Knowing when to repair or replace your laptop can be a challenging predicament. Repairs can save you money but aren't ideal for old laptops.
Replacements, on the other hand, should solve all your tech issues but come with the burden of a heavier price tag.
Keep reading below to find out which option best suits your budget and future expectations.
If you're a daily laptop user, then you'll need a reliable laptop. Nothing quite hits as hard as a faulty bootup or system crash on a Monday morning.
When you experience these issues, emotions can therefore run high and cause you to make compulsive decisions.
Before jumping the gun and ordering a new laptop, consider the following factors as to whether your laptop may be salvageable.
Age and Longevity
Like many things, if we use a device long enough, we tend to develop a sentimental attachment.
The age of a laptop is one of the most important factors to consider when deciding whether to repair or replace it.
Although your laptop may have served you well for many years, it does not mean it is the machine it once was.
Generally, laptops can last anywhere between 3 to 5 years if properly cared for.
Sure, it can extend upwards of 7 years, but then you'll be working on ancient tech, even if it is in pristine condition.
A good rule of thumb is to replace your laptop after 4 years if you're experiencing problems.
By this time, your system specifications are likely not meeting the minimum requirements of a few applications, and the laptop's age will start to show.
You could theoretically try repairing damage, but the cost of finding older components might outweigh the actual value of the computer.
With that said, if your laptop is solely used to type out documents and the repair is cheap, then age probably doesn't matter.
However, if you're in a tech-related industry, it might be time to upgrade.
Repair and Replacement Cost
As mentioned above, the cost of repairing or replacing your laptop ties directly into the age of the computer.
If you want to repair your laptop, the price of labor and sourcing older components could add up to a significant amount of money.
Some PC stores will diagnose your laptop for free, while others will charge a premium rate.
Factor in the repair price of a new RAM stick at $100, labor totaling $150, and you've got a bill that may be more expensive than the laptop itself!
Therefore, anything over 50% of the market value or retail price of your current laptop may be better spent on an entirely new system.
Additionally, as the years go by, you'll have to spend more on frequent repairs as the laptop begins to fail.
For these reasons, we advise that once a laptop is out of warranty and the repairs are headed into a few hundred dollars, a replacement might work out cheaper in the long run.
You'll gain more value, and a new laptop will likely add a nice performance boost.
Before undertaking the cost of your laptop repair or replacement, check whether it is still under warranty.
Laptops are usually protected under a standard 1-year warranty, but certain brands such as Acer have extended their coverage for up to 2-years on high-end models.
These warranties are usually carry-in, free of charge, and include all internal component failures.
Some manufacturers also include accidental fall damage and even water damage, but this type of coverage is less common.
Once again, depending on the laptop manufacturer, you may be presented with different warranty options.
Some brands will force you to take a repair if the laptop can be fixed, while others will give you the choice of a replacement.
Before sending in your computer, we strongly advise backing up all your information and files if possible.
This way, you can potentially demand a new laptop and have your warranty period reset.
Otherwise, if you cannot save your data beforehand, a repair might be in your best interests.
Last but not least, you should be aware that repairs done within the warranty period by you or a 3rd party may void the remaining warranty on your laptop.
It may be as simple as cleaning an internal fan, but for manufacturers, this could be a loophole to escape future liability.
To that end, always read your instruction manual and warranty card whenever a problem arises.
Performance and Potential Upgrades
A recent decrease in system performance is a common reason to look at repairing or replacing your laptop.
In most cases, laptops don't fall apart or break; they just become slower and less productive over time.
This can be difficult for gamers or tech enthusiasts who stress their laptops and push them at maximum capacity on a daily basis.
When your laptop's performance suddenly dips, this could be due to various reasons. Perhaps it is software related, which would be the easiest repair option.
Maybe the current hard drive is full and the system needs an extra solid-state drive (SSD) to increase storage space.
Some applications might also require more memory; in that case, you can connect an extra RAM stick.
The point we are getting to is that all of these 'repairs' are within reach, and they do not require a brand new laptop entirely. However, laptop upgradeability can only go so far.
As the years go by, your laptop will show its age when interacting with resource-intensive games, applications, and tasks. In this case, increasing your RAM or storage will not be enough.
The reasoning behind this is that the main components on a laptop are soldered to the motherboard.
Therefore, if the program requires a better graphics card (GPU) or processor (CPU), you will likely be forced into a laptop replacement.
New Laptop Cost and Resale Value
Depending on the type of laptop you want, prices can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to the high thousands.
Features such as a dedicated graphics card, high refresh rate display, and a quick processor can all add to the cost.
Therefore, if you haven’t looked at laptop prices in a while, you might be surprised to find what a new laptop could set you back.
In order to mitigate these new inflated laptop costs, you could try reselling your laptop after it has been repaired or sell it in its current condition.
As time goes by, laptops may be worth repairing, but their internal specifications might not be meeting your technical demands.
In this case, before the laptop becomes outdated and loses all its value, you can attempt to get some of your money back.
If you choose to repair your laptop, you could also sell it at a higher resale value.
Laptops that are still relatively new and under warranty may fetch 70-80% of their initial retail price once repaired.
Those of us who are short on time can also opt to resell the laptop “as is.” Small faults may bring down the price, but, the sale should get you halfway to a new laptop.
When Can a Laptop Be Repaired?
Below we have outlined the most common laptop issues that can be repaired.
Although quotes and pricing may vary depending on the tech shop, these are some common faults that should warrant a repair over an entire replacement.
Storage space and hard drive failure
You can easily upgrade your storage or fix a faulty hard drive by adding an additional SSD (Solid State Drive).
You'll usually find the SSD slot on the bottom of the laptop, and moreover, this repair can generally be done by anyone.
Reduced performance due to software and viruses
Sometimes the fault does not lie with the hardware, but with the internal software itself. If you do not have good anti-virus software, your laptop can be infected over time.
You can try doing a fresh Windows install or send it to a tech shop to diagnose the problem.
The lithium-ion battery inside a laptop will degrade over time. For example, you might experience the power draining within minutes after a full charge.
In this case, a battery replacement is relatively cheap. This repair can be done from home, or you can ask the tech shop selling the battery to swap it out for you.
Broken power jack
The power jack itself may be damaged over time, preventing the laptop from charging.
Power jack replacements will require some PC knowledge, so we would recommend taking it to a reputable computer store.
Similar to storage space, some laptops will allow you to add an additional RAM stick. This can help speed up performance and make the overall system more responsive.
RAM sticks are easy to install and can be done from home.
Pros & Cons Of Repairing A Laptop
What We Like
Things We Don’t
When Should You Buy A New Laptop?
In certain circumstances, a laptop will have to be replaced. We have summarised the scenarios where a repair is no longer possible.
If your laptop is over 5 years old, there’s a good chance the repairs will cost more than the laptop itself.
Sourcing parts will also take time, and the overall performance would have slumped considerably by the present-day PC standards.
More performance required
If you need more than a storage or memory upgrade, then it might be time to replace your laptop.
Graphics cards and processors are soldered onto the motherboard; therefore, a further performance upgrade is impossible.
Excessive issues out of warranty
Similar to the age factor, if a laptop is out of warranty and continuously needing repairs, you should get a new one.
Once a computer begins experiencing multiple faults all at once, its lifespan could be at an end.
Pros & Cons Of Buying A New Laptop
What We Like
Things We Don’t
Frequently Asked Repair Vs Replace Laptop Questions
What happens if I don't use my laptop for 3 months?
A laptop left for 3 months will eventually lose its charge. Lithium-ion batteries, in particular, are at risk of damage if you store them at 0% for long durations.
It is recommended that you either charge the battery to 100% before storing it away or charge the battery and remove it from the laptop entirely.
Is a broken laptop screen worth repairing?
Broken laptop screens due to fall damage can be expensive to fix. Depending on the type, a typical broken screen can set you back $200-$400 for parts and labor costs. Broken Mac screens can be even more expensive than this.
It's therefore only worth fixing if the repair cost is less than half of the laptop's actual value. At the same time, some manufacturers offer an accidental damage warranty.
Which laptop brand has the longest lifespan?
The lifespan of a laptop varies depending on usage and maintenance.
If you take care of your laptop and regularly update it, you could potentially increase the lifespan by upwards of 7 years.
Good brands that have shown great longevity include - Apple, Dell, Acer, Asus, and Lenovo.
Should you take out an extended laptop warranty?
Extended laptop warranties can add an additional 1 to 3 years of protection.
These warranties cover any manufacturing defects or accidental damage that may occur after your standard warranty period.
Extended laptop warranties are usually around $50 to $250 and could be worthwhile for those looking at long-term longevity or those who want to avoid future repair costs.
Laptops are worth repairing when the cost is half the retail price or while the device is under warranty.
Only look at replacements when the laptop is older than 4 years, struggling in performance, or has a potentially profitable resale value.
Whatever you decide, ensure you back up your data!
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.