If you are a Professional Ethical hacker or even a newbie in this field who is looking to get the best laptop to run Kali Linux and do Penetration testing, then I can assure you that you have come to the right place.
As you may already know you can run Kali Linux via dual boot or using virtualization software like VirtualBox or VMware. No matter what method you choose to run Kali, you’ll need a laptop which is capable of running it without any issues.
Being a busy hacker not a lot of people have time to study the specifications of a laptop which they’re going to buy and that’s why I’m here to help you.
After going through a number of laptops I have made a final list of the Best laptops for Kali Linux and Pentesting of 2019 and I have tried to exclude outdated or weak laptops for this profession.
I won’t waste your time anymore, so let’s get started.
- Top 7 Laptops For Kali Linux & Pentesting in 2020
Top 7 Laptops For Kali Linux & Pentesting in 2020
1. Apple MacBook Pro
I have already talked about MacBook Pro many times on this site and I have recommended this amazing machine for many professions. Now I’m going to recommend this laptop for Kali Linux too because it is powerful and capable of running kali smoothly.
Let’s talk about it more details.
This is the Mid-2017 model of the MacBook Pro which is undoubtedly one of the expensive laptops from Apple but it provides value for its money. If you don’t have a very high budget or haven’t used any Apple laptops before, I would suggest you go to skip this one for now and look at some other good laptops which I have talked below.
Note: I have talked about 8 good laptops under 700 dollars before, If you have that kind of budget, then you should definitely take a look at those laptops.
If you aren’t worried about the pricing and want only the best of the best laptop, then this MacBook Pro will definitely meet your expectations. If you have already used any other older laptops from Apple, then this is worth upgrading for sure.
This MacBook Pro comes in a 15-inch display with the resolution of 2880×1800. The resolution is quite unusual because not many laptops have this kind of resolution. No matter what the resolution is, it is one of the most beautiful and gorgeous displays you can get in a laptop right now.
The Retina display of the MacBook Pro does really stand out from other notebooks. The color accuracy and viewing angles will surely amaze you with its high-quality. I know that an ethical hacker who is looking to run Kali won’t be giving a lot of thoughts to display quality but still, it’s really good to have a gorgeous display on any laptop.
When it comes to storage, you’ll get 512GB SSD and 16GB DDR3 memory and unfortunately, you can’t upgrade any of them. But still, it is more than enough to do penetration tests and run Kali.
The performance, on the other hand, has really improved from its predecessor (2016 model). According to The Tech Chap, you’ll be getting 16% faster performance in a single core and 19% performance in multi-core. You can easily run Kali with the smoothness of MacOS without any worries.
Though Apple has offered a dedicated graphics on this machine i.e Radeon Pro 560, still I won’t say this is a perfect gaming laptop. Gaming performance is quite limited but when you perform graphics related tasks, it’ll surely help the system to perform smoother and just to let you know this laptop is capable of editing 4k videos with ease.
One main thing to be noted while performing some hardcore tasks on this laptop is its Fan noise. Though the volume of the fan increase slightly more but the system remains pretty cool. That’s a great job by Apple I would say.
There are 4 USB ports offered by Apple on this laptop and all 4 of them are USB Type-C. It is not the best port selection I would say but not the worst either. 4 USB Type-C can be pretty handy especially for professions like this.
Take a look at this BIG trackpad,
Some people may not be comfortable with the size of the trackpad. So I would suggest them to buy an external mouse for MacBook Pro.
And lastly, the Battery life.
When you are running Kali on this machine, you can expect battery life up to 3 hours at maximum. While using multimedia, Word/ Excel, Google Chrome, you can expect around 8-10 hours of battery life which is pretty good in my opinion.
2. Lenovo IdeaPad Y700
If you have a budget of around $900-$1000, then you should definitely consider this amazing beast from Lenovo.
Of course, the 17.3 model which I’m going to talk about is quite heavy (i.e 7.7 lbs) compared to other models but an ethical hacker would be mostly doing his/ her work from a single place so I think a heavy laptop won’t be an issue for them. If you want a lightweight laptop, then you can opt for other models of this laptop.
The 17.3 inch Lenovo Y700 comes with full HD display. The colors on this display are sharp and vibrant which looks great. The viewing angles are also fairly decent and there is nothing much to complain about.
The storage part of this machine is quite tricky. It comes with 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD. By default, the operating system (i.e Windows 10) will be installed in SSD storage and you can save your files to the hard disk.
The performance of this machine is quite fast. It comes with Intel Core i7 6th Gen i.e Intel Core i7-6700HQ which handles every task easily and also remains the system cool just like the above MacBook Pro. The processor boots up the system in just 10 seconds which is pretty extraordinary.
As you may have already guessed by the look of the laptop itself that this is a gaming laptop. It comes with discrete graphics card i.e GTX 960M with 4GB VRAM. You can play moderate to high demanding games at decent frames. This isn’t the best gaming laptop on this list, more to come. But the next laptop is definitely better than this one because both are similarly priced laptops.
The main highlight of this laptop is its JBL speakers which gets very loud.
The Placement of the speakers are quite good and I have to say this is one the best speakers you’ll get on a laptop right now.
The laptop comes with a Red backlit keyboard which has 2 levels of brightness but one main concern about this laptop is its trackpad. It isn’t as responsive as it should be so I would advise you to get an external mice If you are thinking to get this laptop.
The port selection has been fairly decent I would say. On the right side, you’ll get 2 USB 3.0, HDMI and ethernet jack. On the left side, there is a USB 2.0 and a full-size SD card reader.
And finally, the battery life.
While using Kali Linux or playing games, expect around 1.5- 2 hours of battery life. While using Windows for basic usage, you can expect more than that.
You can learn more about Lenovo Ideapad Y700 by watching the below video.
Video by: Canoopsy
3. Dell Inspiron i5577- The Best Affordable Laptop Kali LinuxUpdate: Currently, this laptop isn’t available in its original price, hence I have a better suggestion for you i.e Dell Inspiron 7866BLK which has the almost same price and specifications.
This isn’t the first time I’m talking about Dell Inspiron i5577-7342BLK-PUS on this blog. I have talked about it several times here, In fact, I have mentioned that this is personally my favorite laptop for data science. Again I’ll be choosing this Dell Inspiron as my personal choice for this profession too because no other laptop on this list gives value for money as Dell Inspiron i5577.
This is one of the best laptops for Kali Linux and Pentesting under 1000 dollars and I’ll give the reasons why
The Dell Inspiron comes with 15.6 Inch TN panel which may not be as good as the above two laptops but still, the display gets bright enough and has good color accuracy. If you are one of those people who are concerned about the TN panel, don’t worry. Ryan Clark has assured that this TN Panel is very good in its own terms.
The only concerning thing about the display is it doesn’t have great viewing angles. This won’t be a big deal for many but If you are too choosy about it, keep this mind.
The Inspiron i5577 comes with 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD drive which is extremely fast compared to laptops with SATA 3 SSD’s. Just like the above Lenovo Y700, this laptop also does boots up in just 10 seconds. The 16GB DDR4 RAM easy handles multi-tasking without any sweat. If the 16GB RAM isn’t enough for you, then you can add more RAM in an additional slot which has offered on this laptop.
Many people have complained about the bloatware on this laptop so I would advise you do a fresh installation of the OS or you can simply disable/ delete that bloatware to improve the performance of the laptop. Though the laptop does offer the backlit feature on this laptop it yet it doesn’t get bright enough like some other laptops.
When it comes to gaming, Dell has managed to offer Geforce GTX 1050 with 4GB VRAM. It is pretty rare of seeing GTX 1050 on a laptop which costs less than $1k. Performance wise, this Inspiron is a beast. You’ll get very good frame rates on most of the games.
According to Calixte, you can play 40 FPS in Skyrim (ultra settings) and 36 FPS in Neverwinter (high settings). Being an ethical hacker, you may or may not a game enthusiast but having a dedicated GPU will surely help you in many ways and every laptop on this list have a dedicated graphics card.
At last, the battery life.
While using the laptop for entertainment purpose such as Netflix, Chrome, Youtube etc, you can easily expect 7-8 hours of battery life. Some people have also shared you can get up to 10 hours with basic usage. While running Kali, you expect between 3-4 hours of battery life which isn’t bad at all.
4. Alienware 17 R4
This is a flagship laptop from Alienware which is meant for Graphic designers, CAD, Video editors and other similar professions which requires a laptop with top-end specifications. In terms of specs, this is a good laptop for Pentesting and Kali Linux.
This is a desktop replacement laptop which weighs 9.7 pounds. If you are looking for a portable laptop, this may not be your best option.
The build quality of the Alienware 17 is really astonishing. Majority of the laptop is made out of aluminum and it is very rigid and sturdy. It doesn’t give you cheap feeling about the laptop and really justifies its pricing.
It has a 17.3-inch screen with two display resolutions i.e Full HD and QHD. It is your personal choice but I would suggest you go for full HD display If you want a good battery life. Though it comes with TN panel still it has a good color accuracy. The sRGB rating of the display is 92% and Adobe RGB rating of 71%.
When it comes to storage, there are various options to choose from. For a Kali Linux user, I would recommend you go for this one. It has 256GB SSD+ 1TB 7200 RPM HDD, 16GB DDR4 memory and Intel Core i7-7820HK.
Both SSD and HDD performs really well. The read and write of the HDD are 128MB/ 123MB respectively and the speed of the SSD is 1662 MB/ 649MB.
Just like the storage options, Dell has offered multiple options to choose the GPU. It totally depends on you which graphics card would be more suitable for you. Personally, I think GTX 1070 is more than enough to run modern games and performing graphic demanding tasks and It costs way cheaper than GTX 1080. I feel GTX 1070 would be more appropriate for you but still, it is your personal choice.
The keyboard on this laptop has backlit and you can customize it to any color you want. The trackpad you’ll find on this machine is small compared to other laptops but it is very accurate.
Before talking about battery life, I want to talk about a unique feature which Dell has offered on this machine i.e Tobii eye tracker. What it does is, instead of your trackpad you can control your screen from your eye. Though it may not be as accurate as a trackpad still it is good to have this unique feature.
And finally, the battery life.
While not playing games or using Kali, you can expect up to 4 hours of battery life. The maximum battery life while running Kali would be around 1.5 hours.
5. Acer Predator Helios 300- The Best Value for Money LaptopDeal Alert: Get the newer model of Acer Predator Helios 300 for just $1099 (Original price: $1299) and save $200.
If any laptop gives the best laptop for money after the Dell Inspiron i5577 on this list, then it’s definitely Acer Predator Helios 300 and I’ll tell you exactly why.
The Acer Predator Helios 300 costs at $1050 which is about $150 extra than the Inspiron i5577 but offers a lot more than what you’ll get on the Inspiron.
The lid of the laptop is made of Aluminum and rest of the body is made of plastic mostly. The build is strong and it is durable. It weighs 5.9 lbs (2.76 kg) and I won’t say it is portable unless you a laptop bag.
The display is 15.6 inch IPS Panel with full HD resolution. It is not the best display in this price range but it gets fairly bright and it has decent viewing angles. The sRGB of the display is 70% whereas the Adobe RGB is 53%. The only problem in the display is, it doesn’t get bright enough in outdoor conditions which may be a concern for many consumers.
Acer has offered 256GB M.2 SSD and an empty 2.5-inch slot to add an additional hard drive or an SSD. The laptop comes with 16GB DDR4 RAM (2 DIMM’s) and it can be upgraded up to 32GB (Via 4 DIMM’s). The processor inside the machine is same as the Inspiron i.e Intel Core i7-7700HQ which does a fine job by keeping the fan noise quite and prevents the system from heating issues.
When it comes to GPU, you’ll be getting GTX 1060 6GB VRAM graphics card which is pretty rare to see in a laptop which costs only $1050. Even the similarly priced laptops such as Acer Aspire VX 15 or Lenovo Legion y520 offers only GTX 1050Ti and not 1060.
The gaming performance of this monster is super fast and you’ll have no regret of buying this laptop. Here are the benchmarks of games played on this laptop.
1. Battlefield 1= 70 FPS (Ultra settings)
2. Overwatch= 80 FPS (Ultra settings)
3. Fallout 4= 60 FPS (Ultra settings)
The port selection on this laptop has been decent by Acer. On the left side, there is an Ethernet jack, USB Type-C (Up to 5GBPS), HDMI and SD card reader. On the right side, there are 2 USB 2.0’s.
The battery life on this laptop isn’t very impressive. When you aren’t using Kali or doing any hardcore stuff, you can’t up to 4 hours of screen on-time and while using Kali or playing games, expect up to a maximum of 1-hour battery life.
Check out this video to learn more from a review as the Helios as Gaming Laptop – pretty much same requirements as Kali Linux & Pentesting:
Video by: Matthew Moniz
6. ASUS VivoBook M580VD-EB76
This is the first Asus laptop on this laptop which I have considered to suggest for Kali Linux users because it has solid features at a reasonable price point.
This Vivobook comes with a Full aluminum body and it is very sturdy and strong. It has 15.6 inch full HD TN panel which is one of the main drawbacks of this laptop. The viewing angles and color accuracy isn’t so great on this machine. But If you are okay with a mediocre display with stunning design laptop, then you are good to go.
This laptop comes with 256GB SATA 3 M.2 SSD storage and Read speed of the drive is 436MB whereas the Write speed is 421MB. In Helios 300, you’ll need to buy an additional hard disk to use that in an empty slot but in this laptop, Asus is offering it for free. The drive is 5400 RPM which is kind of slow but still its better than nothing.
Again, the Intel Core i7-7700HQ does a great job on this laptop by keeping the fan noise at minimal and maintain the heating level of the laptop. The 16GB DDR4 RAM is more than enough to run Kali, Chrome, Photoshop and many more apps at a single time.
Asus has offered the same GPU as the Inspiron i5577 i.e GTX 1050 4GB graphics card and it performs extremely fast. You can easily play most of the games in moderate-high settings without any issues. James has mentioned that you can play Overwatch at 60 FPS at medium settings and Dirt 3 at 110 FPS on ultra settings.
You’ll be getting a handful of ports on this machine and here are they.
I think there nothing much about to complain about the ports here.
The laptops weigh at 5.1 pounds (2.3 kg) and compared to few other laptops on this list I would say this is a fairly portable machine which you can carry with yourself while traveling without any laptop bags.
This laptop is powered by Harman/Kardon speakers which gets very loud and one of the best in the business I would say.
And lastly, the battery life.
Compared to other laptops, the Asus Vivobook has slightly better battery life. While running Kali Linux, you can expect up to a maximum of 2 hours of battery life. While doing simple and basic tasks, you’ll be getting 4-5 hours of battery life.
7. Dell XPS9560-7001SLV
The Dell XPS9560-7001SLV (i.e XPS 15) is a perfect multi-purpose laptop which could be suitable for personal use, Gamers, Developers, Video editors and Of course for those who are looking to run Kali Linux.
This Dell XPS 15 has almost the same specs as the above Dell Inspiron i5577 but It’ll cost you extra $900 because of its better display, design and some other additional specs. This isn’t a budget laptop, rather it is aimed at hardcore users with top specifications.
Note: This is a 2017 model which I’m talking about. Dell has recently released 2018 XPS 15 which will cost you more than this laptop. If you are willing to spend more than this laptop, then you can go for that one.
One of the main highlights of this laptop is its gorgeous Infinity 4k touchscreen IPS display which comes with the resolution of 3840 x 2160. I can guarantee you that this is one of the best display you’ll get on the market right now. There are only a few laptops can beat XPS 15 in terms of display. The viewing angles are great and color accuracy is on point. The sRGB rating of the display scores at 96% while the Adobe RGB scores 99%.
Tip: If you don’t a touchscreen laptop, then there is also a variant which comes with full HD non-touch display. Check out on Amazon.
The XPS 15 comes with 512GB SSD storage which performs quite fast. The read and write speed of the laptop are 3000 MB, 1550 MB respectively. The Intel Core i7-7700HQ does a fantastic job while performing any tasks and the 16GB DDR4 memory helps the laptop perform fast without any lagging issues. You can upgrade the RAM if the 16GB isn’t enough for you.
Dell has upgraded the GPU from GTX 960 to 1050. You can expect at least 20-25% faster performance in real-world gaming due to GTX 1050. According to this test by WindowsCentral, you can play Gears of War 4 in medium settings at 60FPS and Doom can also play at 60FPS in high settings. That’s a very impressive stuff by Dell.
On the left side of the machine, you’ll get 1 USB 3.0, HDMI and USB Type-C Thunderbolt port. On the right side, you’ll get a full-size SD card reader and a USB 3.0. That’s not a bad selection of ports by Dell.
The keyboard on this machine is nice and it has white backlit feature and not RGB. The trackpad is good but it isn’t a world class trackpad.
If you have been looking for a portable machine with powerful specs on this list, then you can stop now. Because this is the best lightweight laptop on this list which weighs 3.9 lbs (1.76 kg).
The Dell XPS 15 comes with 97 watt-hour battery which can easily last 7-8 hours by doing general tasks. When you are running Kali Linux on this laptop, you can expect around 2 hours of battery life which is pretty good I would say.
Video by: Dave2D
Laptop Buying Guide For Kali Linux and Pentesting:
I have already talked about some good laptops for Kali Linux and Pentesting and If you are having a hard time choosing the right laptop for yourself, then I’m going to share few tips which can be helpful while picking a right laptop for you.
There are many aspects to look on a laptop while finalizing it but I’m going to about only 3 major aspects now.
1. Performance: No matter for what purpose you get a laptop, you shouldn’t pick up a laptop with outdated or weak specifications. Here are the three things which decide the performance of any laptop.
* Processor: For Kali Linux, I would definitely recommend you to for a laptop with Intel Core i5 processors. If you have a higher budget, then you can opt for core i7 processor but don’t go for Core i3 processor even if it cost cheaper. You’ll face many performance issues while running Kali if you go for core i3 processors.
* RAM: An 8GB RAM laptop is the least I would suggest for this profession. A 16GB machine would be an ideal choice in my opinion. That’s the reason I have suggested most of the laptops with 16GB on this post. Don’t go below 8GB unless you are ready to face some problems.
* Graphics card: It isn’t compulsory to have a dedicated graphics to run Kali Linux, an Integrated one will do the job. But If you are getting a laptop for a longer period of time, I would suggest you go for dedicated GPU. That’s why I have shared all the laptops with dedicated GPU.
Nvidia Graphics is the top player in the market So I would suggest you go for any GPU from them.
2. Storage: A laptop with 250GB SSD would be good enough in my opinion. If you are on a very tight budget, a hard disk will do the job. The boot time of your computer depends on your storage type. I’ll always choose an SSD drive over HDD unless I’m on a very small budget.
3. Battery life: This is a crucial part of any laptop which many people doesn’t give much importance before buying a laptop. If a laptop can give you at least 1 hour of battery life while using Kali, then that would be a good choice in my opinion. I have talked about laptops with some good battery life on this list, You should take a look at them.
Choosing a perfect laptop could be hectic sometimes because not everyone has time to research and study them and make the decision. That’s why I have chosen the task to research on your behalf and presented you these 7 Best Laptops for Kali Linux and Pentesting in 2019. I hope you may find your right choice till now.