Are you asking the question: how often should you get a new laptop? Our helpful guide right here covers the key things to know.
Did you know that in 2019, the average spending on a new laptop amounted to $700? $700 isn’t bad, as long as you wouldn’t have to spend the same amount (or even more) each year.
Even if you do have the cash, you should still think of the electronic waste you’d otherwise produce. To give you an idea, the average US consumer generated 21 kilograms of e-waste in 2019. Replacing your laptop too early is one sure way to rack up your e-waste.
All these now begs the question: How often should you get a new laptop, then? How long do they last in the first place, and how can you tell that it’s time to replace them?
We’ll address all these questions in this post, so be sure to read on.
Table of Contents
How Often Should You Get a New Laptop?
The average lifespan of a laptop or a desktop CPU is between three and five years. However, some manufacturers specify estimated product service lives in their warranties. For instance, Lenovo’s warranty states that its ThinkCentre’s service life is four years.
You can use this average lifespan range as a reference when you’re on the fence about buying a new laptop. This applies to mid-range units, which usually cost at least $1,000.
However, high-end or rugged types of laptops (upwards of $1,500) can last for five years or even longer. These often come with a solid chassis, usually made of metal like aluminum or magnesium alloy. Their sturdy built allows them to withstand shocks and even water penetration.
What Can Contribute to Early Laptop Failure?
While laptops can last for at least three years, lack of care and misuse can lead to premature failure. Forgetting to clean it and maintain its software can also cut its life short. Accidents, especially liquid spills, can also damage a laptop’s internal components.
Lack of Care and Misuse
Did you know that the safe temperature range for lithium-ion batteries is -4° to 140° Fahrenheit? Any higher than this and the battery can burst into flames or even explode. At the very least, long-term exposure to heat can make the battery drain faster.
Exposure to extreme cold can also cause permanent damage to laptop batteries. This can happen if you don’t use an insulated bag to carry your laptop in cold environments. The same goes for if you always leave your device near a drafty window.
Laptop circuit boards are also prone to damages caused by temperature extremes. One way that this can occur is by switching on your device right after you’ve exposed it to extreme cold. The electrical current can rapidly heat the board, forcing it to expand and distort.
Liquid crystal display (LCD) screens are also susceptible to freezing damage. Their liquid content can freeze, resulting in dead pixels or, worse, a dead screen.
To prevent temp-related damage, use your laptop in a cool room as much as possible. Unplug it from its wall charger once it’s done charging, too. Also, keep it away from drafty windows and heat-generating devices, such as a coffee maker.
Liquid spills can cause permanent damage to a brand-new laptop. Spilling any kind of liquid on a device can cause it to short-circuit. Laptops with spill-proof technology that delays water penetration are an exception, though.
Even if your laptop is spill-proof, it’s still best to use beverage containers with tight and secure lids. This way, you don’t have to worry about severe spill damages in case you knock over your tumbler.
Always Using Your Laptop on Your Lap
It’s funny how the term “laptop” comes from “lap,” even if you really shouldn’t use it on your lap. That’s because it can overheat if its air vents get clogged, say by your lap. The same thing can happen if you use the device on a soft surface, such as the bed or the sofa.
In fact, anything that blocks a laptop’s air vents, such as dirt and debris, can make it overheat. Chronic exposure to high temperatures can then damage its motherboard. This includes the parts attached to the board, such as the CPU, RAM card, video card, and hard drive.
Smaller laptops are especially prone to overheating, as most don’t have built-in fans. They only rely on passive airflow and circulation. If their vents get clogged, there’s no way for them to displace the hot air they generate.
So, make sure you regularly wipe down your laptop, especially its vents. You might also want to invest in a cooling pad or an external laptop fan.
Delaying Critical Software Updates
One study looked at how computer experts and non-experts regard software updates. The researchers found that 35% of the expert group considered updates as a safety tool. Only 2% of the non-expert group followed the same line of thinking.
Unfortunately, failure to update software can spell the demise of your digital devices. That’s because outdated programs are far more vulnerable to malware attacks.
Do note that in 2019 alone, almost 10 billion malware attacks occurred worldwide.
One way that malware can cause early laptop failure is by hogging precious resources. Keep in mind that these are also programs, so they use both memory and space. They can consume RAM since they have the power to self-execute.
What’s more, these dangerous programs can introduce even more malware into your laptop. They can install and launch these apps in the background. Over time, these infections can overpower your device and make it crash frequently.
You can reduce malware risks by automating software update installation. Install cybersecurity tools, too, such as an anti-virus or anti-malware program.
When Buying a New Laptop Makes Sense
You don’t need to wait for permanent damage to occur to consider buying a new laptop. Replace it if it’s about to become part of a phase-out or if the cost to repair it is over a few hundred dollars. You should also invest in a new device if your existing one is affecting your productivity.
Scheduled Product Obsolescence
Take Apple as an example: It no longer provides repair parts for Macs that are at least seven years old. The company considers these old products as either “vintage” or “obsolete.” So, while an eight-year-old Mac may still be working today, it’s obsolescence makes it hard to repair.
Many other computer makers publish similar end-of-service (EOS) products and dates. They also announce upcoming EOSs a few months prior to the scheduled phase-out. If your device is part of this list, it’s high time you start shopping around for a new laptop.
Otherwise, you risk losing all your digital data if your laptop breaks after the phase-out. In this case, you can no longer expect any type of repair or support for your device. It would be close to impossible to finding a repair technician who has the parts you need.
Repair Costs Same as or Greater Than a New Chromebook
Most average laptops come with a one-year warranty for components and labor. Once this expires, you’d have to shoulder the cost of repairs and part replacements. On average, computer repair (for labor alone) costs between $120 and $150 per hour.
If you need a keyboard replacement, it would cost you another $80 at least. Replacing a damaged laptop fan can add at least $100 to your final bill. In this scenario, repairs can take about two hours, so your expenses can sum up to almost $500.
That’s more expensive than the cheapest Chromebooks that cost less than $300. In fact, your $500 already gives you plenty of budget laptop choices. In this case, buying a laptop is more practical than repairing your old one.
Your Computing Needs Have Changed
A survey revealed that US computer users spent an average of 6.31 hours in front of their screens each day in 2019. If you’re an employee or business owner, you likely spend even more time using your devices. Way more, if your current laptop has slowed to a snail’s pace.
The slower your device is, the more time it consumes trying to accomplish computing tasks. This translates to productivity losses, which, in turn, means loss of potential income. You might even lose a few clients if you always turn in work late.
One possible reason for your laptop’s slow performance is that you now demand more from it. You run more apps simultaneously, but you haven’t upgraded your memory. If your laptop’s RAM is the same as when you bought it, it won’t take long before you run out of resources.
Before you replace your laptop, check if it’s upgradable first. If it is, you can simply insert one or two extra RAM chips in it. A memory boost can speed up your device’s overall performance.
However, if your laptop isn’t upgradable, your best bet is to buy a new device.
Be Practical and Eco-Conscious When Buying a New Laptop
We hope this guide has answered your question, “how often should you get a new laptop?” Just remember: if it’s too old, costly to fix, or non-upgradable, then it may be best to buy a new device. However, if it’s less than two years old and it’s also upgradable, it may be greener and more practical to upgrade it.
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