Best Laptops for 3D Modeling 2020
If you're going to do AutoCAD or 3d modeling, your needs for a computer are different from the average artist. At a minimum, you need 8 gigs of ram (16 to 64 would be better) a 64-bit processor with SS2 Support, a dedicated graphics card of at least 2 gigs and a large hard drive, and fantastic graphics.
You can theoretically run AutoCAD type programs with less, but you probably won't like the result. We've been there before and it can get frustrating. In this article we will discuss how to build or purchase the best laptop for 3D Modeling and where to buy it.
We've written about the best laptops on the market before, especially on The Best Laptops for Digital Artists and The Five Best Laptops for Video Editing where you can get additional education on the specific laptop you are looking to buy.
i7, i9 processor or Xeon Processor?
Let's begin with the processor. You might think since i7 is a faster big sister, the i9 processor being the latest and the greatest, that a program like Solidworks would recommend an i7 or i9 processor.
Actually, for 3d modeling, a Xeon processor beats the heck out of an i7 or even an i9.
Why? Because Xeon processors support Error Checking and Correction (ECC) RAM, which prevents crashes when the computer's capacity is stretched. The Xeon also has greater L3 cache (small batches of memory the processor may use to speed up applications) and supports more cores than even an i9 processor.
What this means is that if you can find a Xeon based processor, you'll have a smoother experience with your 3d modeling. But go ahead and get an i7 processor if a Xeon isn't available.
What kind of Dedicated Video Card Do you Need?
If you are only doing 2D modeling, you won't need any type of dedicated Graphics Processor Unit (GPU), but since we're concentrating on 3d modeling here, the recommendation is you get a computer with an NVIDIA Quadro card. Mainstream GE Force cards will also work, but they haven't technically been endorsed by so software companies such as AutoCAD.
Eight gigabytes is the minimum amount of RAM required, but most people rarely use only 3D software alone but have lots of other programs running. Therefore 16 gigabytes is a good starting point, and if you will be working with large models, or will be having multiple models up at the same time, consider 32 gigabytes or more.
SSD or Hard Drive
SSD's (Solid State Drives ) are infinitely faster, and therefore better at saving large files. An SSD won't improve your rendering time substantially, but you'll probably be happier overall with an SSD Drive.
Another idea is to have a dual SSD and a Hardrive, with the operating system, and possibly the 3d modeling software on the SSD, and everything else on a hard drive.
Size and Screen Resolution Matter
The advantage of working with a laptop for 3d modeling is the fact that they are portable and lightweight. However, size matters when working on 3d modeling, as does screen resolution. This is a decision you will need to make, give up size for quality?
So look for an ultra-high definition screen with 4k resolution, and frankly the largest screen you can afford in a laptop. You don't want to do 3d modeling tasks on a tiny 13-inch screen.
Gaming Laptop vs 3D Modeling Laptop?
Have you thought about just buying a gaming laptop and using it for 3D modeling? Absolutely you can, and chances are you'll get a superior product at a cheaper price. Gaming laptops. generally, have all the same qualities as higher-priced workstations, fantastic graphics, a quality graphics chip, and plenty of hard drive space.
However, there is One Big Caveat . If you work professionally in an architectural firm where you meet with clients, or you're a new college graduate who's working part-time at a professional firm while taking graduate studies, don't expect your Alien gaming machine to be acceptable in a professional environment
For this and several other reasons, stick to a 3D modeling laptop if you are a professional artist. Unless you're a freelance contractor at home, or you plan to dump your computer later, try to put yourself into a professional's point of view. Do you think you want to explain to a client that you lost a weeks worth of work because your gaming computer temporarily crashed?
Should I buy a MAC?
While you can get a Macbook Pro with the latest i9 processor and pros in cad drawing systems, it is still recommended that you purchase a 3d modeling PC over a Mac. The reasons for purchasing a PC over a Mac are listed.
- First, there are still some programs out there that are available only on a PC platform, or sometimes they work on a MAC but at a degraded rate.
- Second, since the vast majority of professionals use PCs, it makes sharing and collaborating easier.
Should I buy a Workstation Laptop or Notebook?
While there might be some ordinary notebooks that you can use for 3d modeling and designing, in general, you want a workstation with faster graphics, more RAM, and additional memory. They are not cheap. You'll likely not find one under $1,000.Iif you want to be considered a 3d pro or will be working in a professional environment, we recommend investing in a 3D modeling laptop.
What is ISV certification, is it important when buying 3d modeling laptop?
ISV stands for "Independent Software Vendors," where software companies such as Solidworks, work directly with computer manufacturers producing workstations to ensure the computer is 100 percent certified to be compatible with the software. So yes, you want to look for ISV certification when buying a workstation.
Review: Best Laptops for 3d Modeling
Editors Choice: DELL Precision 5530
1. Dell Precision 5530: One of the best laptops for 3d modeling and rendering/ best workstation laptop for 3d modeling/the best laptop for 3d modeling
For $1400, Dell will ship you a six-core, Xeon 2.70 gigahertz processor, will turbo zip up to 4.4 Gigahertz. For this price, you get a Quadro P1000 graphics card, 16 gigabytes of RAM, and a 256 gigabyte Solid State Drive.
- * A fast, Xeon Processor
- * A nice 4k touchscreen with fantastic display
- * Thin and light for a workstation
- * 15-inch display
- * Unusual webcam placement
- * No buttons, including a middle button on the touchpad
- * Just 1 Thunderbolt 3 port.
2. Alienware M15-15.6" FHD Gaming Laptop
The best budget laptop for 3d modeling in our opinion.Priced at a tad over $1,000, you do get a lot for your money with this laptop. It features an 8th generation i7 processor, an NVIDIA GeForce Graphics Card, 16 gigabytes of Ram and a 1 Terabyte Hybrid Hard Drive, 128 Gigabyte Solid State Drive.
- * Very reasonable price for a powerful computer.
- * Has a ton of ports, ie: an Ethernet port, two USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports, one USB-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 port with PowerShare, one Thunderbolt 3 port, one Alienware Graphics Amplifier port, one HDMI 2.0b out, one Mini-DisplayPort 1.4, one combo headphone/microphone jack, and one lock slot.
- The display is only 1080 P in a 15-inch monitor. It works for gaming, but perhaps for detailed 3d modeling, the display lacks the clarity you can get by spending a couple of hundred dollars more.
Despite the questionable screen resolution, it certainly fits the category of being a top budget laptop for 3d modeling, and also answers the million dollar question, are gaming laptops good for 3d modeling?
Dell 7730 Precision Laptop
The best PC laptop for 3d modeling in our opinion. Essentially un upgrade to the Dell 5530, this beauty features a 17-inch screen, 16 gigabytes of ram, a large SSD drive, and awesome Nvidia Quadro P3200 GPU chip.
- * 4k Touch display
- * Awesome chip set for GPU
- * Heavy laptop
- * Shorter than desired battery life.
Acer Aspire E5-576G-5762 Laptop: Cheap laptops for 3d modeling
If you are looking for cheap laptops of 3d modeling, consider looking at the Acer Aspire. While it's true it only comes with 8 gigs of ram, and an i5 processor, it does have a GeForce graphics, and a 256 gig SSD drive. For those looking for cheap laptops for 3d modeling will be hard-pressed to find something cheaper.
- * Discounted low prices
- * Adequate for many 3d tasks
- * Only 8 gigs of Ram
- * 1080p resoloution screen
One of the best Laptops on the market for 3D modeling. Coming in at a lightweight 3.7 pounds, the Lenovo quality shows in this machine. Yes, it has an i7 processors, and a slim and sexy screen which is stunning, 6 core processors, and a 256 Flash Memory set.
- * Work Station Power in a super light laptop.
- * Six-core performance
- * NVIDIA Quadro P1000 Graphics
- * Poor battery life.
There is alot to think long and hard before you buy a laptop for 3d modeling. Make sure it has enough ram, a great, dedicated GPU chip, a big enough hard drive, preferably SSD or hybrid, and a great screen.
Most of our reviewed products give you that, particularly the Lenovo Thinkpad P1 and the Dell Precision 5530, which are two of our top recommendations.