A laptop computer is one of the most popular types of technology, and for good reason! Unlike other devices, it’s extremely flexible, and can be used for work, watching videos, gaming, communication, and more.
If you’ve ever tried to watch a Netflix movie on your phone, or used the on-screen tablet keyboard for writing a report, you’ll know what we mean. It’s possible, but not so comfortable!
In contrast, a laptop does it all – but they’re definitely not all created equally. This guide will look at the different kinds of laptops you can buy, how to best take care of your laptop, and the impact that will have on their lifespan and usage.
Does Price Equate to Length of Life?
First, let’s answer your burning question. If I spend more, will my laptop last a long time?
There is definitely a correlation between how much a laptop costs that will determine how long your laptop will last. But one important thing to realize is that most people believe there is a cap on that rule.
Researchers show that a laptop that’s under $700 will last between 2-4 years, but a laptop that sets you back between $700-1000 will last up to 5 years, and a laptop that’s over $1,000 could last up to 7 years. Of course, some laptops can cost up to $5,000!
While you’ll definitely get better features or longer charge-up time in terms of battery life, you’re unlikely to continue to get more life out of buying a new laptop overall once you hit the $1,500 mark.
Is There a Difference for Different Kinds of Laptops?
This can of course vary depending on the kind of laptop that you purchase. Different laptops have different uses, and these can take their toll on the hardware of a machine.
For example, if you use your consumer laptop for heavy gaming, video-editing, or graphic design, you might find that it doesn’t last as long as if you stick to web browsing and word processing. On the flip side, if you spend the money to buy a robust gaming laptop, and then mainly use it for work-related tasks or are happy to settle for lower graphics settings, it may exceed your expectations.
Let’s look at the pricing and lifespan of the three main kinds of laptops that you can purchase.
A consumer laptop is your run of the mill, family laptop that you will probably use at home to do tasks such as check email, stream video content, and browse the web. They are usually the cheapest options, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t last just as long as business or gaming laptops. It just means that they are intended for light use, and so the hardware inside may not be as top-tier as their business-focused cousins.
Of course, more recently, innovation such as chrome books, which run completely on Chrome OS lightens the need for hardware, and makes ultra-light, affordable laptop choices within even a tight budget, and come with the benefit of super long battery lives, too! Our chromebook pick below for example has more than a 20 hour battery life. Woah!
Consumer laptops usually come with a one-year warranty, but you may be able to extend this further if you choose. You can expect a consumer laptop to last about 3 years, if it’s treated well! Keep reading for tips and tricks about extending the lifespan of your consumer laptop.
Business laptops are exactly what they say on the tin — laptops that can be used for more robust business use cases. They usually have around a 3 year warranty attached, and are more reliable than consumer laptops. For example, they might have reinforced casings to help with wear and tear or the occasional bump on the daily commute. They might also overheat less often if they’re used for many hours in a row.
Business grade laptops are going to set you back slightly more money, and can often cost upwards of $3,000. We’ve taken a look at some of the 2021 models of the top business laptops, and narrowed it down to 3 of the best. Of course, your choice may also come down to brand loyalty, as many people are fiercely attached to a Mac OS, a Microsoft Surface, or an HP.
When it comes to gaming laptops, there’s a whole different conversation to be had. Gaming laptops are much heavier, more robust, and come with a much higher price tag. A mid-range gaming laptop will only last a couple of years before you need to upgrade it to be able to play the latest games without flaws. Even if you splash the cash, about 5 years is the maximum you can expect a gaming laptop to be providing a good level of performance.
What are the Signs My Laptop is On the Way Out?
Of course, some people will hold onto their laptop for dear life, and will keep using it long after someone else would call it dead and buried.
If you’re an MSP or an IT professional, these are certainly signs that a laptop’s lifespan is done, and upgrade to the next.
If you’re looking to replace certain parts of the laptop to help with speed or performance, you may find that you run into compatibility problems. This could be as simple a task as upgrading the RAM and switching to a solid-state drive. Especially in less expensive laptops, the parts could be made by different companies, and it can be difficult to replace them without causing errors.
You may also find that the hardware is incompatible with the software, such as operating system security or software versions. You can check Windows and Mac compatibility here, to make sure that the laptops you’re supporting for use are eligible for updates.
We don’t mean the ones watching you play basketball in your dreams, either. One of the first signs that a laptop is past its prime is the noise of the fan running very loudly. This is even more concerning if you’re not running any intensive software or computing while it’s happening.
Over time, your laptop will likely start slowing down. It may take longer for web pages to load, or for applications to open, or even to start up or shut down the laptop in the first place. Especially when you’re running the very latest application versions, your old hardware might struggle. As laptops slow down incrementally over time, this might escape your attention, so remind yourself every six months or so to do a speed test.
Accidents happen, and even a new laptop could end up having repairs that make it too expensive to be worth the fix. Drops, knocks, spillages, and even cold pressure can cause breakages and issues with your laptop, so take care!
If your computer is regularly crashing, the screen flashes or resets, or there are issues when you try to multi-task, it’s clear that your laptop is working too hard to achieve normal tasks. This is likely to show up the most when you’re switching tabs in your web browser, or moving between applications.
This could be caused by insufficient RAM, so you may be able to fix it yourself without replacing the laptop, but remember those compatibility issues! This is a common problem when you repurpose a laptop for a more hardware-intensive use, such as using your home computer for work tasks.
Can I Fix These Problems?
If your laptop is reaching the end of its lifespan, there may not be a lot you can do about these problems. However, here are a few ideas that you can try:
Reduce the number of programs that are automatically running in the background.
Use Windows Disk Management or Mac, Disk Utility to repair errors and free up disk space, or partition your drive.
Stay on top of high battery temperature and moisture, both of which can exacerbate existing problems. You can adjust your system preferences to make this less harmful.
The Connection between Battery Life and Longevity
Of course, you want to make sure that your laptop will last as long as possible. Your laptop’s battery life is one of those really important factors that you should be looking at when you’re making this important purchase.
In general, a personal computer’s battery life will start to reduce once you’ve had a laptop for between 1 and 2 years. This is usually around 500 charge cycles, so it can be helpful to charge your laptop less often, or let it completely run out before you charge it more often.
Different programs that you use will drain the battery life in different ways, but of course – you don’t want to have to change the way you use your laptop to extend the battery life. Here are some tips that are easier to implement than calling for a streaming-ban.
- Reduce the brightness level on your screen. Your eyes will thank you for it, too!
- Change the screen time-out metric from 5 minutes down to 1.
- Limit the number of programs that you have open simultaneously.
- Cut down on those browser tabs!
- Skip the WiFI if you’re not using it.
- Use a cooling mat that can reduce the chance of overheating.
- Opt for your headphones instead of the device speakers.
- Make sure to unplug your laptop once it’s charged.
Some laptops do not offer a replaceable battery, so make sure to look into this when you buy a laptop. As a battery life is often one of the first things to diminish when your laptop is dying, if you can replace it easily, you’re sidestepping this problem.
How Can I Make My Laptop Last Longer?
Bottom line, the better care you take of your laptop, the longer it will last. There is always going to be an upper limit on how long your laptop can last, which is usually between 7-10 years. Even then, at this point you may find that it’s exhibiting some weird behaviors, or that it’s slower or less performant than it was in its prime. Never skip steps when it comes to security or compatibility for updates and patching.
However, if your laptops generally only last 2-3 years, and you’re hoping to get closer to 4 or 5, some good laptop hygiene could help you to elongate its lifespan!
Be careful with it: This may sound obvious, but don’t leave it in the sun, don’t eat or drink around it, clean the keyboard and screen often, don’t trap the airflow, never smoke around it, and don’t leave it plugged in around the clock.
Keep it clean: This means more than just the parts and the screen. Sporadically make sure that you’re looking at your applications and files, and cutting down what you don’t need. Empty recycle bin, and downloads, too.
Freshen your OS: Both Mac and Windows offer ways to reinstall the OS without losing any of your data. Use Recovery mode for Mac laptops, and with Windows 10, you can try Fresh Start.
Add extras: Reducing the load on the hardware can be done with some nifty accessories, such as an external mouse, keyboard, headphones or speakers. A case can also protect against wear and tear. Plus – they make your laptop look awesome!
Upgrade it: Storage, memory and battery life are the usual suspects of a laptop that’s on its way to device heaven, and usually – these can be upgraded. Think about an external hard drive for storage, an SD card for memory, or a spare battery pack. You can also think about an external graphics processor.
How Long Will My Laptop Last? It’s Up to You!
When choosing a laptop, it’s important to think about how long you want it to last. A consumer laptop will usually be less expensive, which means it will probably last for less time. However, you’ll also be using it for less power-intensive tasks which can extend the lifespan, too.
A business-grade laptop will be more long-lasting and durable, but if you try to use it for gaming tasks, you’re going to take years of its life. Getting into the habit of some great laptop hygiene can make all the difference, extending your laptop life by as much as years.