In the ever-evolving world of technology, the intersection between laptops and 3D printing has become increasingly significant. As someone who has navigated this landscape, I can attest to the importance of choosing the right tools. Now, you might be wondering, “What do laptops have to do with 3D printing?” Well, let me enlighten you.
Imagine the scene: A desktop 3D printer humming away, diligently crafting a design layer by layer. Behind this seemingly magical process lies a chain of complex tasks that bring digital models into the physical realm. At the very beginning of this chain is the critical role played by our trusty companion – the laptop.
Indeed, the world of 3D printing, whether it’s creating intricate jewelry, architectural models, or even prosthetic limbs, is heavily dependent on the power of your laptop. You see, before a design can be brought to life by the printer, it starts as a concept in a designer’s mind, translated into a 3D model using software applications that require a robust and reliable laptop. The best laptops for 3D printing aren’t just devices; they are the unsung heroes, the silent partners in bringing your creative visions to life.
Our Top Picks
- ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 – Editor’s Choice
- Razer Blade 14
- HP Pavilion 15 – Budget Pick
- ASUS ROG Strix G15
- Acer Predator Helios 300
- Apple MacBook Pro 2022 M2
- Acer Nitro 5
- Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3
- MSI GF63 2023
- ASUS Vivobook Pro 15
10 Best Laptops for 3D Printing in 2023
Selecting the best laptop for 3D printing activities is crucial. Your laptop acts as the control center in the 3D printing process. It handles everything from the initial 3D design creation in CAD software, to the slicing of the model into printable layers, to the actual control of the 3D printer. A powerful laptop ensures smooth operation throughout this process, minimizing errors, reducing wait times, and ultimately, resulting in higher quality printouts.
In this article, we’re embarking on a journey to explore this intricate relationship between laptops and 3D printing, and most importantly, guide you towards finding the best laptops for 3D printing, tailored to your specific needs.
1. ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 – Editor’s Choice
The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 secures the top position in our list for the best laptops suitable for 3D printing. Endowed with an i7 processor, paired with the powerful RTX 3070 GPU, this device has shown exemplary performance in gaming and software development, and especially in handling 3D printing software. The reviews illustrate it's highly capable of managing demanding tasks and complex modeling. The standout feature of this laptop is its dual-screen design - the main screen is complemented by a second, equally clear and vibrant screen. This is a boon for multitasking, offering ample workspace, especially for 3D model previews or managing multiple tools and applications simultaneously. The ZenBook Pro Duo is also praised for its customization options and the 4K resolution of its displays. Its few weaknesses, like heat management and noisy fan operation in performance mode, are dwarfed by its overwhelming strengths and game-changing capabilities for 3D printing tasks.
- Powerful performance
- Dual-screen design
- Exceptional 4K display
- Great for multitasking
- Heat management
- Noisy fan in performance mode
- Keyboard and touchpad adjustments
- Short gaming battery life
The Razer Blade 14 lands in the second spot of our list for the best laptops geared towards 3D printing. Its Ryzen 9 5900HX processor and RTX 3070 GPU provide a sturdy combination that enables it to tackle the intricacies of 3D modeling software with finesse. The Blade 14 offers a high-quality gaming experience with superb QHD performance, making it a versatile companion for both professional work and entertainment. It also excels in heat management, maintaining optimal temperatures even under extended periods of intense usage. Constructed with what users liken to Apple level build quality, the Razer Blade 14's robust and premium feel does not disappoint. The device features a vibrant display perfect for media consumption and 3D model visualization. Its impressive battery life and compact size make it a desirable option for those seeking portability without compromising power. However, some areas for improvement include a shallow keyboard and an over-reliance on Razer's proprietary software.
- Powerful performance
- Excellent thermals
- Premium build quality
- Impressive battery life
- Shallow keyboard
- Mandatory Razer software
- Lack of anti-fingerprint coating
- RGB keyboard settings
3. HP Pavilion 15 – Budget Pick
The HP Pavilion 15 holds an impressive third place in our ranking for 3D printing-capable laptops, thanks to its robust performance and solid user feedback. Users noted the laptop's compact design, without compromising on the larger screen size, as an appealing feature. Additionally, the quality of the WiFi connection was repeatedly praised, unlocking the full potential of the users' internet speed. The laptop's storage capacity met the needs of users' games, music, work projects, and documents, with space left to spare. It also boasted an upgraded graphic card that enhances the gaming and visual experience. The laptop came through for work-related usage, with users mentioning its compatibility with applications like Microsoft Word and Excel. However, reviews did point out a few downsides, like the noticeably loud fans during heavy operations such as gaming and the absence of an inbuilt microphone. Overall, the HP Pavilion 15 offers a well-rounded experience, whether it be for 3D printing, gaming, or professional needs.
- Fast WiFi
- High Storage
- Graphics Upgrade
- Loud Fans
- No Microphone
Coming in at fourth place on our list for 3D printing enthusiasts is the ASUS ROG Strix G15, a laptop that impresses with its top-of-the-line specifications and satisfying performance. According to the reviews, this gaming laptop is armed with a powerful Ryzen 5900HX processor, 32GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce 3070 8GB graphics card, making it a robust tool for complex 3D printing tasks. Users appreciated the device's speed, high-quality build materials, and excellent audio and display capabilities. The laptop's cooling performance, a critical factor for 3D printing, is praised for its effectiveness. However, the ASUS ROG Strix G15 is not without its flaws. Users reported issues with the pre-installed MediaTek WiFi module and the laptop's tendency to revert to outdated Radeon drivers. Some also noted a significant FPS drop when playing games on the laptop's screen, due to the absence of a MUX switch. Despite these issues, reviewers commend the device for its gaming prowess, aesthetic design, and overall value for money.
- Speedy Performance
- Quality Build
- Effective Cooling
- WiFi Problems
- Driver Reversion
- No MUX Switch
The Acer Predator Helios 300 ascends to the top of our ratings as an exceptional laptop for 3D printing tasks. Its popularity emanates from an amalgamation of high-end technical capabilities, decent pricing, and fantastic gaming performance. Packing an i7-11800H CPU coupled with an RTX 3060 GPU, the Helios 300 establishes itself as a heavyweight in the gaming laptop domain and an unexpectedly adept performer in 3D printing tasks.
Users laud its seamless performance while running demanding games and 3D programs. Its expandability, allowing for the addition of more RAM or SSDs, provides future-proofing for evolving needs. It also provides an efficient cooling system, but only when used with an external cooling pad. The Helios 300, despite its robust capabilities, tends to run hot under heavy gaming or processing load.
However, this gaming laptop isn't solely focused on performance. Its capabilities extend to office tasks, rendering files quickly, handling multiple open tabs, and enabling efficient video calls, marking it as a versatile device. With excellent frame rates on high-end games and stellar performance on 3D printing tasks, the Acer Predator Helios 300 delivers both power and value for its price.
- High performance
- Expandable memory
- Versatile use
- Runs hot
- Requires external cooling
The Apple MacBook Pro, landing at number 6 in our list of best laptops for 3D printing, provides a host of powerful features in a slim, stylish shell. Praised by users for its speed and high-quality display, this laptop ensures detailed 3D designs render smoothly and efficiently. The device is powered by Apple's next-generation M2 chip, providing stellar performance for processor-intensive 3D printing software. Its active cooling system helps maintain high performance for prolonged periods, critical for large design projects. The Retina display offers brilliant visuals, and the durable battery allows up to 20 hours of uninterrupted work. Despite minor issues with limited USB ports and non-touchscreen functionality, customers have reported overall satisfaction with this MacBook Pro's functionality and performance, particularly for 3D printing tasks.
- High performance
- Quality display
- Long battery life
- Limited USB ports
- No touchscreen
The Acer Nitro 5 sits comfortably in 7th place in our rankings for 3D printing laptops. Despite its modest pricing, the Nitro 5 makes a strong case for itself among gamers and 3D printing enthusiasts alike. Powered by an i7 processor and equipped with an RTX3050 graphics card, this machine tackles both complex rendering tasks and demanding games smoothly. Buyers praise it for delivering high FPS in games when the RAM is upgraded. Its HDMI port allows users to extend their display to larger screens like TVs, an appreciated feature for those working on detailed 3D models. A recurring theme across reviews is the commendable performance-to-price ratio, making the Nitro 5 an excellent budget-friendly choice. The build quality is seen as fair for the price, and users appreciate the control offered over the separate cooling of the CPU and GPU. However, users also note that it may run hot during high-intensity applications, and its construction feels a bit plastic.
- High performance
- Great value
- Runs hot
- Plastic build
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 is a formidable mid-range laptop ideally positioned for 3D printing tasks, earning the 8th spot in our rating. Despite its reasonable price, the IdeaPad stands out due to its impressive performance, agility, and upgradeability. It houses a potent AMD Ryzen 5 processor and an older but adequate GTX 1650 GPU, allowing it to handle diverse tasks without a hitch. The 120Hz display is a bonus at this price point, offering superior visual quality that aids in 3D modeling and rendering tasks. Users praise the laptop for its quick setup process and surprisingly proficient gaming capabilities. The IdeaPad's professional aesthetic deviates from the usual 'gamery' look, making it a more workplace-friendly option. Though it arrives with a limited 256SSD m.2 and 8GB RAM, users applaud the ease of upgrading both components, thus extending the laptop's longevity. Note that the actual available RAM is 6GB due to the Ryzen processor's unique allocation approach, which reserves part of the RAM for itself. One caveat mentioned is the laptop's somewhat disappointing battery life, especially compared to previous models. However, users believe this trade-off is worthwhile for the power and versatility the IdeaPad brings.
- Decent performance
- Professional look
- Short battery life
- Limited initial storage
- Limited immediate RAM
The MSI GF63 enters our list as a solid contender for budget-conscious 3D printing enthusiasts, achieving the 9th spot in our rating. Based on the gathered reviews, users commend its ability to deliver an impressive performance for gaming and general computing tasks, showcasing it as an affordable laptop that doesn't sacrifice power. The GF63 has proven to be a reliable option for beginners in PC gaming and its ease of use makes it a great first step into high-performance laptops. Some users have praised its ability to run games without lags or subsidence, and its heat management system keeps temperatures within acceptable ranges. The laptop is customizable, allowing users to expand the RAM and SSD, thereby enhancing the machine's longevity. However, reviewers note that Windows 11, which comes pre-installed, is not optimal for gaming or work and recommend reverting to Windows 10. Despite a few minor complaints about the casing's smudge-prone nature and the laptop's modest initial storage, the MSI GF63 stands out as an excellent budget-friendly choice for 3D printing projects.
- Smudge-prone casing
- Limited initial storage
The ASUS VivoBook Pro 15 has truly stood out among users, effortlessly earning its position at the top of our list for 3D printing laptops. Users rave about the device's performance, particularly highlighting its proficiency in handling graphic-intensive tasks. Its AMD Ryzen 7 processor and NVIDIA graphics card receive praise for their efficient, seamless operation, indicating that this laptop can run 3D printing applications with ease.
In terms of its display, the VivoBook Pro 15 boasts an OLED screen, offering users incredibly sharp and vibrant visuals. This, combined with the laptop's solid build and stylish aesthetics, has left users deeply satisfied. The laptop’s high-quality sound and practical features, such as the fingerprint sensor, further elevate the user experience. Reviewers have also shared their positive experiences with the device's cooling system, mentioning that it manages heat well, even when running multiple programs simultaneously.
On the other hand, there have been isolated reports of minor keyboard issues. However, the overwhelmingly positive reviews demonstrate that the VivoBook Pro 15 is a high-performing and reliable option for 3D printing tasks, balancing technical requirements with user-friendly features.
- High performance
- OLED display
- Good cooling system
- Keyboard issues
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Laptop for 3D Printing
Navigating the ocean of options when choosing the best laptop for your 3D printing needs can be daunting. The first and foremost step towards making an informed decision starts with understanding your unique requirements. It’s not just about picking the most expensive or the most popular option; it’s about finding the machine that aligns perfectly with your needs and aspirations in the world of 3D printing.
Understand Your Needs
Level of Use
Are you a hobbyist who loves to experiment with 3D printing in your free time? Or perhaps you’re a student working on school projects or beginning a journey in engineering or design? Maybe you’re a professional using 3D printing in a commercial or industrial setting? The level of your engagement with 3D printing significantly influences the kind of laptop you will need. A hobbyist might need a laptop that is balanced between cost and performance, a student might prioritize a portable and durable machine, while a professional would need a high-performance laptop to handle complex designs and long hours of work.
Types of Projects
The complexity and nature of your 3D printing projects also play a crucial role in deciding the best laptop. If you’re primarily creating simple designs or prototypes, a mid-range laptop might suffice. However, if your projects involve detailed architectural models, intricate jewelry designs, or complicated mechanical components, you’ll need a powerful laptop that can handle complex 3D modeling software and large design files smoothly.
Different 3D printing workflows require different software applications. From 3D modeling software like AutoCAD, SolidWorks, or Blender to slicing software like Cura or Simplify3D, each software has its own system requirements. Make sure to check the recommended system specifications for the software you plan on using most often. Some software relies more heavily on the CPU, while others might utilize the GPU more intensively. Ensuring your laptop meets (and preferably exceeds) these requirements will result in a smoother, more efficient 3D printing experience.
Understanding your needs is the starting point of your quest for the best laptop for 3D printing. It shapes the pathway towards a choice that not only meets your 3D printing requirements but also aligns with your budget and personal preferences. In the next section, we’ll delve into the essential features to consider when buying a laptop for 3D printing.
Essential Features to Consider
Once you’ve determined your specific needs, the next step is to consider the key hardware specifications. These core features will directly affect how well your laptop handles 3D modeling and printing tasks. Here, we’ll delve into each component and why it matters in the realm of 3D printing.
The central processing unit (CPU) is the heart of your laptop, responsible for executing the commands of a computer program. In terms of 3D printing:
- The CPU affects the speed and efficiency of your 3D modeling software.
- A powerful CPU can handle complex tasks and computations faster.
- Consider a laptop with a multi-core processor from reliable manufacturers like Intel (i5, i7, or i9) or AMD (Ryzen 5, 7, or 9).
Random Access Memory (RAM) temporarily stores data that the CPU uses for tasks. More RAM translates to better multitasking and handling of large files.
- For 3D printing, a minimum of 8GB RAM is recommended.
- If you work on complex projects, consider 16GB or more.
- More RAM allows for smoother operation of your 3D modeling software, especially when working with detailed models.
Graphics Card (GPU)
The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) renders images, animations, and videos for the laptop’s monitor.
- A dedicated GPU is beneficial for smooth 3D modeling and rendering.
- GPUs like NVIDIA’s GeForce or AMD’s Radeon series are known for their performance in 3D tasks.
- While not always as crucial as the CPU or RAM for 3D printing, a good GPU can significantly improve your design experience, especially with complex 3D models.
Storage is where your files are kept. When it comes to storage, you should consider both space and type.
- Ensure you have ample storage for large design files.
- Solid-State Drives (SSDs) are faster and more reliable than traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs).
- A minimum of 256GB SSD is recommended for 3D printing tasks.
While the display might not directly impact your 3D printing process, a good display makes designing and inspecting your models much easier.
- Consider a high-resolution display for detailed design work.
- Size is important too; a larger screen (15” and above) provides a better workspace.
- Features like IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology can offer better color accuracy and wider viewing angles.
Your laptop needs the right ports and connectivity options to link up with your 3D printer and the internet.
- USB ports are often used to connect your laptop to a 3D printer.
- Good internet connectivity is necessary for software updates and using cloud-based 3D printing resources.
- Look for laptops that support high-speed Wi-Fi standards (Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6) and have an Ethernet port for wired connections.
|Feature||Why It’s Important||What to Look For|
|Processor (CPU)||Handles computations||Multi-core processor (e.g., Intel i5, i7, i9 or AMD Ryzen 5, 7, 9)|
|Memory (RAM)||Affects multitasking and file handling||Minimum of 8GB, 16GB for complex projects|
|Graphics Card (GPU)||Renders 3D modeling||Dedicated GPU (e.g., NVIDIA’s GeForce or AMD’s Radeon series)|
|Storage||Stores your files||Minimum of 256GB SSD|
|Display||Affects design experience||High-resolution, IPS technology, large size|
|Connectivity||Connects to 3D printer and internet||Multiple USB ports, high-speed Wi-Fi, Ethernet port|
Understanding these features and aligning them with your needs will lead you closer to finding the best laptop for 3D printing. In the next section, we’ll discuss how to define your budget and understand cost-effectiveness in the long run.
The journey of choosing the best laptop for 3D printing doesn’t end with just purchasing the product. After-sales support is an essential aspect to consider as it can significantly influence your experience with the laptop in the long run. The right support can ensure that any potential issues you may face with the device are promptly and effectively addressed.
A warranty is a manufacturer’s or seller’s promise to stand behind a product. It is an assurance that if certain aspects of the product fail or are not as promised, the manufacturer will provide some form of remedy.
- Be sure to check the warranty period: The longer the warranty, the more confidence the manufacturer has in their product. Most laptops come with a 1-year warranty, but some manufacturers offer extended warranty periods.
- Understand what it covers: Does it cover only the parts, or does it include labor too? Is there any part of the laptop not covered by the warranty?
The manufacturer’s customer service quality can greatly impact your experience, especially if you encounter issues with your laptop.
- Consider the manufacturer’s reputation for customer support: You can often find this information from online reviews or technology forums.
- Look for companies that offer multiple ways to contact them, such as via phone, email, or live chat.
Access to Parts and Service
Over time, you might need to replace or upgrade certain parts of your laptop, or it might need servicing.
- Check if the manufacturer provides an easy way to purchase replacement parts.
- Look for manufacturers who have service centers close to your location or offer mail-in service options.
- If you’re comfortable with doing your own laptop repairs, consider a laptop with a user-friendly design that makes it easy to access the internal components.
After-sales support is often overlooked when purchasing a laptop, but it can be a game-changer when you need it the most. Now that you are equipped with knowledge about what to look for when buying the best laptop for 3D printing, you are ready to make an informed decision. In the following sections, we will dive into specific laptop models that excel in these categories and are considered some of the best choices for 3D printing in 2023.
Can I use a gaming laptop for 3D printing tasks?
Absolutely, gaming laptops are often well-suited for 3D printing tasks. They come equipped with powerful processors, high-quality graphics cards, and ample memory, all of which are crucial for running 3D modeling software efficiently. However, make sure the specific gaming laptop you choose meets the requirements of your 3D printing software.
How often should I update my 3D modeling software?
It’s recommended to update your 3D modeling software whenever a new version or patch is released. Developers continuously refine their software to fix bugs, improve performance, and add new features. Regularly updating ensures you’re working with the most stable, efficient version and taking advantage of the latest advancements in 3D modeling technology.
Can a laptop’s performance affect the quality of my 3D prints?
Yes, a laptop’s performance can indirectly affect the quality of your 3D prints. A high-performance laptop can handle complex models and intricate details more efficiently, resulting in more accurate print instructions. However, the quality of 3D prints also heavily depends on the 3D printer, the filament used, and the settings chosen for printing.
Is a laptop necessary for 3D printing, or can I use a desktop computer instead?
You can definitely use a desktop computer for 3D printing. In fact, desktops often provide more power and upgradability than laptops. The advantage of using a laptop is its portability, allowing you to design, slice, and even control your 3D printing process from anywhere. The choice between a laptop and a desktop depends on your personal needs and preferences.
How can I maintain the longevity of my laptop when frequently using it for 3D printing tasks?
Regularly updating software, running system checks, and keeping your laptop clean and dust-free are key steps in maintaining its longevity. When using it intensively for 3D printing tasks, ensure good ventilation to avoid overheating. Also, regularly backup your 3D models and other important data to an external drive or cloud storage to prevent data loss in case of hardware failure.
In conclusion, the quest for the perfect laptop for 3D printing hinges on a balance of power, usability, and value. For those seeking the best blend of performance and multitasking prowess, the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 emerges as our top recommendation. Its unique dual-screen setup is a game-changer for managing complex 3D models and running several applications simultaneously.
Coming in a close second, the Razer Blade 14 impresses with its powerful processor and superior thermal management, while providing a compact, premium design for those prioritizing build quality and portability. Meanwhile, the HP Pavilion 15 excels as our budget pick, delivering robust performance and fast WiFi, while ensuring ample storage for your 3D models and designs. In essence, these top-rated laptops not only provide the horsepower needed for intricate 3D printing tasks but also feature versatile use-cases, from gaming to professional needs, delivering high value for your investment.