5 Best Workstation Laptops for 3D Rendering in 2021

Best Workstation Laptops for 3D Rendering

3D rendering is the process of adding color, texture and material to a 3D model. Since you need a 3D model before you can render it. The advice in this article assumes all the hardware you need to find the best workstation laptop for 3D rendering without consideration to modeling. Rendering is a CPU-intensive activity. So, when it comes to choosing the best workstation laptops for 3D rendering, you want a machine with a CPU that has a lot of cores. Why? Because the more cores you have, the faster the render. As a rule of thumb: doubling the processor cores cuts the rendering time in half.

IN A HURRY? HERE’S OUR TOP PICKS…

Graphics CardCPURAM
1.Asus ProArt Studio Pro 17Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000/6GB vRAM Intel Xeon Hexa-Core E-2276M32GBCheck
2.Lenovo ThinkPad P15Nvidia Quadro T2000/4GB vRAMIntel Hexa-Core i7-10750H4GBCheck
3.MSI WS65 9TLNvidia Quadro RTX 4000/8GB vRAMIntel Hexa-Core i7-9750H32GBCheck
4.HP ZBook Firefly 14 G7NVIDIA Quadro P520/4GB vRAMIntel Quad-Core i7-10510U16GBCheck
5.Dell Precision 7550Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000/6GB vRAMIntel Hexa-Core i7-10750H 16GBCheck

Best Workstation Laptops for 3D Rendering – Reviews

1.    Asus ProArt StuidoBook Pro 17

ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro 17 Mobile Workstation, 17” WUXGA NanoEdge Bezel Display, Intel Xeon E-2276M, 32GB ECC DDR4, 2TB PCIe SSD RAID 0, NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000, Win10 Pro, Star Gray, W700G3T-XS99
  • 17.0'' WUXGA 16:10 ratio panel (1920*1200) NanoEdge matte display; 97% DCI-P3 wide color gamut; Pantone validated color accuracy; Delta E<2, 8-bits color depth
  • Intel Xeon E-2276M hexa-core Processor 2.8GHz (up to 4.7GHz) with Windows 10 Professional
  • NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 Max-Q with 6GB GDDR6 VRAM - RTX Studio Ready
  • Fast storage and memory featuring 2TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD in RAID 0 (1+1) with 32GB ECC DRR4 RAM (upgradable up to 64GB)
  • Extensive connectivity with HDMI, USB-C Thunderbolt 3, SD card reader, USB 3.2 Gen 1 (*USB Transfer speed may vary. Learn more at ASUS website)

Last update on 2021-10-13 at 12:37 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Asus ProArt Studio Pro 17 is an impressive desktop replacement for a rendering pro. The Hexa-Core Xeon processor, Nvidia Quadro RTX 300 GPU, 32GB of RAM and gorgeous Pantone-validated display can handle all your 3D rendering needs.

ProArt is a relatively new series for Asus. The ProArt Studio Pro carries more than 100 ISV (independent software vendor) certifications for specialized and demanding apps with optimized drivers. It’s dark magnesium-alloy chassis measures 15×11.3×0.72 inches with angled, diamond-cut edges and tips the scale at 5.27 pounds. It’s passed MIL-STD 810G military-grade tests for surviving stresses such as vibration, altitude, and temperatures extremes.

The ProArt Studio Pro 17 draws attention with a stunning 17-inch display packed into what looks like a 15-inch chassis. The NanoEdge bezel gives the workstation a screen-to-body ratio of 84%. This makes for an unusual 16:10 aspect ratio. It’s 1920×1200 pixel resolution features a wide color gamut with color adjustment technology for precise color calibration.

The combination six-core Intel Xeon E-2276M processor, 32GB ECC DDR4 RAMe and Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 graphics card are poised to handle all the 3D rendering task you can throw it.

Transferring files is easily done thanks 2TB PCIe SSD RAID 0 set. The new Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) wireless protocol and dual-band Bluetooth 5.0 and Windows 10 Pro come standard. On the left side is a Thunderbolt 3 port, an HDMI port, a USB 3.1 Type-A port, an audio jack and SD card slot. And on the right are two USB 3.1 Type-A ports.

Pros:

  • Beautiful 16:10 aspect ratio screen
  • Great rendering performance
  • Thin and light enough to be easily managed for a 17-inch laptop

Cons:

  • Touchpad integrated numeric keypad is easy to trigger
  • Only one Thunderbolt 3 port

2.    Lenovo ThinkPad P15

Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 1 Laptop, Intel Core i7-10750H, 32GB DDR4 SDRAM, 512GB SSD, NVIDIA Quadro T2000 4GB, Windows 10 Pro (20ST004DUS)
  • 2.60 GHz Intel Core i7-10750H Hexa-core Processor
  • 32GB DDR4 SDRAM | 512GB SSD
  • 15.6" Full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS Display
  • NVIDIA Quadro T2000 4GB GDDR6 Graphics
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Edition

Last update on 2021-10-13 at 12:37 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Lenovo has simplified its mobile workstation lineup with the ThinkPad P15 replacing the ThinkPad P53 as the new fully loaded flagship.

Instead of the magnesium alloy body that’s common with its rivals. The ThinkPad P15 is a matte-black-slab made of a glass-fiber-reinforced plastic. Weighing 6.05 pounds, this bruiser of a machine measures 14.8×9.9×1.24 inches. And it’s passed the same MIL-STD 810G torture tests against shock, vibration and environmental extremes as its rivals.

As a plus-size laptop, it sports unfashionably huge bezels surrounding the IPS screen. But the 15.6-inch screen is exceptionally good, able to cover 100% of the color gamut. Brightness and contrast are off the charts with rich, vivid, lush, saturated colors and wide viewing angles.

Equipped with a colossal six-core Intel i7 processor and 4GB Nvidia Quadro T2000 GPU. It’s a spectacular performer. Lenovo’s Performance Tuner utility optimizes power and visual-effects settings for popular programs. Commercial Vantage centralizes system updates, camera, microphone and keyboard settings and Wi-Fi security.

Ports are plentiful, including HDMI, USB 3.2 Type-A ports, a SmartCard slot and audio jack on the left. On the right is a USB-A 3.2 port and an SD card slot. And out back are three USB-C ports (two with Thunderbolt 3 capability), and an Ethernet port. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 6 come standard.

Pros:

  • Blazing CPU and GPU performance
  • Fantastically bright and colorful display
  • Full array of ports
  • Fine keyboard

Cons:

  • Heavy chassis
  • 4TB storage ceiling

3.    MSI WS65 9TL

MSI WS65 9TL-686 15.6" FHD Thin and Light Mobile Workstation Intel Core i7-9750H Quadro RTX 4000 32GB 512G NVMe SSD Win10 Pro TPM2.0 TB3 Fingerprint
  • 15.6" Fhd (1920*1080), IPS-Level 60Hz 72%NTSC thin Bezel, 100%srgb1920x1080 16: 9NVIDIA Quadro RTX 40008GB GDDR5
  • Nvidia Quadro RTX 40008GB GDDR5 HDMI-Out 4K @ 60Hz
  • Hdd 512GB NVMe SSD 32GB (16G*2) DDR4 2666MHz 2 Sockets; Max Memory 64GB
  • Cpu Core i7-9750h 2.6 - 4.5GHz Infineon SLB 9665
  • Thunderbolt 3*1 USB 3.1 x 3 Wireless Intel 9560 Jefferson Peak (2x2 802.11 AC) bt 5 720P HD Webcam

Last update on 2021-10-13 at 12:37 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Depending on how deep your pockets are, the prodigiously priced MSI WS65 9TL is a powerful workstation laptop with a super slim, durable chassis.

Taking cues from brand-mates like the MSI GS75 Stealth and MSI S65 Stealth Thin. The WS65 9TL sports a svelte aluminum chassis that measures 14.1×9.8×0.7 inches and weighs 4.3 pounds. Although skinny and light, it doesn’t sacrifice durability, surpassing several MIL-STD 810G tests. It can withstand sand, dust, vibrations, shocks, low- and high-pressure altitudes and extreme temperatures.

Inside is just as sleek with a vivid 15.6-inch full HD screen. It’s packed with some beefy components like an Intel Core i7-9750H processor, 32GB of memory, a 512GB NVMe SSD and Nvidia Quadro RTX 4000 graphics card. The downside of all this rendering power is that the laptop gets hot. Seriously, the underside of the laptop can reach temperatures of 118 degrees Fahrenheit, which is way above the 95-degree comfort threshold.

A plethora of ports includes a security lock slot, an RJ45 Ethernet port, two USB 3.2 Type-A ports, a microphone jack and a headphone jack on the left. And on the right is an HDMI 2.0 port, mini-DisplayPort, one Thunderbolt 3 port and one USB 3.2 Type-A port.

Pros:

  • Slim, lightweight design
  • Gorgeous display
  • Strong performance and graphics
  • Military-grade durability and security

Cons:

  • Laptop gets toasty under pressure

4.    HP ZBook Firefly 14 G7

HP 14" ZBook Firefly 14 G7 Laptop, Intel Core i7-10510U, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, NVIDIA Quadro P520, Windows 10 Pro (1Q3U7UT#ABA)
  • 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7-10510U Quad-Core Processor
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM | 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD
  • 14" 1920 x 1080 Anti-Glare IPS Display
  • NVIDIA Quadro P520 (4GB GDDR5)
  • Windows 10 Pro (64-Bit) Edition

Last update on 2021-10-13 at 12:37 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re looking for another mobile workstation that’s lightweight and one that’s easier on your budget. Then the HP ZBook Firefly 14 G7 is entry-level workstation laptop worth considering. While many mobile workstations are hulking, the revamped HP ZBook Firefly 14 G7 takes a much less traveled approach.

The laptop measures 12.73×8.45×0.71 inches and weighs just 2.96 pounds, which qualifies it as an ultraportable. Open the lid and you are greeted with a 14-inch screen in stunning FHD resolution. It has an anti-glare finish that makes it easier to see in bright rooms.

As a result of its thin design, however, the components powering this machine are just powerful enough to barely classify it as a workstation. The relatively high-end configuration consists of a quad-core i7-10510U processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and Nvidia’s Quadro P520 graphics card boasting 4GB of vRAM. It’s the perfect system if you’re just starting out with rendering. Yet it packs a bit more in power than the ZBook Studio aimed at creatives.

Although there’s not a ton of spare room for ports, there’s a useful array of connection options including two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports, HDMI output, two USB Type-C ports supporting Thunderbolt 3 and a headphone/microphone combo jack. Wireless connections include Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. And optional LTE connectivity that works with a physical SIM card from either A&T or Verizon.

Pros:

  • Exceptionally thin and light
  • Gorgeous display
  • HDMI output

Cons:

  • Occasional fan and coil noise

5.    Dell Precision 7550

Sale
Dell Precision 7550 Mobile Workstation - 15.6" FHD AG - 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-10750H Six-Core - 512GB SSD - 16GB - Quadro RTX 3000 6GB - Win10 Pro
  • Dell Precision 7550 Mobile Workstation - Onsite/In-Home Service After Remote Diagnosis, 3 Years
  • 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-10750H Six-Core - 15.6 inch FHD (1920 x 1080) Wide View Angle Anti-Glare 60Hz 220-nits 45% NTSC Non-Touch Display
  • 512GB PCIe M.2 NVMe Class 40 Solid State Drive - 16GB 3200MHz DDR4 Non-ECC
  • NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 6GB GDDR6 - US English Single Pointing Non Backlit Keyboard
  • windows 10 pro - Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 2x2 802.11ax Dual Band + Bluetooth 5 - Palmrest with SmartCard Reader

Last update on 2021-10-13 at 12:37 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Another excellent contender for light duty rendering is the Dell Precision 7550. It has enough expandability and configurability to compete at the top of the mobile workstation class the higher up your configuration goes.

Dell says the chassis is 19% smaller than its predecessor. It’s a gently tapered silver aluminum slab measuring 14.2×9.5×1.08 inches weighing in at almost 5.3 pounds. And its passed MIL-STD 810G torture tests against road hazards such as shock, vibration and environmental extremes.

There are lots of configuration options with lower end units that barely qualify the laptop as a mobile workstation. This unit comes with an Intel hexa-core i7-10750H processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 graphics with 6GB of vRAM.

Dell Optimizer uses artificial intelligence to fine-tune the system for the applications you use most often. Power Manager and Command Update utilities get the most from the battery and keep the BIOS, drivers, and firmware fresh. Dell SupportAssist handles other downloads, removes junk files and enhances your network connection.

Two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a SmartCard reader flank the left side. While two USB 3.2 Type-A ports join an SD card slot and audio jack on the right. Along the rear is a mini-DisplayPort and HDMI video outputs, along with an Ethernet jack.

Pros:

  • 10th gen Core i7
  • Stunning FHD display
  • Plenty of ports
  • Smart Dell Optimizer software with proximity sensor

Cons:

  • Thick bezels
Laptop
Our Top Choice
ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro 17 Mobile Workstation, 17” WUXGA NanoEdge Bezel Display, Intel Xeon E-2276M, 32GB ECC DDR4, 2TB PCIe SSD RAID 0, NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000, Win10 Pro, Star Gray, W700G3T-XS99
Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 1 Laptop, Intel Core i7-10750H, 32GB DDR4 SDRAM, 512GB SSD, NVIDIA Quadro T2000 4GB, Windows 10 Pro (20ST004DUS)
MSI WS65 9TL-686 15.6" FHD Thin and Light Mobile Workstation Intel Core i7-9750H Quadro RTX 4000 32GB 512G NVMe SSD Win10 Pro TPM2.0 TB3 Fingerprint
Specs
ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro 17 Mobile Workstation, 17” WUXGA NanoEdge Bezel Display, Intel Xeon E-2276M, 32GB ECC DDR4, 2TB PCIe SSD RAID 0, NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000, Win10 Pro, Star Gray, W700G3T-XS99
Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 1 Laptop, Intel Core i7-10750H, 32GB DDR4 SDRAM, 512GB SSD, NVIDIA Quadro T2000 4GB, Windows 10 Pro (20ST004DUS)
MSI WS65 9TL-686 15.6" FHD Thin and Light Mobile Workstation Intel Core i7-9750H Quadro RTX 4000 32GB 512G NVMe SSD Win10 Pro TPM2.0 TB3 Fingerprint
Rating
-
Our Top Choice
Laptop
ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro 17 Mobile Workstation, 17” WUXGA NanoEdge Bezel Display, Intel Xeon E-2276M, 32GB ECC DDR4, 2TB PCIe SSD RAID 0, NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000, Win10 Pro, Star Gray, W700G3T-XS99
Specs
ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro 17 Mobile Workstation, 17” WUXGA NanoEdge Bezel Display, Intel Xeon E-2276M, 32GB ECC DDR4, 2TB PCIe SSD RAID 0, NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000, Win10 Pro, Star Gray, W700G3T-XS99
Rating
Customer Review
Laptop
Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 1 Laptop, Intel Core i7-10750H, 32GB DDR4 SDRAM, 512GB SSD, NVIDIA Quadro T2000 4GB, Windows 10 Pro (20ST004DUS)
Specs
Lenovo ThinkPad P15 Gen 1 Laptop, Intel Core i7-10750H, 32GB DDR4 SDRAM, 512GB SSD, NVIDIA Quadro T2000 4GB, Windows 10 Pro (20ST004DUS)
Rating
Customer Review
Laptop
MSI WS65 9TL-686 15.6" FHD Thin and Light Mobile Workstation Intel Core i7-9750H Quadro RTX 4000 32GB 512G NVMe SSD Win10 Pro TPM2.0 TB3 Fingerprint
Specs
MSI WS65 9TL-686 15.6" FHD Thin and Light Mobile Workstation Intel Core i7-9750H Quadro RTX 4000 32GB 512G NVMe SSD Win10 Pro TPM2.0 TB3 Fingerprint
Rating
-
Customer Review

Last update on 2021-10-13 at 12:37 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

FAQs

What key feature should you look for in a workstation for 3D rendering?
When shopping for the best workstation for 3D rendering, you’re looking for a machine with a powerful processor. For graphics, either an AMD Threadripper or a monstrous Nvidia graphics card of the RTX variety will do. 64GB of RAM would be optimal. You also want a storage capacity of at least 1TB, preferably SSD. A setup like this will go a long way to ensure swift rendering performance.

Is it possible to use a gaming notebook for 3D rendering?

Yes. But be sure that you connect a powerful graphics card to your system because you’ll need adequate power and graphics memory to handle complex 3D rendering tasks properly.

How much storage space do I need in my laptop for professional 3D rendering?

The more space you have in your laptop, the less time you’ll have to wait for files to transfer. It’s recommended that you go for a larger storage drive capacity and choose a hard drive with solid-state technology over an ordinary hard disk drive because it offers higher speeds that reduce boot times and improve rendering performance.

What is the best operating system for 3D rendering?

The best operating system for 3D rendering is Windows 10. It allows powerful software to run smoothly on your system. It offers easy software installation thanks to a built-in Windows store that allows you to download apps and games.

How do NVIDIA GeForce and NVIDIA Quadro GPUs differ?

GeForce is a line of gaming graphics cards made by NVIDIA, while Quadro is a professional-grade solution that features 3D rendering and video editing software designed for designers and artists. They differ in their capability to handle complex 3D modeling and rendering tasks with the NVIDIA Quadro GPUs being a more potent choice.

What are the best CPUs for rendering?

There are two popular methods for rendering images and animation using 3D software: CPU rendering and GPU rendering. CPU rendering utilizes the processor cores for rendering images. The vague answer is to get a workstation laptop with a CPU that has as a high core-count.

These are some really good choices:

  • AMD Threadripper
  • Intel i9 or Xeon

Why is it important to get a CPU with as many cores as possible? Because the rendering engine assigns a “bucket” to each CPU core so that each core renders a bucket. The CPU uses all available cores 100% of the time during the rendering process. Once one bucket is completed by the core, it gets a new one.

How fast should the processor be for rendering?

It might be tempting to think that you need a workstation laptop with the fastest CPU. But CPU clock speed is not as important for rendering as it is for modeling. Typically, the more cores a CPU has, the slower the clock speed. This is due to power consumption and heat limits.

What are the best graphics cards for 3D rendering?

Here are the best GPUs for rendering in no particular order:

  1. AMD Radeon Prop WX 8200
  2. PNY NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000
  3. Asus ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2080Ti
  4. AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100
  5. PNY NVIDIA Quadro P4000

GPU rendering relies on the graphics card. To choose the best workstation laptops for 3D rendering, you should know that almost every popular 3D software comes with a built-in CPU rendering engine.

But recently, 3D software like Redshift, Octane and FurryBall have begun to fully take over CPU rendering engines. Why? Because in many cases, GPU rendering engines provide extremely fast and interactive preview renders.

Some of the most popular modern GPU rendering Engines are Octane and Redshift, which are supported by NVIDIA GPUs. And VRAY-RT and Cycles, which are supported by AMD (OpenCL) GPUs.

While AMD GPUs have great value and it’s supported by some Engines. NVIDIA GPUs have a much wider support in GPU Rendering Engines and tend to perform better in many content creation workloads.

How much RAM do you need for 3D rendering?

This depends on the type of rendering you’re doing. You don’t need as much RAM for lightweight 3D rendering as you do for models with extremely high polygon counts.

If you’re on a strict budget or just starting out, 16GB is enough. On average you’ll need 32GB of RAM. High poly meshes use lots of large textures or have thousands of objects making up the vista. You won’t hate yourself for getting 64GB of RAM.  

The speed of the RAM only matters if you opt for a workstation laptop with an AMD Threadripper APU. That’s because some components making up Threadripper APUs are linked to the memory clock speed, which means they’re better able to take advantage of RAM modules with higher MHz (megahertz).

ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro 17 Mobile Workstation, 17” WUXGA NanoEdge Bezel Display, Intel Xeon E-2276M, 32GB ECC DDR4, 2TB PCIe SSD RAID 0, NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000, Win10 Pro, Star Gray, W700G3T-XS99
  • 17.0'' WUXGA 16:10 ratio panel (1920*1200) NanoEdge matte display; 97% DCI-P3 wide color gamut; Pantone validated color accuracy; Delta E<2, 8-bits color depth
  • Intel Xeon E-2276M hexa-core Processor 2.8GHz (up to 4.7GHz) with Windows 10 Professional
  • NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 Max-Q with 6GB GDDR6 VRAM - RTX Studio Ready
  • Fast storage and memory featuring 2TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD in RAID 0 (1+1) with 32GB ECC DRR4 RAM (upgradable up to 64GB)
  • Extensive connectivity with HDMI, USB-C Thunderbolt 3, SD card reader, USB 3.2 Gen 1 (*USB Transfer speed may vary. Learn more at ASUS website)

Last update on 2021-10-13 at 12:37 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

In Summary

Do you need a mobile workstation for 3D rendering? Well, it depends on the level of rendering you’re doing. If your rendering workload is relatively lightweight, laptops have improved a lot recently. But still fall short of the kind of hardware required for advanced 3D rendering tasks. Rendering takes the data from 3D modeling and enhances it using 3D rendering software to add detail and create a smooth presentation with a variety of different colors and finishing options. Therefore, whatever laptop you choose must have a robust CPU with plenty of cores for CPU rendering. GPU rendering is graphics cards intensive and will require a graphics card that’s up to the challenge with plenty of vRAM.