For some of us, laptops are just as important as our phones. If these mobile computers decide not to turn on one day, you'll likely be seriously inconvenienced until you find a replacement.
In the following guide, we will answer how long do laptops last, problematic warning signs you should look out for, and tips on extending the laptop's life.
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How Long Do Laptops Last Before You Need to Replace Them?
Different laptops with better features and build quality also result in a higher price tag. The more expensive your laptop is, the higher the chance of surviving for a longer period. With that said, there are exceptions, and they can be found within the categories below:
For General Light Use
General light use laptops (or consumer laptops) are exactly what their name entails and are primarily used for quick tasks.
These laptops can send emails, browse the web, scan social media, and watch videos. You'll usually find them priced at around $300 to $500 with variations in screen size and branding.
General light use laptops are usually sold with a 1-year warranty but can last up to 2 years if properly maintained. Since these laptops are sold on the cheaper side, their build quality will deteriorate over time.
Business laptops perform all the tasks a consumer laptop does, but with added performance for longer durations.
A business laptop is made to stay on for an entire day's work, hold its charge for a few hours, and have enough processing power to manage multiple applications simultaneously. Regarding price, a good business laptop will set you back approximately $500 to $1,000.
These laptops usually have better components, including good system fans that keep the device quiet. Since they are made for the workplace, they will likely include a more responsive operating system.
Business laptops are usually sold with a 1-to-2-year warranty and can extend beyond that if taken care of. These laptops may give you years of functionality but will need to be upgraded due to the sheer amount of wear and tear experienced while commuting.
Gaming laptops are made with performance in mind and can do just about anything. You won’t have to worry about the system ever slowing down in terms of general tasks and basic applications.
The problem with gaming laptop longevity is the exact thing that makes them luring in the first place: innovation.
A tech enthusiast will want the very best performance now, and what qualifies as good this year might be old the next. Gaming laptops don't tend to break within their "first year" but can become outdated.
This is why, when buying a gaming laptop, it's best to buy the most future-proof build that your wallet can afford. Gaming laptops can range anywhere from $800 to $5,000, depending on specifications and features.
Since gaming laptops will likely be pushed to their maximum frequently, manufacturers are hesitant to apply long-lasting warranties. A standard gaming laptop warranty might be as short as 1-year. With that said, they will probably still work fine for upwards of 3+ years.
Macbooks are a combination of all three categories to a certain extent. They can perform day-to-day tasks, handle heavy workloads, and keep up with the latest components.
Macbooks might not have a graphics card on par with a premium gaming laptop, but they can still effortlessly render videos, edit photos, or function as multimedia/design stations.
All Macbooks come with Apple's standard 2-year Limited Warranty but can last for 7+ years.
The outer shell, keyboard, display, trackpad, and design are almost unmatched in terms of build quality. For this reason, you'll find models such as the Macbook pro retailing for $2,500.
A Macbook is a business/work laptop priced at the level you'd find a mid-range gaming laptop. But gaming laptops are better performance-wise, right?
Technically yes, but Macbooks aren't made for those wanting to play games. They're performance-based, but these feats are found in their battery life, longevity, and system stability.
Factors That Determine A Laptop’s Lifespan
One of the main factors which determine a laptop's lifespan is the type of hardware it has inside. High-quality components, such as a fast processor, a powerful graphics card, quick RAM, and a large amount of onboard memory, will all contribute to its long-term relevancy.
If you're considering buying a general light-use laptop, this may come with 4GB of RAM, a basic Celeron CPU (processor), 256GB of storage, and onboard graphics.
The laptop might perform great for the first year, but after a while, the CPU and RAM will not be enough to manage multiple applications, and the storage device will reach its maximum capacity.
The laptop won't physically break; it's just that the now "old hardware" cannot keep up with increasing standards.
When we compare this to a high-end laptop with 16GB of RAM, a fast Ryzen/Intel processor, 1TB of SSD storage, and an NVIDIA RTX graphics card, you've now got a machine that can handle basic tasks for years to come.
It might slow down in terms of gaming, but the basic function of a working laptop will always be there.
The Tasks You Need Your Laptop to Perform
Although the hardware inside your laptop computer may allow it to theoretically stay relevant for years to come, the day-to-day tasks you throw at it are also a contributing factor.
In other words, you may have a mid-range laptop, but if you're pushing it to its limit every day with advanced tasks, the components may not survive for long.
Browsing the internet, sending emails, or updating your social media, won't necessarily push most laptops to their fullest extent. These basic tasks are not going to get your fans ramping up or your graphics card fully utilized.
However, once you start video editing, playing games, or watching videos, your system demand will increase.
If your internal laptop fans are at maximum speed regularly, and your graphics card and processor are heating up frequently, then your laptop lifespan will decrease with time. Even the best hardware will eventually fail under the harshest conditions.
Therefore, if you're planning to buy a laptop, choose the correct category and a model that specifically caters to your daily demands. Extended warranties are consequently vital, as expensive hardware repairs are another problem entirely.
How well you Care For Your Laptop
How you treat your laptop contributes to its average lifespan. Whether that means updating the system with the latest antivirus software, preventing any unnecessary damage to the case, or ensuring the device is kept clean.
Having said that, the number one factor that reduces a laptop's lifespan is battery mistreatment. A laptop's battery life weakens over time after every charge. In other words, the more you charge your laptop battery, the faster you're essentially breaking it.
How should you charge it, then? Well, a good starting point is to only put it on charge when the battery life is completely depleted. Using your charging cable while your laptop is still on 50% is actually more detrimental than allowing it to go completely flat.
Additionally, you should avoid overcharging your laptop by leaving it plugged in for hours. This also damages the average laptop lifespan, as the jack or connecting cable may eventually burn out.
Therefore, when charging your laptop's battery, make sure it's actually flat and that you pull out the charger as soon as it hits 100%.
How Long Does A Laptop Battery & Other Components Last?
How long should a laptop battery last? It's difficult to measure the exact lifespan of a battery, but a high-quality laptop lasts for around 1000 charge cycles. These numbers fluctuate depending on how often you use your laptop and whether you're charging it from 0% or 40%.
Some manufacturers will also advertise a set amount of time, for example, a 12 to 24-month carry-in warranty. Quality laptop batteries that can last upwards of 8 hours will need less charging time during the day and will therefore last longer over time.
On the other hand, an entry-level laptop battery might only last 3 hours a day, require multiple charges, and eventually burn out as soon as the warranty period ends.
All things considered, a new battery isn't expensive, and it can be a quick fix. A standard laptop battery can range from $15 to $30, and you can install it yourself quite easily.
RAM or random access memory is the short-term memory of your computer. RAM stores the most important data you are currently using so it is accessible to you as fast as possible.
This includes the speed at which apps respond, how quickly you can browse multiple files, and the overall responsiveness of your system.
Although it doesn't necessarily break, RAM does have a limited lifespan. As the months go by and you install additional files on your laptop, eventually, it will begin to slow down. You should therefore consider adding more RAM to maintain the quality of your system.
Laptop RAM is also easy to install and costs around $30 to $90, depending on your laptop brand and model.
Similar to RAM, the amount of storage you have on your laptop will not last forever. Eventually, you will need to upgrade, or your laptop will run out of disk space. You can add an additional SSD (solid state drive) storage unit for approximately $50 to $100.
Laptops are not desktop computers, so components such as the processor, graphics card, and fans are soldered onto the motherboard. Since these components cannot be replaced, their lifespan depends on how hard you push them and the overall care you take of your laptop.
The manufacturer's warranty will be a good indication of whether these components should be pushed to their limit daily.
If it's a 1-year warranty, the laptop likely doesn't have a great cooling system, whereas if the laptop has a 3-year warranty, you're likely dealing with a quality system with some leeway.
Signs That Your Laptop Needs A Replacement
Wondering whether you should just replace your laptop instead of repairing it? A good way to know that your laptop is beyond repair is if you run into compatibility issues. As mentioned above, a new battery, RAM kit, or storage device can add a few years to the lifespan of a laptop.
However, if you find your older laptop is no longer compatible with current replacement options, it may be time for a new laptop.
Most modern laptops have good cooling systems. Nevertheless, programs that require advanced graphics will put a strain on your system. When computer hardware is pushed to its limit, temperatures will begin to rise.
A computer’s fans that are running loudly under load isn't always a bad thing. It only becomes a key concern when the internal fans ramp up for basic tasks. If your old laptop sounds like a jet engine when you open Google, something is probably wrong.
If your operating system is slowing down, everything will take longer. This includes booting up your laptop, copying files, or opening apps. If you have tried to remedy this with a faster SSD, and additional RAM, the issue could lie deeper within.
You could try a fresh Windows operating system install or a macOS reinstall to improve bug fixes, but if the problem persists, it's in all likelihood hardware related. In that case, out with the old computer, and in with the new.
Older laptops will have recurring issues. If you replace weak batteries today, you may need to fix a faulty power jack tomorrow.
If the cost of regular maintenance is beginning to overshadow the laptop’s current market value, it may be cheaper to buy a new laptop altogether.
Weird laptop behavior is similar to slow processes. These issues may, at first, appear to be software relatable and fixable. Perhaps you're web browsing and your laptop blue screens, or the display stutters while watching videos.
If storage space, memory, and software aren't the culprit, then once again, the issue can lie with an irreplaceable component. Dying graphics cards or faulty display panels could be to blame; in that case, a new laptop replacement might be your best option.
Tips To Increase Your Laptop’s Lifespan
The lifespan of a laptop can be increased by employing a few tips and tricks. Although we can’t guarantee a set number of years, we can promise better performance in the long run.
Frequently Asked Laptop Lifespan Questions
How long do laptop chargers last?
Laptop battery chargers usually have an average lifespan of 2-years at most. Since they are moved around on the floor frequently, they suffer from a lot of wear and tear. Luckily, they are cheap and easy to replace.
How long do laptop fans last?
The average lifespan of a laptop fan is usually included in the manufacturer's warranty. With that said, fans aren't usually the components that break; it's the other components they try to keep cool that break first.
What laptop brands last the longest?
Apple laptops and dell laptops usually have the best longevity, return policy, and warranty periods.
They have exceptional build quality; however, typically come at a premium price. If you're on a budget but still want a high-end brand, consider refurbished laptops from a reputable seller.
In summary, there are many circumstances that will determine how long your laptop will last.
The major factors include the laptop's build quality, the tasks you perform on a daily basis, and how you maintain the device.
With proper care, you may be able to add a few more years beyond the manufacturer's warranty.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.