5 Signs You Need a New Laptop
Some people are able to keep their laptop computers in pristine condition for years. Others have laptops that are held together by duct tape and good vibes but somehow still manage to work. Both, however, will eventually need to face reality — no laptop lasts forever, and one of these days you’re going to need a new one.
It’s understandable to put off replacing your laptop in the name of thriftiness, or just because it’s one more thing to do. Wait too long, though, and you might get an unpleasant reminder that laptops often fail in two ways: gradually, then suddenly. You don’t want to find that your laptop has given up the ghost right before a big deadline, or before you’ve had a chance to back up that creative project you’ve been working on.
What are the common clues that the time for a new laptop is near? Start making a plan if you’ve noticed any of these five telltale signs.
1. The laptop’s battery no longer holds a charge.
A battery that won’t stay charged is one of the most common reasons to say goodbye to an old laptop. Almost all laptops use lithium batteries, which inevitably lose their ability to hold a charge after several years. If you constantly need to plug your laptop in because it loses battery charge so quickly, a new one is probably in the not-too-distant future.
Note that you might be able to restore your laptop’s battery life by installing a laptop battery replacement made to the manufacturer’s original specs. However, most of today’s laptops have a sealed body that makes this a challenging and risky DIY repair, so you’ll probably need a professional to do it unless your laptop is one of the relatively few that still has a user-serviceable battery. With laptops that are already on the older side, many people choose to upgrade to a newer model instead.
The laptop frequently overheats.
When an older laptop frequently gets extremely hot and has trouble cooling down, it’s often a sign that the machine is on its last legs. The laptop’s cooling fans might run near-constantly, and you might notice it gets hot even when you’re not doing anything particularly resource-intensive. Tasks that are resource-intensive, like gaming or design apps, might make it so hot it’s uncomfortable to use.
The exact cause of the overheating can vary widely. Sometimes, it’s because newer software is straining the computer’s outdated specs, or sometimes it’s the simple accumulation of wear and tear on its parts. Many laptops don’t have particularly efficient cooling to begin with, and the dust and other gunk that gradually build up inside can make it much worse after a few years.
Whatever the cause, a laptop that frequently overheats is never something to ignore. It might be worth taking in to have a professional look at it, but with an older machine, there’s a solid chance the repair shop will tell you what you already know: That your laptop is old, and it’s time to get a new one.
You’ve had the laptop for five years or more.
Even if you take good care of your laptop, it will eventually become just plain dated. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should automatically toss your laptop after five years if it’s still reasonably functional. But approximately five years is the point at which many laptops start noticeably showing their age, and thus it’s the point when people often start looking for a new one.
If you’ve noticed any of the following, the inevitable march of time and technology is probably coming for your laptop soon:
- Your laptop doesn’t meet the required specs for macOS or Windows updates, or just barely meets them
- Your laptop’s performance is generally slower than it used to be, and there’s no obvious reason like malware or a full hard drive
- Your laptop uses outdated parts, such as a magnetic hard disk rather than a solid state drive, and upgrading is more trouble (or money) than it’s worth
The manufacturer has announced that they’re phasing out support for your laptop model
The laptop’s screen is cracked, flickering or otherwise substandard.
A laptop’s screen is both one of its most important parts and one of its most vulnerable. One mishap can leave you with an ugly screen crack, often in an inconvenient spot. Plus, various parts that contribute to the display (such as the backlight and video card) can also fail from wear and tear.
Unlike some other laptop parts, screens are usually replaceable — although again, it’s a repair that you really only want to trust to a professional. However, much like with the battery, a screen replacement can be costly, and it might not be worth the time and money on an older laptop.
In this case, it all depends on what’s wrong with the screen. Replacing an LCD panel or backlight can be relatively fast and inexpensive, depending on the laptop’s make and model. Fixing an internal problem such as a video card malfunction, on the other hand, can be more costly. The best choice is to get a diagnosis and repair estimate from a computer repair professional and then decide whether it’s worth it.
The laptop has miscellaneous problems that aren’t worth fixing.
Many things can go wrong with a laptop. Speakers break, keyboards develop sticky keys, USB ports stop working — we could go on and on. Whenever your laptop develops a noticeable problem like this, you’ve got a few things to think about.
First, if your laptop is relatively new, it might still be under warranty or covered by insurance. In that case, taking it in for repair is usually a no-brainer, although whether it’s covered may depend on the nature of the damage.
When you don’t have warranty coverage, your choice will come down to paying for a repair yourself vs. replacing the laptop. There will probably be pros and cons on both sides, but some factors to consider include:
- The age of your laptop
- Whether it’s still otherwise functional
- The cost of the repair vs. a comparable replacement laptop
- Whether you need a working laptop immediately
Whatever you decide, remember the sage wisdom that’s just as applicable to consumer electronics as it is to, well, everything else: This, too, shall pass away.