmotion or Lumion with no slowdowns. If you have, a slightly higher budget the ASUS ROG Strix G16 (2023) is good laptop for rendering and at the same time CAD mobile-workstation. The ASUS ROG Strix G16 currently has a version with RTX 4070 and 16GB but for an additional ~ $200 you can upgrade to 64GB. In case you go for the 16GB ASUS ROG Strix G16, still it will be a great machine to handle well graphic design workloads, the same as MSI 2023 Pulse 15.

It is recommended to work on at least 32GB if not 64GB if you are working with with large vector files on graphic design projects, the more RAM on your laptop the larger the vector files you can load.

Panning, zooming and walking through the photorealistic renderings will be fluid thanks to the dedicated RTX 4070.

The Katana 15’s and ROG’s 144Hz 1080p FHD (Katana) and WUXGA 165Hz 1200p (ROG) displays rendered all the details in my architectural visualizations tests sharply. The matte anti-glare screen is also great for long Twinmotion modeling sessions. It has very good color accuracy that shows materials and textures accurately.

Architects, designers and students who need powerful mobile workstation for smooth CAD work and rendering, the MSI is a good mid-range capable gaming laptop. It provides excellent value and performance for the price.

Best Laptop for Twinmotion

Twinmotion is a real-time visualization and immersive 3D architectural modeling software. Architecture students and architects often use laptops like the Acer ConceptD for optimal Twinmotion performance. Other good options are:

  • MSI WS75 with Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 GPU
  • Gigabyte Aero 15 with RTX 2070 GPU
  • MSI GS75 NVIDIA RTX 2060 16GB 17.3″
  • Acer ConceptD 7 Laptop | CN715-73G

Best Laptop for Lumion

Lumion Rendering Software renders realistic 3D models, videos and scenes. Recommended laptops include:

  • Asus ProArt StudioBook Pro 17 with Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 GPU
  • MSI Creator 15 with RTX 2060 GPU
  • Acer ConceptD 7 with 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU

Best Laptop for AutoCAD

For 2D drafting and 3D modeling in AutoCAD, options like these excel:

  • Lenovo ThinkPad P53 with Quadro RTX 5000 GPU
  • Precision 7780 Workstation with Nvidia RTX 2000 Ata GPU
  • Asus ProArt StudioBook Pro 15 with Quadro RTX 3000 GPU

Best Laptop for 3ds Max + AUTOCAD

3ds Max is the most used 3D software in architectural visualization, the app excels at 3D modeling, animation, simulations and rendering. Top laptop picks include:

  • MSI WS65 9TM-1079 (1TB NVME SSD, i9-9880H, RTX Quadro 5000)
  • Gigabyte AERO 15″ 4K UHD AMOLED i7 RTX 3070 Gaming Laptop
  • Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 15 with RTX 3070 GPU

Best Laptop for Maya

Maya is a popular amongst students working on 3D animation and VFX effects. Great laptops for Maya are:

  • Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition with Quadro RTX 5000 GPU
  • MSI P65 Creator with Quadro RTX 2060 GPU
  • Dell XPS 17 with RTX 3060

Best Laptop for Houdini

Houdini is used for complex VFX and rendering. Laptops capable to handle software like Houdini are:

  • ASUS ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED H7600ZX-L2023W with Quadro RTX 6000 GPU
  • Razer Blade 15 GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU and 12th Gen I7
  • PC Specialist Gm 71DM, 17″ AMD Ryzen 5900HX, 32GB RAM

Best Laptop for Interior Design Software

Interior designers mostly use laptops to work on interior design programs like Chief Architect, AutoCAD, and SketchUp benefit from laptops such as:

  • Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 15 with GeForce RTX 3070 GPU
  • HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 with Quadro P1000 GPU
  • Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel with GeForce RTX 2080 GPU

Best Laptop for Architecture Students

A student computer for architecture should have a powerful CPU, lots of RAM (16GB+), a dedicated graphics card, a large high resolution display, plenty of storage (512GB+ SSD), long battery life, and ports for connecting external monitors and graphics tablets.
Particularly laptops, plays a crucial role in modern architectural education, a good student laptop has:

  • Portability – Architecture students need to be able to carry their work with them to class, studio, construction site visits, etc. Laptops allow them to access their files, BIM and CAD software, and tools wherever they need them.
  • Processing Power – Architectural design software taught at school is BIM and CAD, on side students dab in 3Ds Max, Maya, Blender, Cinema4D – all very resource intensive applications. An architecture laptop should provide the computing power needed to run CAD programs, rendering engines, VR/AR tools smoothly. Desktops can’t be easily transported.
  • Collaboration – With wireless connectivity, laptops facilitate collaboration. Students can share and work on files together in studio or cloud-based tools. This is key for group projects.
  • Versatility – Laptops allow students to write papers, research, present work, all on one device. Tablets and 2-in-1s add ability to sketch and hand draft.
  • Industry Relevance – Being proficient on the same mobile workstations as working architects use is an asset. Experience with professional tools on laptops builds important skills.
  • Creativity – The ability to experiment, design, and create from anywhere at anytime fuels creative potential. Laptops enable this flexible, mobile workflow.

The most important specs for laptop for architecture work today are a fast processor and RAM. With fast CPU and RAM students can work on assignments, draw 2D and 3D plans, model buildings, apply textures, test lighting during the day, and use an external GPU at night to render in case they use GPU render and not CPU.

Architecture students need to be able to carry their work with them to class, studio, construction site visits, etc. Laptops allow them to access their files, BIM and CAD software, and tools wherever they need them.

For architecture students using software like ArchiCad, Revit, CAD, Sketchup, recommended laptops are:

  • Microsoft Surface Book 3 with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU
  • Asus Zenbook 14 with GeForce MX350 GPU
  • Dell XPS 15 with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 GPU

Best Laptops for 3D Design SOFTWARE, Animation, and Architecture Software

Choosing the right laptop is crucial for 3D designers, animators, architects, and students using demanding software like AutoCAD, Revit, 3ds Max, Maya, Blender and more. You need sufficient power and performance to handle complex 3D rendering, animation, CAD work, and multitasking.

This buying guide will help you find your ideal laptop for 3D work based on your budget and needs.

What to Expect When Buying a Laptop for 3D Work

Best laptops for 3D design and animation in 2024.
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When investing in a laptop for 3D modeling, rendering, and architecture software, here’s what you can expect:

  • Powerful CPU and GPU: Look for laptops with the latest Intel Core i5/i7/i9 or AMD Ryzen 5/7/9 processors. For GPU, aim for at least an NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti or AMD Radeon RX 5600M. Higher-end RTX/Quadro graphics are ideal for complex 3D, animation, CAD work.
  • Abundant RAM: Get at least 16GB RAM, but 32GB or even 64GB is better for smooth multitasking and rendering.
  • Large Storage: 512GB SSD is good, but larger 1TB+ SSD options are preferable for large project files.
  • Vivid Display: Look for a 1080p or 4K display with accurate color reproduction, high brightness, and high refresh rate. A larger 15 to 17-inch screen useful.
  • Latest Ports: Modern ports like Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, HDMI, SD card reader, etc. allow you to connect accessories.
  • Good Battery Life: Expect at least 5-6 hours of battery for productivity on the go.
A laptop, optimized for architectural design and animation in 2023, sits on top of a blueprint.
A laptop, optimized for architectural design and animation in 2023, sits on top of a blueprint.

What Not to Expect in an Affordable 3D Laptop

Here are a few compromises you may face if your budget is limited:

  • Basic Integrated GPU: Laptops under $800 may only offer integrated graphics like Intel UHD instead of a dedicated GPU. This will limit 3D performance.
  • Lower RAM: Budget options start with just 8GB RAM. While workable, 16GB or more is ideal.
  • Smaller Screens: Cheaper laptops often have smaller 13-14 inch displays. Prioritize at least a 15-inch screen for 3D work.
  • Shorter Battery Life: Inexpensive laptops may last only 3-4 hours on a charge. Look for at least 5+ hours of runtime.
  • Older Ports: Cheaper models may lack newer USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports.

The 7 Best Laptops for 3D Modeling and Rendering

For Architects: Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel Pro

  • Powerful Intel Xeon CPU and NVIDIA RTX 4000 GPU
  • 15.6″ Pantone Validated 4K IPS touch display
  • Ezel hinge for multiple viewing angles
  • 32GB RAM and 2TB storage

This capable Acer laptop is ideal for architects using Autodesk Revit, Trimble Sketchup, and other demanding BIM and 3D modeling software. The hinged Ezel screen allows easy collaboration and sharing.

For Animation: Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition

  • NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 GPU perfect for 3D animation
  • Brilliant 4K OLED touch display
  • Slim, premium CNC-milled aluminum chassis
  • 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD storage
  • 100% DCI-P3 color accurate display

Razer’s thin and powerful Blade 15 laptop excels at 3D animation with Maya, Blender, Cinema 4D and more. OLED display produces vivid, true-to-life colors for animators.

A black chair with a laptop and a plant on a desk, showcasing the best laptops for 3D design in 2023.
A black chair with a laptop and a plant on a desk, showcasing the best laptops for 3D design in 2023.

For 3D Modeling: MSI WS65 10TM-219

  • Quadro RTX 4000 GPU renders complex 3D scenes fast
  • Bright 4K IPS-level display shows fine details
  • Ultra-light 4.36 lbs magnesium alloy chassis
  • 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD storage
  • ISV certifications for SolidWorks, AutoCAD, etc.

The lightweight yet mighty MSI WS65 is an excellent choice for 3D modelers using Blender, ZBrush, SolidWorks and other sculpting/CAD software. Portable to carry around on-the-go.

For Rendering: Gigabyte Aero 15 Classic-XA

  • GeForce RTX 2070 GPU produces fast photorealistic renders
  • Vivid 4K 144Hz AMOLED display
  • Up to 64GB RAM for giant scene rendering
  • Generous connectivity like Thunderbolt 3
  • Unique NumberPad touchpad boosts productivity

With an AMOLED screen, high-end GPU, and lots of memory, the Gigabyte Aero 15 Classic is built for quick, seamless renders in applications like V-Ray, KeyShot, and more.

Best Budget: Asus Zenbook 15

  • Good performance from Core i7 CPU and GTX 1650 GPU
  • 512GB SSD and 16GB RAM easily handles 3D work
  • 100% sRGB accurate Full HD IPS display
  • MIL-STD 810G military-grade durability
  • Compact and fairly affordable under $1000

For budget-conscious 3D artists and students, the Asus Zenbook 15 delivers reliable performance without breaking the bank.

Best laptop with 32gb ram for graphic design

For budget-conscious graphics design and art students or freelancers, the i7-13620H equpped MSI’s Newest 2023 Pulse 15 Gaming Laptop 15.6″ with QHD 165 Hz Display is something to consider for all graphic designers with mid-range budget.

The MSI Pulse 15 is a gaming laptop but is more than good for 2D and 3D graphic design or photo editing work because of the FHD DCI-P3 display and its Intel RTX video card and its 32 GB of RAM. With the newest 2023 MSI Pulse 15 edition the cooling is improved by a margin and it’s only 5.07 Pounds.

Some key aspects that make MSI 2023 Pulse 15 suitable for vector work and graphic design:

  • The 32GB DDR5 RAM allows working with multiple applications and large files smoothly. This amount of ram RAM reduces lag when working with graphics programs like Affinity Designer, CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator, Krita and so on. The MSI 2023 Pulse 15 supports up-to 64 GB DDR5 RAM 
  • The dedicated NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 GPU handles graphics workloads very well. The RTX cuda cores enables the fast rendering and effects even in the latest Photoshop Beta update, where some user reported older cards are struggling.
  • The 15.6″ 2.5 ms response rate 144Hz FHD display covers the impressive 100% of the DCI-P3 color spectrum, allowing for vivid and accurate color reproduction in all pre-print production workflows. If the 15 inch screen is not enough to handle your workflow, you can easily extend the screen space with a larger monitor, the RTX will easily handle a second monitor with the HDMI 2.1 port, providing good screen real estate for any of your graphic design work.
  • Cooler Boost 5 cooling system ensures optimal thermal performance when graphics workload is high during design work. Despite the Cooler Boost 5 is good solution for prolonged rendering, it’s always good to consider buying a cooling pad with active fans, not passive.
  • As most modern laptops the MSI does not come with Optical Drive, but with the Wi-FI 6 also known as 802.11ax module you can achieve up to 9.6 Gbps (~1200 mb/s) download or upload speed theoretically. In practical home setups with Wi-Fi 6 routers, download speeds over Wi-Fi 6 are typically in the range of 600 Mbps to 1.2 Gbps, under good conditions, provided you use a Wi-Fi 6E router too you will be able to achieve , you can download 10 GB file under a minute (53.33 seconds) in the best case scenario and conditions or 5-6 minutes (300-360 seconds).

All in all according to TALLBOX’s tests the MSI 2023 Newest Pulse 15 Gaming Laptop is good capable laptop for graphic design with 32 GB of ram in the budget range.

Best Portability: HP ZBook 14u G6

A person using animation software on the best laptop for 3D design in 2023, with a phone and a cup of coffee.
A person using animation software on the best laptop for 3D design in 2023, with a phone and a cup of coffee.
  • Light 2.99 lbs weight and durable build
  • Vivid 600 nit 14-inch HP DreamColor display
  • NVIDIA Quadro P620 GPU renders on the go
  • Up to 32GB RAM, 4TB dual SSD storage
  • Lots of security features like Sure Start, TPM

The super portable HP ZBook 14u G6 lets 3D professionals stay productive anywhere. Vibrant 14-inch screen and capable Quadro GPU packed into just 2.99 lbs.

Best Battery Life: LG Gram 17

  • Incredible 17+ hours battery life
  • Quadro RTX 2050 GPU and Core i7 CPU
  • Slim and lightweight for a 17-inch laptop
  • 17-inch WQXGA 16:10 aspect ratio screen
  • 1TB NVMe SSD storage, 16GB RAM

LG’s Gram 17 laptop stands out with amazing battery runtime despite its large screen. Fast performance in an ultralight chassis.

Key Factors for Choosing the Best 3D Laptop

Display

A group of architecture students using the best laptops for 3D design to examine an animated drawing.
A group of architecture students using the best laptops for 3D design to examine an animated drawing.

A good display is essential for 3D work. Look for:

  • Resolution: 1080p for 3D/CAD, 4K for animation/video
  • Color accuracy: 100% sRGB or ideally 100% Adobe RGB coverage
  • Brightness: At least 300 nits, 500+ ideal
  • Screen size: 15 to 17-inch recommended

Best laptop CPU and GPU for 3D

For best performance in 3D software:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 or i9 H-series, or Xeon, AMD Ryzen 7/9
  • GPU: NVIDIA Quadro or RTX, AMD Radeon Pro or RX Vega

How to select the best laptop processor

To select the best suitable laptop processor processor involves considering several important factors. The main factor is driven by the 80-20 rule. The 80-20 rule means that if in 80% of the time you do 3D modelling, animation rendering, CAD work or a bit of everything (3D generalist rendering) and 20% of the time you focus on other thigns like gaming, webrowsing of else. Focus on a processor which will meet the demand covering the 80% of your day-to-day needs.

For example Core i9 14900KS will be ideal for 3D modeling while Ryzen 9 7950X or Ryzen 9 7950X3D for animation.

To ensure that the processor meets your needs in terms of performance, efficiency, and compatibility look at online reviews of laptop processors who passed the Cinebench with high scores.

Cinebench is a standardized benchmarking tool used to evaluate the performance and stability of CPU and GPU hardware for content creation and visual effects workloads.

Specifically, Cinebench stresses the processor and graphics card by rendering a complex 3D scene and evaluating how quickly it can complete the task. It measures both single and multi-threaded CPU performance as it would relate to 3D modeling, animation, video editing, and similar tasks.

Cinebench gives content creators a reliable way to test real-world performance when evaluating new hardware purchases or comparing benchmark numbers after overclocking or optimizing existing systems.

Higher Cinebench scores indicate better performance. As it accurately reflects performance in actual media creation apps like Cinema 4D, Blender, Maya etc., the Cinebench results help predict how efficient the system can handle professional design and editing workflows.

Beyond benchmark numbers, stability during prolonged 100% CPU+GPU loads is also assessed. Performance consistency during the render loop stresses reveals thermal design efficacy and component stability too.

For example in Nanoreview’s chart Core i9 14900KS and Ryzen 9 7950X have difference of 5,993 scores for the benefit of the Intel. The Apple M1 Ultra’s is 40th in the chart, since these processors are mostly optimized for Adobe and specifically video editing but not 3D rendering or modeling work, with makes Apple not ideal 3D laptops.

This does not mean the Ryzen 9 will not be efficient for your specifc tasks, but it does give a general understanding of the CPU’s performance.

Here are the most important factors to consider:

Processor Type and Brand: The two main processor manufacturers for laptops are Intel and AMD. Each offers different series of processors (e.g., Intel Core i3, i5, i7, i9, and AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7, 9). Each of them have a specific laptop series designed to either yeld performance or save as much as possible the battery for the sake of the performance, similar as ultrabooks; thin, delicate and beautiful and very efficing but will not be a 3D capable laptop.

The choice depends on your specific needs – Intel processors are traditionally known for better single-thread performance, meaning a Intel CPU is best for laptops for 3D modeling and texturing, general 3D laptop and CAD workstation. 3D modeling and CAD applications mostly rely on single-thread operations for hte most part, while multy-thread participating only for specific operations as boolean, particle flows, tyflow simulations, lightbaking and other. AMD processors on the other hand offer better multi-core performance and value, this makes them ideal for laptops for rendering and animation.

Performance Needs: Consider what you’ll be using the laptop for. For the most part if you are a starting architecture student or interior design the first and second year you can get by almost everything. For basic tasks like web browsing and document editing, a mid-range processor like an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 is sufficient and cost-saving.

If you are on the geek side and aim to future-proof for more demanding 2D and 3D tasks like video editing or 3D modeling, you might need a high-end processor like an Intel Core i7 or i9, or an AMD Ryzen 7 or 9.

Core Count and Threads: More cores and threads generally provide better performance for multitasking and multi-threaded applications. A quad-core processor is a good baseline for most users, while six, eight or more cores might be better for demanding applications and multitasking. For exampel the best laptop for 3D modeling does not have to be the one with the most core count, but the one with higher-clock speeds.

Clock Speed: Measured in GHz, the clock speed determines how fast the processor can perform tasks. A higher clock speed is generally better, but it should be considered along with the number of cores and threads. The processors with huge gap between minimum and maximum GHz means they are more optimized for battery-saving instead of performance.

Thermal Design Power (TDP): This refers to the amount of heat a processor generates and can be an indicator of its power consumption. A lower TDP is generally better for battery life but might come with reduced performance. A higher TDP threshold means the processor can sustain greater processing loads and higher speeds, but at the cost of producing more heat and demanding more battery power. 

Some processors like the Recoil series by PCSpecialist have additional capabilities with an external water cooling unit, which can enable even higher sustained clock speeds if you render animations or large resolution images. The water cooling draws heat away from the CPU more rapidly, allowing the chip to run at higher TDP limits without overheating which would force throttling.

This enables excellent multi-core performance for extended periods when plugged in. The tradeoff is that you sacrifice complete portability by needing the cooling hardware connected. But for select professionals requiring uncompromised rendering throughput, an overclockable processor paired with water cooling offers tremendous capability to maximize production efficiency when mobility is not imperative.

When choosing the best laptop processor, it’s important to evaluate the TDP sweet spot that balances your performance and portability requirements.

If you aim at beautifully designed and slim laptop with focus on mobility, a low 15W U-series Intel processor or 8W Y-series processor may suffice. For productivity laptops where speed matters more, a 28-45W H-series processor is preferable despite shorter battery runtimes.

Integrated Graphics vs. Dedicated GPU: Some processors come with integrated graphics, which are sufficient for basic tasks and light gaming. If you plan to do gaming, video editing, or use graphic-intensive applications as 3Ds Max, Maya, Cinema4D, Blender, SketchUp, consider a laptop with a dedicated GPU.

Cache Size: The processor cache is critical for improving the speed of data access. A larger cache size generally results in better performance, especially important if you have to render large 3D scenes above 1GB with textures larger than 2000 pixels wide.

The size of a 1GB 3D scenes along with all textures, proxy objects, xrefs and CAD files will end up at atleast 50 to 150% of the 3D file size. All of this data needs to constantly tranferred from the hard-drive into the ram and then into the processor to be processed into the rendered image, hence more cache is always better.

Processor Generation: Newer generations of processors usually offer improvements in performance and energy efficiency. It’s generally recommended to choose the latest or a recent generation.

Future Proofing: Consider how long you intend to use the laptop and whether the processor will handle future software updates and increasing demands over a few years.

Price-to-Performance Ratio: Balance the cost of the processor with the performance it offers, again in play it’s the 80-20 rule. The most expensive processor is not always the best choice for every user, especially if you won’t utilize its full potential.

How to select the best laptop video card for 3D

Choosing the right video card (also known as a graphics processing unit or GPU) for a 3D laptop is crucial, especially if you plan to use it for graphic design, video editing, or 3D graphics-intensive applicaitons.

Integrated vs. Dedicated Graphics: 3D modeling laptops require good video cards and integrated graphics won’t be suitable. With built-in GPU into the processor the processor handles the work of a video card too, which makes it less efficient especially in GPU or real time rendering tasks.

With dedicated graphics (separate GPU) from NVIDIA or AMD, offer superior performance for graphics-intensive 3D applications and are preferable for gaming or professional graphic work.

GPU Model and Performance: To select a specific video card model for your laptop, research the performance of various GPUs.

Most architecture students use Lumion, Twinmotion, Blender or V-ray Vantage which are all GPU rendering based and NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX or GTX series will always work better because of their CUDA drivers, on the other side AMD’s Radeon RX series are good options if you do not render GPU and you can buy a larger video card for the same price.

For professional work, look at NVIDIA’s Quadro series or AMD’s Radeon Pro series. Higher model numbers typically indicate better performance.

VRAM (Video RAM): VRAM is the memory used to store image data.

For example, when creating detailed 3D renders of computer-generated scenes, having more VRAM allows you to work with and render more complex models and textures.

When rendering a 3D scene, data including every polygon, texture, shader, lighting effect etc. needs to be processed by the GPU. All of this visual information takes up memory bandwidth.

If the VRAM capacity is too small, the GPU will have to offload some of this rendering data and textures to regular system RAM which is much slower. This leads to significantly worse rendering performance and lag when working on 3D projects.

So for 3D artists or animation studios, having a dedicated graphics card with ample VRAM (8GB to 16GB+) enables handling richer textures, smoother workflows and faster final render output. Large intricate 3D scenes with high polygon counts and ultra HD textures can utilize the extra VRAM when rendering complex frames.

More VRAM future proofs the system as 3D graphics and rendering evolves to higher resolutions too. While overkill for typical users, the added VRAM removes limitations for professionals pushing high visual fidelity boundaries when creating immersive 3D worlds and animation assets. 

The robust memory bandwidth keeps everything GPU-localized avoiding slower system memory bottlenecks.

VRAM (Video RAM): VRAM is the memory used to store image data.

For example, when creating detailed 3D renders of computer-generated scenes, having more VRAM allows you to work with and render more complex models and textures.

When rendering a 3D scene, data including every polygon, texture, shader, lighting effect etc. needs to be processed by the GPU. All of this visual information takes up memory bandwidth.

If the VRAM capacity is too small, the GPU will have to offload some of this rendering data and textures to regular system RAM which is much slower. This leads to significantly worse rendering performance and lag when working on 3D projects.

So for 3D artists or animation studios, having a dedicated graphics card with ample VRAM (8GB to 16GB+) enables handling richer textures, smoother workflows and faster final render output. Large intricate 3D scenes with high polygon counts and ultra HD textures can utilize the extra VRAM when rendering complex frames.

More VRAM future proofs the system as 3D graphics and rendering evolves to higher resolutions too. While overkill for typical users, the added VRAM removes limitations for professionals pushing high visual fidelity boundaries when creating immersive 3D worlds and animation assets. The robust memory bandwidth keeps everything GPU-localized avoiding slower system memory bottlenecks.

Resolution and Settings: Consider the laptop’s screen resolution and the settings you aim to use. Higher resolutions (such as 4K) require more powerful GPUs pushing the laptop’s price further.

Refresh Rate Compatibility: If your laptop has a high refresh rate display (e.g., 120Hz, 144Hz), you’ll want a GPU that can push enough frames per second (FPS) to take advantage of that.

Thermal Management: Powerful GPUs generate more heat and this is a very important factor to consider especially the processor is powerful too. Ensure the laptop has adequate cooling systems to prevent overheating, which can throttle performance.

Power Consumption and Battery Life: More powerful GPUs consume more power, which can significantly impact battery life. If you need longer battery life, consider a laptop with a more efficient GPU or one that allows you to switch between integrated and dedicated graphics.

Future-Proofing: Technology evolves rapidly, so consider getting a GPU that exceeds your current needs to accommodate future software and workflows. If you are for the long game, select video card with at least 8GB of VRAM.

Brand and Software Ecosystem: NVIDIA and AMD GPUs come with their own software ecosystems and features, like ray tracing technology (NVIDIA RTX) or FreeSync (AMD). Consider which features are more beneficial for your needs. Both types of video cards can handle multiple extenal screens, which is always beneficial for multitasking.

Budget: Higher performance generally comes at a higher cost. Balance the GPU’s cost with your budget and the performance level you need.

Reviews and Benchmarks: Look for reviews and benchmark tests of the laptop model you’re interested in. These can give you a realistic idea of the GPU’s performance in real-world scenarios. Most video cards, including processors and laptop brands have their reviews published on Youtube.

Compatibility with Other Components: Ensure the GPU is well-balanced with the laptop’s other components, like the CPU and RAM, to avoid bottlenecks in performance.

Memory and Storage

To work smoothly with large 3D assets, scenes, videos:

  • RAM: Minimum 16GB, ideally 32GB or 64GB
  • Storage: 512GB SSD minimum, 1TB or higher better

How to protect a 3D laptop

Investing in a quality shockproof and water-resistant laptop sleeve bag is excellent insurance for safeguarding your mobile workstation as a student or freelancer.

The fact that $20 to $30 (that’s how much the DOMISO 17 inch Laptop Sleeve with Handle Shockproof is) can safe all of your projects is a no-brainier. The Domiso is a Chinese brand not well known but it has exceeded my expectations. This is not a backpack, but more a laptop sleeve bag that is a a shockproof & waterproof, which means double safety for the laptop. It has it’s own handle strap which can be used to carry the sleeve without a backpack.

As a person who travels a lot, I have invested $180 in Peak Design Everyday Totepack 20L (V2) to carry my laptop for 3D, thinking I can solve all of my worry when moving around as a student or digital nomad. No matter how expensive your laptop bag is, there’s always something.

Here are some key reasons why it would be beneficial to buy a shockproof, waterproof bag for a high-end 3D laptop:

  1. Protection from drops and impacts: A shockproof laptop bag provides crucial protection if you accidentally drop your laptop or it gets impacted. High-end 3D laptops have delicate components that can get damaged. The padded, shock-absorbing bag helps prevent this.
  2. Shields from spills and moisture: A waterproof bag safeguards your expensive 3D laptop from rain, spills, splashes or other moisture when commuting with it. It prevents short circuits and corrosion that liquid exposure can cause.
  3. Portability for traveling: The protective bag with a sturdy handle lets you securely carry your laptop when traveling. This enables taking the laptop anywhere without worrying about damage.
  4. Peace of mind: Knowing your costly 3D rendering laptop has a protective shield around it provides great peace of mind against accidental damage. You don’t have to worry as much about the safety of a vital device.
  5. Retains resale value: Keeping your high-spec laptop in pristine condition with a protective bag ensures you get a higher price for it if selling it in the future. The bag prevents cosmetic damage over time as well.
  6. Design and Appearance: While the design may not appeal to everyone (hint: it resembles a military laptop bag), it is available in various colors. I love the fact that it looks like a high-tech briefcase made out premium thickened EVA material.
  7. Charger space: I would not recommend storing your laptop charger inside the sleeve, as it can become bulky. When placed in your backpack, this could potentially squeeze the charger against the laptop, causing a dent. However, this is a common issue with 95% of everyday laptop bags as well including the Everyday Totepack V2.

Earn student income with 3D software and learn from our 12 on-point HOW TO tutorials for virtual staging software