How long a gaming laptop lasts is primarily a function of a few key factors. Under general conditions, gaming laptops serve users for about five years. However, this longevity largely depends on the gaming laptop type, brand, specification, and use. Gaming laptops are generally more powerful and expensive than normal ones. What really kills a gaming laptop is heat, electrical issues, and aging hardware.
Over the last decade, computer gaming has become significantly more popular globally. Due to the high performance it delivers, gaming laptops have superior speed, sound and picture quality, versatility, etc. As a result, demand for gaming laptops has witnessed a market surge, especially in North America and Europe.
So, what are the key factors that impact the life of a gaming laptop?
What Problems Do Gaming Laptops Have?
Perhaps, the most prominent killer of hardware is overheating. Heating induces thermal stress on the components. Moreover, gaming laptops generally carry more powerful hardware, which generates even more heat. The Graphics Processing Unit or GPU, which is essential for hardcore graphics processing, will produce a lot of heat when under load. The same goes for the Central Processing Unit (CPU), which handles the logical processing. Combine this with the congested spaces inside a laptop, and you end up in a very hot situation. When you run very demanding programs, your system will be under greater load and generate more heat.
Other factors contributing to overheating include high ambient temperature, dusty or clogged vents, and faulty fans.
Gaming laptops need a clean and constant supply of power (sine-wave) to function correctly. Any disturbance in the current supply can damage the sensitive internal components. Due to their congested nature, laptops will, over time, gather dust and debris. Hair, skin particles, and dust can coat the internal circuits of a laptop. This coating can also contain small conductive particles, leading to a short that can then damage the laptop’s internal circuitry.
Limited Upgrade Options
Unlike standard PCs, gaming laptops are built uniquely such that the CPU and GPU are not upgradable in most cases. While some new laptops can be upgraded like a PC, they’re not very common and are pretty expensive. Thus, most gaming laptop users will be stuck with the hardware that comes with the system. You cannot change the CPU or GPU without swapping out the entire motherboard. As such, your system is subject to aging; the parts will generally degrade over time with use and lose their integrity.
However, most systems will let you upgrade the RAM and the internal drive. This can extend the life of your laptop, but you’re still relying on the rest of the system to keep working normally. Other than swapping out the motherboard, you’ll eventually have to buy a new laptop.
Keeping a Gaming Laptop Healthy: Best Practices
Caring for your laptop is a critical determinant of how long it lasts. Here are a few tips on how to keep a gaming laptop healthy;
Keep It Clean Always
Cleanliness is one crucial factor that sustains your laptop for a long time. Keeping a gaming laptop around dust will only result in a buildup, preventing proper heat dissipation over time. This will result in your computer constantly overheating, and it even gets worse while gaming. Therefore, we strongly suggest that you clean your laptop regularly using a microfiber cloth, especially before use. Also, make sure the ports are not clogged with dust. You can use a blower or compressed air to force out the dirt from your laptop’s vents.
If possible, use a protective cover to prevent your laptop from gathering dust in the first place. When using your gaming laptop, always ensure that the cooling vents are not blocked. Do not place them on a soft surface like a sofa. Instead, use hard surfaces like a table. If you go out often with your gaming laptop, you should keep it safely in a bag or case.
Do Not Run Multiple Programs Simultaneously
Laptops do not have the generous cooling systems found in PCs. You’re relying on small fans that are not as efficient. As such, your laptop can only handle so much of a load before it starts to get really hot. Remember, greater loads translate to more heat production. If you want to keep things relatively cool, try to be more conservative with your workloads.
For example, instead of running multiple programs at once, try to only stick to the ones you’re actually using. In the modern workflow, it can be quite easy to have many demanding programs running idle when you really just need one. By placing a lower load on your processors, you will eliminate the source of heat and save your system from unneeded thermal stress. As a bonus, your system will have more free resources to run smoothly, resulting in faster response times and less lag.
Get a Proper Heat Management Tool
One of the most common issues with gaming laptops is heat generation, mainly when gaming. Therefore, the key to a healthy laptop is a good cooling system that can reduce thermal stress. When your laptop starts to reach a point of overheating, it will automatically throttle its performance to safeguard the internal components. A laptop cooling pad is an excellent addon that can help increase air circulation and help keep your system cool. Ensure that your room is well-ventilated so the hot air can be expelled out.
Replace Thermal Paste
Your gaming laptop will likely use an active cooling system that uses heatsinks to draw out the heat from internal components like the CPU and GPU. The heatsink will be connected to an integrated heat spreader that directly contacts the CPU or GPU chips. However, the contact is not perfect; it contains microscopic imperfections. Thermal paste is used to fill in these gaps and improve thermal conductivity. However, over time, and with constant exposure to heat, the paste dries out and becomes ineffective.
Therefore, you need to replace the thermal paste so that the heatsinks can function normally. You can do this yourself or take your system to a shop and get it done by a professional. You can also opt for higher-quality pastes for even better cooling capabilities.
Keep Away From Liquid
Sometimes, we all make mistakes; however, prevention is better than a cure. Therefore, as much as possible, always keep water, coffee, and other drinks far from your laptop. Electricity and liquids never work together. When liquid spills on your laptop, it is only seconds away from a major fault. The first thing you should do is disconnect the charger. Next, hold down the power button till the system completely shuts off, then detach its battery. Use a towel to absorb all the water and keep it upside down. If you do not know how to unscrew the laptop, head straight for a repair shop.
Overall, the best gaming laptops are excellent for both work and gaming. They come with suitable, purpose-built hardware that will last up to ten years under proper maintenance. Though a gaming laptop’s GPU and CPU may not have upgradable options, you’ll likely not need an upgrade for many years to come.
If you find yourself needing a boost, upgrading your RAM and internal drive should be enough. For example, upgrading to an SSD can do wonders and breathe new life into an older system.
So long as you keep your laptop clean and free from dust, it should serve you well. Cleaning out and replacing your thermal paste every year or so should also help your heatsink perform optimally.
Finally, during normal operations, stick to programs that you’re actively using. Keep everything else closed. You’ll reduce the load on your laptop and free up resources, letting it run cooler while also getting a smoother performance.