CPUs aren’t particularly cheap, and in some cases are a little difficult to replace.
This means when we buy a CPU we want it to last a long time. So just how long can a CPU last, and what factors will determine its failure?
How Long Does A CPU Last?
A CPU can easily last 10+ years without dying or failing. Most of the time, if a CPU fails or dies, it’s because there was a flaw with the chip or one of the pins was bent. The motherboard of most PCs will go bad long before their CPU does.
Some people have had the same CPU in their computer for well over a decade and have absolutely no problems with it. If a CPU is going to die due to a flaw in its build, it will happen almost immediately (within the first year).
So if your CPU has lasted longer than a year, it is good for the long run, as long as it’s treated somewhat well.
Most people that replace CPUs do so because their CPU is outdated, not because it stopped working. Still, CPUs generally do not become obsolete nearly as fast as GPUs. A CPU can keep up with technology for about 5 years before it starts really falling off and running into performance issues.
How Long Does A CPU Last For Gaming?
A CPU used for moderate or high-frequency gaming will last 10 years. If a CPU is overclocked for performance and is used constantly, this could cut its lifetime down to 5 years.
Gaming does not demand as much of a toll on CPUs as it does on GPUs. This lets gamers keep the same CPUs in their build for a long time. However, replacing the CPU once every 5 or so years will ensure that your rig is able to run the newest games and that your CPU doesn’t end up bottlenecking your GPU.
How Often Should You Replace Your CPU?
You should replace your CPU every 5 to 10 years. If you use your PC for demanding tasks like gaming and video rendering, then you should replace your CPU every 4 years. If you’re not gaming, then you can keep the same CPU for 10 or more years.
Gamers usually upgrade their graphics card every 2 to 4 years, so if you find yourself keeping the same graphics card for a while, you might just want to upgrade both at the same time. This will ensure that your CPU isn’t preventing your graphics card from using its full power.
An easy way to tell whether your CPU is bottlenecking your GPU is by checking your performance in your Windows Task Manager. If your CPU is at 100% while trying to run games that your Graphics Card should be able to handle, then it’s time for an upgrade.
Can You Upgrade Your CPU Without Changing The Motherboard?
You can upgrade your CPU without upgrading your motherboard as long as your new CPU is compatible with the motherboard. If your motherboard has pins, you need a CPU without pins (Intel, for example). If your motherboard doesn’t have pins, you’ll need a CPU with pins (AMD).
If you use a laptop instead of a desktop, it’s less likely that you’ll be able to upgrade your CPU or change out the motherboard. The same can be said about home computer desktops that you may pick up in a box at the store.
However, most prebuilds and custom-built PCs will allow you to upgrade the CPU without changing the motherboard, as long as your new CPU is compatible.
How To Know If Your CPU Is Dying?
The easiest way to tell if a CPU is dying is to monitor its temperature and usage percentage. If your CPU temperature is over 80 Degrees Celsius while your computer is idling and not running a game or any substantial programs, then it is dying.
Most of the time, CPUs do not randomly die or start failing without an external cause. If your CPU makes it through its first year of use, it’s probably going to be good for the long haul. Still, it’s a good idea to check its temperature if you suspect something is wrong with it.
Your CPU will probably get hot while running games and programs, which is fine to an extent. Research your model’s safe temperatures and make sure you’re always falling within them. If it’s getting too hot, then it’s time to check on your fans and your thermal paste. If those are fine, it may be time to upgrade.
How To Check CPU Usage
To check your CPU usage, begin by opening Task Manager, which can be opened by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL, then clicking on “Task Manager”.
Once you have opened Task Manager, click on the Performance tab at the top of Task Manager. There, you can view your current CPU utilization percentage.
How To Check CPU Temperature
Windows does not provide a way to natively monitor the temperature of your CPU.
If you want to monitor your CPU’s temperature, then you’ll need to install a third-party software that provides this information. There are several applications available that will allow you to check your CPU’s temperature.
I recommend using Real Temp, which is a free CPU temperature-checking tool for Intel-based CPUs.
How To Make Your CPU Last Longer?
Ensuring that there is enough air circulating through the PC to keep the CPU cool and keeping dust away is the best way to make your CPU last longer. Air Dusting your PC every few months, and maintaining the fans are crucial. On top of this, you want to make sure your thermal paste is properly applied.
If a CPU runs too hot for too long, important components inside of it will start to melt and degrade. This is why we have to keep dust and heat away. The heat sink is critical to keeping your CPU cool, so if something is wrong with it or the fan on it, you must replace it immediately.
My first gaming PC was a hand-me-down that would crash randomly every day. I replaced drives, PSUs, RAM, etc and nothing fixed the issue. I took a look at the heat sink, and one of its mounts was busted, leaving it lopsided.
This caused it to cool the CPU unevenly, which led to overheating, which led to emergency shutdowns of my PC. As soon as I replaced the heat sink for a few bucks, everything ran perfectly fine.
So, always check your heat sink. Make sure all of the mounts are fine and make sure your thermal paste was applied properly and you shouldn’t have any problems with your CPU for years to come.
Can A CPU Last 20 Years?
A CPU can absolutely last 20 years as long as it is well maintained and measures are taken to prevent overheating. Most of the time, a motherboard will give out long before the CPU does. Just ensure there’s enough airflow through the PC and air dust the inside every couple of months.
You may have to re-apply thermal paste once every 5 to 10 years or replace a heat sink or two if one gives out, but for the most part, if your CPU lasted the first couple of years, it’ll last the next 20.
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