Feeling like your laptop is more sluggish than normal when playing rounds of Black Ops IV or Apex Legends? It’s not just your imagination — all gaming rigs will eventually offer decreased performance and then give out entirely.
No matter how much you spend, eventually you’ll run into those clear telltale signs that it’s time to replace your laptop as frame rates drop and internal components break down.
So here’s the big question for any potential buyer — exactly how long will a gaming laptop last, and how do you get the most out of your investment?
How Long Will My Gaming Laptop Actually Last? (Honest Answer)
Without maintenance, the average lifespan for a gaming laptop is between 5 – 6 years, or 3 – 4 years with cheaper budget units featuring a plastic chassis. While the parts may last half a decade or more, eventually those top-of-the-line components won’t offer the same performance as games become more visually complex.
What Affects A Gaming Laptop Lifespan?
Overall build quality plays a huge role here, and that’s one of the reasons it’s worth saving up to spend more on a higher end model when shopping for a gaming rig.
If you get five to six years out of your device, you may end up actually spending less by buying a more expensive model that doesn’t have to be replaced in just a handful of years.
Aside from the quality of components and the structural integrity of the design, there are several specific parts that can drastically affect overall lifespan.
Graphics Processing Unit Heat Dissipation
Hands down, one of the biggest killers of gaming laptops is the heat generated by high end GPUs. As parts run hot for extended periods, they tend to break down and malfunction sooner.
That means any model with advanced cooling options is always the way to go, so carefully consider your cooling options when comparing specs on gaming machines.
The HP Omen for instance features CoolSense technology to automatically detect when the bottom of the laptop is getting too hot.
Acer’s Predator line of gaming machines instead uses FrostCore drives in place of the typical DVD drive to add an extra fan for additional cooling.
Future Proofing Against Graphics Upgrades
More than just what parts will eventually malfunction and at which time frames, you’ve also got to consider the longevity of a component’s usefulness as new games demand better hardware.
..an RTX system ensuring your gaming laptop will continue to run any game on ultra settings for years and years to come…
Right now, the RTX graphics cards are absolutely top of the line. They are expensive, but offer the fastest, most powerful graphics possible in 2019.
However, since almost no games actually take full advantage of their features at this point, those brand new RTX enabled laptops aren’t quite worth it (yet).
That being said, going with an RTX system will future proof your purchase, ensuring your gaming laptop will continue to run any game on ultra settings for years and years to come.
On the opposite end of that spectrum, while GTX 1050 Ti systems are steadily coming down in price, they aren’t going to offer you high end gaming performance for nearly as long.
Those cards are already becoming obsolete with the latest crop of AAA titles and won’t provide solid frame rates at high settings. While a laptop with 1050 card may continue operating for six years or longer, there will come a point (and quite soon) where it can’t handle new games at all.
Picking the fastest, most efficient, most powerful CPU you can afford on your budget is the best way to go.
Why exactly is that?
While other parts like the RAM and hard drive can be swapped out over time, in most cases you’re stuck with your laptop CPU forever.
How To Get More Life Out Of Your Gaming Laptop
1. Physical Protection
Of course there are some obvious things to keep in mind, like avoiding excessive jostling when transporting the unit, which can damage internal motherboard components.
A snug carrying case with extra compartments for your power cord, ethernet cables, external hard drives, and so on is an absolute must-have item for the gamer on the go.
2. Managing Battery Life
Other ways to protect your investment are less immediately apparent, like changing your battery charging habits.
While this can be difficult for gaming laptops because they tend to have such low battery life, it’s important that you don’t leave your computer plugged in at all times.
Constantly charging the battery eventually causes it to hold less of a charge and reduces the battery’s lifespan significantly.
3. Maintenance And Cleaning
Just like your vehicle frequently needs an oil change or the air filter changed, your laptop can also benefit from regular maintenance.
Using canned air to regularly clean out ports is another simple but highly effective way to prevent overheating or damage internal parts. Dust build up causes components to fail earlier than they normally would just through daily usage.
4. Managing Cooling Options
Besides cleaning with canned air, there are other ways to keep your components cool and running efficiently. When the built-in cooling features mentioned in the section above aren’t available with your specific laptop model, a cooling pad is worth the extra cost.
Cooling pads are usually available for fairly cheap online through Amazon, and there are plenty of different colors and styles available. It isn’t hard to customize your cooling pad so you can find something comfortable that matches your laptop’s color scheme.
5. Know Your SSD And HDD Needs
Solid state drives are becoming the norm for gaming laptops, but regular hard disk drives are still found in many models.
Why does it matter which kind you have?
..an SSD has a maximum number of times it can be overwritten, defragmenting can reduce the drive’s lifespan..
Because these two technologies have very different maintenance requirements. What’s good for one is not good for the other.
SSDs actually don’t benefit from disk defragmenting at all, for example. Since an SSD has a maximum number of times it can be overwritten, defragmenting can reduce the drive’s lifespan.
HDDs on the other hand do benefit from the occasional defragmenting for a speed boost, or even a full hard drive wipe and complete Windows re-install.
6. Upgrade RAM
The easiest way to get a speed boost and ensure our laptop keeps up with the pace of technology is to upgrade the RAM, although the ease of memory access can vary between models.
7. Switch From HDD To SSD
SSDs tend to last longer as they don’t have moving parts that can overheat and fail as easily as a normal hard disk drive.
The process for replacing drives has been significantly simplified in recent years, with many gaming models using a M.2 slot that is easy to pull out and replace.
8. Know Which Parts Aren’t Worth Replacing
There are a handful of parts that simply can’t be replaced, are more effort to replace than they are worth, or that may not be covered under manufacturer warranty by the time they fail.
In particular, the display screen and the video cable that connects to the motherboard are major point of potential failure.
Picking a model with an HDMI port is a great way to prepare ahead of time in case you need to use an external monitor sometime down the line.
While the screen may die after a few years, you can still make use of your laptop’s high end CPU and GPU by connecting to an external display.
Sure, you lose out on portability, but that’s a small price to pay to avoid buying a whole new laptop for another year or two.
Keeping Your Gaming Laptop Alive
Gaming laptops in particular can be a significant investment that are hard for budget conscious shoppers to justify, especially since technology becomes obsolete and replaced so quickly.
..you can reasonably expect your gaming laptop to last between 3-6 years..
While the specific length of time can vary between manufacturers and models, in most cases you can reasonably expect your gaming laptop to last between 3 – 6 years.
At that point, you will either experience hardware failure, or your laptop’s specs just simply won’t be able to keep up with newer games. You can get more life out of your machine with:
- Regular maintenance
- Cleaning out ports with canned air
- Careful handling
- Changing battery charging habits
- Taking care of your SSD or HDD
- Managing heat with proper cooling methods
- Occasionally replacing parts such as RAM
- Planning ahead for hardware failure by having an external drive or monitor available
Looking for more tips on how to get the absolute most use out of your portable computer? Check out our complete guide of 132 simple tips for speeding up your laptop and extending its life over here.