Best Laptops for cybersecurity students

Cybersecurity is an amazing career, and attending college (or certification training) for cybersecurity is equally amazing. However, you may have some concerns about what is the best laptop for you that won’t break the bank. Before we dive into the list, let’s understand what a cybersecurity student (a.k.a. you :D) will need to look for in a laptop.

First, the laptop needs a healthy amount of storage. In most cybersecurity degree programs you will need to run virtual machines (VMs). VMs take up quite a bit of storage space on your hard drive with some taking upwards of 25 GB per VM. While this problem can easily be solved with an external SSD or HDD, it is still necessary to look for a laptop with no less than 256GB of storage.

Second, any laptop for a cybersecurity student must have an adequate amount of RAM. Random Access Memory (RAM) is a critical factor in evaluating the suitability of a laptop. Adequate RAM is necessary for the VMs, IDEs (Integrated Development Environments), and pentesting tools you will be using in your degree program (or certification program).

Finally, a good laptop must be able to run Linux or Windows (Sorry Apple M1). Most security programs will require the use of both Linux and Windows toolsets. Newer Apple laptops and computers have limited abilities to run Linux or Windows OS.

1) Microsoft Surface Go

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 2 is a portable laptop weighing in a just over 2 pounds. It easily fits in almost any backpack and has a wide range of model specifications to chose from. It is my personal favorite on this list as my Surface Go has served me well for a going on 2 years now. Without a doubt the 256GB SSD 16GB RAM model is the best way to go. At the time of writing the Surface Laptop Go 2 is on sale for $799.99 from Microsoft directly, although you can find it cheaper from third party sellers.


  • Clean design
  • Portable
  • Touch screen
  • Quiet


  • Only 1 USB port
  • Limited battery Life
  • Limited storage options compared to other laptops on this list

2) Lenovo ThinkBook

Lenovo laptops are a breed of their own. They are powerful, yet simplistic (and quirky at times). However, these laptops serve their users well. The Lenovo ThinkBook delivers a massive bang for it’s buck. Packing 16 GB of RAM and a whopping 512 GB PCIe SSD into a 14 inch package. The Lenovo ThinkBook runs around $900 at the time of writing.


  • 512 GB SSD
  • Portable
  • Cheaper than most laptops with the same specs


  • Older Lenovos can be glitchy
  • Can be quite noisy

3) Dell XPS 13

Dell computers are the cream of the crop in the IT world. Just short of an industry standard, Dell computers come with exceptional customer support and quality hardware. The Dell XPS 13 comes in as a heavy weight hitter on this list packing 16 GB of DDR5 RAM, a 512 GB SSD, and an Intel core i7 (meaning it is lightning quick and can handle pretty much everything you can throw at it). For just under $1000 it is a lot of power packed into a relatively lightweight price tag.


  • Portable
  • Exceptional customer support
  • DDR5 RAM
  • Intel EVO platform


  • A bit pricy

All three laptops mentioned here excel at the tasks any studious cybersecurity professional can throw at it. Which one will you choose?

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