A desktop computer is one of the most robust pieces of technology that you can own. Capable of handling heavy computational workloads, the desktop computer does offer value for money.
However, a desktop computer won’t last forever. After some time of usage, you may notice performance drops and maybe even system failures.
The desktop’s electronic components are very sensitive and can be affected by several factors.
The average lifespan of a desktop computer can be better understood by taking a look at the lifespan of some of its main components.
Average Lifespan of a Desktop Computer Based on Component’s Life
A desktop is only as good as its components. Therefore, you can an idea about the average lifespan of a desktop computer by looking at the life of its individual components.
1. Motherboard Lifespan
The lifespan of a motherboard does not fall into a one size fits all kind of answer.
Several factors go into determining the lifespan of a motherboard. These factors may not be uniform across the board for all models, use cases of the pc and even the environment.
However, if we need to determine the actual lifespan of a motherboard, we need to look at the conditions under which the PC is used.
There isn’t a consistent answer as to what the actual lifespan of a desktop motherboard is. Most users seem to agree that this is usually about 3-4 years for normal usage.
This, however, does not reflect the reality for most users since a motherboard can last longer than this time if you’re lucky and in the worst-case scenario, it may die within a year.
I did mention that the use case of a motherboard can help determine the expected lifespan of the desktop PC.
Here’s more information on the same. In the year 2013, some of the best motherboards at the time had a 1.43% annual failure rate. This was quite low as compared to the 6-7% annual failure rate of some of the worst ones.
This seems reassuring, doesn’t it?
Typical usage of computers aside, overloading a desktop PC could take a toll on its motherboard and result in a shortened lifespan.
Factors contributing to motherboard lifespan
It is recommended to use most electrical equipment in a cool and dry place.
This is the case for motherboards as well. A lot of moisture and humidity can drastically affect the motherboard’s lifespan and force you to replace it long before it’s time.
Additionally, desktops tend to generate a lot of heat and using one in a hot and poorly ventilated area could also take a toll on its lifespan
It is a good idea to avoid moving and bumping the Desktop Chassis too much. Physical impacts can cause parts to move and may result in shorts which damage components.
Additionally, while doing repairs or installing a new motherboard, it is also prudent to ensure that you are well-grounded before touching the components to avoid the aforementioned short circuits.
2. RAM Lifespan
Besides the motherboard, the desktop computer’s RAM is one of the components that contribute a lot to the PCs performance.
Technically, it is impossible to boot your PC without the RAM because this is the memory from where all computer programs including its OS are run from.
Besides being crucial for operation, an advantage of the RAM is its upgradability. Swapping RAM in and out of the motherboard is simple and nowadays good RAM sticks are usually compatible and are relatively affordable.
These little parts can easily die if they are not well taken care of.
The lifespan of a RAM unit will depend on several factors such as the model you buy. It is not uncommon to encounter issues with dead RAM modules.
While it is believed that the RAM module is the least likely to die in a desktop PC, here are some of the factors that may affect its life span.
Factors affecting RAM lifespan
It is probably apparent by now that temperature is a huge factor to consider when dealing with desktop computer parts.
It is not advisable to go to either extreme as environments that are too hot as well as those that are too cold can equally result in dead RAM units.
The ideal temperature range will depend on the ram model, that is DDR3, DDR4, etc.
However, users in many forums report real-life usages with temperatures that ideally range between 85-105oC on the higher side.
It is not unheard off to see a RAM module fail after a power surge. These components are very sensitive to power fluctuations and if used in a place where power keeps varying then chances are that the lifespan will be affected.
Faulty motherboards are in many cases the cause of power surges in a PC.
For one reason or another, you may feel the need to upgrade your desktop’s RAM.
Most people do so for the performance increase. In doing so, however, you run the risk of damaging the component.
A RAM module is very sensitive to electrostatic charges and your body is at times full of this.
Touching a RAM unit without first discharging the excess charges in your body could lead to damage that shortens the unit’s lifespan or even kill it completely.
3. CPU Lifespan
The CPU is the brain of the computer. It is the system that caters for all of the necessary work that is done by the desktop.
It takes care of processing input, producing output and handling faults that occur during these processes.
This is the single most hard-working component on a motherboard and a few factors can affect its lifespan.
MTTF (Mean Time to Failure) is a unit used for measuring the reliability of a chip.
It is used to assess the time it would take for a chip to fail. Manufacturers give chips about 20 years before they fail.
This indicates that the CPU can last a relatively long time without failing as long as it is used in the right conditions. While the MTTF quoted is high, this does not mean that CPUs will always last that long.
Several factors play into the perceived lifespan of a CPU.
Factors affecting CPU lifespan
Heat is the source of all evil for most electronic components. The CPU itself is not immune to this. It is one of the parts that get very hot when a desktop is running.
Thermal paste, heat sinks, fans, and even liquid coolants are used to manage the temperature of a CPU. This is because high temperatures damage its components. Overclocking also has the potential to reduce lifespan if not done correctly.
Chip manufacturers strive to produce high-quality equipment; although, sometimes defects go uncaught and the chips make their way to desktop motherboards.
Defective chips will significantly affect a PCs performance and in effect sport a shorter lifespan than intended. The good thing is that there are many ways to spot a defective CPU and this saves you the hassle of an unexpected desktop system failure.
All of us would love to have a computer that lasts as long as we need it to. Not only will this be cheaper, it will also mean that we can squeeze as much utility from the system before we have to replace it.
However, this is only the ideal case and in the real world, desktop computers have a shelf life which affects their performance.
One or more of the components discussed above may fail for some reason. As such, in this article we talk about the average lifespan of a desktop computer by looking at the life of its individual main components.
Jake Redman is a UK-born-digital nomad & founder of Ultimate Quality Content, a collective of high-end copywriters formed to provide detailed insight into everything technology-related. Jake is the definition of a man-nerd. He gets excited over things like processor architecture, ray-tracing, & is an avid E-Sports fan, specifically League of Legends. When he isn’t writing detailed tech-related articles, Jake can be found performing fire-breathing shows & wields a dragon staff, or on the sofa playing Mario Kart.