The Best Laptops for Kali Linux in 2024: Your Ultimate Guide

Best Laptops for Kali Linux

Are you having difficulty finding the best laptop for Kali Linux? With many different models and options, it can be overwhelming. Don't worry, we're here to help!

Recognizing the difficulty in finding the perfect laptop tailored to your specific needs and budget, we've crafted this comprehensive guide. We aim to simplify your decision-making process and help you make an informed choice easily.

But this isn't just a list of laptops; it's a deep-dive into the best options available, broken down into five key categories: Best Budget, Most Portable, Best Battery Life, Best Mac, and the luxurious 'Money is No Object' category. 

Ready to see the best laptops for Kali Linux? Let's dive in and start exploring!

Our Quick Lists: Best Laptops for Kali Linux

In the charts below, you will find our top five picks for bare metal installation and our top five picks for installing Kali in a VM. 

You can easily jump to that section if you’re interested in reading about a certain laptop. 

Bare Metal

CATEGORYCHOICE
Best BudgetAcer Aspire 5
Most PortableMicrosoft Surface Go 2
Best Battery LifeHP Elite Dragonfly G3
Best Linux Pre-InstalledPurism Librem 14
Money is No ObjectLenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon

Hypervisor

CATEGORYCHOICE
Best BudgetDell Inspiron 15
Most PortableDell XPS 13
Best Battery LifeMicrosoft Surface Laptop 5
Best MacMacBook Pro 13
Money Is No Object PCMSI Raider GE78 HX
Money Is No Object MacMacBook Pro 16

Before We Begin

Before we dive into our list, it's important to clarify that our focus is on laptops that are good for running Kali Linux, not necessarily for intensive tasks like password cracking or home lab builds. We've divided our list into two sections for clarity.

Laptops that run Kali Linux on bare metal and for running Kali Linux in a Virtual Machine (VM).

If you plan to install Kali Linux either bare metal or via virtualization and will perform any type of wireless testing, we recommend purchasing a wireless adapter. We have a great post on the best wireless adapters for Kali.

Minimum and Recommended System Requirements

Kali Linux is compatible with amd64 (x86_64/64-bit) and i386 (x86/32-bit) platforms. However, we recommend utilizing the amd64 images wherever feasible. 

The hardware prerequisites for running Kali Linux are relatively low, as detailed in the following section, but remember that superior hardware will undoubtedly deliver enhanced performance. 

Kali Linux is versatile enough to run on newer devices that support UEFI and older BIOS systems.

Bare Metal

For installing Kali Linux directly on your laptop (bare metal), the minimum system requirements include the following:

20 GB of hard disk space

2GB RAM 

1 GHz processor

Keep in mind that these are merely the basic requirements. For a smoother experience, it's recommended to have higher specifications, such as.

80 GB of hard disk space

4GB Ram or higher

2 GHz processor

Hypervisor

If you're planning on using VMware or Virtualbox as your hypervisor to run Kali Linux, here are the minimum requirements you need to run Kali as a virtual machine in your OS:

20 GB of hard disk space

2 GB RAM minimum 

1 GHz processor 

As above, these are the bare minimums. We recommend the following.

40 GB of hard disk space

4 GB RAM

2 GHz processor

We have two great resources available on installing Kali on either Virtualbox or VMware

Key Considerations

While Kali Linux is relatively resource-light and doesn't require high-end specifications, you must consider other factors like build quality, battery life, weight, and portability. 

These features can significantly enhance your user experience, especially if you plan to use your laptop for extended periods or on the go.

Top Bare Metal Laptops

Top Bare Metal Laptops

We've carefully selected the best laptops for kali linux based on their compatibility and performance. Each is well-suited to run Kali Linux directly, ensuring an efficient and smooth Linux experience.

Here are our top 5 picks for laptops that run Kali Linux directly

Best Budget - Acer Aspire 5 Laptop 

Best Budget - Acer Aspire 5 Laptop
ProcessorIntel Core i5-1135G7 Processor  
GPUIntel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM8 GB DDR4
Storage256 GB SSD
Battery LifeUp to 8 Hours
Screen Size14 in
Weight3.28 lbs
Price$535.00
Where to BuyAmazon

Why it’s a good choice?

The Acer Aspire 5 is our top pick for a budget laptop to install Kali Linux bare metal, particularly when considering performance and cost. For its price range, this model's i5 processor and 8GB RAM ensure a smooth and efficient operation of Kali Linux, even when executing resource-demanding tasks. 

Its speedy SSD sets the Aspire 5 apart, guaranteeing quick boot-up times and rapid application loading, significantly enhancing your overall experience when working with Kali Linux. 

Furthermore, Acer laptops, including the Aspire 5, have a solid reputation for compatibility with various Linux distributions, including Kali Linux. 

This compatibility makes the Aspire 5 an excellent choice for a bare metal installation. So, when you consider performance, compatibility, and cost, it's easy to see why the Acer Aspire 5 is our top budget-friendly pick.

Most Portable - Microsoft Surface Go 2

Most Portable - Microsoft Surface Go 2
ProcessorIntel Core i5-1135G7
GPUIntel Iris Xᵉ Graphics
RAM‎8GB LPDDR4x
Storage256 GB SSD
Battery LifeUp to 12 Hours
Screen Size12.4 inch
Weight‎2.48 lbs
Price$586.99
Where to BuyAmazon

Why it’s a good choice?

The Surface Go 2 is a great choice for installing Kali Linux bare metal due to its blend of performance, portability, and affordability. While not the lightest laptop on our list, it stands out as one of the most portable, with dimensions of 10.95” x 8.12” x 0.62” (WxDxH), making a great fit for on-the-go use. 

This laptop is powered by an Intel i5 processor with 8GB of Ram and a 256GB SSD, ensuring the smooth operation of Kali. The Surface Go’s battery life is a plus for when you’re running security tests, ensuring your work isn’t interrupted by a dying battery.

When installing Kali on the Surface Go, the support provided by the Linux Surface project on GitHub is invaluable. This project is a great resource to help you get up and running on the Surface Go.  

Best Battery Life -  HP Elite Dragonfly G3

Best Battery Life - HP Elite Dragonfly G3
ProcessorIntel Core i5-1235U processor
GPUIntel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM‎16 GB LPDDR4
Storage‎256 GB SSD
Battery LifeUp to 14 Hours
Screen Size13.5 inches
Weight2.40 lbs
Price$1,533.95
Where to BuyAmazon

Why it’s a good choice?

We love the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 due to its impressive battery life. With up to 14 hours of use on a single charge, this laptop can handle your long sessions of code compiling, network scanning, and penetration testing without needing to be plugged in. 

This is particularly useful for security professionals who need to work on the go or in areas with limited access to power outlets. 

The Elite Dragonfly G3's powerful hardware, including an Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, ensures that Kali Linux runs smoothly and efficiently. 

Best Linux Pre-Installed - Purism Librem 14

Best Linux Pre-Installed - Purism Librem 14
ProcessorIntel Core i7-10710U
GPUIntel UHD Graphics 620
RAM64 GB
Storage2 TB 
Battery LifeUp to 9 Hours
Screen Size14 inch
Weight3.09 lbs 
Price$1,370.00
Where to BuyPurism

Why it’s a good choice?

The Librem 14, crafted by Linux-specialized manufacturer Purism, ships with PureOS - a user-friendly, privacy-focused Linux distribution. This makes the transition to Kali Linux notably seamless. 

Beyond compatibility, the Librem 14 is committed to security and privacy. It comes with hardware kill switches for the microphone, camera, and wireless devices, providing an added layer of physical security.

The laptop's hardware is a perfect blend of power and efficiency, with a high-performance Intel i7 processor, 64GB of RAM for multitasking, and a sturdy, lightweight design that enhances portability. 

The Librem 14 is a well-rounded choice for Kali Linux enthusiasts who value convenience, performance, and privacy.

Money Is No Object - Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11

Money Is No Object - Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11
ProcessorIntel Core i7-1365U
GPUIntegrated Intel Iris Xe
RAM32 GB LPDDR5
Storage1 TB SSD
Battery LifeUp to 8 Hours
Screen Size14 inch
Weight2.49 lbs
Price$2,508.35
Where to BuyLenovo

Why it’s a good choice?

Choosing the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 for installing Kali Linux is an excellent decision due to its outstanding performance, exceptional Linux compatibility, portability, and durability.

You can expect smooth operation with the Intel Core i7 processor, 32GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD.

Despite these robust specifications, the laptop remains lightweight and easily portable. The X1 Carbon is recognized for its sturdy construction, designed to endure daily usage, making it a reliable choice. 

While it may be pricier, the blend of these features solidly justifies the investment, providing great value for your money.

Top Hypervisor Laptops

Top Hypervisor Laptops

Transitioning from bare metal, we've curated a list of the best laptops for Kali Linux specifically designed to efficiently run Kali Linux on a virtual machine.

These machines stand out in their ability to handle virtualization efficiently, ensuring a smooth and seamless Kali Linux experience even in a virtual environment.

Here are our top 5 picks.

Best Budget - Dell Inspiron 15

Best Budget - Dell Inspiron 15
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 7 5825U 8-core
GPUAMD Radeon Graphics
RAM16 GB DDR4
Storage512 GB SSD
Battery LifeUp to 8 Hours
Screen Size15.6 inches
Weight3.71 lbs
Price$649.99
Where to BuyDell

Why it’s a good choice?

If you plan to install Kali Linux in a Virtual Machine (VM) on the Inspiron 15, it's a very good choice as a budget laptop. The AMD Ryzen 7 processor and 16GB of RAM would be capable of running both your primary OS and Kali Linux simultaneously. 

A solid-state drive (SSD) ensures quick data access, allowing your VM to run smoothly. With a 15.6" Full HD display, you'll have ample screen real estate to manage your VM alongside any other tasks. 

You should face minimal issues setting up your Kali Linux VM. The Inspiron 15 offers excellent value for its price, making it a smart choice for your virtualized Kali Linux environment.

Most Portable - Dell XPS 13

Most Portable - Dell XPS 13
ProcessorIntel® Core i7-1250U
GPUIntel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM16 GB DDR5
Storage512 GB SSD
Battery LifeUp to 12 Hours
Screen Size13.4
Weight2.59 lbs
Price$1,099.00
Where to BuyDell

Why it’s a good choice?

The Dell XPS 13 Laptop is optimal for installing Kali Linux in a virtual machine, making it one of the most reliable and portable options. This laptop stands out with its robust configuration, featuring a high-speed processor and 16GB of RAM, allowing seamless VM operations. 

The high-resolution display also benefits you, providing an exceptional visual when running penetration tests. You'll appreciate the Dell XPS 13's impressive battery life, letting you work for extended periods without worrying about finding a power outlet.

Despite all these powerful features, the Dell XPS 13 Laptop weighs less than 3 pounds and has dimensions of 11.97"x7.88”x0.60" (WxDxH), making it incredibly portable. 

So whether you're at a cafe or sitting in a van on an engagement trying to hack the wifi, you can carry on your pentesting work without worry.

Best Battery Life - Microsoft Surface Laptop 5

Best Battery Life - Microsoft Surface Laptop 5
ProcessorIntel® Core i7-1255U
GPUIntel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM16 GB DDR5
Storage512 GB SSD
Battery LifeUp to 17 Hours
Screen Size15 inch
Weight3.44 lbs
Price$1,099.00
Where to BuyMicrosoft and Amazon

Why it’s a good choice?

When achieving the best battery life while running Kali Linux in a VM, the Surface Laptop 5 emerges as a top choice. This laptop boasts one of the most long-lasting batteries in its category, allowing you to run Kali Linux for prolonged periods without needing a power source. 

Its powerful processor and 16GB of RAM contribute to smooth VM operations, ensuring your Kali Linux experience is seamless and energy efficient. 

Moreover, the Surface Laptop supports various virtualization technologies crucial for optimally running a VM and extending your battery life. The high-resolution PixelSense display is designed to consume less power without compromising the quality of your visual experience.

The Surface Laptop's intelligent power management system adjusts according to your workload, maximizing your battery's longevity. As a result, you can continue your pentesting work for extended periods, making the Surface Laptop an ideal companion for your demanding tasks.

Best Mac - MacBook Pro 13” with M2 Chip

Best Mac - MacBook Pro 13” with M2 Chip
Processor8-core 
GPU10-core
RAM8 GB unified memory
Storage256 GB SSD
Battery LifeUp to 22 Hours
Screen Size13 inch
Weight3 lbs
Price$1,299.00
Where to BuyApple

Why it’s a good choice?

You might be curious why we've selected the MacBook Pro 13-inch with the Apple M2 chip as the optimal choice for running Kali Linux in a VM, striking a balance between performance and price. The M2 chip, with its 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU, lays a strong foundation for smooth VM operations, even during high-demand tasks. 

The standard 8GB of unified memory, which can be expanded to 24GB if needed, can handle most Kali Linux applications.

From a cost perspective, this MacBook Pro 13-inch model is more affordable than its higher-end counterparts, despite providing impressive performance. 

Remember, to run Kali Linux, you'll need VM software compatible with the M2 chip, like VMware Fusion or UTM. Please check the current compatibility of your virtualization software with the M2 chip.

Money Is No Object - MSI Raider GE78 HX (13VH-080US)

Money Is No Object - MSI Raider GE78 HX (13VH-080US)
ProcessorIntel Core i9-13980HX 2.2 - 5.6 GHz
GPUNVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090
RAM64 GB
Storage2 TB SSD
Battery LifeUp to 6 Hours
Screen Size17.3 inch
Weight6.83 lbs
Price$3,599.99
Where to BuyAmazon and MSI

Why it’s a good choice?

If budget is not an issue and you're after a premium laptop for running Kali Linux in a VM, the MSI Raider with its Intel Core i9-13980HX processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 GPU, and 64GB of RAM is an extraordinary choice. 

This powerhouse laptop is incredibly capable of setting up a virtual hacking lab. You can comfortably run multiple VMs simultaneously, mimicking real-world network environments to practice penetration testing and ethical hacking techniques.

The high-end GPU provides significant computational power, making it well-suited for GPU-intensive tasks like password cracking.

Money Is No Object Mac - MacBook Pro with M2 Max

Money Is No Object Mac - MacBook Pro with M2 Max
Processor12-core
GPU38-core
RAM64 GB unified memory
Storage1 TB SSD
Battery LifeUp to 22 Hours
Screen Size16.2 inch
Weight4.70 lbs
Price$3,899.00
Where to BuyApple

Why it’s a good choice?

If you prefer Mac’s over PC’s and money is no object for you, then we recommend the 16” MacBook Pro.

The MacBook Pro with the M2 Max chip is a monster of a machine, easily capable of running Kali Linux in a VM. The M2 chip provides you with exceptional processing power and energy efficiency. This will give you seamless multitasking and enhanced operation of your VMs.

With its 64GB RAM, you can easily run many VMs simultaneously. Creating your own hacking lab should be a breeze.

The MacBook Pro boasts high-quality displays and solid build quality, making it resilient and a joy to use. And its impressive battery life won’t leave you running for an outlet. 

Conclusion

Ultimately, the best laptops for Kali Linux depend on your specific needs and circumstances. From budget-friendly options to high-performance machines, there's a laptop suited for every user. 

Considering these recommendations and your requirements, you can find a laptop that will make using Kali Linux a smooth, efficient experience. Whether you're a penetration tester, a tech enthusiast, or a beginner, the right laptop can make all the difference in your Kali Linux journey.

You can find the perfect laptop by understanding your needs and balancing them with your budget. Whether running it on bare metal or a VM, there’s a laptop for you.

Are you ready to learn ethical hacking with Kali Linux? Check out these great courses

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  • Richard Dezso

    Richard is a cyber security enthusiast, eJPT, and ICCA who loves discovering new topics and never stops learning. In his home lab, he's always working on sharpening his offensive cyber security skills. He shares helpful advice through easy-to-understand blog posts that offer practical support for everyone. Additionally, Richard is dedicated to raising awareness for mental health. You can find Richard on LinkedIn, or to see his other projects, visit his Linktree.

  • Tim says:

    Haven’t Lenovo laptops posed a security risk due to the company’s being controlled by the CCP (or CPC)? Lenovo used to be widely used on Capitol Hill, but they’re no longer recommended due to some of the vulnerabilities they’ve posed to network and information security (hardware and software related). For these reasons, I’d think that Lenovo equipment would not be recommended for the cybersecurity community also.

    • M1l3s37 says:

      If you’re aware of security issue, buy an open source laptop, made with open source chips and hardware. All the Intel and ARM chips include a backdoor, as well as few specific firewall distributor, ot not name them. i mean, if you planned to use Kali with illegal usage, you better retract yourself and use an open-source laptop such as these sold at Black Hat USA. If you planned to use Kali Linux legally, it’s not your problem if the workstation you use is secured enough, it’s the company problem, after you tell them about the issue in question.

      I hope this will helps you in the decision you will do in the future.

      Cordialy,

      M1l3s37

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