Having the right computing resource at your disposal that is well-suited to meet your specific requirements for hacking will make things much easier and hassle-free. It’s starkly similar to the concept of having a clear picture of where you want to be.
Ethical hacking professionals and students know that hacking has got to do more with adapting the available computing resources to the specific requirement. The flow of adaptability through different operating systems, distribution software, and specialization software in professional hacking is what makes the digital artform unique in its own right. However, having the right computing resource at your disposal that is well-suited to meet your specific requirements will make things much easier and hassle-free. It’s starkly similar to the concept of having a clear picture of where you want to be.
If you are someone who prefers to work on existing scripts to deploy hack attacks, a lightweight hardware configuration will work fine for you. On the other hand, if you code email client overrun exploits or browser exploits from scratch, you’ll need a higher CPU, RAM, and storage capacity. Also, many ethical hackers prefer using Linux over other OS.
If you fall into this category, proper Linux support should be one of your main criteria. To save you from the hassle of browsing through the overwhelming amount of options available online, we’ve done careful research and analysis to present you with a list of some of the best laptops for hacking.
Minimum requirements specs of Best Laptops for Hacking
You can further narrow down your options and make your hacking laptop-hunting journey easier by checking out this minimum requirement specs sheet first:
- CPU – i5 CPU with 4 cores works well for handling multi-threaded applications. Together with a powerful GPU, it can help you apply different hacking tools.
- RAM – 16 GB of RAM (or more) is ideal for working on multiple applications and programs. It also helps you seamlessly run guest OSes or virtual labs.
- GPU – A dedicated graphics card comes highly helpful when working on GPU-assisted password breaking.
- Storage – 256 GB of SSD storage and 500 GB of HDD storage is needed when targeting OSes in a virtual machine and hosting local web servers for testing.
- Accessibility – Having a physical WiFi hotkey will give you quick access to turning off your laptop’s WiFi in order to sever ties with the connection. You can use the hotkey as a killswitch to your laptop’s WiFi.
Review of Best Laptops for Hacking (and Cyber Security)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th Generation – Best Laptop for Hacking
When it comes to offering serious performance, Lenovo does not shy away from configuring best-in-class hardware and blending utilitarian features. The ThinkPad laptops perfectly testify to the brand’s repertoire. For hacking, ThinkPad X1 Carbon fits the bill as it packs a powerful hardware configuration in a fairly compact footprint. This model carries the work-focused DNA of other ThinkPads while embodying the portable chassis approach that many latest laptops are taking.
If cracking into networks with WPAs (WiFi Protected Access) by changing MAC addresses is one of the main tasks that you regularly work on, and intensive computing performance is a must for you. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is well-suited to be your workhorse with its Intel i7 4 core CPU that can deliver up to 4.6 GHz of peak computing power. The laptop’s 16 GB of DDR3 RAM comes on par with the CPU’s performance. Compared to other high-range laptops, ThinkPad X1 Carbon lags a bit behind in the GPU department with its Intel Integrated 620 graphics. However, it can back you up for light to medium graphics equipment, such as using mid-level penetration tools.
Defying laptop performance convention
Quick and uninterrupted access to applications, programs, and important files isn’t a problem at all, thanks to the laptop’s 512GB of SSD storage. Apart from the powerful internals, it’s also the classic ThinkPad keyboard of this model which puts it into the category of best laptops for hacking. If you code your own attacks, the ergonomic keyboard will improve your productivity. Intel Wi-Fi chipsets are well-suited for working on penetration testing, and it just so happens that the ThinkPad X1 Carbon uses an Intel 9560 802.11 AC Wi-Fi chipset.
- Well-suited performance for hacking
- Good connectivity options
- Portable and high-quality build
- Not the best GPU
Dell XPS 13 7390 – Best lightweight
When classifying the best laptops for hacking, portability is the one factor that’s usually overlooked. If you are required to be on-site for work or are attending college studying ethical hacking, you need a powerful laptop that is portable and lightweight. Dell XPS 13 checks this prerequisite box with its sleek and lightweight chassis that packs a powerful hardware configuration otherwise deemed impossible.
Powering Dell XPS 13 is a 10th generation Intel i7 4 core processor that can efficiently take on even the most CPU-intensive compiling tasks. A 16 GB DDR4 RAM joins forces with 256 GB SSD storage to help you access programs, files and multitask at high speeds. Intel UHD Graphics handles the graphics processing duties in this laptop. Just like Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, this model scores high ratings in the keyboard department with ergonomically-placed keys.
An unmistakable premium offering for working on-site
The downside of a limited number of ports in this laptop is compensated by one USB Type C and one Thunderbolt 3 port that offer versatility in terms of connectivity. Other connectivity ports included in this laptop are one USB 3 port and one microSD card reader. Lastly, not mentioning the display of this laptop would do it injustice. It’s 13.3 inch full HD display doesn’t fail to grab attention with its thin bezels design which also offers an immersive viewing experience.
- Competitive performance in the 13 inch size territory
- Premium build quality
- Not the best GPU
Acer is one of the few companies that have raised the bar higher in the mid-range pricing category by offering powerful and versatile hardware configurations. This has been true with the Aspire series and more so with the 2020 Aspire 5. This model carries the do-it-all spirit of its 2019 predecessor but with more zeal which is the courtesy of the significant hardware upgrades that it has received.
Acer Aspire 5 outshines many mid-range laptops in the CPU territory with its 8th generation Intel i7 4 core processor that is calibrated to deliver up to 4.6 GHz of peak computing power. You can tap into the laptop’s computing power pool without having a doubt over its multithreaded performance. A 16 GB DDR4 RAM and Intel UHD 620 graphics join the high-performance path that the laptop’s CPU charts. The 512GB SSD storage capacity of this laptop makes it easier for you to store all your important applications, programs, and scripts and work your way through them with utmost ease.
The do-it-all mobile workstation“
2020 Acer Aspire 5 will certainly land a good ranking should any nominations for the best laptops for ethical hacking exist. The reason, as obvious, is the good connectivity options it offers. This laptop comes with one USB 2.0 port, two USB 3 Type A port, one USB 3 Type C port, one HDMI port, one ethernet port, and one headphone. Despite the powerful hardware configuration, 2020 Acer Aspire 5 is portable as well, thanks to its 14 inch footprint which helps limit its weight to just 3.75 pounds.
- Powerful performance in the mid-range category
- Lightweight chassis
- Not the best GPU
ASUS VivoBook S512 S15 is another mid-range laptop that we could not help but include in this list. Like 2020 Acer Aspire 5, this laptop brings more to the table than what it asks for in its price tag. And this is not the first time for Asus to pull off higher-specced mid-range offerings that are in a league of their own. With this model, ASUS has proved again that buyers don’t necessarily have to shell out a high budget when it comes to having access to fast and reliable computing performance.
The combination of Intel core i7 CPU, 16 GB DDR4 RAM, and NVIDIA GeForce MX250 GPU gives this laptop the capability of hosting a robust development environment where you can code or modify your hack attacks. And when it comes to applying CUDA-based brute force cracking tools, the 256 GB SSD storage capacity of this laptop has got your back. Also, the availability of 1 TB HDD storage capacity helps you make this laptop your personal repository of all your ethical hacking essentials.
The mid-range trendsetter
Script kiddies will find the laptop’s ergonomic backlit chiclet keyboard very easy to use. The full-size layout of the keyboard ensures that you don’t go short on accessing dedicated numpad. Connectivity options in the ASUS VivoBook S512 S15 include one USB 3 Type A port, one USB 3 Type C port, one USB 2 port, one HDMI port, one micro SD card reader, and one headphone jack. Also, the overall weight of this laptop checks at 3.97 pounds.
- Fast computing performance
- Inclusion of several utilitarian features
- No Thunderbolt 3 port
GIGABYTE Aero 15W – hacking computing nirvana
When it comes to offering powerful hardware configurations that allow expandability, Gigabyte knows better. And scalability is what many ethical hackers factor in so as to ensure that they can tweak the performance as per their changing requirements by swiping in and out internal and external parts. Although marketed as a gaming laptop, Gigabyte Aero 15W deserves a spot among some of the best laptops for cybersecurity or hacking with its beefy hardware configuration and good connectivity options.
Specification rundown of this laptop starts with its 8th generation Intel i7 6 core processor. The 2.2 GHz to 4.1 GHz of computing power range of the CPU can help you use different types of virtual machines and work on various brute force attacking tasks without facing any performance lags. Further augmenting the processing power of the CPU is the laptop’s dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. In the memory department, this laptop includes a 16 GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB SSD storage which helps you get an edge on quick access.
Gigabyte Aero 15W excels in one area where other high-performing laptops lag, and that is battery backup. The 95 Wh battery of this laptop provides backup for 8 hours of lightweight usage and 4 hours on intense usage. If you are someone who prefers to run different virtual machines and use various cracking tools in a segregated way, you are in for a big treat. Why? This laptop includes the option of connecting up to 3 external displays with one mini-display port, one Thunderbolt 3 port, and one HDMI port. Other port options include one USB 2 port, one USB 3 port, one UHS-II card reader, and one headphone/mic jack.
- Premium-grade performance
- Plenty of connectivity options
- Overall size is a bit bulky
2020 HP Pavilion – well-rounded hardware configuration
2020 HP Pavilion shares similarities with Gigabyte Aero 15W in terms of hardware configuration, performance, pricing, and overall aesthetics. However, it takes the lead in one important area, and that is storage capacity. If your hacking repertoire also encompasses software development/coding, higher storage capacity easily makes its way on your topmost requirement. A whopping 1 TB of SSD storage capacity on this laptop ensures that you get enough of storage with quick access.
A 10th generation Intel i7 4 core CPU powers 2020 HP Pavilion with unbounded performance. With the CPU’s 3.9 GHz of overclocking power, you are rest assured that intensive computing won’t be a problem at all. Completing the core computing ensemble in this laptop is an Intel Iris Plus graphics and 16 GB DDR4 RAM. This laptop is well-suited for using packet injection and other penetration testing tools as it sports an Intel WiFi 6 AX 201 chipset.
For external connectivity, this laptop includes one USB 3 Type C port, two USB 3 ports, one ethernet port, one HDMI port, one media card reader, and one headphone/mic jack. 2020 HP Pavilion is not overly lightweight, neither is it heavy; its overall weight averages at 4.25 pounds. The laptop’s combo of a 15.6 inch full HD touchscreen display and a full-sized keyboard layout helps elevate user experience.
- Reliable performance
- Top of the line storage capacity
- Not the best GPU
MSI Creator 15M A9SE-043 – more is definitely more
The more budget you put in, the more performance and features you get – this theory has dominated the electronics industry over the years. Staying true to this notion is MSI Creator 15M A9SE-043. The powerful hardware configuration of this model does complete justice to its reputation of being one of the best laptops for cybersecurity.
Powering the MSI Creator 15M A9 SE-043 is a 9th generation Intel i7 6 core CPU that is calibrated to crank up to 4.5GHz of computing juice. If you develop new modules for Metasploit or do other types of compiling tasks, the overclocking performance of the CPU is there to back you up. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU with 6 GB memory is paired with the CPU to further augment the laptop’s processing power. Adding more efficiency to the fast performance of this model is 16 GB DDR4 RAM and 1 TB SSD storage. This duo helps you go on a multitasking spree.
MSI Creator 15M A9 SE-043 includes a well-calibrated cooling system that employs two dedicated fans and 6 heat vents. The excellent thermal management ensures consistency in performance when the core computing units go into overdrive. Viewing experience in this laptop is sublime, thanks to its 15.6 inch full HD display with thin bezels design. In terms of connectivity, this laptop includes two USB 3 Type C Gen 2 ports, two USB 3 Gen 1 ports, one HDMI port, one ethernet port, and one headphone/mic jack.
- Fast performance
- Premium look and feel
- Fans get a bit noisy at times
ASUS TUF – with power comes the freedom to do more
Throughout history, many companies have been successful in pulling off the right marketing tactics that’s in line with the value that the products offer. This seems to be the case with ASUS TUF as well. The initials ‘TUF’ in the laptop’s moniker seems as if the brand’s hinting at the term ‘tough’ with a quirky wordplay. If it’s true, ASUS did a good job as the laptop’s name justifies the powerful hardware configuration that has been assembled in a premium and durable chassis.
ASUS TUF gets its computing power from an 8th generation Intel i7 4 core CPU. With the CPU’s 3.9 GHz computing-cranking capacity, there’s nothing stopping you from making the most out of your go-getter ethical hacking spirit. Adding more processing power is a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU with 6GB dedicated memory. 16 GB DDR4 RAM, in combination with 256 GB SSD storage helps you crush even the most intensive multitasking requirements such as running multiple distros either through direct installation or from bootable live flash drives.
With the laptop’s 1 TB HDD storage capacity, you don’t have to resort to other storage alternatives to keep all your hacking essentials at your disposal. The cooling system of ASUS TUF benefits from two 12v fans with overboost functions that can be manually customized. Two USB 3 ports, one USB 2 port, one HDMI port, one ethernet port, and one headphone/mic jack offer connectivity options in this model.
- Gaming-grade performance
- Durable chassis with a sleek footprint
- Weight is a bit on the heavier side
Lenovo ThinkPad P53s – multitasking without limitations
Lenovo ThinkPads span various industries and requirement types when it comes to delivering unfailing consistency with desktop-class performance. Like some of the higher-end models in the line-up, the ThinkPad P53s ups the ante with a beefed-up hardware configuration that’s well-suited for ethical hacking. In a way, this laptop is future-proof as its high-specced performance can suffice for changing requirements.
A whooping 40 GB DDR4 RAM is one of the biggest highlights of this model. Whether your main work is applying cracking tools, writing/modifying exploits, or hosting local web servers for penetration testing, or all of them, the high memory-management bandwidth of the laptop’s RAM will not let you down. 1 TB SSD storage further augments the breakneck multitasking speeds that the RAM offers. Apart from the best-in-class arrangement of the memory department, a thought-out marriage of an 8th generation Intel i7 4 cores CPU and NVIDIA Quadro P520 2 GB GPU gives Lenovo ThinkPad P53s a good spot among some of the good laptops for hacking.
This model has stayed true to the reputation of ThinkPad laptops in the keyboard department as well. It features the classic ThinkPad keyboard with an ergonomic layout. This laptop packs one Thunderbolt 3 port, one USB Type C port, two USB 3.1 ports, one HDMI port, one microSD card reader, one ethernet port, and one headphone/mic jack. Completing the feature-packed chassis of this laptop is its 15.6 inch full HD display with thin bezels design.
- Desktop-grade performance
- Durable build
- Not the best aesthetics
Razer Blade 15 – zero compromise in performance
Premium laptops are a long-term investment, and a perfect example of this is the Razer Blade 15. Sure, Razer Blade 15 does come with a heavy price tag, but it also brings with it an unrivaled hardware configuration which helps you create a dynamic computing platform that can adjust to all your changing requirements. A brief look at the overall aesthetics of this laptop, and you will know that it has borrowed the premium design language of the likes of MacBook Pros. The compact CNC aluminum chassis of this laptop has raised the bar high by packing ultra-powerful hardware while weighing at just 4.74 pounds.
At the heart of Razer Blade 15 lies a 10th generation Intel i7 6 core CPU which can deliver at peak performance of up to 4.5 GHz. Together with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 8 GB GPU and 16 GB DDR4 RAM, the CPU can help you complete all your ethical hacking-related computing-intensive tasks without breaking a sweat. The fast read and write capabilities of the laptop’s 256 GB SSD storage help you have quick access to all the important files you need when working.
You can get dedicated visual cues for the multiple tasks that you work on by connecting up to 3 external displays to the laptop via its HDMI port, mini display port, and one Thunderbolt 3 port. Other connectivity options in this laptop include three USB 3 ports, and one headphone/mic jack. Also, you get the option of expanding the SSD and RAM in this laptop, courtesy of its premium positioning. Lastly, it goes without saying that Razer Blade 15’s 15.6 inches full HD display doesn’t fail to grab attention with its thin bezels design.
- High performance backed by scalability
- Premium look and feel
- Can run hot at times
1) Is 8GB RAM enough for hacking?
Hardware configuration with 8GB RAM comes affordable, but along with it comes limitations in terms of what you can do. Although 8GB RAM isn’t recommended, it may work for you if you are a script kiddie who prefers to use lightweight OSes like Linux or Linux distribution software. Or if you are an information security student who is learning to use ethical hacking tools, you may use 8GB RAM sparingly by avoiding to open too many tools and programs. If you plan to apply the tools you’ve learned later down the road, you have the option of upgrading the RAM or simply using cloud computing in a virtual private server.
2) What are the best laptops for pentesting?
The best laptops for pentesting (penetration testing) are the ones that have compatible WiFi chipsets; Intel and Atheros wireless chipsets support packet injection and other penetration testing techniques and tools. If penetration testing is one of the main tasks that you regularly work on, it’s advisable to use an external WiFi adapter for higher range capability.
3) What are the best laptops for cybersecurity professionals?
As there are no laptops that are specifically designed for cybersecurity, it is advisable to first assess the specific requirement and then choose the hardware configuration accordingly. However, if you are unsure of what new work responsibilities await you in your professional cybersecurity career, a high-end laptop with top of the line hardware configuration is the right choice for you. High-end laptops with the latest specifications can easily be future proof for up to 6 to 7 years.
To wrap up this list, we would like to reiterate the idea (which we’ve presented in the intro) that the laptop you choose will only be as result-oriented as the way you want if you’ve assessed your specific requirements prior. While the right laptop serves as a good computing foundation, you may do your part of accessorizing your mobile workstation with add-ons such as external Wi-Fi adapters, live bootable flash drives, and external GPUs/or cloud-based computing. In other words, you may take the approach of “whatever floats your boat” in terms of accessorizing your laptop for a well-suited performance.