I was recently made redundant. The redundancy itself was very painful but ultimately forced my ■■■■ to finally make the jump from Sec Dev Ops into VA and Pentesting for a new firm. I had been afraid to make the jump before as I’m from a low income background and was trying to play it safe while saving for a house, which in the UK is a scary thing to try and do right now.
The new firm are great and are putting me through my KLCP, OSWP and OSCP and so I have decided to treat myself for making it through the bad patch by buying a new laptop with a small portion of the redundancy money. My trusty old W541 is being retired and shipped off to mother Merlin with a new OS in an attempt to wean her away from her twitchy Android tablet.
After 3 weeks of research I have more questions than answers. With christmas around the corner there are sales everywhere. The old Lenovo was running Win10 with a Kali VM. It had some quirky issues when it came to PCI passthrough but was generally ok most of the time. I also ran kali straight on the tin which was great for practicing wireless hacking without the need to get passthrough working.
As I’ll be studying the OSWP soon. I thought I might go with Kali on tin again, and was a hair away from purchasing a Lenovo Legion 7i but at the last moment came across posts around lack of driver support in the wifi, trackpad and sound areas. This curbed the purchase as I’d also like to watch the odd movie with the missus when we are out and about on holiday or in hotels. Further research revealed that these issues were prevailent in most newer high end laptops due to using newer chips and such.
I thought about making the purchase anyway as I could always go back to running Kali in a vm on the laptop but again reminded myself that I need to speak to the usb wifi adapter. Previous attempts at this tended to either not work at all, or exhibit network based issues.
I looked at ‘linux laptop’ options such as system76, Purism, Thinkpenguin and even the UK based Entroware, but these were either way to pricey or suffered some minor con that I couldn’t live with such as Entrowares short battery life. I’m almost back to Lenovo I think. Maybe looking at a second hand P series which replaced the older W series. I also saw that Lenovo are trying to make headway in the Linux support area, which I think is great for the future if you like running nix on tin.
I’d like some advice. I don’t have a ton of cash, this is ‘well done for making it through’ gift for myself and it needs to run well for as long as my W series did. CPU size doesn’t need to be fantastic as we don’t really use them for much. It would be great to get a nice gpu in there, but mostly I’m looking for an easier life with less hassle in the drivers area. I’d particularly love to hear from anyone who may have great solution regarding passthrough from vms to my alpha ac1200 usb wireless device, or just passthrough to these kinds of devices in general.
Merlin (lost in a sea of information).
It would be helpful if you’d give the amount of maximum cash as it would point out what configurations will work for you.
Idk what you have found on your reasearch exactly but I’d recommend a laptop with some kind of AMD Ryzen CPU as it has a good price/value ratio AND the AMD Ryzen series does have sufficient driver support.
If you decide next to the Nvidia path, I would NOT recommend any other GPU than the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650 which serves you with 4GB next to the size of the integrated GPU in the CPU.
Didn’t heard any bad from the AMD irons tho.
Go with a 256GB SSD which should be changable/expandable.
Of course, you can go with a 512GB SSD instead if you can afford it.
Don’t buy QLC SSD. Don’t buy MLC or SLC SSD neither.
Buy a TLC SSD as it is always an excellent golden path.
Go with 1x8GB DDR4 RAM with one slot left empty, or you can go with 2x4GB DDR4 RAM with no slot left empty, but it should be expandable.
The above config should do the trick for you.
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In my opinion there should be more RAM in the laptop. I have a laptop with plenty enough RAM so I can host several machines at the same time. For example to look into techniques, build my own virtual lab with security onion, windows machine(s) etc…
About the USB wifi, this should be a setting, or perhaps that the drivers are not installed on the VM if you run the machine as virtual machine.
But a lot of thinks, depend on your budget @M3rlin … Perhaps the new firm will but it for you?
Thanks @eMVee and @FMisi.
Lots of food for thought.
I’ll definately be looking at at least 32gigs of ram as I may run muliple VM’s inside whatever I decide to place on the tin, including a probable Comando machine which I’d love to give 8gigs of it’s own as I find windows can be dog slow in certain circumstances with anything less.
I didn’t know about the Linux vs Intel chip problems until you mentioned it Fmisi. I googled it breifly and oh wow, not sure I want to go there! AMD it is. Cheers for that!
I don’t think the new firm will contribute to a new laptop, but thats ok. As said, this is more of a pat on the back pressy for myself having made it through this last year, what with covid and the redundancy on top. Thats ok though. I have a budget of about £2400 which should be more than enough to get me a nice laptop that will be future proof for at least the next ten years. That leaves enough of a chunk to put in the mortgage pot and not feel to guilty! lol
I’m currently looking at Lenovo as they appear to have a sale on at present. The P series is very expensive and totally off the cards unless I can find a reconditioned one, but I did note that they do a Legion with AMD if I decide to stick with Windows on the tin.
Lots of choices and research to do. It’s a problem, but a happy first world problem, so all good!
From experience and multiple laptop, I can say Lenovo Thinkpads are awesome. The P series are great, even the intel CPU…But it’s You who have to decide. Goodluck on making a decision, it won’t be easy
Id have to say at min an i7 or equiv AMD with absolute minimum of 32GB but, youd appreciate 64 more if you start to want to run multiple VMs for various training exercises. GPUs in laptops are hit or miss. Most come standard now with an M.2 SSD but, try to lean towards that and check for expansion bay so you can maybe add a hdd in it just as backup space for things you dont need loaded as fast as an ssd or m.2
Thanks guys. It has been done.
It was very difficult indeed @eMVee. I ended up cross checking battery life lists and lists of hard wearing manufacturers and such, and kept coming back to Lenovo. I ended up buying with the Legion 7 with 32 gigs of Ram and an M2. Even as I was sure on the specs, I still hovered above that buy button for a good few minutes with shaky hands ■■■■. It was a lot of money but it should keep me going for the next ten years eh, Cheers!
Also a big thanks @FMisi. Your comments sent me on a google hunt for more info and I also did some comparisons between the Ryzen and Intel chips around driver support and such. It turns out that the Ryzens have a much lower power consumption and will gain us a good couple of hours more time away from the wall socket. I purchased straight from Lenovo as I couldnt find a local shop with any Ryzen options left. Lenovo gave me an option of Ryzen 7 vs 9. Turns out the 9 has slightly better speeds but the 7 has more hardware options, so thanks for that, I went with the 7 and save a few bucks there too.
Thanks @14mC4, I checked the ram situation and it wasn’t soldered on. I can upgrade to 64gigs if I need it later down the line. It can also take an extra M2 if I need it. I had to go with an AMD Radion RX 6800 XT as the Ryzen options didn’t come with any Geforce options, but I checked and Hashcat can use the radeon without issue.
Now I just need to find one of those heavy duty hard laptop cases to protect this thing when it arrives!
Again. Really big thanks guys. It was the advice I needed!
That sounds like an very nice device… Keep it safe and be gentle for the machine.