Gaming Laptops are unique in that they are designed to harness the power of much larger (and easier to cool) desktop rigs while condensing all of that hardware in a much smaller package. Tight-fitting, smaller enclosures equal more heat, reducing longevity. So how long will your gaming laptop last?
Depending on the quality of the laptop in question, it could last anywhere between 3 and 6 years. The middle-tier gaming laptops are on the lower end of the spectrum while the higher-end laptops last a bit longer.
Despite the enormous complexity of hardware and software that goes into a gaming laptop, its durability is quite simple in that it mostly boils down to heat.
Heat degrades over time. That effect can certainly be exacerbated. For instance, if you never maintain and clean it, the lifespan will be reduced.
The Most Susceptible Hardware in a Gaming Laptop
If you’re just looking at the hardware components that go into a laptop, most of them are designed to last a decade and probably would under normal usage and circumstances.
These are the physical components and as the years go by, with more intense demands on those physical components, a gaming laptop will bite the dust long before a decade rolls around. There are always exceptions to the rule but the average gaming laptop will fail before that tenth year rolls around.
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
Nvidia and AMD are behind most of the GPUs sold in the US and, as with so many other things, the better the build, the longer it will last. The GPU is the heart of the gaming system and is the entire reason a laptop could even be qualified to carry around the title of “Gaming laptop.”
You have what are considered to be “entry-level” graphics cards, such as the AMD Radeon RX 580 or the AMD Radeon RX 460. As nice as these graphics cards are, strictly in terms of budget buying, they will struggle to give them the kind of longevity that you would want in a gaming laptop.
The reason is, that every time a new “greatest ever” graphics card is released it is already nearly obsolete, with a newer, better GPU working its way through the development and manufacturing stages. If that’s the case, budget-buy GPUs are already way behind.
As new updates roll in and games continue to increase in their demand for raw power, brand new, entry-level cards are going to struggle to keep up and will burn out far sooner. It’s like the saying goes, “you get what you pay for” and this is one of those deals where that saying couldn’t be more accurate.
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
If the GPU is the heart of a gaming laptop, the CPU is the heart of the laptop as a whole, period. It may not feel like it is the most important part of a gaming laptop but where would you be without it?
The CPU has far more effect on your gaming capabilities than you would think, especially when playing online. The more strain it is under, the more its lifespan is shortened.
Intel Core i5 and i7, and Ryze 7 are the best processors for gaming laptops. You don’t want i3, and you certainly don’t want dual-core options, as they will simply bottleneck everything, creating a ton of heat as an additional, unwanted side effect.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
Nowadays, anything less than 8GB of RAM is detrimental to the gaming ecosystem. Your CPU and GPU are highly reliant on the RAM, how much of it is available, and how effective it is.
The good thing about RAM is that it can often be upgraded without having to replace your entire gaming laptop. However, there are a lot of laptop manufacturers that like to permanently marry the RAM to the motherboard, making it impossible to upgrade.
One thing that you should look out for, by reading the small print, is whether or not you can remove and replace (upgrade) the RAM. If you want the absolute best for your portable, gaming rig, you should go with 16GB of RAM or upgrade your current RAM to 16GB or better.
This is a key point when it comes to the gaming laptop’s longevity. You must take the time or go the extra distance to cover a few things that fall under the umbrella of preventative maintenance.
- Cleaning and Maintenance.
- Managing the heat.
- Battery Life.
- Updates (Software).
- Upgrading hardware components.
The last point is often contentious because of the way that a vast majority of gaming laptops are manufactured, it’s very difficult to replace the components with upgraded hardware when everything is soldered together.
The answer is, to choose a laptop that’s more on the customizable side or simply upgrade the things that you can when you can. Managing the heat is essential as well. Seek out the proper cooling hardware that is compatible with the way your laptop ventilates.
For instance, don’t buy a laptop cooling fan that blows up when your gaming laptop mostly ventilates at the bottom.
Developing a good charging strategy will also extend your battery’s life, keep your laptop from overheating, and keep your battery at an efficient and nominal operating status. That typically means not leaving your laptop plugged in all of the time and never charging it beyond 80%.
Keeping up with your software updates and cleaning your gaming laptop periodically are two highly important tasks to get the most out of your gaming laptop. Establish a good routine for blowing out your vent ports and keyboard and always keep an eye out for the latest software upgrades.
While gaming laptops sit anywhere between 3 and 6 years, in terms of longevity, you can extend your laptop’s life if you stay on top of the maintenance, software upgrades, component upgrades, and battery charging habits.
Ultimately, whether or not you get the most longevity out of your gaming laptop is almost 100% up to you, from your choice in purchasing a gaming laptop to the time you dedicate to preventative maintenance and keeping it upgraded.