When buying a new laptop, it is important to know what type of uses you are looking to get out of it, whether it be gaming, school work, or simply streaming content and using social media. It is equally as significant to have a complete understanding of the duration that your laptop will be functional, so that you are able to use it for as long as possible, getting the most out of your purchase. Some of our articles such as Best Gaming Laptops under $2,000, and Best Microsoft Laptops can give you a good idea of what computer is the best for you to buy right now, but in this article, we will help you answer the question “How long should a laptop last?”
What's the Average Lifespan of a Laptop?
The simple answer to this question would be anywhere between 3 to 5 years, but before we can answer this question fully, we must first address what it means to “last”. There are two ways your laptop’s life expectancy can be measured: operational and functional.
The operational lifespan can be simply defined as how long your computer can run the most basic programs with functionality. For example, if you buy a new gaming laptop, the operational life expectancy would be measured by how long you could boot up the computer and run a google search on chrome.
The functional life expectancy is the amount of time that your laptop can be used for the actual purpose you got it for. For example, the functional lifespan would be how long you could use it to play a game of Skyrim online without any lag.
For this article, we will strictly focus on the functional life span, because let’s be honest, nobody is buying a gaming computer just to use the internet. When buying a new laptop for daily use, the functional life should last you anywhere between 3-6 years of use depending on how well you maintain and upgrade your computer’s features.
What are the Factors that Determine a Laptop’s Life?
There are three major factors that determine how long your laptop will last: specifications, build quality, and care. Let us take a closer look at them.
The hardware used on a laptop plays a role in it's lifespan and here's how.
As software (games, operating systems, tools etc.) updates, they usually consumes more storage, RAM, energy and graphics processing power. This impact gradually outdates the computer. And based on the pricing, here is a rule of thumb for how long should a laptop last. Yes, the price is directly related to the components of the laptop:
- Less than $700: 2 to 4 years
- $700-$1,000: 3 to 5 years
- $1,000 or more: 4 to 7 years
2. Build quality
Laptop quality, like other items, varies from brand to brand and even model to model. So, higher-quality computers last longer. Build quality may be further subdivided into internal and external.
Internal build quality usually determines how long the hardware installed within the laptop will last. To keep costs low, some manufacturers use subpar components (such as SSD, RAM, motherboards, etc). Such components wears out faster, reducing the laptop's lifespan. Conversely, some brands have committed to high-quality production and you can rest assured of the quality if you choose the right one.
The external construction of a laptop refers to how well it has been made on the exterior. A laptop, for example, is made of either metal or plastic.
Metallic laptops may sustain more damage, but the chassis does not absorb it, allowing it to pass to internal components. Conversely, plastic laptops are robust, but they cannot sustain a lot of impact (i.e. hitting the floor).
The question isn't which is superior. Rather, it's about the overall quality of the product: if it's durable and robust, the laptop will last a long time.
A laptop is a delicate device and require ultimate care and maintenance. We shall look at how you can take care of your laptop intensively when discussing on how to extend the life of your laptop.
How Can I Extend the Life of My Laptop?
There are many good practices when using your computer that if done regularly will likely add years to its functionality. Here are some of the practices to observe;
1. Always keep your laptop cool
The cardinal rule of laptop use for this would be to always keep your laptop cool! Heat is never good for your computer and many are very prone overheating internally.
2. Keep your computer on a hard smooth surface
You should always keep your computer on a hard and smooth surface and away from any other potential sources of heat. A good way to combat issues while computing on the couch or bed is to buy a cooling pad or stand to prevent it from sitting on a soft blanket or cushion.
Besides, while traveling, keep your laptop padded and prevent banging it into items. Take extra care of the hinges, since this is where the most laptops fail - don't stretch it too far back.
3. Clean your laptop regularly
Keeping your vents clear of excess dust is another surefire way to prevent overheating. You can buy canned aerosol from Amazon that can be used to spray out any unwanted grime that may be blocking your fan.
Besides, dust particles obstruct airflow, putting strain on the laptop's cooling mechanism. So, cleaning your laptop on a regularly may dramatically increase its performance and durability. When you do this, you'll notice a significant improvement in the general health and durability of your laptop.
4. Always use the original charger
Though it's possible to charge your laptop with another charger, doing so on a frequently is a slow poison for your laptop's battery. The presence of comparable charging ports on two distinct laptops does not imply that they have the same configuration. And so, an incompatible current rating drastically damages your laptop's battery and, in extreme cases, causes it to explode.
5. Only charge your laptop up to 80%.
This one is a little more challenging. Laptop batteries have a charge cycle of 500-1,000 times. So, maintaining your laptop's battery between 20% and 80% can provide 500 to 800 more charge cycles. Check your laptop's completed charge cycles first, and then use third-party applications on Windows and Mac to limit the maximum charge threshold for your laptop's battery — it will last you longer this way.
6. Upgrade when necessary
Most users usually make the mistake of overusing their laptops. If you use an entry-level laptop to run high-end video editing software and demanding video games, the hardware will be overloaded and overheated. To avoid this, ensure to enhance your laptop's setup to – or purchase one that can – meet your needs.
Additionally, reinstall your operating system. Both Mac and Windows have methods for reinstalling the operating system without losing any data. For Windows 10, try Fresh Start and for Mac computers, use Recovery mode, and .
7. Add extras
Some handy computer peripherals, such as an external mouse, keyboard, speakers or headphones, might help to reduce the burden on the hardware. A case can also protect your device from wear and tear. Plus, they make your laptop look great.
Moreover, we recommend buying antivirus software to protect your laptop from infection.
One reason that new laptops only last so long is because the manufacturers purposely design these computers with systematic obsolescence. This means that a company like Dell may release a new laptop in 2018, with the full intention of having it be unable to run the newest software and programs they have available by 2020, so that you will continually have to purchase new products they have.
This is very similar to the constant cycle of new iPhone upgrades, which is a great example of this. Have you ever bought a new iPhone and noticed a few months later that when you download the newest update it suddenly becomes slower? Well this is because the new software is designed to process more and more data and memory than previous models can handle, therefore slowing them down. This is the exact same tactic laptop makers use, however with good care and upgrades, you can help avoid falling victim to this.
When looking at how long your laptop will last you, it is easier to break it down into how long each component of your computer will continue to work effectively. Most laptop batteries will last for about 1.5 to 2 years before they begin to lose their ability to maintain charge for extended periods of time. After this point, each time you unplug your laptop, the battery life will continue to decrease until the battery eventually dies completely. Usually the battery will be the first part of your computer to go, but coming next will be the hard drive at anywhere between 3 to 5 years.
Other parts of your laptop will usually last much longer if they are well maintained. Components like the RAM and processor can last anywhere from 10-15 years, so they should definitely not be the limiting factor when it comes to your laptop lasting you as long as possible. Other less vital features can have lifespans that are almost entirely correlated to the way that you use them. LED screens that are used regularly and left illuminated for long periods of time during use will usually last around 2-4 years, but if the brightness is used sparingly, and no dropping or damage to the laptop occurs, it is not unthinkable that it could last 6-8 years.
Other features like the keyboard and trackpad are very dependent on the type of use that they endure. If you are constantly typing with more force than needed, a key could break at any moment. Similarly, if you keep your trackpad clean and clear of excess dust it will be responsive for a much longer period. It may sound obvious, but keeping good care of your laptop is the best way to extend its functional lifetime.
When trying to tackle the issue of finite battery life, there are also many tactics which can be immensely helpful. First of all, try to never leave your computer plugged in overnight, this will greatly degrade your battery life and keep it from reaching its full potential. Try to get into the habit of keeping your laptop unplugged once charged until it falls back to 10-20% battery life before charging it again. This will help prevent your battery from becoming too dependent on an external power source and maintain its lifetime.
Your laptop also has many moving parts, which like any machine are only durable for so long before they begin to break down. Always allow your computer to either be shut down or enter sleep mode before closing the lid. If you simply close your laptop without any preparation, your hard drive will continue spinning once closed and continually wear down all the computer’s moving parts. Overall, the more moving parts you have in your computer, the faster it will break down, so an even better way to combat this is to swap out your hard drive for an SSD which has fewer moving parts, is faster and less likely to fail over time. Your programs will even run at a much faster rate if you make this switch!
In conclusion, it is often more cost-effective to simply get new parts when your old ones fail instead of buying a new computer. Replacing your RAM, hard drive, SSD, battery and even screen can save you hundreds of dollars over the long run as opposed to shelling out thousands of dollars for a new laptop that will only give you the same issues a few years down the road.
When Should You Buy a New Laptop?
Overheating while using common applications, faster battery deaths, memory difficulties, loud fans, slow processes, and lagging issues are some of the signs that your old laptop is nearing the end of its lifespan. The more of these problems you encounter at the same time or in succession, the closer your laptop is to failure. So, when should you replace your old computer?
1. Overheating and Lagging
If your laptop is frequently overheating and lagging but still the fan is running, it's a sign that it's nearing the end of its life. To increase performance, you can consider updating it and/or cleaning the internal components of dust.
2. Battery problems
Laptops usually have lithium-ion batteries, which comes with a charge cycle of 500-1,000 times. This implies that after 500-1,000 charges and discharges, these batteries begin to lose their charge holding ability. If you keep your laptop plugged in all the time, the laptop's battery life will be short. Therefore, even if you charge your laptop every two days, the battery will last for approximately 3-5 years.
In most circumstances, replacing the battery with a new one may extend the life of your laptop. However, sometimes a new battery isn't available because the model has been discontinued, or it is just too expensive.
3. Loud fans
The noise of the fan running excessively loudly is one of the first signs that a laptop is beyond its prime. This is especially problematic if you are not using any intensive software on your laptop at the time.
4. Slow processes
Your laptop will most likely begin to slow down over time. It may take longer when web browsing, when opening applications, or even when starting the laptop or shutting it down. Your old hardware may struggle, especially if you are running the most recent program versions. As computers slow down progressively over time, this may slip your mind, so remember to perform a speed test every six months or so.
5. Outdated screen
Before, a 1080p HD monitor was considered as distinguished and cutting-edge. But, nowadays, the same display is considered average and is the standard display for most laptops. Though poor display quality may not be an important factor for most people, those working in creative professions like as video editing or graphic design cannot ignore it.
Unlike other laptop components such as the hard disk or RAM, updating the display screen is not an option. This leaves users with little alternative except to purchase a new laptop to enjoy a higher display quality.
6. Insufficient memory
Between 2014 to 2015, 4GB of RAM was considered as the standard size. However, today's PCs with less than 8GB of RAM are likely to lag. Though upgrading RAM is not difficult, some models are not upgradeable. We recommend choosing a laptop that allows you to update the RAM.
7. Weird behavior
If your laptop crashes frequently, the screen flashes or resets, or there are problems when you try to multi-task, it's a sign that your laptop is working too hard to achieve everyday tasks. This is most likely to appear when you switch between programs or switch tabs in your web browser.
How Long Should a Gaming Laptop Last?
If you usually use your laptop to play games, then you're a different type of laptop user, and your laptop is not like the other users'; You may ask: how long should a gaming laptop last.
Gaming laptops have outstanding functionality, but the high-end video games indicate that you expect a lower lifespan. As time passes, game hardware needs are increasing, and gaming laptops must use better hardware to deal with the advanced graphics, but often struggle to keep up.
Conversely, if you don't mind slower FPS rates and resolutions, you can use the laptop for longer. A mid-range gaming laptop with advances in graphics and game complexity may be obsolete in a few years. Therefore, you will need to invest a lot of money if you want your laptop to run the latest games in a few years. Overall, if you're a gamer, you can estimate how long your gaming laptop should last.
- The laptop lifespan is 2-3 years if you spend $700.
- Expect 3-4 years if you spend between $700 to $1500
- Expect 4-6 years for gaming laptops that cost $1500 or more
Keep in mind that this is a hypothetical idea based on how much you spend on gaming laptops. Usually, the highest graphics settings provide the best game experience, but using lower-quality graphics extends the system's service life.
How Long Should a Laptop Battery Last
The portability of a laptop is mostly determined by its design and power connection – battery. Though your laptop can last for a long period, the battery's life will be rather short. As the battery gets older, its capacity to store a charge reduces. You might ask, how long should a laptop battery last, well, this question can be discussed in two ways.
First, how long should your laptop's battery last on a single charge? Second, how long should the battery serve you before it gets unusable?
1. On a single charge
The typical single charge period for a laptop might vary significantly based on two factors.
- The type and condition of the battery inside your laptop
- How you use the laptop
The quality of the laptop battery partly depends on how much you spend on the laptop. It's worth noting, though, that even some of the most powerful laptops don't come with batteries that match the system's price tag. So, when purchasing a new laptop, it is critical to do a research and read reviews to determine how long of a single charge battery lifespan you can expect.
Generally, the average lifespan of quality laptop batteries on a single charge is likely to range from 2-3 hours or 7-8 (or more) hours. But again, it all comes down to what you're doing with your laptop.
If you have a high-powered gaming laptop and spend the most of your time on it playing games, you may only get 2-3 hours of play time before you need to charge it. Conversely, if you're only writing emails, web browsing or doing other easy things, you might be able to get 4-5 hours out of the cheapest laptop batteries and up to 10-12 hours out of the best laptop batteries.
2. Until the battery is no longer usable
On average, a laptop battery should last anywhere from 300-500 full charges.
This number varies, of course, based on the type of battery you have.
And, it’s important to note that this number references full charges. So, if your battery gets down to ~30% life and you charge it back up, that doesn’t count as a full charge, but rather 70% of one.
So, really, there’s no date-based answer on how long a laptop battery should last. It really all comes down to usage.
The more you use your laptop, the more it will need to be charged. And, the more you charge your laptop, the shorter the lifespan your battery will last.
If you want tips on how to prolong the lifespan of your laptop’s battery, see the tips above on how to prolong a laptop’s single charge duration. Those are essentially the same things that will help you increase the lifespan of your battery.
How to Make Laptop Battery Longer
As for this question, we have listed some tips that you should note:
- Maintain the battery regularly
- Perform Power Management
- Reduce running tasks
- Adjust your laptop display
- Pay attention to the working environment
- Optimize peripherals