How Long Should a Laptop Last?

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 this new laptop last me?”.

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.  Conversely, 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, 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, while 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.  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.

There are many good practices when using your computer that if done regularly will likely add years to its functionality.  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.  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.  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.

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Amazon

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.  Now that you know how to get the best lifespan out of your new laptop, be sure to check out some of our suggestions in our featured articles below:

Best Gaming Laptops Under $2,000

Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000

Best Microsoft Laptops

Best 8G RAM Laptops