Gaming laptops are not like desktops. Unlike desktop PCs that have parts that can easily be replaced many of the major parts of the PC are soldered to the motherboard, meaning that they cannot be replaced.
This makes buying a laptop much more difficult than buying a desktop. You need to be sure that the specs you are buying will last you at least a few years. Since PC gaming is expensive, and will likely only increase in price, you must be sure that your money is not wasted.
Here, we take a look at how long do gaming laptops last. We analyze each major component of your laptop individually, beginning from the CPU and ending at the SSD. After that, we recommend a few tips that can help increase the life of your laptop substantially.
The Expected Life of Each Component in Your Gaming Laptop
Let’s take a look at each part of your laptop. Before we dive in, remember that we will not be taking a look at parts that are no longer used in most laptops, such as optical drives.
As a general point, you should not purchase budget gaming laptops if you are looking for longevity. Budget laptops not only have lower specs but are also made from cheaper materials, which can lead to issues such as overheating.
For mid-range laptops, you should expect the laptop to deliver a high-quality gaming experience for anywhere between 2-4 years. For a high-end model, the expected life should be between 4-6 years. Just note that in order to maximize the life of your laptop, there are certain steps that you can take. We talk about these steps towards the end.
How Long Does a Laptop CPU Last?
Contrary to popular belief, your CPU is very important for gaming. This is especially true if you are playing games that are CPU-intensive. CPU-intensive games include genres such as strategy, shooters, and games with open-world environments and a lot of NPCs.
Having a high-end CPU is a good idea if you want your laptop to last for a long time. We have seen an increase in the number of cores that a CPU has ever since the inception of laptops. As such, going with a CPU that has a high core count is a good idea.
That said, there are other factors that you need to be aware of when it comes to selecting a CPU. For example, the clock speeds, thermal profile (i.e. how much power the CPU consumes and how much it heats up), and any other technologies utilized by the CPU all play a part.
If you are tight on budget and cannot decide whether to spend more money on your laptop’s CPU or GPU, we would recommend thinking about the games that you are going to play. As we said previously, games that require a lot of calculations tend to be CPU-heavy. On the other hand, games that need to process a lot of visual detail tend to place a burden on the GPU.
Lastly, it is important to think about whether or not you will be using your laptop for tasks other than gaming. A laptop with a powerful CPU is much better for multitasking and certain ‘professional software’. A top-of-the-line laptop CPU should last you around 5 years, whereas a mid-range CPU should last you between 3-4 years.
How Long Does a Laptop GPU Last?
The longevity of a high-end GPU is quite similar to a high-end CPU, as both of the components need to work together to run a game smoothly.
For the high-end models, users should expect the model to last around 5 years, maybe 6 if they can care for their laptop in an impeccable manner. For the mid-range models, users should once again expect 3-4 years of performance similar to when the laptop was new.
If you are someone that prefers to play GPU-intensive games, we would recommend going all out on your GPU. Going with a Super or Ti GPU if you favor NVIDIA or an XT variant if you prefer AMD is a good idea. However, if you are limited by your budget, going with a mid-range GPU should still allow you to play new games even beyond the expected life of 4 years. The only difference will be that you will need to turn down your in-game settings.
Expected Battery Life on Gaming Laptops
It is important to talk about battery life when talking about the CPU and the GPU. The higher the power demanded by your GPU and CPU, the quicker the battery would drain on your laptop. Indeed, certain laptops with ultra-powerful GPUs do not operate on battery power, reverting to the integrated GPU instead.
As for the battery itself, a battery usually depletes in between 2-3 years. However, it depends on the usage. Thankfully, most models have batteries that can be replaced. Replacing the battery is usually simple, and can be done at home with a few simple tools (and the correct replacement battery).
Expected Life of Laptop RAM
While the form factor of the RAM module in a laptop may be different from a desktop, it is essentially the same RAM. The good thing about RAM is that it rarely fails, and it performs just as well as it did on the first day until it fails.
As such, as long as the speed of the RAM is good enough, all that matters is the capacity. Luckily, most gaming laptops have replaceable RAM. Still, there are certain models that have the RAM soldered to the motherboard. This does not have to be a bad thing as long as you get enough RAM for your needs when you purchase the laptop.
That said, if you are short on budget, it might be a good idea to get less RAM for now but pick a laptop where you can upgrade it later.
The days when having an HDD was enough for gaming (or even general use) are long gone. Nowadays, it is absolutely necessary to have an SSD. Also, SSDs are now cheap enough for the average user to have them in their PC.
Ideally, it is better to have an SSD that can store both your Windows and all other software along with your games. With game sizes getting larger by the day and loading times increasing, having an SSD can drastically reduce the time you spend waiting for your games to load.
However, if you have a lot of games and content that you want to access on your PC, having an SSD to hold your operating system and other important files and an HDD of a large size for other stuff might be a good idea.
Lastly, remember that you can use external storage to hold any additional files that you need. With USB-C and Thunderbolt technology becoming commonplace in high-end laptops, it is possible for you to run games directly from an external SSD/HDD.
How to Make Your Laptop Last Longer
It is important to remember that when we talk about how long your laptop will last, we are talking about it in terms of performance. After 3-5 years, chances are that your laptops will no longer be able to run the latest games (and even struggle to run older games). However, your laptop will still be working.
The mechanical components on your laptop should last you around 10 years or more. While it is possible for a component to fail, chances are that it will be one that is replaceable. For example, your screen or your SSD may fail, but you should be able to get it replaced at a cost.
There are steps you can take to make your laptop last as long as possible. The following tips will not only allow you to squeeze the last drops of performance from your laptop, but they will also ensure that your laptop continues to work long after you purchase a new one. Perhaps, your current gaming laptop could be your next supplementary device?
Manage the Thermals
Managing the thermals is the easiest way to elongate the life of your laptop. Long-term exposure to heat, especially at levels close to the one where components shut down, can massively decrease the life of your laptop.
Managing thermals in your laptop can be difficult since there is limited space for all the parts to be placed on the motherboard. There are a few ways through which you can manage the thermals on your laptop.
- Make sure your laptop is not used in an environment which is too warm.
- Try to place the laptop in an area where it receives proper ventilation.
- Try to clean the inside of your laptop. If you feel a little queasy opening up your laptop, take it to a professional for a service once or twice a year.
- If none of the above works, try underclocking your GPU.
Manage the Battery
You can also increase the life of your battery by taking a few necessary measures. For one, managing your thermals will automatically increase the life of your battery. On top of that, you should not store the laptop in high temperatures. Leaving the laptop in your car is a big no-no.
Ideally, the life of a battery is maximized if it is between 20-80%. It also helps if you do not keep it plugged in all the time. However, that is not possible if you are planning to game on the go.
Just try to follow the guidelines above as best as you can, as it will have a positive effect on how long your battery lasts.
Update the Software
When we talk about updating the software, we don’t just mean Windows. Try to keep everything up to date, including and especially your GPU drivers.
As hardware gets old, companies often provide software updates that can help with the performance. If your laptop is old and still running older versions of Windows and drivers, chances are that it will be lacking in performance. Updating to the latest versions may help a little.
Upgrade Whatever You Can, for as Long as You Can
Sure, you cannot upgrade your CPU or your GPU. However, there are a lot of components that can still be upgraded. Provided that you get the right model, it will be possible for you to upgrade your RAM and your storage.
There might also be other options for upgrades that may feel like your laptop is faster than before. For example, upgrading your WiFi card may allow you to get better speeds. It may not be that beneficial for gaming (apart from the fact that it may be able to get you a slightly better ping in online games), but it will have an effect on your laptop’s performance all the same.
Once you have exhausted all avenues for upgrades, only then should you think about buying a new laptop.