Does your job require you to use virtual machines or are you a tech freak who just wants to use the features of a different operating system from a window on the current OS? In that case, you need a high-performance laptop that has enough resources to run VMs.
Like always, we’re going to talk a little about the resources required to run VM, the benefits of using it, and other factors that should be considered when buying a machine for it. But if you are here just for the list, then feel free to navigate to the list.
But why do you need a laptop with high-end resources? Well, Virtual Machines are basically an independent virtual environment that is created on your laptop or a system to run another operating system that works as a separate computer but inside the window of the current OS. The virtual environment is created using VM software. Therefore, you’ll be running 2 or more operating systems at once. Also, it won’t stop at JUST loading the other operating system, you’ll also do some work that requires computing resources.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to use it test software, security testing, or simply want to run a Windows operating system on Apple Macbook or want to use Kali Linux OS on your Windows Machine. You can use it for anything you want, it’s your call. By now you must be aware that virtual machines require powerful hardware for smooth functioning.
And not every laptop has the capability for something like this. Here is the list of system requirements needed by a laptop to run a virtual machine.
- Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
- Best Laptops for Virtual Machines in 2021
- Frequently Asked Questions
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements
To run a virtual machine on your laptop, there are a few minimum hardware requirements that need to be fulfilled for smooth processing. Well, you can always go for something better than only the minimum requirements. That’s why we’ve also added the recommended specifications.
|Minimum System Requirements||Recommended System Requirements|
|Processor||8th Gen Intel Core i7||9th Gen Intel Core i7|
|Storage||256GB SSD||512GB SSD|
|Display||15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080)||15.6-inch FHD IPS (1920 x 1080)|
|Graphics||Integrated Intel / AMD GPU||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650|
|Battery Life||Up to 3 hours||Up to 6 hours|
Best Laptops for Virtual Machines in 2021
|Acer Predator Helios 300|
|Asus ROG Strix G15|
|Lenovo ThinkPad P53|
|MSI GF65 Thin|
|Lenovo Legion Y540|
|Dell G5 15|
|HP Pavilion 15|
Freedom 251’s business consultation team assists a lot of professionals in buying the right devices for their needs. They got in touch with 73 virtualization experts [who uses VMs and portable operating systems like Tails on a regular basis], asked them about things to consider and also got around 31 different laptop suggestions. After researching, reviewing, and testing out a few models, here’s a list of the 7 best machines that can run VMs smoothly and efficiently.
Also, we do know that all can’t afford the best models, that’s why we strategized the polls in such a way that it also included budget filters. Therefore, don’t worry if your budget is less, head down to the bottom [models after #5] and you’ll find budget-friendly laptops that are good for VMs too.
1. Best Overall: Acer Predator Helios 300
Firstly, the new Acer Predator Helios 300 has ample resources that can be allocated to a handful of Virtual Machines. Despite Virtualization not being the strongest suit of this notebook, it is still good enough for installing relevant Linux Distros, penetration testing systems, or beta-versions of new operating systems for extended coverage.
Coming to the processing setup, the Intel Core i7-10750H is a reliable ally that allows you to manage multiple VMs and boot-centric resources with ease. As it is a hexa-core processor with HyperThreading support activated, you can allot two cores for a VM, provided you are into Linux Distros and other virtual security systems. Moreover, the turbo clock speed of up to 5GHz ensures that the laptop doesn’t slow down even with Virtualization turned on.
At times, Virtual Machines exert pressure on the mobile SoC and this is where a GPU, as powerful as the RTX 2060, comes in handy. However, as the graphics card with 6GB VRAM is more of a 3D modeling and gaming resource, it can help you manage these processes if the machine is busy accommodating VMs.
Acer throws in 16GB of dual-channel RAM that is capable of handling several VMs with ease. Moreover, the processing speed of up to 2933MHz is good enough for almost any RAM module on a standard gaming device. As virtualization often leads to disk partitioning, 512GB SSD might feel stretched to the penetration testers or high-end professionals. However, you can upgrade the RAM and storage space via the featured slots in play.
As far as the pre-existing OS is concerned, Acer offers Windows 10 Home, straight out of the box. The 15.6-inch display, on the other hand, is pretty standard, boasting 1080p resolution and a 144Hz gamer-friendly refresh rate. However, the widescreen viewing support furthers the resourcefulness for Virtualization.
Keeping the professional coverage in mind, the Predator Helios 300 persists with a 4-zone backlit keyboard, HD webcam, amplified speakers, and a pretty powerful cooling setup, bolstered by stealth pipes, symmetrical fans, and vents. As a majority of security engineers and VM enthusiasts prefer desktop replacements, the accruing heft at 5.51 pounds isn’t expected to matter that much.
However, what impressed us the most is the Killer wired and wireless connectivity support, translating into Wi-Fi AX standard and Gig Ethernet speeds. Besides, you also get access to a diversified port arrangement with a focus on Type-C, Type-A, Mini DP 1.4, HDMI, and other legacy solutions. Therefore, you can easily set up external workflows for your Virtualization requirements.
Coming to autonomy, the gadget offers 6 hours of steady backup and even USB charging support. Keeping each of the several VM characteristics in mind, the Acer Predator Helios 300 comes forth as the best possible machine for the job.
- Hexa-core processor
- Upgradeable storage capacity
- Ultra-fast RAM
- Wi-Fi AX support
- Mini DC 1.4 for connecting high-speed external workflows
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3
- Heavy Laptop
2. Best Runner Up: Asus ROG Strix G15
To be honest, there aren’t many laptops that can match up to the power exhibited by the Asus ROG Strix G15, especially when Virtualization is one of your priorities. While the specs sheet is loaded with professional possibilities, this variant is probably the most equipped one for managing VMs in its entirety.
Computing resources are perfectly managed by the Intel Core i7-10750H processor, featuring the hexa-core architecture. The mobile SoC exhibits HyperThreading support, allowing you to manage close to 24VMs at once. Besides, the turbo clock speed of up to 5GHz ensures decent support should you come across a demanding VM that requires faster processing.
Despite GPU not being a limiting factor, this variant of the ROG Strix G15 accommodates the RTX 2060 graphics card with 6GB of video RAM. This attribute allows you to actively participate in high-end leisure gaming whilst keeping your options open for managing graphics-centric distros and application programs, as a part of the testing process.
As RAM is often the bottleneck when virtualization is concerned, Asus takes good care of the same by stacking in 64GB of system memory. Besides, the RAM is capable of processing files and threads at 2933MHz, making it one of the fastest dual-channel units in the retail space. In case of storage concerns you, the Asus ROG Strix G15 offers 2TB of SSD capacity. While the virtual and server-centric operating systems boot up in no time, the feature SSD is also good enough for the pre-existing Windows 10 Home OS.
Coming to the display, you get access to a standard 15.6-inch panel, exhibiting an overall resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. However, as VM fanatics, we were most impressed with the anti-glare support followed by the Wide-angle viewing experience. Besides, you also get hold of an illuminated, 4-zone keyboard, projected as a reliable professional asset. Next in line is the Intelligent Cooling technology that keeps throttling to a minimum whilst amplifying Virtualization outputs.
Regardless of the feature sets, the device weighs close to 5.3 pounds and is quite durable, provided you are spent on strength and resilience. Then again, the device lets go of the Thunderbolt 3 port but comes equipped with the basics, including the HDMI, Type-C, and more. You also get access to Wi-Fi 6 standard followed by a decent-enough battery backup of almost 5.5 hours.
Overall, the Asus ROG Strix G15 is a powerful device, capable of handling Virtualization, Penn Testing, and other relevant processes with significant ease.
- Future-proof processor with 12 Threads to work with
- Massive Chunk of RAM
- Excellent storage support
- Anti-glare screen
- Reliable thermal setup
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3 port
3. Best Workstation: Lenovo ThinkPad P53
If you plan on purchasing a workstation notebook for accommodating and managing Virtual machines, the Lenovo ThinkPad P53 is the perfect option to invest in.
To start with, you get hold of a potent, hexa-core, Intel Core i7-9750H processor. This mobile chipset takes care of the logic put forth by the VMs whilst accommodating more demanding processes with a turbo clock speed of up to 4.5GHz to rely on. As it is a workstation notebook, you get access to the Quadro T1000 graphics card, loaded with 4GB of VRAM.
Based on Turing architecture, this graphic card is good enough for several graphics-intensive distros and designed applications. Not just that, this processing conglomerate has your creative and 3D modeling preferences covered, owing to the workstation-grade architecture and ECC support. Coming to the RAM, you get hold of 32GB of system memory. The SO-DIMM RAM module ensures that every VM setup, cloud computing requirement, and relevant virtual processes are managed with ease.
As far as storage space is concerned, there is a 1TB SSD module to rely on. However, unlike the NVMe-powered module, the SATA SSD is slightly slower but still capable of loading the Windows 10 Pro OS in almost no time. Next in line is the brilliant 15.6-inch display. As it is a workstation laptop, the existing 1080p screen doesn’t exhibit numerous bells and whistles barring sharp viewing angles.
Productivity-wise, there are several nifty resources to work with. These include a standard backlit keyboard with the one-touch tracker, reliable fingerprint scanner for added protection, HD webcam, a decent set of speakers, and more. Not just that, the Lenovo ThinkPad P53 is one of the more rugged notebooks on the list and weighs close to 5.5 pounds. Despite the heft, you still get hold of a diverse connectivity suite, including Type-C, USB 3.1, HDMI, and 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports.
The battery life exhibited by this workstation laptop is fixed at 7 hours but extensive usage might shorten the same by almost two hours. Overall, the Lenovo ThinkPad P53 is a reliable computing resource for professionals, especially software and penetration testers, with a penchant for cloud computing.
- Professional-grade GPU
- Hexa-core GPU
- 2 Thunderbolt 3 Ports
- Nifty Fingerprint sensor
- Sizable storage space
- Heavier than usual
- Predictable design
4. Best Value for Money: MSI GF65 Thin
Contrary to popular belief, the MSI GF65 comes forth as one of the more portable laptops for virtualization. While the CUK upgraded variant is good enough for managing almost every demanding process with ease, it best handles VMs, Distros, and cloud computing requirements without breaking a sweat.
At the core, MSI houses the Intel Core i7-9750H processor, powered by HyperThreading and Turbo Boost technologies. Therefore, the hexa-core chipset can handle close to 24VMs without system lags. Not just that, you also get adequate graphics support from the GTX 1660 Ti GPU, which works in tandem with 6GB of dedicated video RAM.
The upgraded, MSI GF65 Thin features 32GB of RAM, which ensures stutter-free virtualization, Virtual Machine handling, Distro testing, and other processes with ease. Storage is never an issue as the CUK upgraded model throws in a 2TB SSD unit, bolstered further with NVMe-compatibility. The featured storage drive is capable of loading the Virtual Operating systems and the pre-existing Windows 10 OS in the least possible time.
While you get hold of a gamer-friendly 15.6-inch display, it is the 120Hz screen refresh rate that impressed us the most. Besides, the thinner bezels play a pivotal role in increasing the screen real-estate of the existing IPS panel. Not just that, there is a backlit keyboard to work with followed by stereo speakers and an HD webcam.
The MSI GF65 Thin weighs less than 4.5 pounds and boasts exceptional aesthetics, led by an aluminum-clad chassis. However, it is the revolutionary thermal design that steals the show and supports throttling-free Virtualization. The entire cooling setup is led by 6 stealth pipes and symmetrical fans for improved heat dissipation. Not just that, you also get access to the Dragon Center UI for managing processes as per demands.
This laptop also makes room for a pretty reliable connectivity suite, comprising Type-C, HDMI, USB 3.2 Gen 1, and more. Besides, you also get access to high-speed Wireless and Wired connectivity standards and a battery life of up to 5 hours. Therefore, if you are more of a mobility-seeking professional, who is interested in a sleek yet powerful laptop for virtualization, nothing works better than the MSI GF65 Thin.
- Reliable processing setup
- Sizable storage space
- Ultra-fast RAM module
- Stellar display
- Innovative thermal layout
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3 port
- Shallow keyboard
5. Best With Dual Storage: Lenovo Legion Y540
Despite being tagged as a gaming notebook, the Lenovo Legion Y540 comes across as one of the best computing resources for running Virtual Machines, Distros, and Penn testing systems. While the amassing heft didn’t impress us, we were blown away by the processing consortium and its ability to manage Virtualization and other relevant processes.
Lenovo houses the Intel Core i7-9750H chipset, best known for the hexa-core architecture and turbo clock speed of up to 4.5GHz. These attributes allow you to run close to 24 Virtual Machines, without pushing the system to the brink. However, if you plan on running graphics-centric cloud servers and software solutions, the GTX 1650 GPU, clubbed with 4GB VRAM is a good enough inclusion.
In terms of RAM support, the Lenovo Legion Y540 makes room for a 24GB SDRAM unit, which isn’t the fastest one around. However, clubbed with the 9th gen processor, the existing chunk of system memory allows you to manage several processes, at once. As far as storage support is concerned, you get access to a 1TB HDD followed by a 512GB solid-state drive. This configuration plays a pivotal role in keeping the device cost within affordable standards.
Next in line is the 15.6-inch screen, featuring an overall resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Plus, the IPS screen also assumes the LED-backlit technology, which adds to the power efficiency of the same. Other relevant specs include the white-backlit keyboard followed by the interactive Windows 10 Home OS, reliable webcam, stereo speakers, and an impactful connectivity suite, featuring USB 3.1, HDMI, DisplayPort, Type-C, and Wi-Fi 5 support.
As far as battery life is concerned, the Lenovo Legion Y540 churns out close to 5 hours, which is pretty average considering the existing price point. Regardless of the restricted autonomy, this 5.1-pound laptop has a lot of potential to handle several VMs at once.
- 9th gen hexa-core processor
- Dual-storage support
- A sizable chunk of RAM
- Durable chassis
- Anti-glare display
- Middling battery module
- Heavier than expected
6. Best from Dell: Dell G5 15
The Dell G5 15 is a reliable machine for software testers, data analysts, and virtualization-centric professionals. While the portability quotient doesn’t roll heads, the specs sheet, in general, is pretty reliable and loaded with possibilities for Virtual Machines and relevant operations.
In terms of processing power, the Dell G5 15 brings forth the ever-reliable Intel Core i7-9750H chipset. While this isn’t the most future-proof module in the market, it still gets the job done courtesy of the processing speeds and the hexa-core architecture. While the six cores translate into 12 threads courtesy of the HyperThreading technology, the turbo clock speed of up to 4.5GHz also makes a lasting impression.
Dell G5 15 also makes room for the GTX 1650 graphics card that works in tandem with 4GB of dedicated Video RAM. While this attribute might not be your biggest ally in terms of virtualization, it can still help you run several demanding titles like WOW, Civ 6, PUBG, Fortnite, Overwatch, and more without breaking a sweat. Coming to the system memory, you get access to 16GB DDR4 RAM, capable of processing files, distros, and VM logic at 2666MHz.
Storage-wise, even Dell brings forth a dual storage module, led by the 1TB HDD. In case, you still seek a fast and capable SSD, there is 256GB of SSD storage space for you to work with. Therefore, even if you plan on setting up cloud-centric virtual labs, storage will never be an issue. Besides, the solid-state drive is spacious and fast enough to load virtual and the existing Windows 10 OS in almost no time.
The 15.6-inch display might not be a trendsetter but it still gets the job done courtesy of the overall resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. You also get access to an anti-glare panel that allows you to work relentlessly, without tiring the eyes. We were also impressed with the thinner bezels and the color reproduction capabilities of the IPS panel.
Other reliable specs include the standard backlit keyboard and an innovative cooling setup, presided over by the dual-fan setup. Besides, you also get access to a durable palm rest followed by Nahimic speakers and a serviceable webcam-microphone setup. Next in line is the excellent connectivity suite, featuring Type-C, Type-A, Wi-Fi 5, and other legacy specs and standards.
However, we expected better battery life than the 4-hour limit offered by the hefty yet durable, Dell G5 15 laptop. Therefore, if you are looking for a desktop replacement, the Dell G5 15 is the perfect virtualization laptop to invest in.
- Innovative thermal layout
- Fast processor
- Excellent storage support
- High-speed RAM module
- Anti-glare display
- Heavy notebook
- Lacks Thunderbolt 3 support
If you want a touchscreen notebook for testing Virtual Machines and operating systems, the new and improved HP Pavilion 15 is the option to consider. While the processing consortium isn’t packed with ample firepower, Pavilion 15 can still get the job done without breaking a sweat.
As far as processing performances are concerned, HP offers the graphics-optimized, Intel Core i7-1065G7 chipset. Despite being a quad-core processor, it can still manage several VMs at once, courtesy of the HyperThreading support. Plus, the turbo clock speed of up to 3.9GHz is also a resourceful addition, especially for single-threaded processes. Not just that, HP doesn’t go overkill with the graphics support and only offers an integrated Iris Plus co-processor.
However, a majority of the processing workload is shouldered by the 32GB RAM. The existing chunk of system memory lends adequate support to every single VM or Distro, regardless of the environment you are working in. Besides, you also access software modules like V2 cloud, VMware, and more with this memory configuration to rely on. In terms of storage, there is a 1TB SSD unit to rely on, best known for loading the Windows 10 Home OS in a heartbeat.
HP is one of the few notebooks on the list to exhibit a 15.6-inch touchscreen display. While the overall resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels makes room for excellent viewing angles, we were more impressed with the clarity offered by the IPS screen. Furthermore, HP also houses a standard keyboard with ample key travel, an HD webcam (works well with Skype and Zoom), a smooth trackpad, and a sturdy yet light form factor that sets the laptop straight at 3.75 pounds.
The port arrangement, however, is pretty unique with HP making room for two SuperSpeed Type-A and one Type-C port followed by HDMI and other legacy specs. Furthermore, you also get access to Wi-Fi 5 standard followed by a rather underwhelming battery life of up to 5 hours. Therefore, if you are ready to cut a few productivity corners for getting an adequately powered laptop for Virtualization, the newly launched HP Pavilion 15 is the one to consider.
- 10th gen processor
- A massive chunk of RAM
- Reasonable storage space
- Light and portable
- SuperSpeed ports for faster data transfers
- Not fit for gaming
- Processor lacks the firepower of the H-series counterparts
Frequently Asked Questions
Consider a single-faceted laptop that allows you to run multiple OS and software solutions without requiring physical installation. This is where virtualization comes into the mix by helping you use the laptop resources and segregate them as per requirements. In simple terms, the laptop resources, including the computing threads and RAM help professionals simulate hardware-centric functionality, as per requirements, as if you are using a single machine for each process.
If you can get your hands on a powerful laptop, it becomes easier to deploy the diverse benefits of cloud computing with Virtualization at the core. However, you do require a multi-core processor to ensure the seamless running of operating systems and distros on the same server, with system memory powering the basic proceedings.
As a software tester or a security analyst, it is necessary to rely on an impactful software solution for managing virtualization workflows with ease. Therefore, we would recommend VMware Workstation Pro as the go-to solution, owing to its ability to run multiple OS on Windows and even Linux-powered machines.
While it is easier to integrate and work with VMs in a Windows-only environment by relying on tools like the Hyper-V, multiple-platform environments require more potent solutions, as the tested OS, distros, and applications might require the additional boost. Although a HyperThreading processor is an impactful resource, a higher chunk of RAM and software solutions like VirtualBox can be quite handy, in case environment-independent virtualization is a priority.
Well, these are some of the best laptops that we have reviewed and carefully curated just for your benefit. Surely there are hundreds of more such laptops available in the market, but these are verified perfectly making sure it meets all your needs and perfectly reasonable as well. If you feel that there are some other laptops we have been missing out on then, do not hesitate to write to us.
If you have any queries regarding the specifications and working of the above-listed laptop, we would be more than glad to help you out in selecting one. For more information on these laptops, you can visit their official websites where you can find all the technical details and more about the manufacturers.
We totally understand your need and the reason for your going through all the details carefully. So make sure you choose wisely. However, if you want our opinion, here are top picks:
- If budget is not a problem for you, consider Asus ROG Strix G15, but if you want an affordable option, go for Dell G5 15.
- In case storage matter a lot to you, we would suggest the Lenovo Legion Y540. It has dual storage and comes with 1TB of SSD which is blazing fast for both booting and tasks.
- While if you’re looking for a more portable option, purchase MSI GF65 Thin. It is little light in weight but, doesn’t compromise on the performance.