Kali Linux is one of the most popular Linux distros among security enthusiasts. It’s widely popular for its built-in tools for pentesting and hacking. Many wannabe security experts also prefer Kali Linux.
Fortunately, Kali Linux doesn’t require a $1000 laptop to run smoothly. It’s highly optimized and can be used on lower-end laptops. I personally prefer Laptops for Kali Linux. Because laptops come with some built-in feature such as WiFi, Bluetooth, etc which is not available by default in desktop computers.
If you are looking for a laptop that is made for Kali Linux, then there’s no such dedicated laptop. But you can check the recommended requirements for Kali Linux to ensure that you can run Kali Linux on your Laptop.
Kali Linux Requirements
Requirements will help you to have a crystal clear idea about the specifications you need to fulfill to use Kali Linux smoothly. There are basically two types of requirements.
- Minimum System Requirements
- Recommended System Requirements
There is a small yet impactful difference between these two. Minimum requirements ensure whether a laptop can handle Kali or not. But it doesn’t ensure smoothness and a good user experience.
On the other hand, Recommended System Requirements are recommended by the developers. If your laptop meets the recommended requirements you can be confident that you can run Kali Linux smoothly without any lag or error.
Minimum System Requirements for Kali Linux
The minimum system requirements are very low for Kali Linux. And it offers only SSH server without any desktop environment.
- 128 MB RAM (512 MB Recommended)
- 2 GB Disk Space
Recommended System Requirements
If you want to install the Kali Linux with Xfce4 desktop, you should fulfill the recommended system requirements.
- 2 GB RAM
- 20 GB Disk Space
- 2 Ghz dual core processor or better
While keeping the requirements of Kali Linux I have picked some of the budget-friendly laptops for Kali Linux, which will not only run Kali Linux smoothly but also deal with the heavy workload.
Best Laptops for Kali Linux
Acer Aspire 5
- Only 256 GB SSD
- 2 of 8 GB RAM will be used as video memory.
RAM: 8 GB | Storage : 256 GB SSD | Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U | Core count: 6 | Base Speed: 2.3 GHz | Max Speed: 4 GHz | Webcam: 720p | Keyboard : Backlit Full-Size | WiFi : 5
Acer Aspire 5 is one of the best laptops of the Aspire series. There are various versions of this model. The model I am reviewing here is AMD Ryzen 5 4000 series. It has an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Hexa-core (6 core) processor which has a base clock speed of 2.3 GHz. But with a Precision boost, it can go up to 4 GHz.
Though it has 8 GB DDR4 RAM 2 GB of which will be used as Radeon Graphics. You can’t change the amount. 6 GB dedicated RAM and 2 GB built-in graphics can run Kali Linux smoothly without any issues at all.
256 GB NVMe SSD has been used in this model and there’s no Hard Disk Drive. Where Kali Linux needs around 20 GB of free space for advanced installation, you can create rest of the storage for your personal usage.
It has 15.6” Full HD IPS Display and the keyboard has backlit. Backlit may not seem a great feature but it can add an extra vibe when you will be using the laptop at night in a dark room. Some laptops perform well but suck at battery life, not this one. Up to 10 hours of battery life makes it ideal for all day usage without worrying about charge.
The built-in WiFi 5 and Bluetooth will add extra pace to the learning curve. Because some tests require WiFi and/or Bluetooth drivers on the device. You can connect to any wireless network or you can use the RJ45 port to connect via a LAN cable.
Great performance, nice design, and built-in features make it one of the best laptops for Kali Linux. You can start learning Kali using this laptop or you can advance your Linux knowledge without facing performance issues.
Asus Vivobook F512
- Screen quality is not so amazing.
- Built-in speakers are not so loud.
RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Processor: Intel Core i5-1035G1 |Core: 4 | Max Speed: 3.6 GHz | Display: 15.6″ FHD | Keyboard: Full Backlit | WiFi: 5
There are two ways of using Kali Linux. You can install Kali Linux as your primary OS or you can dual boot Kali Linux alongside Windows 10. Asus Vivobook F512 is a great choice for dual-booting if you are not ready to go all-in Kali Linux.
It has 512 GB SSD storage which is sufficient to handle both Windows 10 and Kali Linux. Because both Windows 10 and Kali Linux will require less than 25 GB of storage each. You will have enough storage left to install applications on both OS.
Intel Core i5-1035G1 CPU and 8 GB RAM combined will offer buttery smooth performance for Kali Linux. And you will be able to run all kinds of pentesting with this laptop. Bluetooth and WiFi 5 come built-in in this laptop which will help you in the long run.
If you are one of those who use their laptop late at night, the full size backlit keyboard of this laptop will impress you. It’s very comfortable and has 1.4 mm key distance that helps you to type faster and error-free.
It offers a 15.6” Full HD nano-bezel display with 88% screen-to-body ratio which increases viewing angle. Windows 10 Home comes as a built-in OS in this laptop. If you want to use dual-boot, then you can make use of the fingerprint sensor, which could be used to unlock Windows 10 OS.
Either you want to dual boot or use Kali as primary OS, Asus Vivobook F512 will be sufficient for any Linux distro with or without Windows.
Acer Swift 3
- Speaker is below average.
- The display is not great for the graphics-related tasks.
RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 4700U |Core: 8 | Max Speed: 4.1 GHz | Display: 14″ FHD | Keyboard: Full Backlit | WiFi: 6 | Webcam: 720p
Acer Swift series some of the best budget laptops for multitasking. Acer Swift 3 is a very high-performing laptop with powerful CPU, built-in graphics and 8 GB DDR4 RAM. You can install Kali Linux and start pentesting without any performance issues.
Acer Swift 3 has AMD Ryzen 7 4700U is a giant 8-core 8-thread CPU that has a basic clock speed of 2.0 GHz but you can simply boost it up to 4.1 GHz. It also comes with Radeon Vega 7 Graphics which is great for graphics-heavy tasks. Suppose if you dual-boot Kali Linux with Windows, you can play games or edit videos on Windows using the dedicated video memory.
It comes with 8 GB DDR4 RAM, which is more than enough for running Kali Linux and editing videos or playing Games on Windows. The main issue is, there are no additional RAM slots and the 8 GB RAM is not replaceable. So you should only consider this option when you are sure that 8 GB RAM is enough for you.
512 GB SSD has been used as its storage. This amount of storage is more than enough for running Kali Linux and installing any applications without worrying for the storage.
This laptop is dedicated to performance, so the look is simple yet classy. It has a 14” FHD IPS display, which is good for day-to-day tasks. If you are into the graphics design industry, then this is not the best display you can get but still it’s good for learning Kali Linux or security experiments.
It offers a full-size keyboard which has backlit. You can either turn it on or off, you can’t change the color settings. While most of the laptops have WiFi 5, Acer Swift 3 has WiFi 6 built-in and on heavy pressure you can expect 2.5 hours of battery backup. But in normal mode, it will last 6-7 hours easily.
Lenovo IdeaPad S340
- No webcam shield
- Webcam quality is bad
RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 256 GB SSD | Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 3700U |Core: 4 | Max Speed: 4.0 GHz | Display: 15.6″ FHD | Keyboard: Full Backlit | WiFi: 5 | Webcam: 720p
As Acer has Aspire and Swift series for budget-friendly laptops, Lenovo also has the IdeaPad series. Lenovo IdeaPad S340 is a combination of high-performing CPU with Radeon Vega 10 Graphics, 12 GB DDR4 RAM, and 512 GB NVMe SSD.
It’s powered by AMD Ryzen 7 3700U 4-core 8-thread processor which has a base clock speed of 2.3 GHz and the max clock speed is 4.0 GHz. This powerful CPU has integrated Radeon Vega 10 Graphics. You can perform all kinds of tests on Kali Linux without any issues.
While most of the budget laptops are capped on 8 GB of RAM, Lenovo IdeaPad S340 has 12 GB DDR4 RAM. With such higher RAM allowance, you run all sorts of applications on your laptop.
512 GB NVMe storage is also a great addition to the laptop, which gives you freedom of choosing Kali as your primary OS or dual-booting alongside Windows 10 Home. This storage is more than enough to run Kali Linux in a virtual box in your Windows 10 OS without directly installing the Kali Linux.
It has a 15.6” FHD IPS display, which is common in this budget range. But what is not common is its touch screen display, it’s a rare feature in budget laptops. Touch screen allows you to easily control your laptop without using a mouse all-the time.
Full-size backlit keyboard of this laptop adds little of a professional look to this laptop as the laptop is designed in a very simple way. The battery performance of this laptop is neither good nor bad. You can expect around 4-5 hours of battery life in a single charge.
It comes with WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2. These two are must-have features for a security researcher. Though it comes with a HD webcam with stereo cam, it doesn’t come with a webcam shield. So you can’t hide the webcam whenever you want, which is a bad thing from a security enthusiasts perspective.
HP Pavilion 15
- No SSD
- No backlit keyboard
RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 1 TB HDD | Processor: Intel Core i5-8250U |Core: 4 | Max Speed: 3.40 GHz | Display: 15.6″ FHD | Keyboard: Full Size | WiFi: 5 | Webcam: 720p
HP Pavilion 15 is a business laptop which has a giant screen size of 15.6”. It’s like any other budget friendly laptops except the HDD part. It uses 1TB HDD and no SSD. It may not be a downside for many, but SSD is faster for sure.
Backed by Intel i5-8250U which is a 4-core 8-thread processor and Intel UHD Graphics 620. As a beginner to Kali Linux, this power is more than sufficient for anyone. In my life, I have used Linux on a dual-core processor with 4 GB Ram without any issues at all.
It also has 8 GB of 2400MHz DDR4 RAM though you can upgrade the RAM if you want. The processor has the highest support of 32 GB RAM. Like RAM, you can also replace the HDD with a descend SSD for better performance.
Along with performance, linux users need a good display and a comfortable keyboard. The display is a FHD IPS Touchscreen display, which gives it an edge over other non-touchscreen laptops.
And the keyboard is a premium full-size keyboard that is very smooth. You can continuously type for hours without any stress on your fingers.
It does have a webcam but no shutter is available to hide the cam. Which is kind of bad for wannabe security experts.
The machine is powered by Windows 10 Home 64-bit. As it offers a huge amount of storage, you get two options. Dual boot Kali Linux alongside Windows 10 or format Windows 10 and install Kali Linux as the primary OS. Either way, you will get most of it.
Dell Inspiron 15 7000
- Pretty costly
- Design looks cheap
HRAM: 8 GB | Storage: 256 GB SSD | Processor: Inte Core i- | Core: 6 | Max Speed: 5.0 GHz | Display: 15.6″ FHD | Keyboard: Full Backlit | WiFi: 5 | Webcam: 720p
Dell Inspiron 15 is a performance beast. It’s so powerful that you can easily dual-boot Kali Linux with Windows 10 and you will be able to edit videos or play high-end games on this laptop.
It’s powered by 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H processor which has a base frequency of 2.3 GHz and with turbo boost it can reach 5.0 GHz. We have seen hexa core and octa core processors in this list. This one is a 6 core 12 thread processor. It’s enough for running any application you want.
Budget laptops use integrated graphics to cut the product price. But it’s a high-end laptop with dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB DDR6 and 8 GB DDR4 RAM. You can run games in Windows and use Kali Linux. You can also run CPU and GPU hungry processes on kali linux without any issue.
You may ask, why do I need such a powerful machine if I want to use Kali Linux? The answer is simple. You may not find Kali Linux sufficient for you all the time as a beginner. You may feel like something is missing. Because Kali Linux is mainly used for security purposes. You can’t play games even if you want to. Hence having a powerful machine will help you to use Windows and Kali Linux simultaneously.
There’s a 512 GB NVMe SSD on this laptop, which is more than enough for running Kali Linux or playing modern games. NVMe SSDs are faster and more costly than traditional SSD or HDD.
It offers a giant 15.6” FHD LED-Backlit touch screen display with narrow bezel, which gives a professional look to the laptop. There’s a 720p webcam which has a shutter so you can turn it on or off accordingly.
As a programmer/security enthusiast, you can’t really ignore the keyboard quality. Because you have to type a lot, so the keyboard must be comfortable. It offers a full size keyboard which has backlit. It’s comfortable and durable at the same time.
It also has a fingerprint sensor, which is very useful for Windows OS. Because there’s a feature in Windows called Windows Hello, which lets you unlock the computer using fingerprint. Surprisingly, there’s a Lid-open sensor, which will automatically turn on the laptop when you open your laptop.
Asus TUF FX505DT
- No Type-C port
- Only 256 GB SSD
RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 256 GB SSD | Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 3750H |Core: 4 | Max Speed: 4.0 GHz | Display: 15.6″ FHD | Keyboard: Full Backlit | WiFi: 5 | Webcam: 720p
Asus TUF FX505DT is a dedicated gaming machine hence there’s no doubt about its performance. If your priority is dual booting Kali Linux with Windows, then going for this laptop will be a smart choice.
To power up the monster, it uses AMD Ryzen 7 3750H, which is a quad core processor with 2.3 GHz base frequency with maximum 4.0 GHz processing power. Instead of integrated graphics like other laptops, it uses dedicated Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650 Max-Q 4GB Graphics. You can play games on Windows or run a heavy cracking process on Kali Linux without slowing down your laptop.
It uses only 8GB of DDR4 RAM and 256 GB SSD storage. This is the most embarrassing part about this laptop. Even though it has 4GB graphics, you need more than 8 GB to play games smoothly or perform heavy tasks. a 256 GB SSD is just going to kill the gaming spirit. Because modern games are larger and for dual booting 256 GB is not a lot of storage.
If you have no issues with the RAM and storage then there’s nothing much to complain about this laptop. It features a backlit keyboard, which is smooth and looks good in dark environments. It has 4 color presets to choose from and it’s a full size keyboard.
Asus TUF has 15.6” Full HD Display (1920*1080p) and it’s very bright for gaming or programming. Though some laptops have touchscreen displays in that price range, there’s no touch screen facility in this display.
Bluetooth 5.0 and WiFi 802.11 ac comes integrated with this laptop. There are a variety of ports 1 USB Type-A 2.0 and 3 USB Type-A 3.0, HDMI and LAN port.
Overall Asus TUF is a high-performing laptop that can perform any task in Kali Linux. Along with learning Kali Linux, you will be able to run Windows smoothly.
Buying Guide for Kali Linux
What’s disappointing is that the most recommended laptops for Kali Linux are gaming laptops. And the recommendations come from those who never used Kali Linux in their life.
Linux was never meant to be fancy, it’s meant to be lightweight and less memory hungry. Though high-end parts will be useful for performing resource hungry applications, you have to make your way there through learning the basics first.
I use Linux on a daily basis and I have a solid idea of the ideal hardwares of a beginner. Let’s see what you need to run Kali Linux without headache.
Processor: Processor plays a significant role in the performance of a laptop. I have listed all multi-core laptops in this list. More cores means more space of performance. But the processing power solely isn’t enough. You need sufficient RAM and Graphics Card/Built-in Graphics to get the most of it.
RAM: Remember running Kali Linux is simple. But multitasking and running multiple applications needs more RAM. You will often find yourself in shortage of free RAM while your CPU will be free most of the time. So, always go for the higher RAM if possible.
You can’t just look for the minimum requirement and choose less RAM. You will eventually multi-task then you will understand the pain of having insufficient RAM.
GPU: There are two kinds of graphics card available in laptops. One is a dedicated graphics card which is for high-end laptops and another one is an integrated graphics card that comes with the processor.
Most budget-laptops have integrated graphics cards which utilize your RAM as video memory. But if you want to learn Kali Linux as well as play some games on Windows, then you should go for a gaming laptop.
Display: Any display works for nerds. Yeah, you heard it correctly. Programmers and security enthusiasts focus more on their skill than any fancy design/gadget. Still having a high-quality FHD display with touchscreen support may boost your user experience.
Keyboard: As a programmer, I have to spend hours and sleepless nights on my laptop. I can’t just rely on a normal keyboard, you can’t too. Having a backlit keyboard and smooth keys just changes the overall experience.
Backlit will help you to find the keys if you can’t blindly type. And smooth keys will reduce the pressures on your finger. So don’t ignore the keyboard quality at all.
Storage: This is where the problem begins. You have to know what you want in order to solve the problem. Do you just need to use Kali Linux? Or you want to dual boot?
If you want to use only Kali Linux, having a 128 GB SSD will be just fine. But if you want to dual boot, you will need more space. That’s not all.
Do you want an SSD or a HDD? Because laptops with HDD are comparatively cheaper than laptops with SSD. My recommendation is go for SSD. You won’t regret it in the long-term.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Kali Linux Legal?
Kali Linux is completely legal. But if you use Kali Linux to illegally break into someone’s network or website, then it’s illegal.
Is 8 GB RAM sufficient for Kali Linux?
It depends on what you are willing to do. I am a programmer and I multi-task. In most cases it works just fine. But sometimes when I run heavy programs and try to multitask I face some lags for a few seconds.
But most of the laptops allow RAM upgrades, so it’s not that serious issue at all. Your RAM is not taking the loads, just add some more RAM.
Dual Core or Quad Core?
When it’s about the processing core, it’s the more the better. If I have to choose between a dual core, quad core or hexa core processor, I will go for the hexa core processor. A great processor will change the overall scenario, trust me.
Do I need a webcam shutter?
No you actually don’t need a webcam shutter to learn Kali Linux or any linux distro at all. But trust me, in the long run when you learn more about vulnerability and security, you will want your laptop to cover the webcam when it’s not in use.
Once you know how you want to use Kali Linux on your laptop, the choice gets easier. Once you pick the right laptop for Kali Linux, this is how you can install Kali Linux on your laptop.