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Top 10 Best Computers For Animators

Computers are incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Human beings are incredibly slow, inaccurate, and brilliant. Together they are powerful beyond imagination.”

Albert Einstein

Ah, the age-old question: what do I buy, and why? In this case, we’re talking about computers and not just those big towers you might be used to.

There are many reasons you might want to use a solid standing PC tower, light and compact laptop, or a sleek and shiny MacBook, and we’re going to cover all of them right here.

In this blog post, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about what type of computer you should consider for animation, as well as list the top 10 best pre-built machines out there on the market right now.

So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

What Animators Should Look For In A Computer

what do you need to know when buying the best computer for animators

Gif by CBS via Giphy

Some of the best computers out there right now are going to rank high in this list for consideration purely because of our animation software requirements as animators these days.

Your chief concerns as animators should be whether the machine has a powerful enough Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), a color-accurate display (in the case of laptops), and enough Random Access Memory (RAM) to handle the high-end rendering you’ll be taking on.

Thankfully, laptops and MacBooks have come a long way to catch up to PCs, with newer, stronger hardware being introduced all the time. The customizability after acquiring your laptop is, of course, still limited, which we’ll touch on later, but the sheer increase in options is ultimately amazing.

Of course, you will have your own preferences and assumptions of what might be best, and we understand that. Everyone does. Regardless, it always helps to receive a fresh perspective of what the market looks like right now, and that’s what we’re going to do.

To Build The Best Computer For Animators Or Not

should you build the best computer for animators yourself

GIF by Star Wars via Giphy

The answer to the question: “should I buy a PC or just build one myself” is one not very easily answered for some. For a lot of people, that might not even cross their minds, which is totally fine. Most people want to just buy something and get to using it. But there’s a certain degree of satisfaction and reward gained by building something yourself.

And of course, there are several pros and cons to each. For example, pre-built computers allow you to get up and running immediately, but they might not have all the components you want or need.

If you want to ensure the best quality, you might want to consider building your own PC, but that could end up costing you a heck of a lot more than you imagined you would, and it might be more stressful and time-consuming if you’re unfamiliar with the process.

There are a large number of guides you can follow from professionals in the animation industry that will help you decide whether or not to buy or build.

There are also a number of online PC builders that you can use as tools to figure out exactly what it is you need as an animator and what you can afford - budget or otherwise.

Just remember to take your time and, and we can’t overstate this enough, do your research!

The Age-Old Debate - Mac vs PC

is mac vs pc a debate in looking for the best computer for pc

Gif by Marcie LaCerte via Giphy

Right, let's tackle this, shall we?

Apple vs Windows. Which is better?

The answer, both unsurprising and rather uncontentious, is both. Technically. It depends.

In trying to effectively answer this question, it’s best not to go to places like Reddit where the platform is known for heated debates tasked with not solving the world’s problems, and instead to look to actual science and technology forums, or like-minded areas of the internet. 

It’s also important to consider the objective viewpoint of “this piece of hardware is objectively faster”. So let’s talk about it a little bit.

When you think about what a computer is supposed to do, what is it you think about? Is it whether or not it can tackle a problem effectively and smoothly? Or maybe handle a variety of problems simultaneously without suffering?

Is it whether or not you can customize the look of the computer and decide what goes inside? Or is it whether or not the machine can be pushed to its limits to achieve breakneck processing speeds?

Depending on what you as a user are looking for in a computer, whether it be animation, gaming, writing, or just watching movies, the best computer for you is always a different answer.

the details of whether to choose mac vs pc in animation computers may vary

Image by Shane Aldendorff via Pexels

Windows-running PCs and Laptops are well known for their near limitless customization, both of the outside tower and everything you end up attaching to the motherboard. Whereas iOs-running iMacs and MacBooks are well known for being sleek, consistent, and powerful, attached with a pricetag, we’re all familiar with.

As mentioned before, as an animator, you want to be able to run heavy-duty tasks, sometimes simultaneously, such as rendering and animation, and depending on your preferences, the best computer for you will be different.

Computers with strong CPUs and impressive GPUs, as well as plenty of available storage space (or at the very least the ability to add more), are the ones you need to be looking for.

You also need to take into consideration the limitations of the software available for each machine. Some of the best animation software available for animators such as Maya is available for both Windows and Mac, but something like Anim8or is only available for Windows.

All in all, it’s always good to do your research and have a little conversation with yourself about what kind of user you are, what it is you need as that user, and what you think the best computer for you is.

The Top 10 Best Computers For Animators To Consider

there are many options when choosing the best computer for animators

Gif by Late Night by Seth Meyers via Giphy

With all that’s been said, here is more or less a list of the top 10 best computers you as an animator should consider in no particular order. 

And as always, take everything we say with as many pinches of salt as you need. Remember to always do your own research as well, and take your time with decision-making before spending money.

We’ll be splitting it up into PCs (that can and will include Macs) and Laptops (that can and will include MacBooks).

1. iBUYPOWER Gaming PC Computer Desktop Element 9260
gaming desktops are often regarded as great computers for animators

Image via Amazon

Specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-9700F
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • Storage: 240GB SSD & 1TB HDD

Pros:

  • Excellent performance quality
  • Comes with a keyboard and mouse combo

Cons:

  • Limited included space for SSD

This PC may fall under the “budget PC” category because of its performance-to-price ratio, but that won’t stop it from blowing its competitors out of the water.

Its hardware is more than capable of running the appropriate animation software and handling high-end rendering. 

By itself, it's a fantastic machine, and as with all PCs, is able to be upgraded after the fact.

2. Skytech Blaze 3.0 (3700X)
a powerful GPU and processor are needed for a good animation computer

Image via Skytech Gaming

Specs:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
  • GPU: NVIDIA RTX 3070
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • Storage: 1TB SSD

Pros:

  • Incredibly powerful hardware installed
  • Very large SSD

Cons:

  • Doesn’t come with a built-in HDD

This is a monster, and we don’t mean that lightly. It features the Ryzen 7 CPUs, which is perfect for animation because of its raw power.

The RTX 3070 is also an incredible piece of GPU hardware and features a fantastic 8GB of memory, which will greatly aid the 3D animating process.

The large SSD makes up slightly for the lack of inclusion of an HDD, but that much can be changed, much like the 16GB of RAM.

For something you can guarantee won’t fall into obsolescence in several years, the Skytech is definitely worth considering.

3. Alienware Aurora
it doesn't hurt to have an attractive system to animate on

Image via Dell

Specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-10700KF
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 2080 Super 6GB
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • Storage: 512GB SSD & 1TB HDD

Pros:

  • Well-thought-out internal layout
  • Incredible built-in hardware

Cons:

  • Interesting design might be a deterrent
  • Pricey 

Alienware is well known for creating and releasing high-end hardware, ranging from PCs to Laptops and everything in between, so it’s no surprise that one gets included on this list.

Although more often than not marketed towards gamers, these types of machines are often a great idea of what you might need for animation as most animation software and videogames have similar requirements.

The Alienware Aurora can also be configured in different ways - fun!

4. Apple iMac Pro
the apple imac pro is one of the best animation computers that one can't go wrong with

Image via Amazon

Specs:

  • CPU: Intel Xeon W
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56
  • RAM: 32GB DDR4
  • Storage: 256BG or 512GB option

Pros:

  • Gorgeous 5K Retina display
  • Powerful performance capabilities

Cons:

  • Cannot be upgraded
  • Height cannot be adjusted

Apple definitely knows how to make hardware worth the price, as is evident in the new iMac Pro 27-inch. The internal construction is beautiful and well-made, and the external design compliments it nicely.

The downsides are of course evident across the Apple-sphere, in that upgrading the iMac is impossible. So if something isn’t to your liking, or you find that it just doesn’t work for you, you’ll have to find an alternative.

5. OMEN by HP Obelisk
hp makes some of the best computers for animation in their obelisk line of desktops

Image via Omen

Specs:

  • CPU: Intel 10-Core i9-10850K
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090
  • RAM: HyperX 16GB DDR4
  • Storage: 512GB SSD & 1TB HDD

Pros:

  • Excellent performance quality
  • Beautiful sleek design
  • Versatile and easily upgradeable

Cons:

  • Internal fans are quite noisy
  • Quite pricey unless an extreme power user

When we say this tower is a remarkable specimen, we don’t say this lightly. The specs alone speak for themselves, boasting an incredibly powerful 10th-gen 10-Core i9 CPU, and a fantastic GeForce RTX 3090 GPU. The HyperX 16GB of RAM is a nice touch as well, and has the space to double that up to 32GB.

A large amount of storage space also means you can hold a variety of animation software and all your projects with ease.

It’s also pretty, that’s gotta count for something right?

6. MacBook Pro 16-inch (M1)
m1 macbooks are made for pros and for effortless animations

Image via Amazon

Specs:

  • CPU: Apple M1 Pro 10-core / M1 Max 10-core
  • GPU: Integrated 16-core / 32-core GPU
  • RAM: up to 64BG
  • Storage: up to 8TB

Pros:

  • Insane performance quality
  • Extremely long-living battery

Cons:

  • Can be too big for some
  • Quite expensive

Apple’s new M1 CPU chips are the most powerful things Apple has released into the world and is Apple’s way of transitioning away from Intel chips.

They’re silicon-based and integrate several different components, such as the CPU, GPU, RAM, and more. The chips boast an increase of up to 3.9x faster video processing and up to 7.1x faster image processing. You can read up more on why the chip is so impressive in the link above.

This is easily considered the best laptop for animation you can buy, and because of the M1 chip, you can handle even the most complex animations.

The MacBook also boasts a large number of external ports, including HDMI and memory card slots, so you can use your drawing tablets and extra monitors as well.

7. MacBook Pro 14-inch (M1)
the m1 macbook pro is perfect for professional and enthusiast animators

Image via Amazon

Specs:

  • CPU: Apple M1 Pro chip 8-core
  • GPU: Integrated 14-core GPU
  • RAM: 16GB - 64GB unified memory
  • Storage: 512GB - 8TB

Pros:

  • Similarly to the above MacBook, large battery life and incredible performance quality

Cons:

  • Expensive

As outlined above, the MacBook 14-inch is very similar to its large cousin, utilizing a slightly downgraded M1 chip and similar integrated GPU, but boasts a smaller, more compact, and manageable screen size. Its design also lends itself to be quite thin and light, compared to other laptops on the market.

The battery life is seriously impressive, allowing you to work all day and still have battery life leftover: perfect for mobile freelancers.

8. Razer Blade 17
the razer blade 17 is perfect for both animators and gamers

Image via Amazon

Specs:

  • CPU: 12th Gen Intel Core i7
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 3080 Ti
  • RAM: 32GB DDR5
  • Storage: 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD

Pros:

  • Powerful performance quality
  • Beautiful modern keyboard and overall design factor

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Battery life is on the shorter side

Razer has managed to combine most of their most powerful mobile components available right now into a sleek and beautiful design yet again.

Without spending all of the money you will ever have, the GPU you get with the Blade 17 is the absolute best you can acquire and really does well handling even the most complex animations. The ray tracing capabilities are also stunning and help to justify the price tag.

The 17-inch screen also means you won’t necessarily have to break the bank acquiring another monitor if you’re comfortable working on a laptop screen.

If your focus is on high-end 3D animation, consider grabbing this piece of hardware. If not, maybe don’t.

9. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
the microsoft surface laptop 4 is made for creatives like animators

Image via Amazon

Specs:

  • CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5 / i7 OR AMD Ryzen 5 / 7
  • GPU: Intel Iris Xe OR AMD Radeon
  • RAM: 8GB - 32GB DDR4
  • Storage: 256GB - 1TB SSD

Pros:

  • Brilliant performance and beautiful screen
  • Built-in PixelSense touchscreen

Cons:

  • Not enough ports

If Apple ain’t your thing, maybe Microsoft has the answer.

The Microsoft Surface 4 is a great Windows-based alternative to the MacBooks. While Microsoft may be more known for software, their machines are definitely worth the bucks.

The Surface 4 is a great example of Microsoft’s integrated graphics and touchscreen capabilities - there’s also a great deal of customization and configuration available depending on your personal preference for components.

The one downfall is, unfortunately its shorter battery life.

10. Acer Spin 5 
the acer spin 5 is perfect for animators on a budget

Image via Amazon

Specs:

  • CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5 / i7
  • GPU: Intel Iris Plus
  • RAM: 8Gb - 16GB DDR4
  • Storage: 256GB - 512GB SSD

Pros:

  • Brilliant battery life
  • Stylus is included
  • Displays a vast array of colors and a beautiful brightness

Cons:

  • 3:2 display is not ideal as it doesn’t work so well for 16:9 video

Finally, let's give you one of the most affordable laptops on the market right now.

Out of all the computers listed here, the Acer Spin 5 is the most affordable but probably not the strongest.

Because it doesn’t have a dedicated GPU though, the more complex animations it will struggle with. But, if you’re not a high-end graphical animator, it might still work well for you. And much like the Microsoft Surface 4 mentioned above, the screen can be flipped and used like a tablet with the available stylus, a wonderful tool for animators to have indeed.

So Many Choices For The Best Computer For Animators

Figuring out which PC is the best computer for you, an animator, can be tough. One of the defining tribulations is that different software have different hardware requirements.

The best computers for animation are usually powerhouses in their own rights and are fantastic pieces of gaming hardware as well, so ask around in the gaming circles as well as to which computers are the best, and which components are top of the range as well.

Just remember, there are a lot of animation resources you can use at your disposal to help you every step of the way.
For more info about the best computers for animators, being a freelance animator, as well as answers to any other questions you might have, be sure to follow our blogs, check out our free masterclass, download a copy of our free marketing handbook, and check out our blog on “How to Start an Animation Studio”!

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