Laptops

10 Best Laptops For Cyber Security: For Students & Pros

Cyber security is one of the fastest-growing industries on the planet. Companies, governments, and individuals increasingly need access to skilled cyber security professionals to protect their assets from hacking and malware. It's no surprise then that many people are actively pursuing a career in the field, and they all need a laptop to get started.  

The best cyber security laptop has the specs and performance to handle anything you require of it. Here, we’ll list the best laptops for cyber security for varying skill levels in the industry, from student to project manager.

Image

Model

Storage

Processor

RAM

Check Price

MacBook Pro with Apple M1 Chip

256 SSD

Apple M1

8GB

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 Laptop - 1TB...

1TB HDD

Intel Core i9

32GB

LG Gram Laptop - 14' Full HD IPS Display,...

512GB SSD

Intel Core i7

16GB

Dell Inspiron 17 3793 Business Laptop | 17.3'...

512 SSD

Intel Core i7

16GB

2020 Newest Acer Aspire 5 15.6' FHD 1080P...

256GB SSD + 2TB HDD

AMD Ryzen 3 3200U

8GB

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Laptop, High...

512GB SSD

Intel Core i7

16GB

Alienware AW17R3-7092SLV 17.3-Inch FHD Laptop...

256GB SSD & 1TB HDD

Intel Core i7

16GB

No products found.

512GB SSD

Intel Core i5

16GB

ASUS VivoBook S15 S533 Thin and Light Laptop,...

512GB SSD

Intel Core i5

8GB

Microsoft Surface Book 2 HNM-00001 Laptop...

512GB SSD

Intel Core i7

16GB

Understanding Cyber Security

Cyber security is the process of protecting computers and computer systems from external threats and internal breakdowns. Cyber security professionals run network diagnostics and pen-tests (penetration tests) to probe for weaknesses in a computer system's defenses.

To succeed, cyber security experts need to have access to all the newest software, and their laptops need to have the specs necessary to run them.

man programming on computer

Recommended Laptop Specs For Cyber Security: A Buyer’s Guide

Here are our recommended specs for a laptop for cyber security. If possible, try to get a computer that has these qualities. Although you may be able to pursue a career in cyber security with less, we do not recommend it.

CPU & Clock Speed

The CPU (central processing unit) is essentially the “brain” of your laptop. It deals with the millions of calculations that your computer runs through to perform any given task and directs which components deal with each specific operation.

Clock speed is an important gauge of how fast your CPU is. It isn’t the only variable, but it does have a dramatic impact on the speed at which your CPU deals with calculations. Clock speed measures the number of cycles that your CPU runs through per second, measured in GHz (gigahertz).

RAM & Internal Storage

RAM is the short term memory of your computer. It helps keep your programs running smoothly when it deals with multiple applications at once. A laptop with higher RAM will perform faster than one with low RAM.

For cyber security, you need at the bare minimum 8GB of RAM to deal with the processes you’ll encounter in the field.

Your laptop’s internal storage, otherwise known as the HDD, is its long term memory. This is where your programs, files, and applications are stored for later use. Having more internal storage means you can save more files onto your computer.

Graphics Card

Graphics cards are the component of your laptop that renders video and image input and output. Your graphics card doesn’t need to be top of the line for cyber security, as you rarely have to deal with graphics rendering.

However, it should be able to support video output via an HDMI cord or Bluetooth display. It is immensely helpful to have a second screen at times, and a bad graphics card with either slow down the computer or refuse to connect entirely.

Operating System (Windows vs. Mac OS)

The operating system for your computer is the most important piece of software that it has installed. Laptops almost always come with an OS pre-installed. An OS manages all of your computer’s processes and memory, as well as determines how you input data.

For cyber security, your OS will depend on your preference. Many people prefer Windows because it gives users more freedom to customize their interface, but others prefer the Mac OS for its speed and adaptability. 

Linux is also an option and is preferred by many cyber security professionals for its unique programming interface.

Display & Resolution

Your laptop’s display and resolution determine the quality that the screen shows data, images, and video. Low screen resolution will make crisp images into clunk and pixelated messes, while a high resolution will show them as they were meant to be seen.

If you're getting into cyber security, display and resolution can make or break your laptop's worth. Because you deal with a lot of data often presented in extremely small font, you need a high resolution to see and differentiate between minute details.

Battery Life

Battery life is the cornerstone for any laptop’s performance. While many cyber security experts have a desktop PC that doesn’t rely on a battery, laptops are meant to be used on the go. Many laptops on this list have a battery life of 5+ hours. Any less than that, and you’ll be in for trouble when it dies in the middle of a task.

Extra Features

Each laptop may have extra features that can affect how you use it. Many of these features are window dressing, meaning they don’t dramatically impact the computer’s performance. However, some are not and will definitely affect what your computer can do and connect with.

Pay attention to these extra features; laptop weight, ports, HDMI connectivity, tactile and LED keyboard, and portability, among others.  

Price & Warranty

Odds are, you take a look at a laptop’s price tag before buying it. While expensive laptops usually have more features and better specs, that doesn’t mean a cheaper laptop can’t handle your cyber security projects. No matter the price tag, keeping the above features in mind will guarantee your laptop is up to par.

Also, you shouldn't get a laptop that doesn't have a good warranty in place. Windows and MAC laptops will usually have a great warranty that covers minor repairs and manufacturer defects. However, it may be worth it to purchase an additional warranty or insurance to cover more serious accidents resulting from things like drops or water damage.

10 Best Laptops For Cyber Security Reviewed

1. Apple Macbook Pro 

Best Laptop for Cyber Security 

Storage

256 SSD

Processor

Apple M1

RAM

8GB

Screen Size

13”

Battery Life

20 hours

Weight

3.1 pounds

The new Apple MacBook Pro is far and away the best laptop for cyber security available on the market today. While Apple is well-known by most people for how resistant their laptops are to viruses, many don’t know the reasons why cyber security professionals often pick Mac over Windows.  

The reason why is fairly simple. Hardware. MacBook Pros sport top of the line components that can help in every aspect of cyber security, whether you’re a professional or currently studying to pursue a career in the field.  

Chiefly, the Apple M1 chip is an incredibly powerful piece of equipment. It’s loaded with 16 billion transistors that can handle any task you throw at it, usually with extra power to spare.  

The M1 is also extremely energy efficient. That means the battery life for the MacBook is way above average, clocking in at around 20 hours at low energy consumption and upwards of 13 while using multiple applications and high brightness.  

Additionally, the laptop comes packed with an astonishing 256 SSD storage. You can house a plethora of programs without the need for an external hard drive, and 8GB of RAM will support running many of them at once.  

Overall, the Macbook Pro 2020 deserves our top pick for the best laptop for cybersecurity.  

Good
  • Top-tier hard drive
  • Great storage
  • Long battery life
Bad
  • Can’t upgrade internal hardware

2. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 Laptop - 1TB...
  • Extreme power;Extreme possibilities -...
  • 9th Generation Intel Core processing - Create...
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics; Multiple monitor...
  • Lightweight powerhouse laptop - An office...
Best Laptop for Cyber Security Professionals

Storage

1TB HDD

Processor

Intel Core i9

RAM

32GB

Screen Size

15.6”

Battery Life

5.5 hours

Weight

3.75 pounds

Coming in second place on our ranking of the best laptops for cybersecurity is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2. This model takes its name seriously, providing its users with extreme power and adaptability.

Under the hood, the Intel Core i9-9880H has a clock speed of 2.30GHz with a Turbo Boost speed up to 4.50GHz. Combined with 32GB of RAM, the laptop shouldn’t slow down for anything. Even if you’re running multiple programs or performing a pentest, the X1 Gen 2 should keep running smoothly.

The X1 Gen 2 has plenty of storage for you as well. The hard drive fits 1TB of data, more than enough for standard applications and then some. If you need extra space, external storage is cheap and easy to come by. However, you probably won't need it immediately unless you're consistently dealing with huge files.

In terms of display, the X1 Gen 2 is nothing to laugh at. It sports a standard 1080 x 1920 megapixel display that will keep almost everything looking crisp and clean without losing color or saturation in the process.

In summary, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 is the perfect laptop for cyber security professionals who need something that can adapt quickly to different programs without slowing down.

Good
  • Plenty of RAM
  • Powerful hard drive
  • Highly adaptable input
Bad
  • Below-average battery life

3. LG Gram 14Z90N (2020)

Best Laptop for Cyber Security Major

Storage

512GB SSD

Processor

Intel Core i7

RAM

16GB

Screen Size

14”

Battery Life

18.5 hours

Weight

2.2 pounds

Rounding off the top three on our list is the best laptop for cyber security majors, the LG Gram 14Z90N.

The first thing we noticed when we picked up this laptop is that it is incredibly lightweight. In fact, it only weighs 2.2 pounds. This makes it the lightest laptop on this list, and it doesn't sacrifice much in terms of performance to make that happen.

Speaking of performance, the Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU may be slightly less powerful than the products mentioned above. Still, it's more than enough to handle anything that a cyber security student requires of it. With 16GB of RAM to back it up, you can run multiple programs and videos at once and only experience minimal lag, if any.

What makes this model truly impressive, however, is the 18.5 hours of battery life. You could literally run multiple programs on this laptop for the better part of an entire day, and it would still have some battery left to spare.

For cyber security, this is especially important if you’re testing a system off the grid and need to have your computer working for an extended period.

The LG Gram 14Z90N might not be the most popular brand or model around, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a cyber security major looking for an entry-level laptop.

Good
  • Insane battery life
  • Great display
  • Lightweight
Bad
  • Slightly below average hardware

4. Dell Inspiron 17 3793

Dell Inspiron 17 3793 Business Laptop | 17.3"...
  • 16GB RAM 1TB SSD
  • 10th Generation Intel Core i7 Processors...
  • 17.3" Anti-Glare LED-Backlit FHD (1920 x...
  • 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C...
Best Dell Laptop for Cyber Security

Storage

512 SSD

Processor

Intel Core i7

RAM

16GB

Screen Size

17.3”

Battery Life

5 hours

Weight

6.1 pounds

Next in our ranking of the best laptops for cyber security is the Dell Inspiron 17 3793, the best Dell for the field in our opinion.

While Dells aren’t typically considered the best computers for cyber security, this one stands out from the pack due to one key feature; a 1TB SSD hard drive. SSD-type hard drives are often preferred for cyber security for their speed and processing efficiency. While HDD is usually perfectly fine, an SSD will kick it up a notch.

That storage power needs raw power to back it up, and the Intel Core i7-1065G7 has plenty of power to do just that. With 16GB of RAM, you can get almost everything you need to be done at once, with little to no visible lag on your display.

In terms of display, the Inspiron 17 sports a large 17.3 inch full HD screen that boasts the standard (but still great) 1920 x 1080 resolution. With that type of screen, you can have multiple windows open side-by-side and not run into the overcrowding issue smaller screens have.

Altogether, the Dell Inspiron 17 3793 is the best Dell laptop for cyber security and is a worthy option if you prefer how the manufacturer handles its products.

Good
  • Good internal specs
  • Large screen
  • SSD hard drive
Bad
  • Disappointing battery life
  • Heavy

5. 2020 Acer Inspire 5

2020 Newest Acer Aspire 5 15.6" FHD 1080P...
  • 15.6 inches Full HD (1920 x 1080) Widescreen...
  • AMD Ryzen 3 3200U (2.60 GHz, up to 3.50 GHz...
  • RAM is upgraded to 16GB DDR4 memory for...
  • Hard Drive is upgraded to 256GB SSD PLUS 2TB...
Best Budget Laptop for Cyber Security

Storage

256GB SSD + 2TB HDD

Processor

AMD Ryzen 3 3200U

RAM

8GB

Screen Size

15.6”

Battery Life

6.5 hours

Weight

3.97 pounds

Coming in at number five on our list of the best laptops for cyber security is the newest Acer Inspire 5 2020.

While this laptop isn’t as powerful as many others on this list, it is a great entry-level computer for cyber security and a fantastic option for those of us on a tight budget.

Under the hood, you’ll find the AMD Ryzen 3 3200U, equivalent to the Inspiron Core i5 series. This is a solid CPU that will start the computer up without a hitch and keep it running smoothly throughout your tasks.

Supporting the CPU is 8GB of RAM, enough to handle a few applications simultaneously. For example, if you’re running a pentest and need to check some updates on the side, this amount of RAM should perfectly serve its purpose.

The storage capacity for the Acer Inspire 5 is pretty remarkable, despite its budget price range. It has 256GB SSD + 2TB HDD of storage, a monstrous amount for any type of user. For cyber security, this is more than enough.

Acer also threw a little extra into the mix, adding a backlit keyboard for ease of use in dark places.

For just under $700, the 2020 Acer Inspire 5 is an excellent option for those of you with an interest or major in cyber security who are on a strict budget.

Good
  • Incredible storage capacity
  • Quick start-up
  • Affordable
Bad
  • Below- average CPU
  • Below-average battery life

6. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

On Sale Today
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Laptop, High...
  • Brand Lenovo, Model 20KH002JUS
  • Product Type: Ultrabook, Processor...
  • Display Screen Technology: In-plane Switching...
  • Front Camera/Webcam: Yes, Finger Print...
Best Windows Laptop for Cyber Security

Storage

512GB SSD

Processor

Intel Core i7

RAM

16GB

Screen Size

14”

Battery Life

13.5 hours

Weight

2.4 pounds

Taking the sixth spot on our ranking is another Lenovo, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. This laptop is lightweight and reasonably powerful with a reliable Windows 10 OS.

One of the selling points of this model is that it only weighs 2.4 pounds, making it the second lightest laptop we’ve included on this list. As with the LG Gram 14Z90N, it doesn’t give up much in terms of power to weigh so little. Also, the laptop is splendidly compact, making it a breeze to stow in your bag.

An Intel Core i7 CPU powers the X1 Carbon, and with 512GB SSD and 16GB of RAM, that laptop will have plenty of ability to deal with anything you throw at it. If you're conducting a check for abnormalities in a company's computer system, the computer won't slow down as you're dealing with the issue.

The battery life won’t slow you down either. This model lasts a fantastic 13.5 hours on a full charge, more than most other models we’ve ranked.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a great laptop for cyber security if you prefer Windows OS. However, you can still run other operating systems using third-party software, so don't think you're limited to Windows if you choose this one.

Good
  • Windows-optimized
  • Quick start-up
  • Fantastic battery life
Bad
  • No Micro-SD or SD card slot

7. Alienware AW17R3

Alienware AW17R3-7092SLV 17.3-Inch FHD Laptop...
  • Intel Core i7 2.6 GHz
  • 16 GB RAM. GTX 980M
  • 1000 GB 7200 rpm Hard Drive, 256 GB SATA...
  • 17.3-Inch FHD Screen
Top of the Range

Storage

256GB SSD & 1TB HDD

Processor

Intel Core i7

RAM

16GB

Screen Size

14”

Battery Life

8 hours

Weight

4 pounds

Alienware has a reputation for being the best. The company consistently manufactures incredible computers for students, gamers, and professionals alike. The Alienware AW17R3 is no different.

This beast of a laptop has a lot going on under the hood. It features a 6th-gen Intel Core i7, powerful enough for cyber security with a healthy dose of gaming on the side. It’s supported by 16GB of RAM and a whopping 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD GPU.

The 17.3 inch full-HD display renders lines of code beautifully, giving you enough space to easily fit multiple windows on the screen. When you’re running a systems diagnostic test, this is particularly handy.

While all of this hardware seems like a lot to handle, the AW17R3 stays cool with a patented and surprisingly powerful fan system. You can sit comfortably with the computer on your lap without it feeling like your pants are on fire.

The AW17R3 can't do it all alone, though. It comes equipped with all manner of connectivity ports so that you won't be limited on your choice of peripheral devices.

While higher-ranked laptops may have better specs, you can’t find any other laptops that can outperform the Alienware AW17R3 in cyber security in this price range.

IF you like the look of the Alienware, you should check out our other gaming laptop reviews:

Good
  • Exceptional power
  • Alienware brand quality
  • Looks cool AF
Bad
  • Pricey

8. Lenovo ThinkPad E15

No products found.

Best Business Laptop for Cyber Security

Storage

512GB SSD

Processor

Intel Core i5

RAM

16GB

Screen Size

15.6”

Battery Life

11 hours

Weight

4.3 pounds

The sleek and subtle Lenovo ThinkPad E15 is the perfect companion for a cyber security professional.

Although compact, it packs enough power to complete any task you’ll require of it. The Intel Core i5-10210U paired with 16GB DDR4 RAM can handle almost anything you need.

The E15 is highly upgradeable, meaning you can enhance the hard drive capacity and increase battery life if need be. It also comes outfitted with a number of ports, handy when you have a presentation and need to link up to a few devices.

In terms of battery life, the E15 has a little over 11 hours with normal web-browsing. For cyber security, you can expect around 8 hours for intensive assignments. This is the middle of the range, so expect to bring your charger if you have a long day ahead of you.

While the screen is smaller than others on this list, measuring 15.6", you won't strain your eyes to see everything going on. It's Full-HD with 1920 x 1080 resolution, pretty standard for this price range. Coding, pen-tests, and other programs will show up nicely.

If you’re a business person looking for a quality laptop for cyber security, the Lenovo ThinkPad E15 is a professional and powerful option that will satisfy all of your needs.

Good
  • Upgradable
  • Professional aesthetic
  • Good hardware
Bad
  • Below average portability

9. ASUS VivoBook S15 S533

ASUS VivoBook S15 S533 Thin and Light Laptop,...
  • 15.6 inch Full HD NanoEdge bezel display with...
  • Powerful Intel Core i7-10510U Processor (8M...
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, and Windows 10...
  • Metal chassis and 16mm z-height
Value for Money

Storage

512GB SSD

Processor

Intel Core i5

RAM

8GB

Screen Size

15”

Battery Life

13.5 hours

Weight

3.97 pounds

If you’re in the market to get the most bang for your buck out of your laptop for cyber security, then the Asus VivoBook S15 S533 could be what you’re looking for.

Featuring a thin and light design that doesn’t compromise on speed or power, the S15 is lauded as an all-rounder that is highly adaptable to a multitude of assignments. Sporting an Intel Core i5-10210U CPU and 8GB of RAM, the laptop can hammer through the programs you’ll store on the 512GB SSD.

In our battery rundown test, the S15 put out an excellent 13.5 hours of internet surfing with a youtube video in the background. For most of your assignments, you won’t need to lug around the charger to keep the laptop up and running.

The laptop also has a fingerprint reader, keeping it more secure from prying eyes than some others on this ranking. This is especially important if you are working in the government sector of cyber security, as you’ll want your computer to be as secure as possible.

While this model doesn’t feature as many ports as you may like, the amount you get is good enough to connect to most other devices.

The Asus VivoBook S533 is the perfect laptop for budget buyers who want the most performance for the price.

Good
  • Great screen
  • Value for money
  • Excellent battery life
Bad
  • Limited port selection

10. Microsoft Surface Book

On Sale Today
Microsoft Surface Book 2 HNM-00001 Laptop...
  • 1.9GHz (Up To 4.2GHz) Intel Quad-Core...
  • 16GB of RAM | 512GB SSD, Windows 10 Pro...
  • 13.5" 3000 x 2000 PixelSense Display,...
  • The fastest Surface Book yet, with 2x more...
Best 2-in-1 Laptop for Cyber Security

Storage

512GB SSD

Processor

Intel Core i7

RAM

16GB

Screen Size

13.5”

Battery Life

17 hours

Weight

1.8 pounds / 4.07 pounds

For those of us who like to have a highly portable tablet but don’t want to give up the versatility of a laptop, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is a great choice.

The 2-in-1 laptop/tablet combo comes in handy when you’re on the go or if you have another laptop or computer that you primarily work from. You can mirror the screens pretty easily and run conflicting programs through the two systems.

Compared to many other laptops, the Surface Book 2 has a very long battery life, lasting up to 17 hours with intensive programs running. Also, it charges quickly, taking only an hour or so to get a full battery.

While the screen is only 13.5," the thin bezel and high-quality display make up for the lack of space. The 3000 x 2000 resolution is the best on this list, providing stellar and crisp images with little to no motion blur. When you detach the tablet from the keyboard, it only weighs 1.8 pounds versus 4.02 pounds when they're together.

Overall, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is a fantastic product if you are looking for a secondary device or you prefer portability and good performance over top of the line specs.

Good
  • Top-tier screen
  • Extreme portability
  • Great pairing ability
Bad
  • Slight compromise on performance
person using two laptops

Vital Cyber Security Software Tools

There are a plethora of cyber security software tools that you should use to perform and complete any project that you come across. Each one has specific features, so it’s better to understand a few to get an idea of what the benefits and drawbacks are.

Here, we've compiled a shortlist of tools to help you pursue a cyber security career with your laptop.

VirtualBox

Allows users to run multiple guest operating systems through a single host computer, for example, running both Ubuntu and Windows on your laptop at once.

JetBrains IDEs

Compiles various development tools into a single graphical interface. Especially useful for working on laptops without a peripheral screen.

Wireshark

Intercepts and logs traffic across networks that you may be testing.

Bootcamp

Assists Mac-users to install Windows-OS based programs. Useful for dealing with multiple coding languages and running diagnostics between different operating systems.

THC-Hydra

A respected password hacking tool, more formally known as a network logon cracker. Essential for ethical hacking and systems diagnostics.

Nmap

Free and open-source network security scanner. Identifies breaches or potential weaknesses in a system.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Are MacBooks good for cyber security?

MacBooks are fantastic options for cyber security experts. Mac OS offers unparalleled virus protection, and the support network for Apple can give you amazing support in the event of a breach in security.

What laptops do hackers use? Do they use Mac or PC?

There is no standard laptop that hackers use. Depending on their preference, they may use Mac or PC as long as the laptop is configured for their purposes correctly.

What is the best laptop for pentesting?

The 2020 Macbook Pro is the best laptop for pentesting. Pentesting (penetration testing) is an authorized simulated cyber attack on a computer or computer system to test the quality of defenses and possible weak points in the system.

Why are laptops recommended for cyber security engineers so expensive?

Laptops for cyber security professionals have additional requirements than the average business laptop. Because of this, the price tends to be higher. However, there are still budget and value-friendly laptops available that we’ve included in the list above.

Are cyber security software tools free?

Many cyber security software tools are free. However, some require payment to fully take advantage of the services they provide. Research different cyber security tools to find out how much they may cost.


Conclusion

Hopefully, we’ve given you the info you need to pick the best laptop for cyber security. Whether you're a student, a professional, or just someone interested in the field, there are a ton of options available.

However, our team recommends the Apple Macbook Pro as the best laptop available for cyber security. It has strong security features and the specs to finish any project that might come your way. All of these products are available on Amazon, so your cyber security career is only a few clicks away!