Despite being tossed around and containing a lot of miniaturized tech, laptops can, if treated well, have a long working life
This article explains how long laptops last on average. It will also discuss how upgrading parts can affect the lifecycle of a laptop. In general, laptops can last many years if you invest in reliable machines and care for them.
How Often Should You Replace a Laptop?
It’s relatively common to either upgrade or replace a laptop somewhere five to ten years after purchase, but there isn’t a specific shelf life on a laptop.
If a key component fails and is out of warranty, it can sometimes cost more to repair than replace.
Outside of something simply breaking down, though, the biggest reason to replace a laptop is usually speed. Depending on how powerful your laptop is when you buy it, eventually, you may notice that the applications you want to run on it don’t work smoothly anymore.
When trying to determine if you should replace your laptop or not, the most important question to answer is whether or not you can use it to do what you want to do. If you can, the only thing to consider is if your laptop is too slow doing what you need it to do.
Can You Upgrade Parts on a Laptop?
The short answer is maybe, while the longer answer is almost always no.
Unlike desktops, laptops are more often proprietary, meaning they’re often filled with custom components you can’t buy from Amazon, so finding something that’ll work inside your machine can be complicated. Though, this isn’t always the case.
Upgrading the RAM or a hard drive is much easier on a laptop than upgrading a CPU, GPU, or motherboard. Again, though, even when it comes to memory or storage, it will depend on what laptop you have if you can upgrade it. Some will allow for it, and some won’t.
Today, some laptops are designed to be more upgradeable than they have traditionally, like Framework’s laptops. This kind of laptop is the exception and not the rule, but you’ve got much more flexibility from machines designed with upgradability in mind.
You can buy and connect various external components to your laptop rather than upgrade its internal hardware. At the same time, there are a variety of things you can do with software to keep your laptop running as smoothly as possible. Check out our full article about upgrading or replacing a laptop.
TIP: There are no internal components that can be upgraded in Apple’s line of laptops.
Do Desktops Last Longer Than Laptops?
In general, they do, but this isn’t always true.
Desktops, by nature, don’t get tossed into packbacks and jostled around. They also usually rely on off-the-shelf parts, making them easier to upgrade and increasing longevity. Most importantly, thanks to their size, desktops also tend to have more effective cooling systems, and how hot your hardware gets is an essential factor in how long it lasts, so this is another reason why desktops may last longer than laptops.
Should You Replace an “Old” Laptop?
With technology, there’s always a push to get the new thing. This made a lot of sense for a long time because new technology was often much better than what came before. However, today, new technology tends to improve more slowly than in the past.
This means that even if your laptop might be old, there isn’t a good reason to replace it unless you’re having concrete issues with what you already have. Buying a new laptop won’t necessarily let you do anything different than what you could already do.
With an old laptop, as long as it can do whatever you bought it for initially, how old it is doesn’t matter. The best practice is not to fall into the habit of purchasing new computers to replace older computers to have something new.
Important Tips and Tricks
You might have an old laptop that doesn’t work as well as it used to, so you might consider replacing it. That’s all well and good, but you can still get some use out of your old laptop, too.
Whether turning your old laptop into a media centre, hosting a game or file server, turning it into your dedicated recipe-viewing machine in the kitchen, or even donating it, you can do many things with old computers. Check out our complete upcycling article for more information on what’s possible.
If you aren’t tech-savvy, it’s also worth remembering a trip to a GeekSquad or a local computer repair shop might be worth it before you spend money on a new machine. A faulty part can sometimes be replaced, or software can speed up a laptop.