Avoid slow slicing, freezing applications, and slow 3D CAD modeling. In this guide, I’ve compared the top budget and quality laptops, mainly focused on speed and power, especially for 3D modeling:

The best laptop right now for 3D printing is the Macbook Air with M2 chip.

It’s not cheap, but stands out for those who prioritize a blend of sleek design and robust performance. It’s also the laptop I eventually chose to buy from doing this research. The M1 MacBook Pro is also great, and I also have one of these for design work.

If you’re on a tighter budget, the Lenovo Ideapad 3 is a great choice. It’s priced under 500 dollars and equipped with 8GB of RAM.

And for the enthusiasts who demand nothing but the best, the MSI GE76 Raider – a gaming laptop – comes with a high-power processor, superior cooling, and offers room for upgrades.

Budget Choice
Best Overall
Premium Pick
4.3
5.0
4.6
Intel i3
M2 Chip
Intel i9
Intel UHD
M2 Chip
RTX 3080
8GB
8GB - 24GB
32GB
Windows 11 Home
macOS Ventura
Windows 10/11
15.6”
13.3-13.6"
17.3”
1366×768
2560x1664
1920×1080
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
$332.90
$1,229.91
$1,299.99
Budget Choice
4.3
Intel i3
Intel UHD
8GB
Windows 11 Home
15.6”
1366×768
Yes
No
$332.90
Best Overall
5.0
M2 Chip
M2 Chip
8GB - 24GB
macOS Ventura
13.3-13.6"
2560x1664
Yes
Yes
$1,229.91
Premium Pick
4.6
Intel i9
RTX 3080
32GB
Windows 10/11
17.3”
1920×1080
Yes
Yes
$1,299.99
03/06/2024 11:50 pm GMT

Whether you’re a beginner looking for a budget laptop or a professional seeking premium performance, I’ve got you covered.

Top Picks

Quick Overview

  1. Apple Macbook Air – Ultra-Light Powerhouse
  2. Lenovo Ideapad 3 – Best Budget Laptop for 3D Printing 
  3. MSI GE76 Raider – Most Powerful Computer for 3D Modeling and Printing 
  4. OEM Lenovo ThinkCentre M75s – Best Desktop Computer for 3D Printing Under $500
  5. Apple Macbook Pro – Best Laptop for 3D Printing Creative Professionals
  6. Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 15 OLED – Dual Touchscreen for Tactile Multitasking

The Best Laptops for 3D Printing – Reviews

1. Apple Macbook Air M2 – Powerful & Lightweight

  • Price: Check latest price at Amazon here
  • CPU: M2
  • GPU: M2 10-core
  • RAM: 8GB-24 GB
  • Storage: 256GB – 2TB
  • OS: macOS Ventura
  • Screen size: 13.3-13.6”
  • Resolution: 2560×1664
Onshape on Macbook Air
Onshape on Macbook Air

Pros

Lightweight and excellent value for money Apple laptop.

Good max RAM to run demanding 3D modeling applications.

An amazing 18 hours of battery life.

Cons

3DS Max and SolidWorks aren’t macOS compatible

Recommended for slicing?Recommended for 3D modeling?
YesYes

The Macbook Air stands as a testament to the perfect balance between price and power in the realm of 3D printing.

Having used this laptop for hundreds of prints, I can vouch for its reliability and efficiency. Multitasking is a breeze; even with multiple 3D printing applications running, it operates smoothly without a hitch.

Weighing just 2.7 lbs, and with its sleek profile at 0.44 inches thick, this is an incredibly portable laptop. It’s super handy for working on the move, or bouncing between printing stations in dynamic workshops.

Just 0.44 inches thick.

Though it comes with only two USB-C ports, my WiFi-enabled 3D printer means that connectivity is not an issue. If you have a wired device, you might prefer something with more ports.

Overall, the Macbook Air offers an unparalleled blend of performance, portability, and value, making it and ideal laptop for both novice and seasoned 3D printing enthusiasts.

So while it might not have the sheer force of the Macbook Pro, this is still my top laptop for 3D printing.

I Use This Laptop!
Apple MacBook Air M2
$1,229.91

A balance of portability, price and performance with options up to 24GB RAM.

Not as powerful as the MacBook Pro, but still capable for 3D modeling purposes.

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03/06/2024 11:29 pm GMT

2. Lenovo Ideapad 3 – Best Budget Laptop for 3D Printing 

Lenovo Ideapad 3 the best cheap laptop for 3D printing and slicing

Pros

The cheapest laptop for 3D printing.

Touchscreen display, uncommon in this price range.

Decent RAM and processor to handle multiple applications.

Cons

Only really suitable for smaller and more 3D printer projects.

Recommended for slicing?Recommended for 3D modeling?
YesNo

If you are someone working on smaller projects without the need for high-end rendering, the Lenovo Ideapad 3 is my top recommendation.

With 8GB DDR4 RAM and a 3 GHz i3 processor, it’s well-equipped for daily 3D printing tasks, delivering efficient performance without stretching your wallet.

Plus, the 15.6-inch touchscreen allows you to get hands-on with the design process. Very cool.

This is the laptop for casual 3D printing enthusiasts looking for an affordable yet efficient laptop without overspending.

Best Cheap Laptop for 3D Printing 
Lenovo Ideapad 3
$332.90

A 15.6-inch touchscreen display for simplified, hands-on design processes.

Efficient multitasking capabilities with 8GB RAM for running slicing software like Cura smoothly.

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03/06/2024 11:50 pm GMT

3. MSI GE76 Raider – Powerful Gaming Laptop for 3D Modeling & Printing 

  • Price: Check latest price at Amazon here
  • CPU: 14-core i7
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060
  • RAM: 32GB
  • Storage: up to 1TB
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Screen size: 17.3”
  • Resolution: 1920×1080
MSI GE76 - Best Computer for 3D Modeling and Printing

Pros

Comes with one of the best graphics cards on the market.

Powerful CPU and 32GB of RAM.

Cons

Fairly heavy laptop.

Recommended for slicing?Recommended for 3D modeling?
YesYes

If you’re looking for a truly premium laptop that can handle any type of 3D modeling and animation task, then it’s hard to look past the MSI GE76.

This gaming laptop has specs that make it perfect for 3D modeling, with a robust CPU and 32GB RAM for seamlessly running rendering, and animation programs.

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card is one of the best on the market, and a top quality cooling system ensures it can perform at its best at all times.

So if money is no object, and power is the priority, get yourself the MSI GE76 for professional 3D modeling and printing.

Huge Screen
MSI 2022 GE76 Raider
$1,299.99

A 17.3-inch high-resolution screen ideal for detailed modeling.

Customizable keys, advanced cooling, and a durable battery for uninterrupted work sessions.

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03/07/2024 12:29 am GMT

4. OEM Lenovo ThinkCentre M75s Gen 2 – Best Under $500

  • Price: Check price on Amazon here
  • CPU: Ryzen 5 Pro on Intel i5
  • GPU: NVIDIA GT 1030
  • RAM: 16GB-32GB
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro (upgradable to 11 Pro)
OEM Lenovo ThinkCentre M75s a good 3D printing and modeling laptop under $1000

Pros

Best PC for 3D printing.

Sleek and environmentally friendly design.

Cons

Fans can be pretty loud.

Desktops, while lacking the portability of laptops, often outshine them in longevity, customization, and delivering more power for your buck.

If you’re in the market for the best value home PC for 3D printing, the OEM Lenovo ThinkCentre is my recommendation.

This Lenovo model, powered by a 6-core processor and NVIDIA graphics card, can smoothly run demanding 3D modeling applications like Maya and 3DS Max at a fraction of the cost of similarly specced laptops.

The ThinkCentre provides a myriad of configuration choices, allowing you to select from 12 different combinations of CPU, RAM, and storage options – so you only spend on what you need.

Beyond its core specs, the ThinkCentre boasts a sleek, space-saving, and eco-friendly design in a striking black color. Its compact dimensions (7 x 2 x 7 inches) and weight (13.9 pounds) make it a discreet yet powerful workstation.

For those prioritizing power, customization, and value in 3D printing, the Lenovo ThinkCentre is a top choice.

Recommended for slicing?Recommended for 3D modeling?
YesYes
Best Desktop Computer for 3D Printing Under $500
Lenovo ThinkCentre M75s Gen 2
$749.00 $699.00

Robust performance at a fraction of the cost of similarly specced laptops.

12 configuration combinations of CPU, RAM, and storage - so you don't pay for things you don't need.

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03/07/2024 12:15 am GMT

5. Apple M1/M2 Macbook Pro

  • Price: Check latest price at Amazon here
  • CPU: 12-core Apple M2 Chip
  • GPU: 16-core
  • RAM: 32GB – 96GB RAM
  • Storage: 512GB – 2TB
  • OS: macOS Ventura
  • Screen size: 13”, 14”, or 16”
  • Resolution: 3024×1964 Liquid Retina
Running Cura 3D slicer on my MacBook Pro laptop.
Using Cura’s 3D slicer on my MacBook M1 Pro. I also have 50+ tabs open and it runs perfectly.

Pros

Powerful graphics card, stunning resolution, and Apple’s fastest processing unit.

Offers up to 64GB of RAM.

Unbelievable 21 hour battery life.

Cons

Might be too expensive for some.

Recommended for slicing?Recommended for 3D modeling?
YesYes

For 3D printing aficionados loyal to Apple, the choice narrows down to the MacBook Air and the more formidable MacBook Pro.

If your focus is on high-end 3D modeling and rendering, the MacBook Pro is the undisputed champion.

With up to 96GB unified memory in the M2 Max variant, it’s tailored for intricate 3D projects, effortlessly running heavyweight applications like Blender and Maya.

The 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display ensures your designs are showcased in the sharpest detail, vital for precision in 3D modeling.

The M2 is a serious upgrade on the M1, and the M1 was already a huge improvement on the previous Intel chips. The new Apple silicon blows away competitors in my opinion, and I have both an M1 MacBook Pro, and M2 MacBook Air.

Even the M1 MacBook can run 50+ internet tabs (I’ll get to them eventually…), as well as Slack, Cura, emails, YouTube, Excel, and a bunch of other programs at the same time without slowing down. I’ve ran LightBurn, Cura, Fusion 360 and my daily work programs at the same time without issue.

The MacBook Pro’s extended battery life, lasting up to 21 hours, ensures uninterrupted work sessions, a boon for those extensive 3D printing, slicing and rendering tasks.

Its extensive connectivity options, including three Thunderbolt 4 ports and an SDXC card slot, ensure your 3D printing peripherals are always supported.

In my view, for creative professionals serious about 3D printing and modeling, the MacBook Pro isn’t just a choice—it’s the best choice.

Unbelievable Battery Life
2023 MacBook Pro Laptop M2
$1,999.00 $1,879.55

Amazing performance for 3D modeling with super fast M2 chip and up to 96GB of unified memory.

The 18-hour battery life is unmatched by any other laptop.

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03/07/2024 01:24 am GMT

6. Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 15 OLED – Powerful Windows Laptop for Serious 3D Modeling & Printing

  • Price: Check latest price at Amazon here
  • CPU: Intel Core i9-12900H
  • GPU: GeForce RTX 3070 Ti
  • RAM: 32GB
  • Storage: 2TB SSD
  • OS: Windows 11
  • Screen size: 15.6”
  • Resolution: 3840×1140
Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 15 OLED

Pros

One of the most powerful Windows 3D printer laptops.

Impressive specs with an OLED screen.

Cons

Touchpad and keyboard are pretty awkward.

Dual screen drains charge quickly – 6/7 hours battery life.

The Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 15 OLED is one of the most powerful Windows laptops on the market.

The ability to choose between 16GB and 32GB of RAM is great, too. The cheaper 16GB version is enough to run computer programs for 3D printing like Fusion 360, Rhino, and AutoCAD, while the 32GB is ideal for complex project on Maya and Blender.

Its defining feature, the dual OLED, 4K matte touchscreens, can be used to simultaneously view your design and manage your tools. Basically, you can see everything at once.

If you’re a full-time designer who appreciates working with a stylus, this is the ultimate canvas for your 3D projects.

Recommended for slicing?Recommended for 3D modeling?
YesYes
Best for Multitasking
Asus ZenBook Pro Duo 15
$2,599.99

Breathtaking dual OLED 4K touchscreen displays for enhanced multitasking.

Seamless rendering courtesy of a high-end GeForce RTX 3070 Ti graphics card and 32GB RAM.

Bundled with a free 3-month Adobe Creative Cloud subscription

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03/07/2024 01:09 am GMT

Things to Consider When Buying a Laptop for 3D Printing

Buying Guide - Things to Consider When Buying a Laptop for 3D Printing

The Truth About RAM & Processing Power Required To 3D Print

Luckily, you don’t need a powerful 3D printing computer or laptop – it’s possible to 3D print on just about any model. 

For example, here’s some common programs you’d use when 3D printing, and their requirements:

SoftwareOperating SystemProcessorMemoryStorage
CuraWindows 7, 8, 10 or Mac OS X 10.10 and upIntel Pentium 4 or later / AMD Athlon 64 or later4 GB RAM500 MB available space
Fusion 360Windows 7 SP1 64-bit, Windows 8.1 64-bit, Windows 10 64-bit, or Mac OS X 10.11.6 or higher2.5-2.9 GHz or higher, 4 or more cores8 GB RAM (16 GB or more recommended)4 GB available hard disk space
MayaWindows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 SP1, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, or Mac OS X 10.11.6 or later64-bit Intel or AMD multi-core processor with SSE4.2 instruction set8 GB RAM (16 GB or more recommended)4 GB available hard disk space
BlenderWindows 7 SP1 or higher, or Mac OS X 10.11 or higher2 GHz or higher8 GB RAM (16 GB or more recommended)2 GB available hard disk space
Minimum system requirements for common 3D printing software, as well as 3D modeling rendering software, so you can gauge whether it’s worth spending more for these functions.

As you can see, all but the more demanding software like Maya and Blender (which are mostly for when you get into hardcore 3D animation and game design anyway) run fine on even the cheapest laptops.

So, unless you’re planning on more advanced 3D modeling, animation, and rendering, you’re most likely fine going with a lower-cost option.

I personally use Fusion 360 and Blender a lot, and I often use other design software like LightBurn, Inkscape, and often have VS Code and a lot of internet tabs open, so I went for a higher-spec Macbook.

Opt for an affordable but capable laptop like the Lenovo Ideapad 3 if you just need basic slicing functionality.

But invest in a machine with top-tier specs like the MSI GE76 Raider or MacBook Pro if intensive 3D modeling and rendering are essential to your work.

Slicers

Common slicers like Cura, Simplify3D, Chitubox, and PrusaSlicer have basic system requirements – just 4GB RAM. However, 8GB RAM is recommended for better performance.

So if basic slicing is all you need, the budget Lenovo Ideapad 3 (8GB RAM, Intel i3 CPU) can efficiently handle programs like Cura.

Modeling and Rendering

3D modeling and rendering software have more demanding requirements than slicing programs. For example, powerful software like Maya can run on 16GB RAM but it’s recommended to use 32GB along with a powerful graphics card.

SoftwareMinimum RAMRecommended RAMSystemProcessor
Fusion 3604GB6GB 64-bit1.7 GHz or greater
AutoCAD8GB16GB64-bit 2.5 GHz or greater
Maya16GB32GB64-bit3.5 GHz for greater

For peak performance, the Apple Macbook Air and MacBook Pro both use the unrivaled M2 chip. Its speed makes it the top choice for demanding 3D modeling, animation, and rendering.

Similarly, the MSI GE76 Raider’s 32GB RAM and RTX 3080 graphics provide plenty of power for complex 3D projects on Maya or Blender.

Operating System

The first thing is to make sure that your laptop for 3D printing is compatible with the 3D slicing software you want to use.

Operating SystemCuraChituboxSimplify3DPrusaSlicerSlic3r
Windows 
Mac
Linux

Top slicers like Cura, Simplify3D, and PrusaSlicer are compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux.

However, some 3D modeling/CAD programs have limited OS support.

Check your programs’ requirements before choosing a Mac, Linux, or Windows laptop for 3D printing.

AutoCAD, Fusion 360, Rhino, and Maya run on both Mac and Windows.

But 3DS Max and SolidWorks aren’t macOS compatible.

Blender and FreeCAD are rare Linux-compatible modeling options, though popular solutions like AutoCAD and Fusion 360 aren’t available.

Price

Factors like RAM and screen resolution have a big impact on a computer’s price, so make sure you know exactly what 3D printing PC requirements you need, as this will help prevent you from over or underspending.

If budget is your top concern, the Lenovo Ideapad 3 is an affordable option at under $500. With 8GB RAM and an Intel i3 CPU, it handles basic slicing software perfectly smoothly (and you can always upgrade components later as your needs evolve).

On the premium end, Apple users seeking unmatched speed should consider the MacBook Pro. Starting around $1800, its M2 chip, huge RAM options, and brilliant Liquid Retina XDR display excel for professional 3D printing projects.

FAQs:

Is it possible to 3D print without a computer?

While it’s possible to simply insert an SD card with a 3D print file into a printer and print it that way, this method is very limited and you won’t be able to design anything. It’s more beneficial to 3D print with a desktop or laptop.

Do I need a powerful laptop for 3D printing?

You don’t need a super expensive computer setup for 3D printing – most laptop and desktop models are fine for more simple projects.

However, more complex projects that require 3D modeling may need a more powerful CPU and GPU as well as lots of RAM.

How much RAM do I need for 3D printing?

It depends on what you want to do. 4GB RAM is plenty if you’re working on small, simple projects, but if you want to use 3D modeling in the process, you’ll require at least 8GB.

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