The CPU, also simply known as the processor, is an integral part of any computer, handling every process taking place in your PC makes it vital a vital component.
Since processors are of paramount importance, consumers around the world tend to go after the best CPU for their computers. Spending all that money, makes you naturally ask the question, how long would a CPU last?
Table of contentsPrecautions
How long is a CPUs life?
CPUs aren't like any other components that are present in your PC, they are extremely well built and even the cheapest ones are actually quite reliable.
Apart from that, every motherboard has safety features present to reduce the risk of the CPU being damaged.
A processor can last for a lifetime depending on how it's used, the average life of a CPU is considered to be more than ten years, which in the case of a computer component is a fairly long time.
It is safe to say that a CPU would never suddenly die on its own without it being affected by serious external factors.
In many instances, people ruin a perfectly good CPU by just installing it the wrong way and so causing damage to its pins.
But the most common reason CPUs stop working is when they are exposed to high temperatures for a long time.
Overclocking is an example of this.
If your overclock is unstable or exceeds the capabilities of your CPU, it will get too hot and burn out. Or after consistently operating at substantially higher temperatures than which it is designed for, it will slowly degrade.
Using an improper power supply can also damage the CPU and other components in the PC. Often brand new PCs end up being fried when a PSU with excess voltage is used to power the PC.
CPUs can last a lifetime, but their life can be cut short if you aren't careful, fortunately, there are certain practices that you can adopt to not only prolong the life of your CPU but also the life of other PC components.
How to prolong your CPU's life
Installing it the right way
Prolonging your CPUs life starts from the installation.
There are a few factors that you should consider when installing your CPU, as a good installation will make sure that the CPU will be running under ideal conditions.
First, a rule of thumb is that once you have bought a CPU do not take it out of the box until you are just about to install it. A CPU out of its box is susceptible to damage, especially since the fragile pins that are under it are supposed to make contact with your motherboard.
When installing the CPU make sure it is perfectly lined up and fits into your motherboard's socket nice and snug. If for some reason the CPU doesn't drop into place on its own, gently move it around until it drops into place. Do not under any circumstances try to push it in!
Pins underneath the CPU that can be seen here are prone to damage
Now it is time to apply the good stuff onto your CPU, aka the thermal paste. When applying thermal paste on your CPU make sure there is enough of it as too little thermal paste can cause heating issues in the future. Also, always use a high quality, well-reputed thermal paste.
After you have installed your CPU correctly, it is time to attach the CPU cooler. Since heat is the biggest problem for CPUs make sure that, your CPU cooler is efficient and effective at what it is supposed to do.
The CPU cooler is something you should not cheap out on under any circumstance.
Once you’re done with the whole build, hold your horses, don't go playing games on your PC just yet. You should run benchmarks and tests to see if your CPU's cooling is adequate and there are no issues.
Benchmarks are also a very good way to be always updated on your CPUs health, to catch early signs of degradation and identify if there is something damaging your it.
Maintaining your PC throughout those faithful years you will spend together is probably something that will have the biggest impact on prolonging the life of your CPU.
Keep it clean and cool
You should at all times keep the inside of your PC dust and debris free, especially the fans and heatsinks. The CPU cooler heatsink can be clogged up by dust and cause a degradation in its cooling performance which can lead to your CPU overheating.
You should also replace the thermal paste on your CPU once every year or so. If your CPU seems to be overheating and you can’t pinpoint what’s causing it, it is usually the thermal paste as some pastes degrade faster than others do.
The locations where your PC resides in your home or office can also play a role in its cooling capabilities. Placing your PC in a hot room with direct sunlight is not recommended as once again this can cause overheating problems and it will also make your fans work harder to maintain lower temperatures.
It is recommended that you place your PC in a room with air conditioning if you live in a hot and humid region.
Don’t jostle your PC
That being said, it is not a good idea to move around your PC too much as a little bit of jostling can cause loose internal connections that can affect your CPU as well as other parts.
Updating your CPU drivers is also a good habit to have which will not only keep your CPU up to date but will also avoid any stability-related issues.
I would also recommend that you get some sort of surge protection installed either at the grid of your home or with the PC.
Many users never give it a second thought and directly plug their PCs in the wall, which is risky as electrical surges due to lighting, or technical issues can easily destroy your PSU and if the surge is severe enough, it can fry internal components like the CPU.
A good practice is to use a UPS (uninterrupted power supply). Not only does a UPS provide you with enough power backup to safely turn off your computer in case of a power outage, but it can also provide surge protection to your PC.
Don’t use cords like a switch
This next one might sound like a no-brainer but many people still do it. Do NOT turn off your PC by pulling the plug or switching the wall socket off, it can cause a multitude of problems and can damage your CPU too.
Always turn off your PC the proper way and only pull the cord once you are certain the PC has fully shut down.
As the popular quote states that “prevention is better than the cure”, precautions are always better than having to replace your CPU because the old one died.
This may seem obvious but many CPUs are ruined this way. Never eat or drink near your PC especially if it has an open case, food and drinks do not belong near your PC.
Also contrary to popular belief, smoking also damages the components of your PC; the smoke particulates can accumulate on the fan and heatsink of the CPU cooler and cause your CPU to overheat.
The normal dust present in the air can mix with the tar inside cigarette smoke and produce a sticky substance that can seriously clog up not only your CPU cooler but also the different types of heatsinks present in your PC.
Therefore, getting rid of that bad habit is not only good for your health but also for your CPU’s health.
How a smokers PC may look like If not cleaned regularly
Avoid overheating at all costs
As overheating and prolonged degradation are the leading causes of CPU failures, you should keep the overclocking to a minimum, especially if you don’t have a high-performance CPU designed for such intensive use. To get more performance out of your CPU you will have to trade off on longevity and most of the time that little performance boost is not worth it.
Furthermore, you should not run something on your computer, which you are aware is out of the reach of your PCs performance capabilities. This will just put a lot of pressure on the CPU: the program will not be running properly and your CPU will be under a lot of stress which will only cause it to heat up.
You should also monitor your CPU temperatures regularly and never let it overheat.
Using low-quality motherboards or other supporting components like the PSU can damage your CPU. You should almost never save money on components like them as these affect every other component of your PC; being the basis of your PC, they need to be of decent quality and manufactured by reputable companies.
The silent killer for your CPU
A lesser-known factor that can damage your PC is static electricity. To mitigate the risks of ruining your CPU by static electricity, for starters, never use a high-pressure blower to clean your PC, it's better to use canned air instead. Any amount of static charge accumulated on your motherboard can cause damage since there are very small transistors present on the motherboard and a little static shock is like a lightning strike for them. This in turn can create a ripple effect and damage even further small components on the motherboard, effectively rendering the motherboard useless. That is why static electricity is known to be a silent killer of PC components.
The best way to save your PC from static electricity damage is to properly ground it; grounding will not allow any sort of charges to be built on surfaces inside or outside your PC.
You can either put your PC on an antistatic mat or ground it by using a power outlet (in other words, a three-pronged outlet).
CPUs are very reliable and can easily outlast your PC’s usefulness before breaking down. They can last a very long time if their temperatures are kept in check and the above-mentioned practices are adopted.
Its quite possible that when you will replace your CPU it will not be because it broke down, but rather it got too old, technology is rapidly advancing and so are the requirements of newer games and programs.
Most processing related components in the PC world get outdated in terms of performance in mere 2-3 years in the current era and the CPU is no different.
If you are an average user, there is very little reason to worry about how long your CPU would last, as it will most likely outlive its usefulness.
If you would like to know how to select the best CPU for your next build check out this article.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me, you can use the comments section below or a contact form.
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