In search for a laptop that can run Kali Linux? Don’t worry! This list has you covered!
If you are a Penetration Testing Pro, or just a Kali Linux fan, you know that Kali Linux is a powerful Linux distribution based on Debian OS. You are probably looking for a laptop for advanced security penetration testing and research, computer forensics, and other highly secured areas over the internet. With all this in hand, it is an immensely powerful operating system and requires some of the powerful and expensive machines.
The Linux distribution systems are associated with most hackers (both ethical and unethical). Companies all around the world are looking for security experts who can perform penetration testing to find out any loopholes in their security systems.
Computers & Laptops are mostly bought by normal consumers (who aren’t much into hacking or security research); that’s why most of the models come installed with Windows OS, macOS, or Ubuntu. However, if you are developing a passion for penetration testing, ethical hacking, or security researching, then Kali Linux has some utilities in handy, making things easier for you!
You don’t need a supercomputer to run the Kali Linux, but you surely need good specifications or an extraordinary laptop that can withstand long duration pentesting, hacking sessions, etc. Let’s first get down to the system requirements for the laptops since it will help you understand more.
Here just for the list? Jump to the list!
- Kali Linux Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
- Best Laptops for Kali Linux in 2021
- 1. Best With RTX 2070: MSI GL65 Leopard
- 2. Best Runner Up: Acer Predator Helios 300
- 3. Best Value For Money: Dell G5 15
- 4. Best With RTX 2060: Razer Blade 15
- 5. Best With Dual Screen: ASUS ZenBook 15
- 6. Best with MacOS: Apple MacBook Pro
- 7. Best For Developers: Lenovo Legion 5
- 8. Budget Option: Asus TUF FX505DT
- Frequently Asked Questions
- The Verdict
Kali Linux Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
Well, you can’t run the Kali Linux if there are hardware limitations! Since the main purpose of the laptop you are going to buy will be using Kali Linux, make sure that it meets all the minimum required specifications to run it. We have mentioned the minimum system requirements to run Kali Linux and recommended system requirements for the best performance. Let’s get into the specs?
|Minimum System Requirements||Recommended System Requirements|
|CPU||8th Gen Intel Core i5||9th Gen Intel Core i7 or better|
|Storage||128GB SSD||512GB SSD|
|Display||13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080)||15.6-inch FHD IPS (1920 x 1080)|
|Graphics||2GB NVIDIA GeForce MX150||4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650|
|Battery||Up to 4 hours||Up to 8 hours|
- Processor: A powerful processor is the biggest asset for running this powerful Linux operating system. Every CPU is compatible with the Kali Linux system. Either be it dual-core or multi-core processor or either of i3/i5/i7 processors. But we would recommend going for the Intel i5 or i7 processor. The reason we would not recommend i3 would be that it could slow down the entire process and it would be useless overall.
- RAM: The minimum requirement has to be 2GB to only run the Kali Linux on a laptop. But if we would recommend it has been more than 8GB RAM. Assuming the fact that isn’t any kind of a drill, but a serious work that needs a proper memory capacity.
- Storage: Firstly, during the installation process, about 20GB of space will be taken by Kali Linux. On further processes such as penetrating testing, it will need a hell of a lot of free space. The more the better. So, anything that is above at least 128GB space. Could go to even 1TB space which will be an incredible option altogether.
- Graphics Card: There aren’t any specific requirements when it comes to graphics cards. But still, it is always better to have a good option at the best cost. Well, the biggest name for this is the NVIDIA graphics card with the best in the name.
- Battery Life: The fact that we know is, this is going to be a powerful system along with a powerful laptop. It is very necessary to have a good laptop with excellent battery power to last long. An average laptop provides 6-7 hours of battery power, but using Kali Linux will drain the battery easier. So, make sure the laptop you consider has longer battery life.
- Weight: It is applicable to every laptop. If the laptop is thin, it is preferred more than the others. People travel each day and they would love any laptop that has a stylish yet thin structure. Lightweight laptops would be perfect to be taken from place to place.
- Brand: This isn’t something of a necessity. But brand name surely speaks for itself. We always prefer to go for trusted laptop brands such as Apple, Dell, MSI, Acer, Lenovo, HP, etc. There are always good chances that some of these brands may not suit you at their best. So it is your call in the end.
Well, these are some of the basic requirements along with the recommended requirements that will guide you to choose the best option there is for the Kali Linux.
Best Laptops for Kali Linux in 2021
|MSI GL65 Leopard|
|Predator Helios 300|
|Dell G5 15|
|Razer Blade 15|
|ASUS ZenBook 15|
|Apple MacBook Pro|
|Lenovo Legion 5|
|Asus TUF FX505DT|
Before we take you to the list of laptops, you need to understand that finding a laptop is not going to be an easy task. If you are new to it, read everything mentioned in the blog post. However, if you are a pro and have a pretty good idea about laptops, feel free to check out the top-rated models and choose the one that fits your needs!
There are laptops mentioned in the list with different price ranges and specifications which you can choose from as per your need. Let’s get to the list.
1. Best With RTX 2070: MSI GL65 Leopard
The MSI GL65 Leopard is one of the more dependable notebooks that you can get your hands on for running the Kali Linux OS. The best thing about owning this device is that you can wipe the existing OS clean and use the Kali Linux OS as a single-boot entity, specifically for running penetration testing, password recovery, and other resources.
Under the hood, MSI features the functional and powerful, Intel Core i7-10750H chipset. Starting from single-core processes to managing multiple Kali Linux OS containers and resources, the H-series mobile SoC is loaded with possibilities and ensures extended coverage.
There is also an RTX 2070 graphics card in play, allowing you to make the most of the existing OS-centric vulnerability analysis tools like Lynis, Doona, and more. Also, the CPU-GPU consortium associated with the MSI GL65 Leopard allows you to use a wide range of exploitation tools, wireless attack testing resources, and web applications at decent speeds.
MSI also houses 16GB RAM for helping you manage Dockers and Kali Linux OS containers. The high-bandwidth RAM is expected to come in handy if you want to run the Offensive OS along with the regular Windows 10 operating system.
Storage and Display
Storage-wise, there is a 512GB solid-state drive to rely on, allowing you to use the Kali Linux OS resources, tools, applications, and files without any issue, whatsoever. We are also fond of the 15.6-inch Full HD IPS screen, which seamlessly projects diverse Kali Linux desktop variants, sans frame freezing, and lags.
Ports and Peripherals
Other resourceful specs include a colorful backlit keyboard for achieving seamless feedback, an HD webcam for staying connected with other professionals with video calls on Zoom, Google Meets, Skype, etc, and a decent consortium of ports that include Type-C, Type-A, and more.
However, we were most impressed with the revolutionary cooling technology, capable of keeping throttling to a minimum. Plus, this is one of the few notebooks to offer Wi-Fi 6 support, allowing your Kali Linux OS and other Distros to make use of the online updates and resources, if and when available.
The battery backup at 6 hours might not be top-shelf but still good enough considering your indulgences as an ethical hacker or a penetration tester. Overall, if you are looking for an all-inclusive machine for running the Kali Linux operating platform seamlessly, the MSI GL65 Leopard is the best computing resource to consider.
- Powerful, 10th gen processor
- High-speed graphics card
- A sizable chunk of system memory
- High-speed storage module
- A higher screen refresh rate for managing diverse Kali Linux resources
- Heavier than usual
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3 port
2. Best Runner Up: Acer Predator Helios 300
If you are considering a career as a certified ethical hacker, penetration tester, or security analyst with inclinations towards digital forensics, the Debian-based, Kali Linux is the best platform to consider. However, not every gadget is good enough to run this Linux distribution and this is why it is advisable to focus on the tried and tested, Acer Predator Helios 300, as your preferred professional ally.
Starting off, the Intel Core i7-10750H processor is one of the better options for your exploitation tools, vulnerability analysis, sniffing, and stress testing processes. The new-gen hexa-core SoC has every resource up its sleeve to handle every Kali Linux resource without breaking a sweat.
Besides, a majority of penetration tests are single-threaded, which make the best use of the turbo boost technology. This attribute allows the SoC to reach the highest possible clock speeds of up to 5GHz.
While the GPU doesn’t have a major role to play, the Predator Helios 300 still stacks in the RTX 2060 graphics card, just to be on the safer side. For some of the more complex penetration testing tasks and wireless attack monitoring, the CPU can readily offload some of the tasks to the existing GPU, considering the processing firepower offered by the parallel CUDA cores and 4GB of VRAM.
RAM and Storage
The 16GB DDR4 RAM is an essential computing element, especially when penetration testing and other Kali Linux processes are concerned. As you would need insane processing speeds, the 2933MHz RAM is one of your best assets in play for running point on the Kali Linux.
Storage-wise, there is a 512GB SSD unit available for usage. However, we expected a bigger storage space considering the massive size of the Kali Linux platform, which turns down to around 20GB upon installation. Regardless, the SSD is still good enough for booting up the pre-existing Windows 10 Home OS, in virtually no time.
Coming to the display, Acer persists with a 15.6-inch Full HD panel that flaunts an overall resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. While the display isn’t one of the major concerns for ethical hackers, it is always good to have a widescreen panel like this for skimming through the academic resources and other relevant insights.
Keyboard and Trackpad
However, we were most impressed by the 4-zone backlit keyboard as testers and analysts can benefit from the excellent feedback mechanisms, including the soft trackpad. Besides, Acer also makes room for several professional tidbits, including an HD webcam, stereo speakers, and serviceable mics.
As a Kali Linux user, you need to prepare yourself for the insane amounts of emanated heat. However, the exceptional thermal layout associated with the Predator Helios 300 is a virtual lifesaver, courtesy of the AeroBlade Fan and symmetrical placement of vents. The gadget does get a bit beefed-up in the process and ends up weighing slightly north of the 5-pound mark.
As far as the port arrangement is concerned, you get the Type-C, Type-A, HDMI 2.0, and almost every other slot for legacy peripherals and external displays. In case you want to connect with the internet for accessing cloud-resources, the Gig Ethernet support and the Wi-Fi 6 standard come in handy. Acer also guarantees a 6-hour backup on regular usage but you cannot expect more than a couple of hours when the gadget is being used extensively for penetration testing and digital forensics.
Summing up, the Acer Predator Helios 300 is loaded with several professionally-aligned specifications and should be one of your top choices for relevant Kali Linux processes and tools.
- 10th gen hexa-core processor
- Ultrafast RAM
- Powerful RTX 20-series GPU
- Wi-Fi 6 support
- Upgradeable storage via 2 PCIe slots and Hard drive bay
- No Thunderbolt 3 port
3. Best Value For Money: Dell G5 15
The Dell G5 15 is a great option when it comes to performance and a good price range overall. It has been equipped with 9th Gen Intel Core i7 processor. Moreover, it gives more speed and stabilization to everything you run on the system such as a high-end system Kali Linux.
The 15.6-inch FHD Anti-Glare LED backlight Non-Touch narrow Border IPS display is another remarkable addition to this powerful computer. Since this laptop has been built especially for gamers, you can expect high performance to run the Kali Linux on it.
RAM, Storage and GPU
Having the perfect combo of RAM and storage makes it suitable to run the virtual machine, to carry out all the testing and hacking for further security purposes. It has 16GB of RAM and 256GB SSD + 1TB SATA HDD. You will hardly need to buy any external memory or storage capacity. Furthermore, it comes with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card, one of the best there is.
The design has been made for you to keep the system cool and avoid overheating. An innovative Dual-fan Cooling System with an advanced thermal design ensures that your system stays cool as the action heats up. But all of this fits in an 8.65-pound machine all together which is not at all suitable for traveling. So, you may have to fix it in some place as a system.
This device is said to have average battery life. With Kali Linux, it lasts for a maximum of 4 hours, which isn’t a great option but surely you may have to bear it. For connections, it has 1x USB Type-C (with Thunderbolt 3), 3x USB-A 3.1, DisplayPort, HDMI 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, 3.5mm audio jack, Memory card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC).
- Powerful i7 processor
- Affordable and durable laptop for long term use
- Incredible backlit display
- Perfect RAM and Storage capacity
- Dual-fan cooling system
- Average battery life
- Noisy fans
4. Best With RTX 2060: Razer Blade 15
As a penetration tester, you can hardly get your hands on a better notebook than the Razer Blade 15 Base Variant. While you can even purchase the high-end variant by shelling out additional cash, we feel that the Base variant is more than enough for running the Kali Linux OS, either as a secondary booting option or even a standalone platform.
At the core, you have the Intel Core i7-10750H chipset, which is more than capable of running resources like Crunch and the password recovery application in HashCat. The turbo clock speed of up to 5GHz adds to the single-core capabilities of this computer, allowing the penetration testers and vulnerability analyzers to manage most high-end processes sans system slowdowns.
The Debian-based Kali Linux OS is more of an operating platform in itself that can be loaded and used directly from the flash drive. Therefore, the hexa-core processor associated with the Blade 15 ensures that you can run this platform for sniffing and cyber testing, alongside the pre-existing Windows 10 OS.
There is also an RTX 2060 graphics card in place, allowing you to manage certain graphics-intensive processes in no time. Plus, the GPU can be an asset when complex pen-testing resources like Netsparker are concerned; allowing the CPU to offload certain processes to the CUDA cores. Also, the 8GB VRAM speeds up the mathematical calculations and renders added support to the chipset.
RAM and Storage
If you want to run the Kali Linux OS as a Virtual Machine, the 16GB RAM can be quite a handy addition. Plus, Razer offers 512GB of SSD storage space, making it easier for you to retrieve complex resources in virtually no time.
The 15.6-inch 1080p screen makes every on-screen resource come to life. Plus, the thinner bezels help increase the screen real-estate, thereby ensuring that you do not end up missing the smallest of details while analyzing system vulnerabilities.
As far as additional resources are concerned, Razer comes equipped with a standard backlit keyboard, durable chassis, and upgradeable slots for expanding the storage space and system memory, if and when necessary. Plus, you also get access to a standard webcam, precision trackpad, and a diversified connectivity suite, including Thunderbolt 3 support, HDMI, Wi-Fi 6, and more.
Therefore, it becomes easier to connect external resources, displays, and even access high-speed internet on this 4.7-pound notebook. The battery life at close to 7 hours is quite remarkable if pen testing and running Kali Linux OS as the primary platform are some of your priorities.
Overall, the Razer Blade 15 is a sturdy, efficient, and unrelenting notebook if you want to get a feel of the Kali Linux OS or any other Linux distro before upgrading to a more customized version of sniffing and penetration testing.
- High-speed processor
- Upgradeable system memory
- High-speed wireless standard
- Thunderbolt 3 support
- Excellent thermal design
- On the heavier side
- Shallow keyboard
5. Best With Dual Screen: ASUS ZenBook 15
If you are looking for the perfect and portable personal computer for running the advanced, Linux-friendly OS, there aren’t many better choices in the market as compared to the ZenBook 15.
When it comes to the processing power, the Intel Core i7-10510U chipset is more of a standard, mid-range inclusion. Despite being a low-power processor with the maximum turbo clock potential of 4.9GHz, it allows the ZenBook 15 to run multiple customization metapackages and applications like Hydra, Wireshark, and more.
The existing mobile SoC is more than adequate to help you run the Kali Linux OS either in the undercover mode or as the Win-KeX, with a full desktop experience awaiting you in the single boot mode.
Coming to the graphics support, there is a mid-range GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU in play, allowing you to offload certain processes, provided you are interested in running the Kali Linux OS in the Bare Metal or VMware mode.
RAM and Storage
The 16GB RAM is a good enough asset for running Kali Containers, in case you want to allocate certain resources only for penetration testing and cyber analysis. There is a 512GB solid-state drive added into the mix that allows you to save completed projects and desktop environments, depending on the preferences.
As far as the display is concerned, the 15.6-inch 4K UHD screen offers an immersive experience. With a UHD screen and Nano-Edge bezels to rely on, you can use the Kali Linux OS in the XFCE or GNOME Shell environment, depending on the experience you prefer.
In addition to the 15.6-inch panel, there is also a 5.65-inch ScreenPad 2.0 support, allowing you to activate diverse Kali Linux OS resources and applications, with a single touch.
Keyboard and Design
This Linux laptop is also pretty light-weighted at 3.6 pounds, which allows you to carry your pen-testing and hacking preferences on trips and excursions. Plus, there is a standard keyboard in play, with the typing experience bolstered further by the ErgoLift design. This physical enhancement also takes care of the thermal posture of this innovative notebook.
As far as the connectivity is concerned, there are Type-C, HDMI, and Type-A ports to rely on, ensuring Kali Linux boot-ups via standard USB drivers. The battery on offer complements the inventive specs sheet and is capable of churning out close to 5.5 hours, on one go.
Therefore, Asus ZenBook 15 is the perfect laptop to invest in if you are on the lookout for all-inclusive Kali Linux brilliance and a compact cyber testing environment.
- Resourceful processor
- High-speed RAM
- Stellar display
- Heat dissipating design
- Wi-Fi 6 support for faster internet connections
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3 support
- 4K screen is overkill
6. Best with MacOS: Apple MacBook Pro
Display and CPU
The Apple MacBook Pro is one of the best Apple laptops available in the retail arena. Undoubtedly, it has one of the most unique designs. It has a 13.3-inch full HD display with an excellent Retina screen. Nonetheless, it has a powerful 3.2GHz Apple M1 8-Core processor.
RAM and Storage
This newly designed Macbook has 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. You wouldn’t believe it, but the SSD memory can be upgraded to an astonishing 2TB storage. It will be a great addition to your system since penetration testing using may need loads of space and anything better is always a good option. Furthermore, you can even upgrade the RAM up to 32GB memory capacity as the needs persist to run Kali Linux on Mac.
The most important part is the battery life undoubtedly. It provides 10 hours of continuous heavy usage on a single charge. It is a huge fact that Kali Linux uses up a lot of battery power since it is used for ethical hacking and other purposes. Having a good battery life is always something you should look for. The touch bar is something you may have never seen before. All your applications can be used with specific functions through this bar.
For added security, an Apple T2 chip has been provided in the system. The chips include a secure enclave coprocessor and encrypted storage capability. It has beautiful fingerprint security on the top-right corner at the end of the touch bar. Ironically, Kali Linux is used for hacking and security testing this could come in handy.
Additionally, you get a 2 x Thunderbolt 4 (Type C) USB 3.1 (Gen 2) port for charging, display port, and faster data transfer. Macbooks are always very easy to travel around with since they are super sleek and very light. Well, this is a costly product just like all the other Apple products which you are already aware of.
- Amazing Display
- Touch ID
- Fast SSD storage
- Fluid macOS
- Durable, unique and stylish design
- Only 2, Type C USB ports
7. Best For Developers: Lenovo Legion 5
If you are a professional malware analyst and looking to design an air-tight system against sniffing and spoofing attacks, you can hardly go wrong with the Lenovo Legion 5. This AMD-powered notebook comes equipped with a pretty extensive specs sheet and even ensures that the heat dissipation is of the highest possible quality.
To start the proceedings, the Legion 5 houses a reliable AMD Ryzen 7 4800H processor. Although the chipset heats up a fair bit while handling some of the more demanding web apps and vulnerability analysis tools associated with the Kali Linux OS, the burst clock speed of up to 4.2GHz takes performance and processing capabilities to a whole new level.
Plus, there is a GTX 1660 Ti graphics card for the processor to work with. While the GPU doesn’t determine the quality of malware and penetration testing, it can still help the processor out in speeding up certain resources like HashCat, owing to the Turing architecture.
RAM and Storage
This Linux laptop also accommodates 16GB RAM for better multitasking followed by a 512GB SSD unit. Needless to say, the memory allocation makes the Kali Linux OS operate like a charm, allowing you to load most resources in virtually no time. In case you want to run the Kali Linux OS as a dual-boot resource, there is the primary Windows 10 OS to make basic laptop functioning easier.
The 15.6-inch IPS screen is standard yet responsive. Although there is no touch screen support paired with the sub-$1000 laptop, the WLED-backlit support is quite commendable, in case you are looking for power efficiency.
As far as the keyboard is concerned, the TrueStrike unit is a dependable option, boasting 1.5mm key travel and superior accuracy. Plus, the thick and durable Legion 5 also promises exceptional cooling, courtesy of the Coldfront 2.0 system for better heat dissipation.
The connectivity suite is pretty loaded with Lenovo making room for Type-C, HDMI, and other slots. Plus, there is Wi-Fi 6 support for accessing the fastest internet connections. The battery life is rated at close to 8 hours but might drop to 5, for the relentless pen-testing professionals.
Overall, if you are on the lookout for designing high-end security resources upon testing systems extensively, this rugged and thermally inclined notebook is one of the better bets to place.
- 16-threaded processor
- High-speed wireless standard
- Zero throttling
- Ultra-responsive RAM module
- Sharp display
- Chunky device
- No Thunderbolt 3 support
8. Budget Option: Asus TUF FX505DT
If you are interested in an affordable machine for your Kali Linux OS and related professional commitments, the Asus TUF FX505DT is worth investing in.
At the core, you have the balanced and reliable AMD Ryzen 5 3550H chipset, capable of assuming burst clock speeds of up to 3.7GHz. Although the processor isn’t as powerful as some of the more seasoned H-series chipsets from Intel, it can still manage diverse reporting tools like RDPY, MagicTree, and Pipal with ease.
Also, if you are planning to reverse engineering certain security systems using the Kali Linux OS and the associated resources like the OllyDBG, the processor gets the requisite assistance from the GTX 1650 graphics card and 4GB VRAM.
RAM and Storage
As it is a cheap machine, you only get access to 8GB RAM. However, the existing chunk of system memory is still good enough for running the Kali Linux OS, either on dual-boot or as a standalone platform. The 256GB SSD storage space, however, leaves a lot to be desired and restricts the capabilities of this other powerful notebook.
The Asus TUF FX505DT also features a standard 15.6-inch 1080p screen, which is good enough for most Debian-based interfaces. Other relevant and useful specs include the RGB keyboard, powerful speakers, Wi-Fi AC support, USB Type-A ports, and a rugged chassis that weighs close to 4.85 pounds.
Plus, the sub-$800 device offers a decent enough battery backup of almost 8 hours, making it a reliable and low-cost computing resource for running diverse malware analysis and vulnerability assessment tools with Kali Linux OS at the backdrop.
- Mid-range processor
- Ultra-fast RAM module
- Rugged chassis
- Exceptional thermal layout
- A decent set of ports
- Lacks Wi-Fi 6 support
- Middling storage space
Frequently Asked Questions
Which processor is best suited for running the Kali Linux OS?
While most 9th and 10th Gen processors are good enough for running the Kali Linux OS, we would recommend using a 10th Gen i7 processor or even an AMD Ryzen 5 chipset for making the most of the multiple cores on display.
Why are Kali Linux machines better off with high-speed internet connectivity?
If you are planning to run Kali Linux OS on your machine, you are advised to check for high-speed wireless and wired connectivity standards. These attributes allow you to run the OS on the cloud whilst accommodating frequent updates, if and when necessary.
Can machines with low RAM run the Kali Linux OS?
Yes, even laptops with 8GB RAM can run the Kali Linux operating platform. However, you need to use a lightweight environment for minimizing the pressure that the OS exerts on the processor or rather the system in general.
Do you need to wipe the existing OS clean to install the Kali Linux OS?
No, Kali Linux OS doesn’t require you to get rid of the original operating system. Instead, you can readily use the same directly from a USB stick and explore each of the several resources associated with the same.
We’re pretty sure you may have made your choice by now. We did not make a list of over 20+ laptops for Linux as they are much more confusing when selecting one option. So a small yet highly reviewed and a curated list has been mentioned.
You may get confused big time if you go on looking for yourself on various websites. Keeping everything in mind, such as price range, features, use, etc., the list is ready and good to go. Make sure to go through every specification since each one of them is unique in its own special way. Here are some of our recommendations:
- If you want a Linux-compatible device for pentesting or high-end tasks, we suggest Razer Blade 15. It is a high-performing processor and graphics combination.
- While if you’re looking for a mid-range Laptop for Kali Linux, consider Asus ZenBook 15 or Lenovo Legion 5. Both costs around $1000 and are worth every penny.
- And for people looking to run Linux on Mac devices, go for the new Apple Pro M1 version to serve your needs.