The average lifespan of a laptop computer is constantly changing. As a productivity tool, with the hardware enhancements brought about by technological advances and changes in the environment of production applications, we can assume that the laptop is worthy of a refresh if the performance is not up to the job. At the same time, the core hardware and external mold wear and tear of daily use is coupled with the end of the laptop’s life .
Reasons for laptop obsolescence
How long a laptop lasts depends on two main reasons: the wear and tear of the core components; and the evolution of the application software. Mainstream home laptop vendors offer a one-year limited parts warranty by default, and commercial laptops may offer a three-year or more limited parts warranty, which provides a side-by-side look at the laptop’s iteration cycle.
In daily use, you may encounter a situation where a key component fails, even though the rest of the laptop still works, but the cost of repair is too high and the failed laptop may be recycled as electronic waste. Or hardware performance and inability to meet the needs of the current software environment, we can plan for obsolescence and renewal.
Laptop Operation and Lifespan
Operational life can simply be understood as how long a laptop computer can run properly. This can be achieved by meeting minimum system requirements and running advanced programs properly for as long as possible.
Many older portable computers can still operate properly after 10 years, but when you try to run the latest applications, you find that the system can no longer support them. Applications have high demands on the system, including the performance of components such as CPU, RAM and even graphics cards. The laptop is still operating normally, but its useful life is at an end.
Planned obsolescence: hidden types of failures
Technically speaking, rugged laptops made by well-known brands can last for 5 and 10 years without any major problems. But will they retain the same level of usefulness? Not necessary.
As you probably know, the world of software is constantly evolving, as is the hardware. Software engineers have introduced more sophisticated programs to solve surface problems and come up with better solutions. This is especially true for PC games with growing graphical demands, game dynamics, storylines, etc.
Of course, the more complex the software, the more complex the hardware will be to keep up with the updates. So even if a laptop from 2010 can run perfectly and without much lag, we can’t expect it to be able to run games until 2021. It just won’t be able to handle the software demands.
Can we expect planned obsolescence?
Unfortunately, planned obsolescence isn’t always so “planned”. For example, you can buy a laptop today and only find a more advanced version released the next day!
The limited upgradeability of laptops makes things worse. With desktops, for example, you can replace the GPU card. In a laptop, it’s almost impossible to do the same thing, the cost is too high!
All in all, if it is critical for you to stay up to date, we strongly recommend that you use a laptop so that the laptop can be easily upgraded with hardware and components.
Software Evolution Affects the Lifespan of Laptops
Software is the foundation of the digital age.
The first generation of software was first developed in the 1940s – its instructions were written in binary code and were initially used on mainframes.
However, advances in home computing technology and the development of programming languages have disrupted the breadth and functionality of modern hardware.
While many users can remember iconic hardware such as the first tablet computer or home computer, few look back at the classic software that made it work. Our growing needs are driving greater changes in the functionality and design of software. This is an evolutionary process.
But it can have the negative effect of accelerating the replacement of computers by a new generation of software that may require more powerful hardware to support better performance.
Laptop Component Lifespan
Laptops are made up of numerous components and we can try to understand the different life spans of each component.
Similar to cell phones and other products, the battery is undoubtedly the most wear and tear component in a laptop. After years of using a laptop, we can often hear users complaining that the battery life has regressed significantly, and replacing the laptop’s battery to extend better life is an option to consider.
Generally speaking, the battery can last up to 2 years before you notice any significant change in performance (we used it for 3 years). But in reality, it could be shorter or longer. The actual life span depends on usage.
However, any battery has a certain number of charge cycles. Beyond this charge, the battery will not be built to store the same amount of power.
That said, users who plug their laptops into and out of power outlets frequently are more likely to damage their batteries than those who keep them plugged in all day.
Before the use of lithium ion (Lithium Ion) technology, laptops used nickel-based batteries. These batteries need to be completely drained before they can be recharged. Otherwise, the battery may “forget” its full potential after a short time.
With lithium-ion batteries, the opposite is true: it is best to charge the battery when it reaches 40% and then unplug it before it reaches 80%; a concept known as the 40-80 rule. The chemistry behind it is too complex to explain here, but has been scientifically proven.
Mechanical Hard Drives
Before SSDs became widely popular, MHDs (mechanical hard drives) were the only storage option for laptops. Being much cheaper, some low-end, affordable laptops are still being released with the technology.
While SSDs can last up to 10 years, MHDs will start to show signs of failure after 5 years. Just like batteries, the actual range may be longer or shorter, depending on the frequency of read/write operations.
The reason for the low lifespan of MHDs is related to their design. MHD storage devices read data to the platform via a mechanical arm that moves across the metal disk. SSDs, on the other hand, have NAND flash memory embedded in the board. The advantage? There are no moving parts.
With an MHD, you can’t take any significant steps to extend its life. Inevitably, mechanical parts will wear out and hardware will fail.
However, if the laptop allows, the SSD can be installed as a backup drive. By storing your most used programs and least used programs in the MHD. You will use the MHD for fewer cycles per day, thus making it last a little longer.
Your laptop’s screen consists of multiple stacked layers. For the sake of simplicity, we can say that the LCD screen consists of two parts: a section that generates the actual image and a final backlight that is responsible for the brightness level.
The image-related component in a laptop is usually the last component used. As long as the displays do not suffer any physical trauma, they can have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years.
The LED backlights used in newer laptops disappear in only about 10 years. Many older models with CCFL backlights begin to lose their luminescence after 3 to 4 years.
Unlike other components, the way you use your laptop monitor doesn’t really affect its lifespan.
RAM is probably the only component in a laptop that doesn’t have a specific lifespan. It can last 2 to 3 years or 8 to 10 years, or as long as the motherboard is operational.
However, planned obsolescence may force you to upgrade sooner than expected. In the case of Google Chrome, for example, it consumes a lot of RAM, even with a normal Internet browser.
The good news is that upgrading RAM is fairly easy. RAM sticks are still one of the cheapest components in a laptop.
Just like RAM, we can’t be sure of the lifespan range of AC adapters because they rarely fail under regular use. It’s worth noting that you need to avoid overheating them as much as possible and avoid excessive tangling and bending of cables during use.
Most users don’t think about the life of their laptops until they start having problems. Few people are even willing to do something about it. Hopefully, the above information will help you to be more flexible with your laptop tools.