Regardless of which software you are inclined to use for 3D modeling, the hardware requirements are almost all the same. Throughout this article, we are going to review the specifications to look for in 3D engineering laptops. Here is a table of contents to refer back to in case you want to jump around, or already know what information you’re looking for.
Table of Contents (clickable for easy navigation)
Our Top Three Recommendations: We give you some options for each price range.
Price Range: budget 3D modeling laptops (under $1000), mid-range engineering laptops (ranging between $1000-$2000), and high-end options (typically over $2000)
Processor: Advice on the best processor to look for when choosing your 3D modeling laptop.
Graphics Card: Advice on the best graphics card to have for 3D modeling.
Display: What to look for in your screen, resolution and other aspects of your display.
Disk Space: How much you should have, what type of drive, and other questions are answered regarding disk space.
RAM: Advice regarding RAM when choosing your 3D modeling laptop.
Portability: Something that is very dependent on the person, portability can be an important part of your decision making.
Our 3D Modeling Laptop Recommendations
To get things started, here are our top three laptop recommendations for 3D modeling and rendering in 2019. Click for more details and to see their specs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Earlier in this article we gave three recommendations for laptops that fall into three price categories. Here are some more details on each option.
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.
- Good quality considering the price
- Slim and portable design
- Relatively good battery life
- Low consumption of power
- Quiet operation
- Decent specs for a budget laptop
- Slightly darker display
- Lack of VGA out
- Slow ethernet
- Occasional display stutters
- Limited view angles
- Glossy case
Mid-Range: Asus Zenbook Pro UX550VE
Image source: Amazon
ASUS offers their 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.
- Great looking case
- 2 Thunderbolt
- 3 Connectors
- Flexible port connections
- Decent battery life
- Powerful performance and display
- CPU and GPU throttles
- Sub-par audio
- No 4K option
- Poor temperature control
- No available RAM slots
Before we move on to our high-end recommendation, here are some honorable mentions for our mid-range laptops:
CUK ROG Hero II GL504GM VR-Ready
ASUS ROG Strix Hero Edition Gaming Laptop
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.
- Amazing display
- Fast SSD
- Great connectivity
- 36-month warranty
- Medium battery life considering the high price
- Operation noise
- Webcam placement
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.
Registered and licensed Architect from the Philippines. I have worked in an established Architectural Design firm, Interior Design firm and Design-Build Architecture company. Aside from independent architectural projects, I work part-time as an associate of Arch. Micaela Benedicto. I am adept at Autodesk Autocad, Autodesk Revit, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Sketchup. I am also adept at doing 3D renderings with V-ray.