Best Laptop for 3D Modeling and Rendering 2019: Everything to Know

Summary

Regardless of the type of software you are inclined to use for 3D modeling, the hardware requirements are inherently the same. The laptop specifications to look for in 3D engineering laptops are, in a nutshell, the following:

  • Price Range
    • 3 categories – 3D modeling laptops under $1000 or budget laptops, engineering laptops $1000-$2000 or mid-range laptops, and over $2000 or the best, high-end engineering 3D laptops.
  • Processor
    • For 3D modeling, try to shoot for Intel Core i7 HQ or HK processors.
  • Graphics Card
    • …best go for the industry standard Nvidia Geforce Cards
  • Display
    • …most bang for your buck when it comes to 3D modeling, go for larger screens, at least 15.6”, and opt for 4K, QHD, or UHD resolutions.
  • Disk Space
    • Invest in solid state drives. SSDs speed up your machine and let you pause and restart your work with greatly reduced lag
  • RAM
    • …16 GB would have to be the minimum for 3D modeling
  • Portability
    • …try to shoot for laptops that don’t go over 5 lbs. If you’re not picky about display size, try to keep the size of the screen under 15.6 inches

Best 3D Modeling Laptop Recommendations:

Budget: 2018 HP Pavilion 15.6 Inch

Mid-Range: Asus Zenbook Pro UX550VE

High-end: Dell Precision M5510 WorkStation

For more detailed info, prices, specs, and even more honorable mentions in Budget, Mid-range, and High-end laptops for 3D modeling, continue reading below.

Price Range

Laptops in the market generally fall into 3 categories – sub-$1000 or budget laptops, $1000-$2000 or mid-range laptops, and over $2000 or high-end laptops. For these three price ranges, it’s a general rule that you get what you pay for. But the smart laptop shopper will always take a look at all the options to find the most affordable choice that fits their general needs.

Processor

Processors are the lifeblood of any activity-heavy laptop model. For 3D modeling, try to shoot for Intel Core i7 HQ or HK processors. These latest generation processors would work well for most 3D modeling projects, but try not to go for CPUs beyond 6700HQ – the extra power won’t be of much use and you’d be spending a fortune for it.

Graphics Card

For graphics cards, the market for laptops is almost entirely dominated by Nvidia. There are AMD variants that are good, but if you need your laptop ASAP and don’t want to be bogged down by the research involved, best go for the industry standard Nvidia Geforce Cards. For the buyers out there with deeper pockets and more specific modeling needs and know-hows, you could opt for certified professional graphic cards that don’t go less than the specifications of the Quadro M2000M.

Display

To have the most bang for your buck when it comes to 3D modeling, go for larger screens, at least 15.6”, and opt for 4K, QHD, or UHD resolutions. IPS panels also make sure you have a consistently crisp view of your laptop regardless of viewing angles and varying display colors. Go for brightness levels at the range of 250-300 cd/m2. For contrast, go for 800:1 – 1200:1. Finally, try to shoot for 100% sRGB color coverage, but if you’re on a budget, 80% would be reasonable.

Disk Space

Invest in solid state drives. SSDs speed up your machine and let you pause and restart your work with greatly reduced lag. Yes, they are vastly more expensive than traditional hard drives, but they will are well worth their price tags.

RAM

For most other laptop users, 8 GB is enough RAM. Though you can probably get away with that much, 16 GB would have to be the minimum for 3D modeling. For longevity, 24 or 32 GB of RAM is best, but the price tag will also go up accordingly.

Portability

Opting for laptops instead of desktops means you have the advantage of being able to bring your workstation around with you. As such, try to shoot for laptops that don’t go over 5 lbs. If you’re not picky about display size, try to keep the size of the screen under 15.6 inches.

If these computer specs sound a bit foreign to you, The Tech Chap has a useful video to explain the basics to those that are a bit new to laptop specifications.

If you’re looking for specific laptops, here are 3 recommended models based on the three price ranges mentioned earlier.

Budget: 2018 HP Pavilion 15.6 Inch

Image source: Amazon

The 2018 HP Pavilion is HP’s budget model offered to those laptop buyers with tighter budgets. The 2018 version of the Pavilion is arguably the nicest-looking yet. Its specs are also none to scoff at:

  • Price Range: $900-1,069.00 (depending on RAM and SSD sizes)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-8550U 1.8 GHz
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce 940MX, 4GB
  • Display: 15.6″ diagonal FHD IPS (1920×1080)
  • Disk Space: 256 GB – 512 GB
  • RAM: 8 GB – 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM
  • Portability: 9.93 x 14.88 x 0.89 in; 4.67 lbs
Pros: Good quality for priceSlim and portable designDecent battery lifeLow consumption of powerQuiet operationDecent specs for a budget laptop   Cons: Slightly darker displayLack of VGA outSlow EthernetOccasional display stuttersLimited view anglesGlossy case  

Honorable Mentions for Budget Laptops:

  1. ASUS VivoBook Pro
  2. Lenovo Y720
  3. 2018 Dell Inspiron 15 5000

Mid-Range: Asus Zenbook Pro UX550VE

Image source: Amazon

ASUS has its newest iteration of its Zenbook line of products with the Asus Zenbook Pro UX550VE. It has fairly powerful parts with a sleek-looking chassis and design, but there are some problems with temperature management. Nonetheless, it’s a solid choice for those looking to get a laptop for 3D modeling. Its specs are as follows:

  • Price Range: $1300
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-7700HQ Processor, 2.8GHz Quad Core with Turbo Boost
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB GDDR5 VRAM
  • Display: 15.6 inches
  • Disk Space: 512 GB
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR4
  • Portability: 21 x 13 x 5 in; 3.1 lbs
Pros: Great looking caseAffordable2 Thunderbolt 3 ConnectorsFlexible Port ConnectionsDecent battery lifePowerful performance and display   Cons: CPU and GPU throttlesSub-par audioNo 4K optionTemperature controlNo available RAM slots  

Honorable Mentions for Mid-Range Laptops:

  1. CUK ROG Hero II GL504GM VR-Ready
  2. ASUS ROG Strix Hero Edition Gaming Laptop
  3. Acer Predator Helios 300

High-End: Dell Precision M5510 WorkStation

Image source: Amazon

Dell has been known to be a solid supplier of quality notebooks and the Dell Precision M5510 Workstation is no exception. This model boasts a beautiful and sturdy build quality, an amazingly crisp 4K display with touch capabilities, and overall amazing performance. Needless to say, its specifications are also top-notch:

  • Price Range: $1549-2,149.00
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-8750H Six-Core Processor 45W
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, 6GB GDDR5
  • Display: 15.6 inches Full HD IPS (1920 x 1080), 144Hz 3ms
  • Disk Space: 500 GB Solid State Drive with Upgrades
  • RAM: 16-32 GB DDR4
  • Portability: 14.2 x 10.3 x 1 in; 5.29 lbs
Pros: Amazing displayFast SSDGreat connectivity36-month warranty   Cons: Medium battery lifePriceOperation noiseWebcam placement  

Honorable Mentions for High-End Laptops:

  1. MSI GE63 Raider RGB-012
  2. Asus ROG G752VY
  3. MSI WE72 7RJ-1032US

There are endless options when it comes to finding the right kind of laptop for your 3D modeling needs. It can be daunting at times and the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. But just do your research and narrow your choices carefully to find the right model for you. Hopefully our lists and criteria help.