Best Laptop for Adobe After Effects [2021 Reviewed]

Table of Contents

Best Laptop for Adobe After Effects

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Due to the recent technological advancements in the entertainment industry, several digital visual effects, motion graphics, and compositing applications have flooded the market. If you’re an artist and VFX is your line of work, then you are probably familiar with Adobe programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects. After Effects is the most popular tool used for composing videos and adding effects, alongside other similar programs such as Blender, Nuke, Fusion, HotFilm Pro and RedGiant Effects suite.

All of these software are similar but offer unique features, to give you an example, After Effects is excellent for 2D effects while Blender is more 3D based. Either way, they are all used professionally and allow you to get the artistry and creativity you seek with their versatile features. Other than VFX, After Effects has also become a go to tool for UX designers who use the tool for prototyping purposes.

There are several different kinds of laptops, with a wide range of specifications, available in the market. Choosing the right one may seem challenging and you may feel a bit overwhelmed. For using such a critical program, you need a powerful machine that can handle heavy-duty software with ease.

I have tried to make the selection easy for you by listing three of the best laptops for Adobe After Effects. While each of them is an excellent choice on its own, I would encourage you to go through all reviews and make the selection according to your own comfort, needs and taste. I would also like to add that these laptops are also an excellent choice if you’re looking to go to film school.

Minimum System Requirements for Adobe After Effects

Before jumping into the laptop reviews, I would like you to quickly review the minimum specifications provided by Adobe for running Adobe After Effects. There are two different tables listed here, one for Windows and the other for the macOS.

Windows Minimum Specifications                                            

Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
Operating system
Microsoft Windows 10 (64 bit) versions 1803 and later. Note: Win version 1607 is not supported.
16 GB minimum (32 GB recommended)

2GB of GPU VRAM. If you don’t have enough VRAM, we have an article with several methods that show how to get more VRAM.

Adobe strongly recommends updating to NVIDIA driver 451.77 or later when using After Effects. Drivers prior to this have a known issue which can lead to a crash.

Hard disk space
5GB of available hard-disk space; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices). Additional disk space for disk cache (10GB recommended)
Monitor resolution
1280×1080 or greater display resolution
Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.*

macOS Minimum Specifications

Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
Operating system
macOS versions 10.13 and later. Note: macOS version 10.12 is not supported
16 GB minimum (32 GB recommended)
2GB of GPU VRAM. Adobe strongly recommends updating to NVIDIA driver 451.77 or later when using After Effects. Drivers prior to this have a known issue which can lead to a crash.\
Hard disk space
6GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices) Additional disk space for disk cache (10GB recommended)
Monitor resolution
1440×900 or greater display resolution
Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.*

VR System Requirements

Head Mounted Display (HMD)
Operating system
Oculus Rift
Windows 10
Windows Mixed Reality
Windows 10
HTC Vive
Windows 10
27” iMac with Radeon Pro graphics
iMac Pro with Radeon Vega graphics
Mac OS 10.13.3 or later


Source: official Adobe After Effects requirements page

Top 3 Laptops for Adobe After Effects [Reviews]

Lenovo ThinkPad P52s Mobile Workstation Ultrabook Laptop

Lenovo is known for providing well-made, versatile, reliable, and exceptional machines. With their ThinkPad product line, you end up getting a lot of power for the money you spend. The P52s is no exception. It is probably one of the best choices you can make if you are looking for something loaded with all the essential features to edit your content.

The P52s features a plastic body accompanied by a black chassis cover that is delicate to the touch. The thin and sharp design with inclined edges gives this device a premium and classy look. The laptop has an incredible 15.6-inch full HD display screen with IPS technology, giving you astounding image quality. The 1920×1080 pixel resolution on the LED-backlit display provides sharp, clear, and bright color tones. This strongly influences the video quality, which is excellent for Adobe After Effects since it makes the editing experience a lot more fun. With such a large screen, you can also enjoy playing games and watching TV.

The anti-glare display screen is a great advantage for editors who, almost always, sit in front of their laptop for extended periods of time. The display will reduce stress on your eyes and allow you to work in the bright sunlight without any issues. The IPS technology gives better color accuracy and screen consistency along with super-wide viewing angles. The laptop does lack a touch screen for those who are used to it, however, the display is excellent and exceeds most expectations by a large margin.

A fast processor is a significant component for visual effects professionals and the P52s is equipped with an 8th Generation Kaby Lake R Intel Core i7-8550U Quad-Core Processor with a speed of 1.8 GHz up to 4.0GHz and 8 MB Cache, making it a superfast machine for your intensive workload. Adding more to this, it has 32GB DDR4 Memory and 1TB SSD (Solid State Drive) which is great for next-level execution. This is plenty of memory and storage, enough for handling a majority of your tasks. However, you do have the option to upgrade if want something even more powerful but this will work just fine for running Adobe After Effects with other applications in the background.

Along with these excellent features, the NVIDIA Quadro P500 with 2 GB GDDR5 VRAM matches the minimum requirements laid out by Adobe for running After Effects, it supports the color depth and has the ALUs that can easily calculate Bezier curves or splines. For someone who is looking to do visual effects, this is perfect! Remember it’s more about the RAM and the processor, a dedicated GPU is only required if you are into heavy gaming. Even then, the NVIDIA Quadro P500 will run most games with ease.

On top of the screen, there is a standard 720 pixel HD webcam along with a neat shutter for privacy concerns. You may need to do some remote work on and off, which may involve video chatting, and for that, this is a great convenience. The full-sized backlit keyboard, which includes a numeric keypad, is comfortable for extended use. The trackpad is responsive and very easy to use. You can also use the pointer present between the G and H keys of the keypad to move the cursor instead of the trackpad. 

Coming towards the networking features,the Lenovo ThinkPad P52s has 1 x 10/100/1000 Mb/s Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45), 802.11ac; Dual-Band Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.1, (you may be asking what is dual band wifi? if these terms are unfamiliar), which gives a fast networking performance. Adding more to connectivity, this laptop features 1 x Thunderbolt 3, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, 1 x Docking Connector, 1 x HDMI 1.4, 1 x 1/8″ (3.5 mm) Headphone/Microphone, Combo Jack, Media Card SD/SDHC/SDXC MMC ports. You can transfer your data, connect external devices, and even charge your PC with the help of these ports. If you find limitation in these ports, you can cheaply purchase external adapters and connect them to use multiple ports. The audio system is great due to its powerful speakers, and you will enjoy listening to music, gaming sounds, etc.

This system comes with Windows 10 Pro preinstalled. The dimensions of the P52s are 9.95 x 14.40 x 0.78 inches and it weighs 4.30 lbs. It’s not the lightest laptop but if you’re looking for something to run VFX programs then you’ll have a hard time finding a machine that weighs under 4 lbs. In that regard, the weight is pretty negligible. It has a 4 cell 32Wh Battery with a 65-Watt Power Supply, which gives you an average battery life of 5 – 7 hours depending on your usage. Overall, this is a powerful machine at a decent price point for what you get in return. Highly recommended for all Windows VFX professionals!

Good sized screen with a great display
No touchscreen (not commonly used for VFX)
A fast processor
A lot of memory and storage

Apple MacBook Pro Laptop

Apple products sure do stand out with new releases always creating a hype among mac lovers! MacBooks are always in demand because of their outstanding features. If you are looking for an Apple computer with superior build quality and specifications that go beyond VFX, then the New Apple MacBook Pro is a great choice! It will deliver a high-class performance with its powerful internal specs. MacBooks always have modern looks with a slim and stylish design.

This model has a gorgeous space grey aluminum body that is extremely durable. It gives you an impressive viewing experience with its lovely 16-inch Retina Display and True Tone technology. The display is rich with brilliant colors which adds flair to your passion for creating animations. The LED-backlit screen has IPS technology anda 3072×1920 native resolution at 226 pixels per inch which supports millions of color tones and offers vibrant and stunning graphics with a high contrast.  

The thin bezels along with the IPS technology provide a wider view from different angles and add more accuracy to the visuals, perfect for Adobe After Effects. The retina display makes for an excellent gaming experience, and you can also enjoy watching movies with a lot more comfort. You may feel the absence of a touch screen on such a high-end laptop, but these excellent display features overcome this and it’s not really a feature commonly used by VFX professionals.

The MacBook Pro features a built-in Ninth-generation 2.3GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz and 16MB shared L3 cache. For handling intensive workloads and running complex programs, this processor really wins the competition. In addition to the fast processor, the MacBook is equipped with 16 GB of memory, excellent for running multiple productivity apps and editing large files. Along with the speed and graphics, it has 1TB SSD storage capacity and AMD Radeon Pro 5500M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory, Intel UHD Graphics 630. This GPU is a power horse for video editing and plays an excellent role in rendering your graphics smoothly! You won’t experience any lag at all since this GPU is also capable of high-level gaming.

The keyboard is the most appreciated feature of this MacBook, offering a great typing experience with its magical butterfly keys. There is a Touch ID feature on the top of the keyboard that gives you easy access to your apps by quickly unlocking your device, ensuring security of your data. Additionally, the trackpad is responsive and feels smooth to touch. 

Moving on to the connectivity and networking features, this device has 802.11ac Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible) and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology, which offers excellent speed for online gaming and basic internet functions. Besides these, there are Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports with support for Charging and DisplayPort (Thunderbolt up to 40 Gbps, USB 3.1 Gen 2 up to 10 Gbps). These ports are good enough for day to day computing tasks, but if you find yourself limited, you can attach separate adapters to get more options.

The MacBook is equipped with Six-Speakers, which are incredible and offer a super clean, dramatic sound. The built-in microphone is also fantastic and does its job very well. Finally, the front-facing 720p Webcam offers great resolution, is very excellent for video chats and business meetings. 

The dimensions of the MacBook Pro are 15.63 x 2.4 x 11.14 inches, and it weighs 4.3 pounds. As mentioned in the previous Lenovo P52s review, the 4.3 – 4.5 lb. mark is pretty standard for powerful machines. Although this MacBook has a bigger screen and is more convenient to hold so the weight is pretty good considering its size. It comes with 96W USB-C Power Adapter, USB-C Charge Cable (2 m), which allows for fast charging. The battery life claimed by the manufacturer is 10- 11 hours and operating at full capacity with lots of multi-tasking it would go on for about 4-5 hours, which is pretty decent for heavy use! One thing that isn’t good about MacBooks is that once you make a purchase, you won’t be able to upgrade them. So make sure that you finalize the specs before you hit the buy button!

Overall, the MacBook Pro is an excellent device for any kind of VFX job. This machine offers a lot of power and can go on for a very long time. If you are a mac lover then do not hesitate to go with this one. It will serve you well for years to come!

Large display screen with high resolution
Not upgradable
Super fast processer
Exceptional memory
Great battery life

Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop

The final machine on this list is the Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop. Acer is known for providing awesome specs at an unbeatable price. The Helios 300 is a gaming laptop, but it has just the right specs for Adobe After Effects. This machine is an excellent choice if you’re looking for something not as expensive for your editing needs, and also a big plus if you are a gamer. The design is very sleek, and the body is easy to carry. It has a matte black aluminum lid, which makes it durable and sturdy, giving it the looks of a classic gaming laptop.

The Helios 300 comes with a 15.6 inch Full HD LED-backlit display (144Hz Refresh Rate, 3ms Overdrive Response Time) with IPS technology, and similar to the Lenovo and MacBook, it offers a wide viewing angle, along with the resolution of (1920 x 1080) pixels, 300nit Brightness & 72% NTSC. This nice sized display screen has a 16: 9 aspect ratio which plays a significant role in enhancing your editing and gaming experience. Bigger screens with high resolution offer vibrant colors and excellent graphic results. This screen size ideal ideal for Adobe After Effects!

For delivering a fast performance, it comes with an incredible 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10750H 6-Core Processor with the speed of 2. 6GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 5. 0GHz. Similar to gaming, complex software such as Adobe Effect also demand a high rate CPU, and this laptop offers a lot more than the basic requirement. With such a fast processor, you can run complex high profile programs with ease.

In addition to the processing speed, the Helios 300 comes with 16GB DDR4 2933MHz Dual-Channel Memory and 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD (2 x M.2 slots | 1 Slot open for easy upgrades) & 1 – Available Hard Drive Bay.  It’s amazing how this laptop has such incredible specs at a very reasonable price. You can do all of your VFX stuff without lag with 16 GB of RAM and if you are an avid multi-tasker, this machine will not disappoint you at all!

The overclockable NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphic card with 6GB of dedicated GDDR6 VRAM gives a nice boost to this machine’s overall performance. The GPU is perfect for all VFX environments and will cater to much more! Both RAM and Storage are upgradable if you need more, which is a great benefit this laptop offers.

Laptops often heat up with prolonged intensive computing, but thanks to the 3D fan technology, this is not the case with the Helios 300. The laptop may get a little loud, but it doesn’t take very long until it settles down again.

A really cool feature on this machine is the 4-zone RGB backlit keyboard with which you can enjoy four different colors and also give them various effects such as waving or breathing. The keyboard is pleasing to the touch and the keys are narrow, concave shaped, offering a smooth typing experience.

There are two built-in speakers and microphones which provide excellent sound quality. With the brilliant DTS X: Ultra Audio system, you get awesome sound while gaming, listening to music, and watching movies. A 720p HD webcam is also available for zoom meetings or video chats.

As far connectivity goes, the Helios 300 has a Wireless-AX 1650i 802. 11ax Wi-Fi 6, Killer Ethernet E2600 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN, and Bluetooth which offer a reliable and stable connection. It also has full package connectivity ports which include HDMI 2.0, MiniDP, and the newest USB 3.2 Type C Gen 2 port and USB 3.2 Gen 1 and Gen 2 ports. 

The dimensions of the Helios 300 are 14.31 x 10.04 x 0.9 inches and it weighs 5.51 lbs, which definitely puts this laptop on the heavier side. One area where this machine lacks quite a bit is the battery life! Although the manufacturer states a battery life of up to 6 hours, if you’re using this machine at its full potential, don’t expect more than an hour and a half of battery life. The battery does not deplete as quickly if you’re just doing basic stuff, however, if you’re using Adobe After Effects or playing a game on the highest graphic settings, you will have to plug in this machine. This is expected of gaming laptops but may be a disturbing element for some VFX professionals if they require a good battery time for non-stop editing on the go. To counter this, you can keep it connected with the charger, because it is an absolute beast when plugged in!

Affordable option
On the heavier side
Awesome display with nice resolution
Low battery life
6 GB of dedicated VRAM
Fast processor and exceptional memory
Keyboard has a lot of options
3D fan

Final Words

Adobe After Effects is all about creativity, however, you can only enjoy running this program if you have the right device. The CPU, RAM, and graphics of your laptop are the most important factors for running any VFX programs. A perfect combination of these components is the answer to all your problems. We went through three in depth reviews of laptops that would be suitable for visual effects. Your selection now comes down to how much you’d like to spend and what OS you would prefer.

To summarize, all the laptops come with the desired specifications required for video editing but vary in pricing and specs. Let’s do a quick review and recommend the best among all these machines.

The Lenovo ThinkPad P52s features a 15.6 inch display with excellent graphics and a super-fast processor. The storage, full-size backlit keyboard, a sturdy body, and the overall Lenovo build really make this laptop shine. Along with excellent connectivity the laptop also features NVIDIA Quadro graphics. The sleek, stylish design and strong battery life make this laptop really stand out.

On the other end, the new Apple MacBook Pro offers a fabulous resolution as compared to the Lenovo. It also has a large 16 inch retina display, and a super-fast processor with plenty of memory making it a very strong choice for VFX professionals. It has fewer connectivity ports as compared to the Lenovo. The battery life and many features such as CPU, screen, and portability of this laptop are equally as good in comparison with the Lenovo. If you have the budget and are an avid mac user, then this one is a great option as well.

Finally, the most budget friendly contender is the Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming LaptopIt offers all the required editing features and is also perfect for playing high-level games. It has a 15.6 inch display with excellent resolution and clear graphics. The fast processor and RAM make it great for multi-tasking and handling intensive workloads. A backlit keyboard with an excellent audio system and strong networking connections all together make it a great deal, especially at its current price. The only box that this laptop doesn’t tick is a good battery life.

To be honest, all three of these machines are great on their own. If you are hell bent on a mac then the MacBook Pro is the obvious choice. However, you will end up spending a pretty penny on that machine. Between the two Windows machines, I would personally go with the Lenovo because I cannot work with the Acer due to its poor battery life. If you are on a budget and don’t mind using your laptop at work or at home, then the Helios 300 is a viable choice. Otherwise, the Lenovo ThinkPad P52s is a strong all-rounder that has strong specs and is made like a tank. I would personally go with the P52s out of all the three here, it is highly recommended! For Adobe After Effects, it’s not much about the GPU but more about the RAM and CPU and the P52s has 32 GB of RAM with a strong processor that is going to work very well for Adobe After Effects or any other VFX program! My vote goes to the P52s!