What laptop would you use?

Hello HTB

I want to run Kali as my main driver to test VM's and more and to get better experience with Kali on the go. I don't own a laptop and do a lot of commuting.

As such, if your a professional or hobbyist that use a Laptop for pentesting, what is your Specs.

Also what are your thoughts on the below specs

CPU: i7-8550u Quad Core
GPU: Intel HD 630
RAM: 32GB 2133Mhz
WIFI: AC 9260 + BT 5.0

Form Factor: 13.3"

I am just curious as never been in the field and do not know what the recommended specs are for pentesting.

As such getting some real world experienced feedback will be useful.

I will look forward to your reply


  • edited July 26

    I have lower spec that that ,Kali is heavy but it ll run on that specs easly if u want lighter u can use parrot os
    Hack The Box

  • On my next format i will install Parrot Os maybe, i think it's better than kali.


  • This seems to be a good build. Some pentesters for real life scenarios would recommend having atleast a Nvidia 1050Ti to use it for cracking purposes. Other wise, its a really good build.

    Unavailable for now. OSCP time.

  • You can find the install prereqs here:

    That being said, to more specifically address your questions:

    @CLAR said:
    Also what are your thoughts on the below specs

    CPU: i7-8550u Quad Core

    You can get a better CPU than this. It's not that fast and it being an i7 doesn't necessarily make it better. For example, check out this comparison to an i5 chip (clockspeed,number of cores, etc):

    GPU: Intel HD 630

    You might want something better here depending on how much you'll be trying to bruteforce or pass crack as some programs are dependent on taking advantage of your GPU (hashcat) instead of CPU and you can run into issues.

    RAM: 32GB 2133Mhz

    This is plenty

    HDD: 250GB SSD
    HDD: 2TB HDD

    I presume your goal is to boot your primary OS from the SSD and save everything to your HDD (files, VM space, etc)? 250 should be good on your SSD as long as you are consistent with saving to your HDD

    WIFI: AC 9260 + BT 5.0

    Form Factor: 13.3"

    This is another area I would contemplate upgrading. Having more screen real estate personally is a major perk if you're not linking it up to other screens. Since you do a lot of commuting you'd be able to take advantage of hotel tv's and such but the difference of going up to a 15" or even 17" matters (at least to me).

    Is there any ethernet port options on the machine in question?
    what other and how many other ports are on the machine in question?

    tl;dr will it run? Yes.
    However past that it depends on how you will be configuring your machine / VMs / etc.

    Hope this helps.


  • Yh its got a gigabit LAN, I agree about the screen size, but I would prefer portability, which l think 15" is just too big, what are your thoughts on screen size.

    At the moment I practically get the train and walk everywhere until I get a car in the next hopefully 4 months.

    What size laptop do you use and prefer?

  • It depends on the job, and your scope. If you are onsite-onsite, then big screen is a must. If you're onsite-hotel, then I'd go with a bit more portable, and have an extra screen with you. Here's mine (pretty light, portable, and doesn't take much for teardown/buildup, price is right too):

    You should probably look into a cracking rig if you're serious about providing that service. And not all customers like the "I'll crack your hashes in the cloud" approach, so services might work for some, but best to have your own hardware you can vpn into off-site. Even a simple desktop with a single 1060 will out perform most laptops.

    With those taken care of, it makes the laptop much more about personal preference and ergonomics. Good keyboard, a touchpad with working shutoff, available ports and layout, etc... And that opens up a lot more possibilities too.


  • For day to day pentesting purposes, any modern laptop should to the job, as long as you're able to run a virtual machine (to either run a kali/attack vm, or to reproduce an environment before running an exploit).
    I've used an Asus Zenbook for the last 5 years for personal security purposes (ctf/vm mainly) and it was almost perfect.
    Now comes the password cracking part. Having an integrated nvidia 1YX0 card in your laptop may be useful in some situations where you need to crack some hashes on the go, but for serious cracking you should consider using an external cracking rig :)
    I have the following:

    • CPU i7-7700HQ
    • 32GB ram
    • 500GB SSD + 1TB HDD
    • NVidia 1070
      It's a 15" screen, but it is really a 17" package, so it's a bit heavy.
  • edited July 26

    @CLAR said:
    Yh its got a gigabit LAN, I agree about the screen size, but I would prefer portability, which l think 15" is just too big, what are your thoughts on screen size.

    At the moment I practically get the train and walk everywhere until I get a car in the next hopefully 4 months.

    What size laptop do you use and prefer?

    I would at least do a 15".

    Like @cdf123 said it depends on your day to day work.
    Also can confirm those AOC screens are awesome.


  • For password cracking/bruteforcing: just hire a VPS with a strong (dedicated) GPU to perfom those tasks. At most cloud providers, you can provide a template, allowing you to spin up a machine in, a couple of minutes (at the worst). After you're done, delete the machine. It will cost you a couple of euro's/dollars per month, but it becomes financially attractive quite quickly if you can save a couple a couple of hunderds bucks in buying your laptop.

    Example: https://www.blackhillsinfosec.com/crack-passwords-cloud-gpu-acceleration-kali-2017/

  • I like to try many devices to see what fits best. For ultra portability I’m using a surface pro 3 running a kali vm. I also have a dell latitude e6220 for forensic applications. For couch surfing I have an Alienware 17(it’s much too heavy to lug around) Cracking rig is an i7, 32gb ram and gtx1080ti.

    Most of these systems were picked up second hand or through trades.

    The idea is to find a device that fits your needs. And as your needs change, finding that device that is flexible enough to move with you. No one device will be the only device you will need.
    Also, no on OS will be the only OS you will need.
  • lol a simple hp i5 4gb ram


  • I have an i7-5500u with integrated hd5500 intel graphics. 250gb ssd and it runs like a beast for my portable needs.

    At home got a 7700k with dual r9 390s, also on an ssd. That's where I do my cracking.

    You'll be fine with that, I just chose to have a light portable laptop so I can use it anywhere on the go without having to worry about battery life (8 hours) and the weight (1.2kg~)

  • Geez that's a powerful computer, I don't use anything near that. I run Parrot OS because I find it's a little lighter than Kali (and it looks prettier) but I run an old i3 2120 cpu, 4gb of DDR3 ram and a 120gb SSD (this is desktop btw) and everything works fine.

    In my experience, ram and cpu don't really do much for pentesting, if you have a good graphics card and an SSD then you're good to go. I've heard of heaps of people using Chromebooks for pentesting, but if you're looking for a high-spec computer, I'd recommend finding an i5 gaming laptop with 16gb of ram that has an Nvidia or GeForce graphics card. For pentesting, going from an i5 to i7 and 16gb to 32gb of ram makes a marginal difference, pentesting doesn't use a lot of ram or cpu power. But having a good graphics card can speed up tools significantly.

    If this is just for pentesting, then that's what I'd recommend. But if you're going to be booting multiple VMs at a time, then I'd understand why you want the i7 and 32gb of ram.


  • edited September 5

    you dont need that much power to do "pentesting"..., i had a Dell latitude laptop with 16gb ram and thought it was too much and switched to a basic 4gb laptop with i5 3320M for 50 euros. i run gnome desktop on it using archlinux and it does not get paste 1gb of ram usage and my cpu around 5 % each threads, i also get 4 hours of battery on wifi with firefox open. thats the advantage when installing everything yourself, you choose what you need and nothing else.

    my advice : gpu is useless, you wont crack much and you can always find something else to do it instead of you (if you catch what im saying), ram is useless even if you use VM, 8gb should be the maximum (now if you want to play Fortnite while doing HTB machines, thats your own problem). any processor will do as long its at least ivy bridge, go for intel processor if possible, really.
    the most important factors for me is portability, resilience, and battery life, which is why i choose between 10 et 12.5 inches laptop that are of strong material.

    when saying you need 8gb ram at most for VM, i assume you use VM in cli mode using 256mb of ram for each

  • You could leave your beefy VM & cracking box at home & remote back in for heavier jobs.

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