What is the Best Computer for 3D Printing / 3D Modeling?

Overview of Computer Requirements for 3D Printing

What is the best computer for 3D printing: This is a question where a lot of hype is happening in the 3D Printing world. Most of the time, it is falsely said that 3D printing needs a powerful 3D computer / Laptop with more processing power.

Don’t panic! if your computer/laptop is bought recently in the past five years with a basic configuration, then that would do. You won’t always need the best computer for 3D printing. Go ahead and start 3D printing with your basic 3D printing computer and get your hands dirty with the current one.

In some cases, a more advanced and good computer for 3D printing can be an added benefit, while it is not needed if you want to run simple models and prints.

computer for 3d printing

1. How Powerful Should Be Your Computer for 3D Printing?

Your 3D printing Laptop / Computer doesn’t need to be powerful always, in most cases, a basic and good Laptop for 3D printing would be enough. Even Slicing (G-code) can be done on basic machines that are with you.

Most 3D enthusiasts use basic computers to store 3D models and Slice (G-code) for 3D printing. But those users who want to model objects need powerful computers.

Basic Computer requirements for 3d printing

ProcessorDual-Core / Core 2 Duo/ i3
Ram4GB / 8GB
Graphics CardNot necessary
Hard Drive512GB

Many times, a basic computer with Intel / AMD Dual-core processor and 4GB RAM should be ample enough to run the Slicer for smaller / simple objects. It may get slow for large and complex objects.

An Ultimaker Cura Slicer is the best example that can run with minimal hardware requirements such as 4Gb RAM, a Normal Single core processor, and 5 GB Hard drive space. This is the same with other slicers like Prusaslicer and Simplify3D. Aim for a higher configuration than mentioned by developers to avoid delays.

Here’s such an example with minimal configuration also known as a business PC.

2. Best Laptop / Computer for 3D Printing

When it comes to desktops, the suggested model would be Dell Inspiron 3471 from Amazon. This is powered by an intel core i5 9th generation processor with 12 GB RAM and 128GB SSD.Amazon). 

This configuration is very ideal for the smooth operation of a 3D printer and also helps in designing and 3D modeling.

When it comes to laptops, the ideal go-to device would be Dell Latitude E5470 HD from Amazon. This has a core i5 processor with a clock frequency of 3Ghz.

It’s all dependent on the kind of designs you want to process. For Hi-poly designs and slicing 3D files for a complex model demands high configuration computer /laptop such as 5Ghz Processor Clock Frequency, GTX 960 Graphics card, 12 to 16GB RAM.etc

The computer/laptop configuration is purely dependent on the complexity of the models you want to execute and print.

If you are seriously looking for a really fast system, then Acer Nitro 5 AN517-54-79L1 Gaming Laptop would do the job. It has an Intel Core i7-11800H processor,  NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Graphics Card, 16GB DDR4, and a huge 1TB NVMe SSD that can handle any complex design and execution.

For achieving process synchronization with the 3D printer, a gaming desktop would be ideal because of its high configuration.

If you are looking for a powerful laptop for 3D printing, MSI GS75 Stealth Gaming Laptop is a go-to device. It has Intel Core i7-10875H, 16GB RAM, 512GB NVMe SSD, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Graphic card.

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Graphic card can help in rendering the 3D design and modeling at its best. Slicing the complex model wouldn’t be a problem at all on this device.

Desktops are more suitable for 3D printing than Laptops as their processing capability is good

Another safer way to avoid print failure and reduce the computer dependency while printing is to load the 3D sliced model onto SD Card and insert it into the 3D printer. This keeps the printer running even if the computer goes into sleep mode.

In conclusion, 3D printing doesn’t need a high-end and powerful Computer / Laptop, instead, a recent model which you have bought in the last 3 years would do. On the contrary, if you want to process 3D models with complex shapes you need a high configuration computer.

3. How Good should be your Computer / Laptop for 3D Modeling?

When you want to use 3D CAD modeling software, the best laptop for 3d printing with a High-end configuration is a must. This modeling software is process-heavy, demanding an advanced hardware ecosystem for its execution. The processes tied with these software programs are complex and need parallel execution for better response and real-time feeling.

If your designs are simple, a low configuration would work. But when designs get complex, they get heavy and fight for resources on the computer.

If you are a beginner trying to experiment with simple object models, a basic laptop or PC should work. An upgrade is needed as you get to work with complex models.

Computer Configuration for 3D CAD modelling

ProcessorIntel Core i5 10th gen / i7 6th gen processor
Ram16GB DDR4
Graphics CardNVIDIA 3050Ti

As 3D CAD modeling is heavy software, you need to look for the best PC for 3D printing / Laptop with at least 16GB RAM, Core i5,i7 / AMD Ryzen Series processor, NVIDIA 3050 Graphics card with 512GB SSD. This configuration would serve even the advanced users producing complex 3D models.

There is no hard and fast rule about the computer hardware configuration. It varies based on the usage capabilities. You may look for different configurations as per the need. My goal is to shed a light on the minimal configurations needed for seamless operations.

Here’s a 3D Gaming computer with 3D modeling capabilities with advanced hardware.

4. Processing 3D Prints Using a Laptop

When using a Laptop for sending printing data to a 3D printer may cause the printer to stop and start at random intervals. This is because the Laptop sends the data in chunks.

One way to avoid this is to ensure that the laptop doesn’t get into sleep mode or log-off state and keep it always active and running.

Usage of computers is a better option than a laptop as they send data continuously in a smoother format. This keeps the 3D printer always in sync with Computer.

We can also make use of an SD card in order to reduce the connectivity issues between Laptop/Computer and 3D Printer. This SD Card can be loaded with a 3D model print file and inserted directly onto your 3D printer slot. This ensures printing without interruption.

Computer requirements for 3D printing:

4.1 Minimal Hardware configuration needed:

  • Hard Drive Space: Windows 7 or higher (64-bit) with 30GB free disk space. Usually SSD is preferred because of its fast data transfers.
  • Graphics Card: NVIDIA 1650/3050 with 1 GB built in memory or more
  • Processor: intel i3/i5/i7/AMD Ryzen above 2.2 GHz clock speed with generation between 7th to 10th for intel processors.

4.2 Software Needs:

  • Operating System: Windows 7/8/10 with 64-bit versions.
  • Network: Ethernet / Wi-Fi

5. FAQs

Do you need a computer for a 3d printer?

For those looking to get into 3D printing, the question of whether or not a computer is needed is a common one. At its most basic level, the answer is no – use of a computer is not necessary for 3D printers to operate. Some models are even capable of running without any pre-programming set up, though they will likely be limited in purpose and may also require occasional manual selection changes.

For more advanced 3D printers, using a computer can provide direct control over the device and access to an array of software programs in order to unlock further function and customization options. Overall, whether or not you need a computer depends on what you are planning to achieve with your device; just remember that computers can open up many possibilities for expansion should you ever find yourself wanting more from your 3D printer.

What computer do I need for 3D printing?

Dell Inspiron 3880 is the best computer for 3D printing & 3D modeling. It has Intel Core i5 10th generation Processor, 512GB Solid State Drive(SSD) with 12GB RAM, and Windows 10 Pro Operating system. This desktop set also includes a wired mouse and keyboard.

Are gaming computers / laptops good for 3D Modeling & Printing?

Gaming Laptops / PCs are good for 3D modeling & printing but may not be mandatory to have such a high configuration. However, they possess powerful processors, motherboard, RAM, and high-end graphics cards which are useful for 3D modeling and designing with complex software. There is a laptop by Acer Nitro 5 with a 9th Gen core i5 Processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card that can be leveraged for better designing and modeling.

Can you use a 3D Printer Without a Computer?

Yes, it is possible. This can be done by loading the 3D model onto the SD card and inserting it into the 3D printer. But, it is recommended to have a computer if you want to do firmware upgrades to a 3D printer and designing of models

What is Cheapest Laptop for 3D Printing?

The cheapest laptop for 3D printing could be with a minimal configuration such as 4GB RAM, i3 / Core 2 Duo Processor, SSD/Magnetic Hard Disk 256GB. Acer Aspire 5 A515-56-36UT from Amazon could be the cheapest and yet supportive.

Which is the best 3D Modeling Laptop?

Acer Nitro 5 laptop that has a core i5 9th Gen processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card, and 8 GB  RAM with 256gbSSD is the right laptop for 3D modeling.

How much RAM do you need for 3D printing?

RAM needed for 3D printing can start from 4GB and may go higher if designing and modeling are needed. A minimum of 4GB RAM is recommended for a hassle-free operation.

Gunaseelan Murugesan
Author | Website

Experienced Project Engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the field of Product Design & Development industry in Mechanical Engineering. Skilled in 3D Printing and Re engineering Technologies with CATIA V5 , Materials Science, Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Mimics, ANSYS Workbench and Casting Simulation software. Strong engineering professional with a Master’s Degree focused in Industrial Metallurgy from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore.

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