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
HDD: 250GB SSD
HDD: 2TB HDD
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

Comments

  • edited July 2018

    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.

    Hack The Box

  • 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.

    pzylence
    OSCP

  • You can find the install prereqs here:
    https://docs.kali.org/installation/kali-linux-hard-disk-install

    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):
    https://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare/Intel-i7-8550U-vs-Intel-i5-8600K/3064vs3100

    GPU: Intel HD 630

    Benchmarks:
    https://www.videocardbenchmark.net/gpu.php?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.

    Arrexel

  • 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):
    https://www.amazon.com/AOC-U2879VF-Monitor-3840x2160-FreeSync/dp/B0163JLIWU

    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 2018

    @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.

    Arrexel

  • 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

    Arrexel

  • 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.

    TimeLoad

  • edited September 2018

    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.

  • i use a 2013 Macbook Pro at present, upgrading to a Macbook air later this year, personally with work I do/have done i have found the best laptop to be a Macbook Air as they are light weight and seem to have great battery life, I think battery life out weighs performance most of the time, I have my cracking rig back at the HQ hooked up to ngrock and hidden ssh online so i can tap into it from anywhere, even from my nexus phone sometimes, I have found it better to collect the hashes from the job and through them to the rig, then a little python script to through me back the cracked hashes when completed via either writing the file out and sending them to me on a reverse connection, or if its a big job a secure ftp server, on the Mac i have Kali running through VM, as i am more used to it over parrot, but when i get the new Macbook Air I will be installing it as the primary OS, as i have a desktop for gaming/media, but yeah my advice is aim for battery life over anything else, 4-8gb Ram and enough HDD space for everything you need really, my friend has an overpowered laptop with all the trimmings, but I have found i still work faster than him on my Mac as it just seems to run smoother somehow, but then again he is pushing his to the limits on every job, think hes kinda impatient haha, all this been said the only other thing i'd go for is a lonovo yoga as they have good battery life too, lastly all thats really required over this is a good WIFI card capable of monitor,
    one last side note I also have an Rpi3 running kali which i have on a power bank in my bag for basic MITM work, and also ssh into that from my phone/laptop, but yeah hope this helps, I have tried many computers and setups but this is what works for me, take care Bex xx

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

    yes i use parrot it's better than kali

    @CLAR said:
    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
    HDD: 250GB SSD
    HDD: 2TB HDD
    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

    I use Parrot like principal OS, i have a Lenovo G40, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, Intel Celeron and my machine works so good !

  • Your specs are more than enough to do what you want to do. I bought an Acer Predator Triton 700 mainly because I like to game and I wanted to get rid of my Desktop. It cost a lot and unless you want to run windows with VM's (which I do for parrot) then I wouldn't get it. The BIOS is locked to RAID and can't be changed to AHCI and I can't get any Linux to install on it unless I rewrite my BIOS myself (more hassel than it is worth). But the trade off for that is that it comes with a GTX 1080 and can run any game I want to play. I have also run a small virtual lab on it with 4 unix systems and a pfsense box for routing at the same time.

    Every person is different also, I don't like the smaller form factor. It makes having multiple pograms open or services on the side to watch everything difficult unless you make it really small while on the go. Mine is a 15.6" and I wouldn't go any lower than this for on the go. I use two additional monitors while I am home though. But that is your preference.

    Another reason I went for the Triton 700 is its small form since it has two M2 drive slots (can be hard to upgrade if not done right, but there are some good writeup's on their forums and people are always willing to help). It is the smallest gaming laptop I have ever seen.

  • edited January 23

    I changed my OS to blackarch with i3 desktop, it rocks, it's light in ram and it's highly customizable, it's a good way to pentest with an old tech laptop, it uses less than 700M

    peek

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