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Thread: Average lifespan of Computers.

  1. #1

    Default Average lifespan of Computers.

    I know this is a unusual question, but how long can a desktop computer last? I've seen computers last 20 years etc.

    I obviously care for my hardware and do regular maintenance, replace broken parts etc, while most people just get rid of there hardware.

    I built this computer around roughly 2015, hard drives failed, replaced them with laptop drives etc, it's gone through a lot of hardware changes, still has the original motherboard which is a crappy $50 board, has more ram, a I3 etc.

    Just curious, how long can I expect my computer to last? I've had core 2 duo machines from 2006 last me a long time etc.

    What about laptops? is 2 years roughly the life expectancy for laptops, or could it come upto 6 years if I replace the batteries, hard drive and ram?

  2. #2


    Quote Originally Posted by LittleJess View Post
    I know this is a unusual question, but how long can a desktop computer last? I've seen computers last 20 years etc.
    Easily. My current PC is 9 years old and it's still quicker than almost any other PC I've used (although new gaming PCs put it to shame). I built it to last with a Core i7 CPU (pre-ordered so I got it on the day of release). I upgraded from 6 to 12 GB RAM recently and got a PCIe SSD.

    I have my old PC and an old laptop that work fine. In fact, I had a 486 laptop from 1997 that was working perfectly until it became so dated as to become useless.

    I've had a few hard drives die, but 90% have lasted forever. I don't replace them when I run out of space -- I just buy more drives. I currently have six hard drives (including an SSD) in my PC!

    My graphics card just died too. But that's the first time that's ever happened to me (in 20 years of owning and fixing PCs).

    I can't see me wanting to upgrade my PC for at least a few years, so that's easily a decade of use. The case, PSU and drives all work fine, so when I feel like I need something faster, I'll only need to get a new motherboard, chip and RAM.

    I've also had cheap PSUs blow, malfunction, or hit the limit of their power capabilities (which produces really weird intermittent PC problems that elude all forms of troubleshooting... until you replace the PSU and everything works fine). I always get a good (80 to 130, branded) PSU. A poor quality PSU can damage your hardware.

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleJess View Post
    What about laptops? is 2 years roughly the life expectancy for laptops, or could it come upto 6 years if I replace the batteries, hard drive and ram?
    Two years?! Only if you drop it! Laptops should also last "forever" if you don't damage them. The batteries will be the first thing to need replacing. And laptops compromise performance to be small and affordable, so you're more likely to get frustrated with the performance and need to upgrade than having anything fail.

    A couple of years back I got rid of a 286 laptop which still worked perfectly... Although it was agony to have it on your lap for more than a few minutes! It weighed a ton! And it didn't have batteries, so required a mains cable.

    I've seen the screens on old laptops kind-of fade and die. But if something breaks in a laptop (or mobile phone) you can often find replacement parts on eBay.

    That's just my experience, anyway. :-)

  3. #3


    It's honestly pretty hard to judge how long the current generation of computers will remain usable. You can look at history, but technology evolves at a fairly unpredictable rate. The current generation of hardware might do what you need it to do for another 20 something years, or things may totally change direction next year and within 5 years trying to use your current desktop might be like trying to use an IBM S/360.

    That said, my guess based on the last 30 years would be that a desktop computer built today is probably going to be perfectly fine for about 5 or 6 years, and probably usable but not ideal for another 5 after that, at which point you are into "can keep it working, but why bother" territory.

    Laptops are a bit different. There's more to go wrong, parts tend to wear out faster due to size and heat, and they are harder and more expensive to repair. Again, if the past is any indication, you'll hit the "sure I could fix it, but it's just not worth it" point a lot faster with a laptop.

  4. #4


    I had a monitor go belly up a few years ago, but it originally came with my Commodore 64, so it was at least of legal drinking age. I imagine the 64 itself is still good, although it's been a while since I fired it up.

    Other than that, I've never had a computer or hard drive expire. My Windows 98 desktop is still functional, although I can't really use it for much other than playing around with DOS, and a couple of old games I liked. It has to be around 20. Any I had before that have been scrapped as obsolete, although they were still functional.

    Never liked laptops or owned one. Mrs. Maxx's first Acer laptop is pushing 10 years old and still functional, although we've switched it from Vista to Ubuntu 14. My Nexus 7 tablet goes back a few years, and it was a refurb when I got it.

    Solid state electronics should last just about forever as long as they're not physically abused or subject to extreme environmental conditions. With the possible exception of EEproms that have a finite number of read write cycles, or so I'm told. Never had one of those fail either, although I mine aren't in constant use.

  5. #5


    I'm presently using an eight-year-old Mac Pro and a fifteen-year-old Dell LCD monitor. I've resolved that this computer and any I might buy down the road should last me at least ten years.

    Upgrades don't count, though. (I replaced the Mac's two spinning disks last year, doubled the RAM, and added an SSD.)

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