Whether you’re buying one for personal or professional reasons, a laptop represents a significant monetary investment. It’s natural to want to know how long that investment will last. Laptops hold an ever increasing share of the computer market as our society transitions to a more mobile and on-the-go lifestyle. From working while commuting to doing gig work in a coffee shop or gaming at a friend’s house, understanding the value you can expect for your money is an important part of making the right decision.
No.1. Laptop Longevity Factors
When considering how long your laptop will last, you need to take some items into consideration:
- Quality - You’ll find there is a range of prices for similar looking computers, but often the difference comes down to the quality of components inside the machine. While not always the case, more expensive computers from the same manufacturers are often made with top-tier components.
- Purpose - Personal laptops designed for consumer use are made to be replaced as consumers’ needs evolve. Business machines are made to be durable goods that will support operations longer. Gaming computers are made with cutting edge parts that can handle higher operating stresses, but those stresses take their toll.
- Ruggedness - While most laptops are meant to be handled gently, there are a variety of features that manufacturers may include to help with heat dispersal and impact resistance. The most extreme changes are in ruggedized laptops that undergo tests to meet military specifications for drops and resistance to environmental hazards.
- Intended Use - In addition to the purpose the manufacturer built the computer for, the actions you will actually perform with it have an impact on longevity. Whether it’s going to sit safely on a desk in an air-conditioned office, be mounted in a police cruiser, or used to play resource-intensive games, users play a large role in dictating longevity.
- What Constitutes “End Of Service Life” - This is a much trickier factor because it depends on what you consider the end of a computer’s service life. Obviously a mechanical failure that prevents it from operating and can’t be repaired will require replacement. A repairable failure, such as a failing RAM stick, or simply poor performance as resource requirements outstrip its abilities are sufficient to make it obsolete and may send you shopping for your next one.
No.2. Expected Life Spans
While many factors do contribute to a specific machine’s lifespan, there are some general assumptions that can be made.
- Consumer Laptops - A well maintained consumer laptop can usually last 2-3 years before it becomes more economical to replace it.
- Business Laptops and High-End Consumer Computers - Made with better and more advanced components, these systems will give you 4-7 years of service depending on how much of a computer you initially invest in.
- Gaming Computers - While often more expensive, you’ll get only a couple years of active service life from these machines as their more intensive activity wears out parts faster.
- Rugged Laptops - Ruggedized machines are made to withstand torturous conditions, and that construction shows with increased longevity as some machines can still perform essential duty functions a decade later.
No.3. Maximizing Your Computer’s Life
If you want to get the longest lifespan possible from your laptop, you can make a difference by properly maintaining it.
- Use Your Laptop for its Intended Purpose - While you can run high-end games on some low-end consumer machines, they weren’t meant for the high-performance stresses and will fail faster.
- Keep it Protected From the Environment - Computers run best in cool, dry environments on a stable surface. Bumps, jostles, high temperatures, wet environments, and the presence of large amounts of dust can all reduce their life expectancy. While rugged machines are engineered to resist severe environments, they will last even longer in traditional laptop settings. Remember to clean it regularly.
- Install an Antivirus Software and Update Regularly - Keep your computer protected from malware that could steal your sensitive data, misuse resources, or damage your machine. Use your security software to keep your laptop scanned and safer from the latest cybersecurity threats.
- Repair and Upgrade as Needed - Don’t be afraid to repair your laptop if there is a need or to occasionally upgrade it to suit your needs. Just make sure you’re doing so sensibly. If the cost is high enough, it may be a better idea to opt for a replacement than to put it off.
No.4. Make Your Laptop a Long Term Purchase
Use the right care when selecting and using your laptop, and it can be a smart purchase that you can count on for years. There are plenty of options out there to choose from. Take time to consider your needs, the available machines, and how they can fit into your plans, and you’ll make a decision that is both educated and economical.
Aaron Smith is a tech writer who works with companies like OC Rugged Laptops. He enjoys writing about the latest developments in technology and manufacturing for leading technology manufacturing companies.