How Long Does a Laptop Last Before You Need to Replace It?

October 24, 2023 • April Miller


Your laptop’s life span depends on when you bought it and how you’ve been treating it since. While there are ways to lengthen its life, every piece of tech reaches its limits eventually. So, how long does a laptop last?

How Long Does a Laptop Last?

Although you can get up to a decade of use out of a laptop, five years is a more realistic timeline. If you’re on yours a ton, things wear down faster than you’d expect. Almost every modern laptop uses a lithium-ion battery. They last 1,000-2,000 cycles on average, meaning you can charge them that many times before they’re done for. 

How long does a laptop last while charging? We wish we could say one cycle is equal to a full charge, but that’s not how it works. Instead, you use one whenever you plug your device in to recharge it. To make matters worse, a battery’s performance significantly drops before it reaches zero. If you overcharge it, you’ll exhaust it long before you’re supposed to. 

Do Some Laptops Last Longer than Others?

Yes, some laptops last longer than others. It might not apply 100% of the time, but it’s a general truth. While it’s better to look at things on a case-by-case basis, some companies are just great at making solid systems. 

People wondering whether Mac or Windows laptops last longer are about to get an answer. If you’re an Apple fan, it’s time to rejoice and claim superiority. Indeed, Macbooks have a better battery and life expectancy than Windows computers. They live around twice as long, holding out for an extra 3-5 years on average.

Why Does Your Laptop Slow Down Over Time?

Most laptops run slower way sooner than they should because of poor optimization. Everybody cares about the next best thing, so nobody supports your outdated equipment anymore. It’s the same reason why AAA games now take up hundreds of gigabytes. 

In a few short years, your laptop can go from having the fastest processing power to taking a full minute to open a file. It seems ridiculous, but it’s a byproduct of a lack of system support and mechanical limitations. While some parts can keep running fine forever, others quickly degrade. 

How Can You Make Yours Last Longer?

You can make your laptop last longer if you treat it well, upgrade its parts and know how to handle its battery. 

You can make your laptop last longer if you:

  • Free up RAM. Your laptop uses “pretend” RAM when it’s low on the real thing, slowing your operations down significantly. To speed things up, close background apps, stop programs from running at startup and update apps. 
  • Charge it correctly. Although most people recommend letting your battery drop to zero, times have changed. Now, you’re supposed to keep it between 20%-80% and avoid charging it all the way to 100% if you can.
  • Clean it regularly. Dust, debris and other unmentionable gunk add unnecessary wear to a laptop, especially when it’s already on its last legs. Make sure you wipe it down and hit it with some compressed air occasionally. 
  • Upgrade its parts. A laptop doesn’t just erode after five years of use, meaning yours might have a lot of life left. Upgrade outdated parts or get more RAM to keep it in the best shape. 
  • Get a new battery. New ones cost anywhere from $10-$250, depending on what brand they are and where you buy them from. It seems steep, but it’s at least $1,000 cheaper than replacing your entire system. Plus, it gives your performance a big boost.

How long does a laptop last if you take care of it well? You can get years of extra use out of yours if you follow the previous steps. However, you won’t be able to keep it alive forever. 

How Do You Know When Yours Reaches Its Limit?

You’ll know when your laptop reaches its limit when it becomes impossible to use. Severe slowdowns, constant lag and overheating tend to signal it’s at the end of its life span.

Watch for these signs to know when you should replace your laptop:

  • Battery: If you’ve grown used to having your computer on life support by keeping it charging constantly, it’s a sign you need a replacement. Batteries only last so long, so there will come a day when you need to say your goodbyes.
  • Operating System: You can technically do without the latest operating system updates, but we don’t recommend it. The longer you go without an upgrade, the more you risk your system’s security. 
  • Multitasking: Your laptop should be able to open multiple tabs at once without exploding. If it’s struggling to run even the most basic operations, you might need to replace it. 
  • Repair cost: It can be more cost-effective to replace your system piece by piece than it is to get an entirely new one. However, if your repair bill is quickly stacking up, it might be worth it to put your money toward something more practical. 
  • Fans: Your laptop probably can’t keep up anymore if your fans run constantly or sound like a jet engine taking off whenever you open a program. Bonus points if it’s still hot to the touch even while they work overtime.

How long does a laptop last before it needs a replacement? While you can lengthen its life span by upgrading parts or replacing the battery, you’ll probably only get a few extra years of use. Even if your system runs fine, your software will become way too outdated after a full decade.

What Should You Look for in a New Laptop?

You should look for plenty of RAM and a lengthy battery life in a new laptop. Those factors heavily impact your laptop’s life span, so you want to make sure they’re robust. Gaming laptops are an excellent choice even if you’re not a gamer because they come with heavy-duty parts. For example, you can spend a little over $1,000 to get an Asus gaming laptop with a solid GPU and great RAM. 

If you can’t get Apple’s fantastic battery life out of your head, consider giving in to your desires and getting a Mac. They can be expensive, but you technically get more bang for your buck since you get to use them longer. If you don’t feel like emptying your wallet, find an older one. For instance, the 2020 M1 Macbook Air is old enough to be affordable yet new enough to be powerful. The processing power of its M1 chip makes it a standout system for the price range. You can even get it for about $800 on sale, which is a steal.

Take Care of Your Laptop?

Remember to treat your laptop well and follow the proper care instructions. Even though everyone has to say goodbye to their old tech eventually, you can double the life span of yours if you’re careful and lucky. Who knows, maybe you’ll prove everyone wrong and keep it running for over a decade.