How Long Does a CPU Last?

Like most computer parts the CPU is an essential part of running your computer. That is why it is very important to keep it running at its maximum performance level for as long as possible, and that is why so many people are asking how long does a CPU last?

So the question is how long does a CPU last?

A CPU normally lasts 7 – 10 years with no issue. However, there are cases where you can use the same CPU for decades if taken care of properly. Many people decide to upgrade their CPU after 4-5 years of use because by that time the CPU is outdated and won’t give you the best performance.

There are a few different reasons why you might need to change your CPU and not all of them are due to failure. If you take good care of your CPU and are okay with your CPU not being top of the line forever, then you will be able to use your CPU for a long time.

How Long Until You Have To Replace Your CPU?

Most CPUs will last around 7-10 years without losing performance, but the way technology keeps growing the maximum performance of a 10-year-old CPU won’t be able to keep up with the performance of a newer CPU, with better specs and technology.

This is the reason why many PC enthusiasts opt for changing and upgrading their CPU after about 4-5 years of use.

It is not because the CPU went bad it’s just because the CPU is old technology and everyone wants the newest technology with the best performance.

However, unlike many computer parts, the CPU has no moving components, which is the reason why it has a really long lifespan. Unlike the graphics card, power supply, case fans, and coolers, which all have moving components that are all likely to wear out and fail eventually.

The CPU doesn’t have to worry about that. When a CPU fails it is most likely not the CPUs fault, but it fails due to other computer parts failing. If the CPU cooler fans break, it won’t be able to prevent the CPU from overheating, which might cause the CPU to become fried.

CPU pins showing that the CPU has no moving parts

You should also note that because the CPU has no extra moving parts if you start to see minor failures in the CPU it most likely means that the whole CPU is close to the end of its life. Unlike other components where multiple parts can fail, the main part of that component can keep running. Eg: the Graphics card fans stop working but the GPU inside the graphics card continues to be functional.

Everything making up the CPU needs to work together for the CPU to function so if one thing fails the whole thing fails.

That being said. If you are able to take really good care of your CPU it will end up working perfectly fine for years on end with no issues other than the fact that the hardware is getting too old to keep up with the software.

I have seen many instances where friends or people I know have used a CPU that was 10 years or older and was still able to play the same games as I did even though I had one of the newest CPUs at the time. They just had to lower some settings and they were completely fine.

To take away from this I would say if you want maximum performance out of your computer when you want to change your CPU every 4-5 years, but if you are fine with having an out-of-date old CPU then you will be fine for decades.

How Long Does an Overclocked CPU Last?

In the past, it was thought that overclocking your CPU would reduce its lifespan. However, as we learned more about CPUs and overclocking in general we learned that if done properly and with the right equipment overclocking will not affect the lifespan of your CPU.

You should also note that yes you can reduce the CPUs lifespan only if you don’t overclock properly and aren’t able to properly cool your computer system.

Here is an article I wrote about Managing Your CPU Heat.

So, when a CPU is overclocked properly the life expectancy should stay the same meaning the CPU can last 7-10 or more in some cases.

CPU on fire

How to Make Sure You Are Overclocking Properly?

in order to make sure that you are overclocking properly you need to make sure that your PC has adequate cooling so that your CPU does not overheat. This is crucial and probably the most important part of overclocking in general.

When your CPU is overclocked it produces a lot more heat than when you run your CPU on the stock settings because it is working a lot harder.

Just think about it when you are going for a run, you tend to get hotter than just laying down on your bed. This is because you are working harder so your body produces more heat.

It is the same thing with overclocking a CPU.

The next thing you should do when overclocking is to stress test your CPU after every overclock you do so you can monitor the performance, heat, and usage to make sure everything is stable when you overclock your CPU.

When I first overclocked my CPU I did not do this.

I overclocked my CPU and ran a quick 1-minute stress test thought it was fine so then I continued playing games. However, later in the day my PC started to flicker and would randomly crash and have to reset itself.

I ended up damaging my CPU because I didn’t stress test properly and didn’t overclock properly causing me to reduce my CPUs lifespan.

Now this wouldn’t have happened if I followed to right steps, and don’t take this as overclocking isn’t safe because overclocking is actually really safe I was just dumb and inpatient.

What Reduces The CPUs Life Expectancy? And What Does CPU Failure Look Like?

Factors with the CPU itself will most likely not affect the lifespan of the CPU. However, as we said before other components of the PC might be able to damage the CPU and reduce its life expectancy.

The most common parts of the PC to reduce the life expectancy and cause the failure of the CPU are:

  • CPU Cooler
  • Case Fans
  • Thermal Paste
  • Motherboard
  • Power Supply

CPU Cooler and Case Fans

The failure of the CPU cooler and case fans both come down to the same issue, which is heat. Both the case fans and the CPU cooler are meant to keep the CPU cool and stop it from overheating.

Also check out: “How Long Does a CPU Cooler Last”

When these parts start to fail it will cause the CPU to overheat, which could fry the CPU instantly, or the parts inside the CPU such as the silicone and soldering could start slowly melting which in turn will cause the CPU to fail and reduce its life expectancy over the long run.

To avoid this it is important to frequently inspect the fans on both your CPU cooler and case to make sure they are still running fine and that there is no dust build-up on both the fan blades and the fan bearings.

Also check out: “How Long Do Computer Fans Last” For a more detailed explanation.

Thermal Paste

Similar to the CPU cooler and case fans the thermal paste on your CPU helps with keeping the CPU cool. It connects the CPU heatsink (CPU cooler) to the CPU and allows for a smooth transfer of heat from the CPU to the heatsink.

The reason why the thermal paste is so important is that is because it stops air from getting in between your CPU and cooler.

What thermal paste the size of a grain of rice looks like

Air doesn’t allow heat to transfer as fast as the thermal paste does. So, if you don’t apply the thermal paste properly or use old thermal paste you might find that the CPU temperature isn’t going down.

If this is the case then it is most likely that there are air bubbles that formed in your thermal paste. If this happens to you then you should go and buy some thermal paste immediately, so that you can fix it and prevent your CPU from being damaged.

Here is an article I wrote on How Often You Should Replace Your Thermal Paste.

The Motherboard

If the motherboard experiences failure it could cause it to short circuit which, can damage the CPU and every part of the PC, because of this it is important to take care of your motherboard for not only the CPU but for all the parts inside of your computer.

Check out “How Long Does a Motherboard Last” for more information.

The Power Supply

Just like the motherboard if the power supply fails the whole system fails. If something were to destroy the power supply. Example: house gets struck by lightning. The power supply will send a surge of energy through your whole computer. The extra voltage that goes through your CPU will cause it to become fried and unusable.

Although lightning striking your house is unlikely, other things can do this to your power supply like if it gets too much voltage going through it from other factors like a wrong cable or wall outlet.

Also, read “How Long Does a Power Supply Last”

How To Know If Your CPUs Life Is Coming to an End?

There are many different indicators to know if your CPUs life is coming to an end. It is really important to spot these so you know that it’s time for an upgrade, and so you aren’t left with a dead computer and don’t know why.

Here are a few different ways and signs that your CPUs life is coming to an end:

  • Blue or Black Screen
  • Computer Frequently Freezing
  • Computer Randomly Turning Off Or Restarting
  • Beeping Noises Coming From Your Computer

Blue or Black Screen

If your computer is showing a blue or black screen (of death). Then, the issue is most likely the result of your CPU being damaged. However, it can also be because of the motherboard, RAM, or GPU, but these aren’t as common.

Here is an article I wrote on How Long A GPU Lasts.

When you are met with the blue or black screen sometimes an error message will pop up saying something is wrong with the system. This means that it might be time to replace your CPU.

However, before you order a new CPU you should first make sure that your CPU really is the issue by taking your PC apart inspecting your CPU, and installing it back into your PC.

If the issue still exists then you now know that your CPU is the problem and it’s time to buy a new one.

The computer is Frequently Freezing

If your computer starts randomly freezing then it might be time to buy a new CPU. Freezes can occur when there is a problem with your processor.

Many times you are met with a big freeze on startup where you won’t be able to click on any programs or do anything with your computer because it is unresponsive. When this happens your computer will either restart itself and try again or you will manually have to restart the computer for it to start working again.

Other times you might experience little freezes while you are using the computer. If this is what you are experiencing then you should shut down or restart your computer because usually after these mini freezes occur, it’s only a matter of time before your computer stops and freezes completely.

Trust me on this one because this is what happened to me.

Computer Randomly Turning off or restarting

If this is happening to your computer when you try to use it, then you should look at two things. The graphics card or the CPU because it is most likely one of these two components.

You will know something is wrong because, on startup, you might hear the fans working extra hard, then suddenly stop working, then the PC turns off.

Beeping Noises Coming From Your Computer

The beeping noises that you might hear from your computer from startup happen because of something called POST (Power-on Self Test). POST runs every time you startup up the computer and it looks for any issues with your system. When you hear your computer beep around 5 or so times that means that there is a problem with the hardware in your CPU and you should check it out.

Lucas Coulson

I first got into building my own computer when I was around 12 or 13. The first computer I had ever built didn't work. So I kept researching to figure what I did wrong. I really enjoyed researching, learning, and building computers, so I decided to turn it into an online business, and here I am.

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