5 Best Laptops for 2D Animation 2021- Price & Guide

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What are the best laptops for 2D animation? Ideally, if you are a professional in the animation industry, 2D or 3D, and want to use a laptop for your projects, you will need two specific things from the system to help you in your job.

One, you will want to navigate comfortably through the scenes with a buttery smooth framerate in viewport. In addition to that, you will also want to render scenes in the quickest possible time.

A laptop, without these two abilities, will not be of much help when you want to give shape to your creative vision and ideas in the best possible way. Therefore, it is essential that you look for only those laptops that will help you in a great way in your 2D animation projects.

In order to be more practical in this aspect, though there are so many different laptops available on the market, be informed that there is no single laptop that you or anyone else can claim to be the best device for 2D animation.

This means that, if you want to select the best laptop for 2D animation, you will need to research quite a lot.

You will need to focus on different aspects of the laptop when you choose such as the size of the laptop, the RAM, the storage, the processor, and, most importantly, the type of projects you have to work with.

You must be very careful with your selection so that you do not end up buying a system that will not support your 2D animation software and needs and waste a lot of cash in the process.

This, in fact, is a high probability if you do not understand the computer jargon.

You will get confused easily with the terminology and not follow the useless descriptions thrown at your face by the sales rep as well as the several reviews that you may find online.

The best and easiest way to go about it is to follow this article as well as the buying guide in the end.

This article will not only tell you about the best laptops for 2D rendering but also about the hardware components that are required for 2D animation too.

Laptops for 2D Animation – Price

How Can a Laptop Help in the Digital Department and Post Production of 2D Animation? 

When it comes to the digital department of 2D animation, there are different aspects of it.

In order to know how a laptop can help in these departments, you will first need to know about the different aspects of the 2D animation digital department first.

Digital ‘ink and paint’ is the current process but is nothing different from the traditional ink and paint process. However, the difference is seen after the completion of the animation drawings.

During this time the drawings are scanned into the computer or, if your laptop comes with a touchscreen feature, it is drawn directly onto the screen, instead of transferring them to cells.

A large variety of software packages are used here to color and process the drawings.

Compositing is the next process done with the help of the computer. Respective backgrounds are first scanned into the computer or painted digitally. The computer exports the required digital file and the final image is produced.

If it is a digital video file, a video cassette recorder is used to film it or it is printed by using a high-resolution output device.

Compositing also involves colored backgrounds, animatic references and the sound effects as required.

All of these elements are used to create the necessary motions and camera moves and other necessary digital effects are also added to the scene such as tones, shadows and highlights.

When the compositing process is finished, the final step is rendering the scene just like an image sequence or a movie. This is where the post production job starts.

Additional sound effects are included during this time. This may include an original musical score written specifically to accompany the film or a part of a soundtrack which may include dialogue and sound effects as well.

Sometimes, orchestral, instrumental or choral pieces called cues are also used at specific points of the film to enhance the emotional impact and dramatic narrative of the film under production.

Final editing is now done on the chosen segments of the animation production scene or footage. This process also involves sound effects, sound recordings, and image editing.

After all these processes are completed, the final output is released in a video format on a DVD or a Blu Ray disc or just as a video file to render it according to the preference of the distributor.

All these need using different tools and software. The laptop will enhance the final output and let the animators hone their skill set.

In addition to that, the laptop will also help them to set up their production in different ways and take on several other responsibilities beyond simple 2D animation.

Finally, the laptop will help them to be consistent in their creation and design and maintain a high line of quality of their animation throughout the digital compositing, image editing, as well as post production stages.

Minimum & Recommended System Requirements for 2D Animation

In order to complete basic 2D animation projects on a laptop, the minimum requirements in it include a dual core Intel i3 CPU or higher along with 2 GB of RAM.

In addition to that, to install and run the basic 2D animation software on it you will need at least 5 GB of free hard disk space, and a graphics card belonging to Nvidia GeForce 8 series or ATI HD 3000 series with 512 MB of video memory.

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However, this may not suffice running the advanced software required for 2 D animation on your computer.

For that, you will need to use a system that comes with higher specs than that. If you are not sure about what to look for in a laptop for 2 D animation, here is the list of recommended specs that you should essentially have.

Minimum system requirements: 7th generation Intel Core i7 or higher processor| 16 GB of RAM | 256 GB SSD | Integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics or higher AMD graphics | 15.6 inches screen | 1024 x 768 pixels or higher screen resolution | 6 hours of battery life

Recommended system requirements: 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor or higher | 16 GB of RAM or higher | 512 GB SSD or larger | Dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 or higher | 15.6 inches screen or bigger | 1920 x 1080 pixels or higher screen resolution | 8 hours of battery life or more

5 Best Laptops for 2D Animation 2021:

1. Apple MacBook Pro – Best Overall

Apple MacBook Pro

Bottom Line: It is all about the specs included in this laptop that will provide the best overall performance in comparison to others in this list for 2D animation due to the i9 CPU, Retina display with True Tone Technology, Touch Bar and ID, switchable graphics, four Thunderbolt ports, and long battery life.

Key Features 

Pros 

  • This laptop is much faster due to the processor and the superfast SDD.
  • The battery power is very good for this thin and light system.
  • The speakers are quite good to produce great sound output.

Cons

  • The keyboard of the laptop is not great and is noisy.
  • The track pad is too big to get in the way.
  • The port inclusion needs more variety.

This is a powerful device that is durable and promises a high level of performance.

The Apple MacBook Pro 15 comes with an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor that is highly responsive with its 6 cores and 9 MB shared L3 cache that helps in processing data at a much faster rate.

It will work perfectly and smoothly no matter how many tabs you open and work on the browser.

Thanks to the high clock speed of 2.2 GHz of the processor, which you can Turbo Boost up to 4.1 GHz, it will always work at an excellent speed that will help you to meet all your 2D animation needs.

The excellent RAM capacity of this device will allow you to explore your creativity as well as your multitasking skills without any problems.

The SSD storage will add to the performance level with its ability to boot up the system and apps faster and by allowing faster access to the stored files in the system.

If you need to work on the go or all day long this laptop will provide you with all the power you need with its 10-hour long battery life.

The 15-inch large screen with Retina display and LED backlit technology will allow you to work on the system late and in a dark room as well, and still not cause any strain to your eyes.

The images are displayed at 2880 x 1800 native resolution and at 220 pixels per inch. This supports millions of colors while the images are displayed at 16:10 aspect ratio.

In spite of its slim design, the Apple MacBook Pro comes with a lot of useful ports that will increase both your connectivity options as well as the functionality of the system during any 2D animation work.

The different ports and slots of this system that you can use for charging and expansion include two Thunderbolt 3 ports that support DisplayPort, charging, and Thunderbolt up to 40 Gbps.

You will also get a USB 3.1 Gen 2 port that can transfer data as well at a signal rate of up to 10 Gbps.

The Radeon Pro 555X graphics card provides excellent video and graphics support with its 4 GB of GDDR5 memory as well as the automatic graphics switching ability to Intel UHD Graphics 630.

As for wireless connectivity is concerned, you will get 802.11ac wi-fi wireless networking which is compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n IEEE standard.

The system also supports Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology. Check out Apple Macbook Pro Laptop Review.

2. Acer Predator Helios 300 – Runner Up

Acer Predator Helios 300

Bottom Line: This runner up laptop for 2D animation in this list is equally good as the above with its Intel Core i7 processor and a high-end graphics card of the Nvidia RTX family and 20-series. Apart from the battery life, the screen, connectivity, RAM, storage, keyboard, cooling system, all in it are quite good. 

Key Features 

  • Screen: 15.6 inches
  • Storage: 512 GB NVMe SSD
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM
  • Processor: 10th generation Intel Six Core i7 10750H
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060

Pros 

  • The system comes with a four-zone backlit keyboard.
  • The graphics card real time ray tracing, programmable shading, and AI.
  • The 4th generation Aero Blade 3D fans provide better airflow and less noise.

Cons 

  • The system weighs more than 5 pounds making it a bit less portable.
  • There is no optical drive in the system.
  • The battery life could have been better.

The 10th generation Intel Core i7 10750H processor of this laptop comes with six cores that can operate at a highest speed of up to 5.0 GHz.

This supports 2D animation jobs the 64-bit architecture of the Windows 10 Home operating system adequately to enhance the performance of the system.

The Nvidia GeForce graphics card, though it belongs to the RTX series instead of GTX, is overclockable. The 6 GB capacity of this dedicated GDDR6 VRAM graphics card is therefore improved further.

The 15.6″ full HD display comes with widescreen and IPS technology and is LED-backlit.

It saves power but enhances the images quality of the screen which also comes with a refresh rate of 144 and 3 milliseconds overdrive response time. The images displayed are clearer and sharper with 300 nit brightness and 72% NTSC.

The 16 GB DDR4 dual channel memory of the system has a high bandwidth of 2933 MHz and out of the 2 M.2 slots of the NVMe SSD storage, one slot is open for easy upgrades and the other one is available as the hard drive bay.

The four-zone RGB backlit keyboard, the Bluetooth as well as the Killer Double Shot Pro wireless-AX 1650i 802.11ax connectivity of the wi-fi 6 standard, the Killer Ethernet E2600 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN and the DTS X ultra-audio system, all makes this laptop the most chosen one for animators for their 2D animation jobs. Check out Acer Predator Helios 300 Review.

3. Asus ROG Zephyrus S – Performance and Stability

Asus ROG Zephyrus S

Bottom Line: The 2D animators can expect to have a high level of performance and stability when they use this laptop for their work. Apart from a smooth and large display, this device is equipped with just the right kind of processor and dedicated graphics card that will allow running any type of 2D animation app.

Key Features 

  • Screen: 15.6 inches
  • Storage: 512 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM
  • Processor: 8th generation Intel Core i7 8750H
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
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Pros 

  • The system comes with a silk smooth display.
  • The cooling system of the laptop is good and comprehensive.
  • The Aura Sync backlit keyboard ensures a better typing experience.

Cons 

  • There is no optical drive in the system.
  • The fans do get loud when the system with Turbo Boost on.
  • The average battery life is very low, needing to plug the system in constantly.

You will get all the support that you need for your 2D animation work when you use this system.

The 15.6” screen is full HD and comes with a refresh rate of 144 Hz. The IPS type display comes with a thin 6.5-millimeter bezel all around it and a quick response time of 3 milliseconds.

The Nvidia GeForce graphics card belongs to the latest GTX 1070 series which comes with 8 GB GDDR5 memory and Max Q technology that makes it all the more powerful. The 90 W TDP, 1101 MHz and 1265 MHz boost makes the system perform at a much higher level.

The 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor comes with six cores and operates at a max speed of up to 3.9 GHz.

This ultra-light and portable device weighs just 4.6 pounds but comes with a military grade magnesium alloy body to make it extremely durable.

The Bluetooth 5.0 technology, the DDR4 SDRAM operating at 2666 Hz, the PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD storage, the Windows 10 Home, the Rog AAS or Active Aerodynamic System, the upgraded 12-volt fans, the anti-dust tunnels, and the Customizable four-zone Asus Aura RGB gaming keyboard, all adds to the performance, stability, and utility of the system for 2D animation work. Check out Asus ROG Zephyrus S Review. 

4. HP Zbook 15u G4 Workstation – Color Rich Display

HP Zbook 15u G4 Workstation
 

Bottom Line: The factory calibrated screen of this laptop will enhance the work experience of 2D animators on it. This pretty large screen not only offers more real estate but the images look rich with bold colors and displayed at right brightness and contrast ratio to make them look vivid yet softer to the eyes.  

Key Features 

  • Screen: 15.6 inches
  • Storage: 512 GB SSD
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Processor: 7th generation Intel Core i7 7500U
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro
  • GPU: AMD FirePro W4190M

Pros 

  • The screen of this laptop is quite large allowing more viewing space.
  • The keyboard comes with a dedicated number pad.
  • The graphics card of this machine is dedicated.

Cons 

  • The battery life of the laptop could have been better.
  • There is no optical drive in the system.
  • The number of USB ports is low and these are weak as well.

The features and specs of the HP Zbook 15u G4 workstation will help any 2D animator out there to make their dream come true.

It comes with a factory calibrated color-rich display that showcases images at the right brightness, contrast and aspect ratio. The large enough screen comes with a maximum display resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels.

The LED-backlit display technology does not only make the screen more power efficient but also makes the pictures on it look great with the color popping right out of it.

It comes with 802.11abg standard of wireless compatibility and with a lot of memory and a superfast SSD storage that supports the Intel Core i7 processor adequately.

This 7th generation processor operates at 2.7 GHz which not only helps it to keep the performance level at its peak but also helps it to run heavy apps on the system for 2D animation work.

The Windows 10 Pro operating system has got all those features that supports and enhances the functionality of the AMD FirePro W4190M graphics card. 

5. Lenovo ThinkPad E15 – Value for Money

Lenovo ThinkPad E15
 

Bottom Line: With one of the best Intel i7 processors with four powerful cores and a pretty good integrated graphics that works as good as Intel UHD graphics, the performance level of this system is quite high and fast enough to be able to provide the 2D animators a higher value for money just as desired.

Key Features 

  • Screen: 15.6 inches
  • Storage: 512 GB NVMe SSD
  • RAM: 32 GB DDR4 SODIMM
  • Processor: Intel Quad Core i7 1165G7
  • OS: Windows 10 Professional
  • GPU: Integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics

Pros 

  • The processing power of this system is pretty fast due to its powerful specs.
  • The spill-resistant keyboard is full-size and comes with a dedicated numeric keypad.
  • The TPM 2.0 chip makes it a secure device and protects the data and closes the webcam.

Cons 

  • The battery life of the system could have been better.
  • The keyboard of this system is not backlit.
  • There is no optical drive included in the system.

This is a system that comes with specs that are powerful enough to ensure faster processing and to handle all of your 2D animation software and tools with utmost ease.

The Intel Core i7 processor of the system and the huge 32 GB of RAM supports the superfast SSD to handle any task, simple or complex, that you may throw at it.

All these enhance the potential of Lenovo ThinkPad E15 that enables it to run all your 2D animation programs and apps at top performance. This also assures easy and comfortable multitasking.

The 15.6-inch screen will offer you a lot of real estate to do your animation work.

The 1920 × 1080 IPS resolution and the anti-glare feature of the screen will not cause any strain to your eyes while looking at it for long hours. It will help you to create lifelike 2D animation.

The 720p HD webcam with Think Shutter camera privacy and the Trusted Platform Module or TPM 2.0 chip makes this system more secure to use.

It discreetly encrypts all your data as well as log in details to protect them and also closes the Think Shutter cover of the webcam physically.

The system also includes a lot of ports in its design such as one USB 2.0, two USB 3.1 Gen 1, one USB 3.1 Type C Gen 1, HDMI 1.4b, Ethernet, security keyhole and a headphone / microphone combo jack. It also supports Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201, Bluetooth 5.0, and M.2 card.

There is also an HD audio system of two 2-watts stereo speakers that comes with Dolby Advanced Audio technology. Check out Lenovo ThinkPad E15 Laptop Review.

How to Choose a Laptop for 2D Animation?

Ideally, the laptops that you choose to buy for 2D animation should come with all the features and components that will enable it to run all those apps and software programs on it such as Maya, 3DS Max, and others.

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This means that in a laptop for 2D animation the hardware specifications should be more tailored to provide a better user experience rather than power.

Therefore, while choosing your laptop, you should look at the hardware specs as well as every single detail and other options that will help in your 2D animation job.

Before you start your search for the best laptop for 2D animation, you must know the software that you need to use for your job. Just for your information, the software for 2D and 3D animation are different.

For 2D animation you will need to use specific software programs such as Pencil 2D, Adobe After Effects in 2D and stop motion software as well. These software programs do not need to use viewport.

On the other hand, for 3D animation you will need to use visual effects software, Maya, 3DS Max, Blender and any other 3D applications.

Therefore, the hardware needs for a laptop for 2D animation will be different from that to be used for 3D animation jobs. Here they are.

CPU

Since the processor will determine the speed and performance of the laptop, for 2D animation and rendering, you should choose a device that comes with at least any latest Intel Core i5 CPU, higher the better.

On the other hand, if you are an AMD fan, you can choose a laptop that comes with an AMD CPU equivalent.

As for the number of cores in the processor, it is ideal to go for a six-core processor, but that does not mean a dual core processor will not do.

Since there are different aspects in animation, your choice of CPU should be more specific. For example, you must make sure that the processor comes with the highest base clock frequency, measured in Hz, to help you in editing, viewport, as well as animating.

Also, for better and faster rendering, you should always choose a multicore CPU, particularly those belonging to the HQ or H series if it is Intel brand and H or HS series if it is an AMD Ryzen processor.

GPU

When it comes to selecting the graphics card, for 2D animation literally any GPU will do.

However, choosing a laptop with a discrete variety is much better as that will perform much better and make your system futureproof.

Otherwise, if you are on a budget, you can go for any type of integrated graphics card of Intel HD or AMD Vega X series. They will work just fine.

As for the GPUs, whichever card holds the most CUDA cores and comes with VRAM is preferred.

Today, you will also get those 10th generation, high tier GTX cards and a lot of good cards belonging to the RTX series as well. These cards are very good for GPU rendering in 2D animation.

If you are a student, you can choose a GTX GeForce card or 1050Ti or any equivalent AMD Radeon RX graphics card.

These are good enough for small animation projects and game development and for much smoother viewport.

On the other hand, if you are a professional animator, you can select the 10th generation Nvidia GeForce graphics cards that come with lots of VRAM.

You may also choose one of the latest RTX series graphics cards that can handle viewport most effectively as well as a lot of polygons, particles, and more with better frame rates.

RAM

If you are a student or have just taken up 2D animation as your profession, a laptop with 8 GB RAM is enough.

Just make sure that the system allows upgrading the RAM to 16 GB which you will need when maps and other larger projects start adding up to your portfolio.

The more amount of RAM you have in your system will ensure faster and better rendering.

Ideally, a laptop with 8 GB of RAM is just okay and one with 16 GB of RAM is good for bigger models and projects, and 32 GB of RAM will make your system future proof and foolproof.

However, 64 GB of RAM in a laptop will be of no use for 2D animation.

Storage

When it comes to storage, it is the Solid-State Drives that should be preferred by everyone over the hard disk drives. Moreover, you will be better off if it is of the PCIe NVMe kind.

These drives are much faster in operation in comparison to the hard disk drives.

This will save you from spending much time on your 2D animation projects because the loading times of the apps as well as reading and writing of files will be reduced significantly.

It will also produce less heat during the process. This will enhance the life of the system.

For students or for smaller animation models, a 256 GB SSD will be okay but for professionals and larger projects, a higher SSD of 512 GB or a combination of 1 TB HDD and 256 GB SSD storage is ideal.

However, it is no good to have 128 GB or lower SSD in a laptop for 2D animation.

Display

Finally, the display of the laptop or 2D animation should come with a better resolution, preferably of 1080p. This will be good enough and suffice all your project needs.

However, avoid those 4K displays because you do not need to spend on something unnecessarily, and these screens come with a heavy price tag.

Moreover, such high-resolution displays may even present some issues with a few of the software programs that you will need to use for 2D animation.

As for the size of the screen, bigger the better. However, be informed that, larger the size of the screen, the more will be its weight.

Nevertheless, a larger screen will allow you to see the images more clearly and more frames with more minute details.

Ideally, if your budget permits, you should even avoid those 13” laptops unless you need a machine that is extremely portable.

FAQs:

Is a gaming laptop good for 2D animation?

Yes, of course. These laptops usually come with more powerful and dedicated GPUs and faster CPUs. These features make these laptops the best machines for animation as well. However, if you choose to buy a gaming laptop for 2D animation, expect it to be bulkier and bigger in size, have a very loud gaming look, but with better airflow and enhanced performance. If that is your biggest priority, then choose a gaming laptop for 2D animation.

Are integrated graphics in a laptop good enough to power 2D animation software?

If the brand of the integrated graphics is Intel, then it is not. Ideally, the latest AMD Ryzen Vega chips are much more capable in comparison to Intel when it comes to powering up 2D animation software or any other similar and complex processes. A dedicated graphics card is much more suitable for these jobs that uses a large amount of graphics intensive resources for enhanced visual performance and to test games.

How does a 144 Hz screen in a laptop help in 2D animation?

It is always better to have a laptop that comes with a screen with a higher refresh rate. This means that a screen with 144 Hz refresh rate will provide a better and higher user experience and will be snappier than a screen with 60 Hz refresh rate. This will be particularly useful and provide you with the smoothest of experience when you have to deal with a complex interface. While designing games, it will also help you to test it at a higher quality.

Is SSD storage necessary in a laptop for 2D animation?

Ideally, it is better to have a full SSD storage in a laptop for 2D animation. This is because, at the end of the day, all you would look for is speed and convenience as well as a better user experience. An SSD storage will offer better read and write speeds which will in turn result in better and faster rendering among other things. However, there is no harm in going for a laptop with SSD and HDD storage combination.

How much should I spend on a laptop for 2D animation?

This is a relative question and it all depends on the use of the laptop itself as well as the varied types and intensity of the apps, tools, and software you intend to use on it. You may have different needs depending on the type of project you are working on. Therefore, you will be better off if you choose a laptop for 2D animation that will cater to all the needs and budget instead of reducing your productivity.