How to increase a gaming laptop’s lifespan

How to increase a gaming laptop’s lifespan

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  • Clean out dust.
  • Re-apply thermal paste.
  • Use a cooling pad.
  • Be aware of points of failure.
  • Tweak in-game options.
  • Look into warranties.

In regard to physical hardware, a gaming laptop can last as long as a gaming desktop. That is, if you take care of it. A gaming laptop can’t be easily repaired, but most hardware-related problems can be avoided if you take these precautions.

Make sure to check out our blog What is a gaming laptop’s lifespan… to find out what sort of lifespan you should expect from a gaming laptop, and what component affects a gaming laptop’s lifespan the most.

Dust is your enemy

One of the biggest contributing factors to a gaming laptop progressively slowing down is overheating, and this can be avoided with basic cleaning and maintenance.

Online, there is a lot of spurious discussion about how wild fluctuations from a low idle temperature to a high in-game temperature – say 40°C to 100°C in the case of a gaming laptop – puts the hardware at risk of damage.

But every piece of hardware, from capacitors to fan bearings, degrades over times with use. A higher temperature is going to have a negligible effect over the course of a gaming laptop’s lifespan as the hardware is built to withstand it.

The Intel Core i7 12700H CPU has a ‘TJunction’ – the maximum temperature allowed at the processor die – of 100°C. By the time a higher temperature could damage a gaming laptop, it will be obsolete performance-wise anyway.

Temperature affects performance

A high temperature may not appreciably shorten a gaming laptop’s lifespan, but it does affect performance.

As a component approaches its TJunction it ‘thermal throttles’, in which it decreases its performance to stay under the maximum temperature. Every device can throttle, but the problem is how easily it happens on a gaming laptop.

A gaming laptop already runs hot as it doesn’t have the all-in-one cooler or high-airflow case of a gaming desktop. When dust is factored into the equation, it soon overwhelms a gaming laptop’s cooling solution and it throttles.

Dust is a pesky foe, as it accumulates over time in the hard-to-reach crevices of your gaming laptop. So if it seems your gaming laptop’s performance has worsened for no explicit reason, it may just need a thorough cleaning with compressed air to bring it back up to like-new speed.

For optimal performance and a long lifespan, it’s paramount a gaming laptop’s cooling solution is kept free from dust.

Re-apply thermal paste

Image by: Stas Knop / Shutterstock.com

As detailed in our blog Is a gaming laptop worth it…, a gaming laptop might not have the extensive upgrade path of a gaming desktop, but that’s not to say you can’t open it up and have a tinker around. And you’ll want to do so, as thermal paste – a vicious substance that squishes into gaps between the CPU/GPU and the cooler for better heat transfer – dries out and goes crumbly over time.

You won’t need to replace a gaming laptop’s thermal paste every year as it lasts quite a long time, but if you want your gaming laptop to have a long lifespan, eventually you’ll need to apply a fresh coat for optimal performance.

What’s more, as a gaming laptop’s cooler has less mounting pressure than a heftier gaming desktop cooler, it’s more susceptible to the ‘pump out’ effect, in which the paste spreads out over thermal cycles.

The thermal paste that’s applied at the factory tends to be a poor performance also. Applying a high-quality thermal paste of a thicker consistency can reduce the pump out effect, resulting in a lower temperature.

A cooling pad helps

While it’s fine for a gaming laptop to run at 100°C – don’t worry, they’re engineered to do so – it’s nonetheless disconcerting to see such a blistering temperature. Armed with high-performance hardware in a portable form-factor, a gaming laptop needs any help it can get to stay cool. Otherwise, it’ll resort to dynamic frequency scaling – or ‘thermal throttling’ – to sustain an operational temperature.

As such, you might want to look into picking up a cooling pad to ensure your laptops runs at its fastest throughout its lifespan. We covered this in our blog Do gaming laptop cooling pads work…

Points of failure

As a portable device, a gaming laptop is subject to general wear and tear. It’s going to be opened and closed, thrown in a backpack, jostled about, and have peripherals plugged in-and-out of it.

This is a bit more intense than a gaming PC that sits comfortably on a desk for years, moved infrequently for general maintenance and upgrades. Consequently, a gaming laptop’s external housing is prone to failure long before the internal hardware.

A gaming laptop might feel sturdier than a thin-and-light laptop, but that’s no excuse to treat it carelessly. For example, don’t get lazy and fling a gaming laptop’s display open from the corners. This flexes the display and puts needless strain on the hinge – one of the more common points of failure on a gaming laptop. This loosens it over time and it’ll snap off in the end.

Instead, open the display from the centre so pressure is distributed evenly across the hinge. You don’t have baby-sit every aspect of a gaming laptop to the point of obsession but treating it well will extend its lifespan.  

Tweak in-game options

Instead of running your games at a ‘ultra-high’ pre-set a hundred percent of the time, perhaps you could turn them down to a ‘high’ pre-set and engage a frames-per-second lock to give your gaming laptop a bit of a break. For example, on a gaming laptop’s 15” display, are you going to notice if the volumetrics run at a slightly lower internal resolution?

In most cases, an ultra-high pre-set is reserved to future-proof games for next-gen graphics cards. It places hardware under serious strain for a marginal improvement to the final image. A high pre-set gets you amazing looking games, without unnecessarily taxing your gaming laptop.

And when your gaming laptop starts to struggle at high, don’t deem it obsolete. You’ve got medium and low pre-sets at your disposal too, and you’d be surprised how well they hold up in modern games.

Consoles sometimes run certain effects at a lower-than-low pre-set that’s not replicable on the PC version, and yet they, overall, look fantastic. It’s all about finding the right balance of in-game options to keep games performant and extend your gaming laptop’s lifespan.

Warranties

A gaming laptop tends to be bundled with a one-year warranty at least. This covers you if you receive what’s clearly a faulty device. But most problems that warrant a manufacturer repair or replacement arise years into ownership once the warranty has expired.

As a gaming laptop does not use off-the-shelf hardware, look into extended warranties so you’ll be able to get repairs you need.

Otherwise, something as trivial as a fan can be a nuisance to fix on a gaming laptop, requiring internet sleuthing to source the non-standard part from a factory in China.

If a core component like the CPU or GPU on a gaming laptop bites the dust, you’re out of luck unless you’ve got an extended warranty.

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If you’re looking for a gaming laptop, check out our blogs Best Budget Gaming Laptops of 2022…Best High-End Gaming Laptops of 2022…, and Key benefits of Razer gaming laptops…