Every once in a while I see the claim that lifespan of a laptop is more or less the same, no matter how often it is used. How far is this from being true? Is it true that the difference in lifespan is not significant one?
I'm taking a practical rather than theoretical approach so I'm going to define "lifespan" as:
The lifespan is the period from the first time the laptop is used after initial sale, to last time the laptop is used by anyone.
The lifespan, using this definition, can be affected by usage. Break this down by the reasons why the laptop ceases being used:
- Mechanical failure causing end of use (Note: Almost anything is technically fixable, but to calculate the lifespan we are looking at events which result in the laptop not repaired, whether for economic reasons, unavailability of parts, user not being aware of repair options or anything else):
- Accidents. I'm making an assumption that a laptop in use is at higher risk of being dropped, liquid damage, etc.
- Fans, dust and other cooling problems: Increased use causes more dust be drawn into the system which causes heat related failures in many different componants. Fans also have a limited lifespan, affected by usage and further affected by heat.
- SSD lifespan is limited by write-cycles. Many modern SSDs will outlast their host computer, but none the less, the lifespan is affected by usage.
- Software faults causing end of use (Note: Software faults can always be resolved by a competent person, but in the real world laptops do get replaced for this reason, thus affecting the lifespan):
- Viruses, malware, etc. A laptop can only be practically attacked while turned on, so the chance of malware is drastically increased by usage.
- User initiated software problems i.e. the user deleted something vital or caused a performance problem by installing software. I would guess this is the more frequent cause of replacement of 3-5 year old laptops.
Note: I'm not including theft here. I think risk of theft might increase with use, but a stolen laptop is likely to remain in use, just with a different user
TL;DR Yes, the lifespan of laptop does depend significantly on its usage.