Last Updated on November 2, 2020 by Husain Parvez
So, you just got that brand new PC; or maybe your old one is getting a little bit old and you can’t help but ask yourself: “How long do computers last really and what can we do to improve their overall lifespan?”. We’ve got the answers to that and they may be a bit more complicated than you may think. But, no need to worry. We’ll make it as simple to understand as possible – even if you’re not a tech-savvy person.
With all of that being said, let’so move on with the article!
How Long Do Computers Last? The Short Answer
If you just want a quick answer without getting into technical details, well, you can expect your average PC to last about 3-5 years with laptops being closer to the 3-year mark. There are lots of factors that will determine the lifespan of your PC. But, even without touching anything, you can expect at least 3 years – assuming that nothing goes horribly wrong, like a local lightning strike or whatever.
With that being said, most of the time, computers don’t just completely die. Chances are that you’ll be able to have someone repair your PC and it’ll keep on working after the 5-year mark like nothing ever happened. Assuming, of course, that your hardware isn’t getting too old for new software. But, that’s an entirely different matter.
Laptops will generally die sooner and repairing them is both harder and more expensive. That’s due to the fact that most of them overheat way too easily and are not meant to be upgraded.
So, there you have it. If you don’t want any technical details, that’s your answer. 3-5 years is the average lifespan that you should get out of a PC. That lifespan can greatly vary depending on various factors including how well you’re taking care of the computer. If you care about such things, then keep on reading!
How Long Do Computers Last? The Long Answer
The real answer is a bit more complicated. You see, a computer isn’t a single unit – it is working with numerous individual parts which are operating together in order to make one full unit.
So, when your PC finally decides to give up on you, it’s not actually the whole PC that gives up on you, but only one part – HDDs are usually dying before anything else. If you replace that broken part, your computer will be back and working in no time. That is unless your power supply died and took everything with it. But, more on that later.
At the end of the day, depending on how much you know about computers (Or how much you’re willing to learn), how well you take care of your unit, and how lucky you are, a desktop build may as well last forever.
Laptops, on the other hand, are a different story. Not only they run much hotter, which shortens the lifespan of your components, but they often hard or impossible to fix and/or upgrade in case that something goes wrong.
For example, if your motherboard decides to give up on you on a laptop, then you may as well throw it out the window and get a new one. While on a desktop, all you need to do is get a new one and put your old components into it.
So, generally speaking, laptops don’t last as long as desktops. Chances are that you will be able to replace a faulty drive or RAM module. But, even then, it’s not going to be easy.
And with all of that being said, what can we do to improve the lifespan of our computers? Well, let’s find out!
1: Do NOT Cheap Out On Your PSU
Your power supply is one of the most important parts, if not the most important. Because if you’ve got a bad quality PSU and it decides to give up on you, then there is a small chance that it will also destroy the rest of your components.
So, by cheaping out on your PSU, you’re essentially putting at risk hundreds or even thousands of dollars just to save 30-50 bucks. I don’t know about you, but that sounds insane and unreasonable to me.
That being said, if you have a crappy power supply, do seriously consider upgrading. It may save the life of your whole build. And while we’re at it, don’t forget that power supplies wear out with time. It’s kind of good practice to replace your PSU every few years – just to be safe.
If you don’t know which power supply to get, you can find a list of reliable power supplies on the Linus tech tips forum. Based on that and numerous positive Amazon reviews, we can safely recommend the Corsair TXM 650. It’s one of the best mid-range PSUs and it should serve the vast majority of users out there without any issues.
In case that you have a very beefy PC, you may want to consider something with a higher wattage. But, most of us don’t need more than 300 to 500 watts – never mind 650.
Bonus tip: head to the local store and ask for a UPS. They can supply your PC with power in case of a power outage which can be a lifesaver for your drives or even your PSU and build.
Laptop users don’t really have to worry about that. After all, most laptops, if not all, come with their own proprietary power supplies and using 3rd party choices isn’t really recommended. Not to mention with their own battery.
2: Stay Cool
Computers really don’t like heat. It’s not like a hot running PC will instantly die once it gets hot. But, heat is definitely something that will shorten your CPU, GPU, or even motherboard and PSU lifespan over the course of time.
One of the easiest ways to cool down your computer is by having a case with lots of intake and exhaust fans as that increases the overall airflow which brings down the temperatures. If your case doesn’t have room for fans, get something like the Thermaltake V200. It comes with 4 pre-installed fans and has room for 2 more on the top. Not to mention that it’s relatively cheap. So, when it comes to cooling? Hard to go wrong with it.
That being said, don’t forget about your CPU cooler as well. That can make a huge difference in cooling and stock coolers will usually leave a lot to be desired – especially if you’re into overclocking. Now, there are various choices out there for each individual CPU. So, you’ll have to make your own research on that one.
However, that’s not to say that there aren’t universal solutions. The Deepcool Gammaxx is a CPU cooler that works with most mainstream sockets and provides adequate cooling. So, do check it out.
While we’re at it, you can also try replacing your CPU’s thermal paste every few years. Sometimes it kinda dries out which brings the temperatures up.
We haven’t forgotten about you, laptop users. An easy way to ensure that your laptop isn’t overheating more often than you’d like to is to place it on solid surfaces for increased airflow and/or using a cooling pad.
If that’s not enough for you, then you can go all out and get an external cooler which sucks, quite literally, air directly out of your CPU pipe. This is definitely a bit more inconvenient and often noisy but it can make a huge difference in temperatures. Or at least it did for us.
3: Keep it Clean
Accumulated dust can completely ruin your airflow and it makes it easier for your components to overheat. So, it’s highly recommended to use a case with good dust filtering and to clean your PC every now and then.
Using compressed air cans is a very cheap and easy way to get rid of accumulated dust. You should be able to find plenty of options at your local store. Amazon doesn’t seem to give any valid options. So, heading out seems to be your only choice for this one.
There is no set frequency to cleaning your PC. But, why don’t you take a look every month or so? Taking off the side panel is a breeze with most cases. So, it’s not like you have much to lose.
This is much tougher on laptops since you can’t really put a different case to it and getting access to the innards of a laptop is several times tougher and riskier than simply taking the side panel off a desktop. So, before opening up your laptop, check out a YouTube tutorial for your specific model just to make sure that you’re not going to rip-off a cable or something.
Pro tip for laptops: if you’ve got an HDD in your laptop, do NOT move it while it’s powered on. Like, not even from couch to couch or shaking it.
Put it to sleep or turn it off, and then go on your way. The reason being that HDDs have mechanical parts that are moving at very high speeds and there is a small chance that you’ll damage them if you move while they are powered on.
How Long Do Computers Last? Conclusion
So, to summarize, desktops can last about 3-5 years with little to no maintenance while most laptops are flirting with the 3-year mark before having to ask for repairs.
If you take good care of your computer, then there is a good chance that it’ll last forever with minor upgrades and repairs that need to be made every few years. Laptops are a little bit more prone to dying. But, again, do take good care of your machine and it’ll last you so long that you’ll have to upgrade to a faster model before it comes close to dying.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m well aware that some computers have managed to live for more than a decade. In fact, I’ve got a Pentium 4 desktop which is probably half my age and it still works. Still, we’re only talking about the average user here along with the odds of something going wrong. And the truth is that most HDDs and PSUs won’t live for more than 5 years before starting to show signs of wear and/or completely giving up on you.
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