Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > Travel Technology
Reload this Page >

Life expectancy of a laptop?

Life expectancy of a laptop?

Old Feb 17, 16, 5:25 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Ontario. Canada
Programs: Aeroplan, IHG, Enterprise, Avios, Nexus
Posts: 6,941
Life expectancy of a laptop?

What do you believe is a reasonable life expectancy for a laptop? Does the number change if its on the road constantly or used for office use with occasional travel?

My 5-1/2 year old Sony Vaio is lightly travelled but used daily in the office. It's begun to run very slowly. I suspect a hardware problem and am wondering whether it's worth repairing or buying something new.

I have a second, smaller laptop for business travel. It's newer and more lightly used but it's too small for office duties.

I'm also debating the merits of going back to a desk top for the office. Thoughts?
Badenoch is offline  
Old Feb 17, 16, 6:57 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: KSUX
Posts: 826
I've had my current MBP since October 2011 and after replacing the HD with an SSD it's pretty much good as new for me. I also tend to buy higher spec'd machines so they'll last longer. Current machine is a 2 GHz i7, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD. It's only weakness is the Radeon 6490M GPU but I normally have it set to use the integrated GPU to conserve battery life.
LtKernelPanic is offline  
Old Feb 17, 16, 7:15 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 4,709
Assuming the laptop does not get outdated after six months, I think five years is a reasonable life expectancy for an everyday laptop. If you do intense processing or gaming it would probably be shorter.

I think 5.5 years of a Vaio is great. My Vaio lasted about four years before the CD drive broke, some keys became sporadically unresponsive, and the screen started to flicker when I try to adjust the screen angle.
TOMFORD is offline  
Old Feb 17, 16, 8:08 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Springfield,MO,USA
Programs: UA 1K MM, HH Diamond, Marriott Lifetime Titanium
Posts: 1,570
5.5 yrs. is great for a Sony VIAO.

You might try doing a clean OS install in case that helps. You can get all the drivers from
http://esupport.sony.com/DRIVERS/
if necessary
u600213 is offline  
Old Feb 17, 16, 8:31 pm
  #5  
Four Seasons Contributor BadgeAman Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Baltimore MD
Posts: 3,415
My wife's daily driver is a 2009 Macbook Pro. I've maxed out the RAM, swapped the battery, and put in a SSD... it's running the most recent operating system and meets her needs (web, document processing, viewing of our pictures)... I wouldn't expect it to do any heavy lifting or editing but it's still quite capable....

I'm chugging along with a 2012 Macbook Retina (first edition)... I bought it maxed out at the time and it's still a quite capable machine.. I do a lot of heavy lifting with it (primarily photoshop, but some handbrake video conversion) and acquit happy with it...Battery life is starting to dwindle but that's as to be expected... I'm very happy with it, except it's quite a large machine so would love a Macbook for travel....


FDW
FlyingDoctorwu is offline  
Old Feb 17, 16, 9:02 pm
  #6  
Hilton Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: IAH
Programs: DL PM, AS 75K, Hilton Diamond, Starriott Platinum, Hyatt FreeBottleofWaterist
Posts: 9,235
Based on my experience, 3 years for a Windows based computer, 5-6 years for a Mac.
krazykanuck is offline  
Old Feb 17, 16, 9:10 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: PDX
Programs: AA LT PLT (2.6+ MM), UA *G, Hilton Diamond, Bonvoy Gold.
Posts: 1,556
I'm still using a Dell E6410, with 8GB RAM, Intel 720QM Core i7 (1st gen, quad core), 240GB SSD, 750GB 2nd HDD and NVIDIA NVS 3100 Graphics. It still does a great job, nothing lags or takes any time at all. Manufacturers would like for us to upgrade every 3-4 years, but the reality is there is a lot of life in 'older' laptops, as long as you take care of them - regular updates, clean out the dust, don't install anything you don't really need etc. etc.
timfountain is offline  
Old Feb 17, 16, 9:27 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: DXB
Programs: Skywards Blue
Posts: 719
For me it's about 2.5-3 years for a Windows laptop.
5.5 years from a VAIO is awesome.

I just bought myself a 17" Dell Inspiron for $600 and I've swapped some things out.
Threw the HDD out and replaced it with a Samsung SSD, swapped the wireless card for a more powerful one, and I am looking to get a second stick of RAM so I can bump myself to 16GB.

This is just after I had retired my old Acer Aspire with a 2nd gen i5 and 4GB of RAM. I wanted to upgrade it to Windows 10, but the lack of drivers and all is quite a pain. Still have it lying in my cupboard as a backup though.
murtaza12 is offline  
Old Feb 17, 16, 9:37 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Seattle, Washington USA
Posts: 972
CU (Consumer Reports) recently addressed this and it was determined that MacBooks tended to last the longest.
weekilter is offline  
Old Feb 17, 16, 10:19 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Programs: Delta, United, Southwest
Posts: 622
Here I go, the laptops I have had so far:

Lenovo Thinkpad Y460- died In a year.
Acer C720 Chromebook- Sold in a year
Asus Eeepad 1015 (or something)- sold In a year
Macbook Air 11" (2014)- RMAed within a year
Asus Chromebook (given to friend)
Lenovo Chromebook- RMAedjust now
2015 Macbook Air (sold)
Dell Chromebook- best one yet.

and my oldest machine, and the one I am typing on right now- NL1 Classmate PC (2008 vintage). Runs chrome os like a charm and just put an extension to run it faster.

A friend gave me a Windows 2000 Toshiba- still works bar the battery. I should actually start it up and play train simulator :P

I've gone through many machines in 4 years- mostly because I sold them. only had one die on me. so in my limited experience, I agree- 5 years is a great run for a Vaio, but doesnt beat me with 8 on this old educational netbook

If it is running slow- a clean wipe and install of Windows or Linux should take care of that. a SSD upgrade is worth it too. If that isnt worth it to you- laptops have dropped in price and are much better than they were.
thetravelingRedhead is offline  
Old Feb 18, 16, 1:07 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 2,004
Like most things, I guess it really depends.

My present laptop at home, which gets used daily, is now nearly six years old. When I bought it, it was close to top end and cost about US$1,000. I've upgraded the hard drives and RAM since then. It runs completely fine now for what I need it for, but is slowly starting to show its age a bit. I reckon within the next 1-2 years I will probably need to replace it.

My previous laptop before then lasted around 6 years as well. This wasn't top end when I bought it, but more of a mid range laptop and at the time cost GBP500. It didn't die on my and my parents continued to use if for a few more years.

Both laptops have been Asus windows machines. I like Asus because for both I got two years international warranty as standard.
theworld is offline  
Old Feb 18, 16, 1:14 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 427
Two years is the right number.

Between the advances in technology, weight, size, and the boredom factor, two years is long enough to go without a new toy.

And importantly, there's a bell curve on the aftermarket value of the notebook when you want to sell it, anything over two years old deflates dramatically. Let's say you had a $1000 notebook when new, to sell it at the two year anniversary you might get $700 for it whereas if you go to three or four years it might be worth $200. Selling at year two would make you more money than keeping it and selling it at year five, you would needlessly have suffered in an old notebook for a few years for no financial reason.

BJ
boltjames is offline  
Old Feb 18, 16, 1:36 pm
  #13  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: in the vicinity of SFO
Programs: AA PLT 1MM
Posts: 18,733
Originally Posted by Badenoch View Post
What do you believe is a reasonable life expectancy for a laptop?
There are at least four factors:
1) Physical durability (which in turn depends on how you treat it, and the quality of the machine to begin with.)
2) The generation/age of the hardware (which goes obsolete over time, as software gets more demanding; some parts of that can be upgraded and some can't)
3) The aging of the Windows or other OS installation (which depends on how much you install or uninstall stuff, but thanks to security updates, has a finite lifetime no matter what. If you're comfortable manually reinstalling your OS, this is infinitely renewable, but many people aren't.)
4) Battery aging which is mostly a matter of recharge cycles, but being left sitting un-charged for a long time can murder a battery as well. (In most non-Apple machines the battery is replaceable, even if a few screws are involved, but it eventually becomes less than cost effective.)

As for the times that are typical:
1) For a very heavy user, I'd expect 1-3 years out of a low-end consumer machine, and 3-5 years out of a high quality business machine. For an abusive one, except for ruggedized machines these can be much lower. For a light user, most machines will be obsolete in other senses long before they wear out physically.

2) These things are generational. The oldest laptops which I'd recommend as really fully useful today would be midrange-to-high end machines using the 2nd Generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors that came out in April of 2011 ("Sandy Bridge" or i5-2520M.) The 2010-generation Core i5 machines are going to be a significant compromise, but still usable. A 2009 or earlier generation Core 2 machine is basically just fit for very patient people who absolutely cannot afford better. A 2005 or older generation Pentium 4 or Pentium 3 machine is fit only for recycling or a museum.

That said, the fact that we've gotten a little less than 5 years out of a good generation of machines (and probably another 1 or 2 out of those, at that) and almost 6 out of an acceptable one is unusual. The Core 2 generation machines struggled with a lot of the newer software in the late 2000s, and with Windows Vista and later 7 pretty much from day 1, and heavy users saw good reason to upgrade to the i5s pretty much as soon as they came out. So you kind of pay your money and take your chances, and hope that the software stays on a relatively measured cycle rather than making another big jump.

It also depends on how high-end the processor was to begin with; a mid-range (i5 or dual-core i7) or high-end one (quad core i7) is going to stay good a lot longer than a low-end one (Celeron/Pentium/i3 or anything from AMD.) For desktops, lower-end tends to be safer, but for laptops I recommend never buying anything less than an i5 even today.

3) For Windows XP, as a heavy user, I reinstalled roughly every 6 months. With Windows Vista and 7, I was upgrading my machine roughly every 18 months, and typically didn't need to reinstall Windows before the machine was passed on as a hand-me-down, but on desktop machines which last a good bit longer, 18 months to 2 years is good mark for reinstalling Windows if you keep a machine longer.

Because of delays with the new processors and machines, my present machine made it past the two year mark, and after upgrading Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 at around the 18 month mark, I reinstalled Windows 10 a few months later to clean it off.

4) Most lithium-ion batteries last between 250-300 full charge/discharge cycles before it becomes really obvious that there's some wear, and somewhere around 3x that many before they're useless. Only charging them to 90%, and never discharging them fully (say, only down to 10-15%) will extend that life -- and unlike older batteries, a partial charge/discharge has no memory effect and doesn't wear it as much as a full one (although it's not linear -- you're not going to double your cycles by doing a 50% discharge.) Newer machines tend to have better logic about not going to 100% or letting you fully discharge before shutting down, but in practice, if you use it on battery every day, you'll see noticeable loss of battery life before a year is out, and may not get to the three year mark before needing a new battery. For mainly desktop use, the main hazard is leaving it fully discharged for a long time, but I've got 9-year old spare batteries for the Dell D620 that were stored with a 50% charge and which seem fine.

Does the number change if its on the road constantly or used for office use with occasional travel?
That mainly effects #1 and #4.

My 5-1/2 year old Sony Vaio is lightly travelled but used daily in the office. It's begun to run very slowly. I suspect a hardware problem and am wondering whether it's worth repairing or buying something new.
"Running very slowly" is rarely a hardware problem, and when it is, it's usually a user repairable one (subset of #1 -- "gunk/dust/hair in the heat sink/fan") or much more rarely one requiring new parts ("the fan died"); more usually it's a "this machine is obsolete" (#2) problem, or a "windows needs to be reinstalled problem." (#4)

In the case of obsolete, it's often the easy upgrade of more memory, and/or an SSD. If it's the processor being outdated, there is generally no practical way to upgrade.

For a 5 1/2 years old, that's probably a 1st-generation Core i machine ("Westmere"/ e.g. an i5-520M) which will still be OK for most relatively patient users, but getting a bit long in the tooth. Heavier users would probably want to upgrade. There were still some Core 2 machines on the market then, and those would definitely be time to replace.

I have a second, smaller laptop for business travel. It's newer and more lightly used but it's too small for office duties.
Could you just use it with an external monitor/keyboard/mouse? Is it a business model that is amenable to a docking station?

I'm also debating the merits of going back to a desk top for the office. Thoughts?
In my line of work, you still can't buy any laptop that is as powerful as a midrange desktop -- a sub-$1000 quad core desktop i5 machine will outperform a $2000+ Xeon workstation-replacement -- and a true workstation desktop can be as much as 5x more powerful as the most powerful laptops on the market (2x. 10 core CPUs vs. 1x 4 cores.)

If you don't need that kind of power, there's not much reason to go back to a desktop other than cost, and the processors are still basically generational. OTOH, if you use it at your desk a lot, having a laptop that can work with a docking station is a really nice thing.

Originally Posted by timfountain View Post
I'm still using a Dell E6410, with 8GB RAM, Intel 720QM Core i7 (1st gen, quad core), 240GB SSD, 750GB 2nd HDD and NVIDIA NVS 3100 Graphics. It still does a great job, nothing lags or takes any time at all. Manufacturers would like for us to upgrade every 3-4 years, but the reality is there is a lot of life in 'older' laptops, as long as you take care of them - regular updates, clean out the dust, don't install anything you don't really need etc. etc.
How did you get a E6410 with an i7-720QM? Manual upgrade with some kind of heat sink mod? Because as far as I know, Dell never offered that machine with a quad-core processor out of the factory, and they really weren't built for a 45W CPU rather than the regular 35W dual cores.
nkedel is offline  
Old Feb 18, 16, 1:39 pm
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Denver, CO, USA
Programs: Proud Charter Member of the OUM
Posts: 23,259
The advent of affordable SSDs has really changed my sense of how old a notebook can be before it needs to be replaced.

I swapped out my friend's 3-year-old Toshiba HDD for an SSD and his boot time went from 2:20 to :23. That one thing caused my friend to rave so much that he'll likely keep the machine for another 2-3 years.
DenverBrian is online now  
Old Feb 18, 16, 1:51 pm
  #15  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: in the vicinity of SFO
Programs: AA PLT 1MM
Posts: 18,733
Originally Posted by DenverBrian View Post
The advent of affordable SSDs has really changed my sense of how old a notebook can be before it needs to be replaced.

I swapped out my friend's 3-year-old Toshiba HDD for an SSD and his boot time went from 2:20 to :23. That one thing caused my friend to rave so much that he'll likely keep the machine for another 2-3 years.
Some of us jumped on the SSD bandwagon back back around 2008. Once you get rid of spinning rust, you never go back!
nkedel is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: