Modern CPUs do millions of calculations and processes every day. Despite their incredible workload, they can last a very long time. How long do CPUs last?
This largely depends on your usage, but, in general, they last a very long time. In other words, CPUs outlive their usefulness in most cases. If you are using your computer for a few hours every day and do not overclock, it can last for decades. People own 30-year-old machines that still work as intended. Most manufacturers claim that CPUs have a lifespan of 100,000 hours. A better question would be, “How long do CPUs last before having to be swapped?“
This will again depend on your needs. Most CPUs are generally considered technically obsolete after ten to fifteen years. You probably have a family member that has a 20-year-old machine and it still works. That answers the question, “How long do CPUs last?” in terms of durability. In fact, thermals are more or less the only thing that can affect your CPU lifespan, except for a lightning storm hitting your building or a PSU/motherboard failure.
Some time ago, CPUs did not have built-in thermal throttling or max temps, which meant that you could literally fry your CPU if it was not cooled properly. This was a long time ago, though. You do not have to worry about that unless you are using a PC from the 90s or early 2000s.
Now, how long do CPUs last if they are overclocked? Overclocking is said to shorten the lifespan of the CPU but by how much? Most enthusiast overclockers say that a CPU will sooner become obsolete than that it will die from overclocking. That means that if you were planning to overclock but were worried about shortening your CPU’s lifespan, you can go ahead. Just do not do anything crazy. Modern CPUs and motherboards will not let you overclock them to a ridiculous clock speed anyways, so you should not worry too much. Just try to keep it moderate and check guides.
And how long do CPUs last if you change the voltages? The lesser voltage you run through your CPU, the better. It creates less heat and does less damage to the transistors inside the CPU chip, but this is once again not significant. If you are overclocking, then you are probably increasing voltages rather than lowering them. Once again, be careful not to increase them by too much as it will significantly shorten your CPU’s lifespan or even kill it outright. Check guides for your CPU model.
If you want to learn more about “How long do CPUs last?“, then keep on reading. You might also wonder if there is a difference in the CPU lifespan between AMD and Intel.
How Long Do AMD CPUs Last?
So, how long do CPUs last if they come from team red? AMD rates their CPUs for 5 years, which is a very low number if we are being honest. But it is probably a huge understatement in terms of real-world performance. Keeping your AMD CPU cool will allow it to work for a long time.
AMD owners say that they have AMD CPUs from the 90s that still work without any issues. Few people, if any, use CPUs that are so old anyway, which is proof of CPUs outliving their usefulness.
The biggest difference between modern AMD Ryzen CPUs and Intel Core CPUs is that all AMD Ryzen CPUs are factory unlocked – meaning you can overclock them without having to buy an unlocked model. You need a B450 motherboard or better to do overclocking, but it will largely depend on the quality of your motherboard.
You should not and probably cannot overclock AMD CPUs by much, especially if you have a low-end motherboard. So once again, you should not worry about the CPU’s lifespan even if you overclock. The default voltages for Ryzen CPUs are between 1.3V and 1.4V. That is not very high but making them run at crazy voltages like 1.6V can kill them in only a few months or a year.
How Long Do Intel CPUs Last?
The interesting difference between AMD and Intel is that Intel claims 10 years of life for their CPUs. This is again a huge understatement. Some people run old Core 2 Quad CPUs from 2006 that can perform well in some eSports titles. And they do that while significantly overclocking the CPUs. This is proof that CPU lifespan does not matter much.
As long as you keep your overclock reasonable and the thermals under control, the lifespan of the CPU will not be shortened by much, if at all. When it comes to the useful lifespan of Intel CPUs, it is said to be around 3-4 years, but this really depends on what you expect from it and what CPU model you got in the first place. For example, if you have an Intel Core i7-6700k from 2015, you can expect it to run all modern AAA titles with a much newer GPU, like an RTX 2070, on very high settings at 60 frames per second or more.
Freak accidents can happen, like a lightning hitting the building or the PSU killing the CPU, but these instances are rare. Nonetheless, you want to make sure that your PSU is not outdated and works properly.
Does overclocking a CPU decrease its lifespan?
The short answer is yes, but it is insignificant in most instances. As mentioned previously, if you keep your thermals under control and you have a good motherboard and a new CPU, you should not feel any impact on the CPU’s lifespan. Also, voltages should be kept under control as excess electricity creates excess heat, which in turn cooks your CPU.
If you are doing the overclock to a very old CPU, then you should still not worry too much about it, despite the CPU’s already old age. In fact, you would gain more than what you would lose from overclocking an old CPU. Some old CPUs can see up to a 50% increase in frames per second in modern titles from moderate overclocks.
So, while overclocking technically does decrease a CPU’s lifespan, it is still not going to kill it outright. An average overclock will not kill the CPU within its “useful lifespan” estimate. If you have just bought a new CPU and plan to use it for a period longer than 5 years, then you might want to skip overclocking, as there is still a higher chance of it dying after so many years.
How do you know if your CPU is dying?
Problems with your I/O (Mouse, keyboard, monitor, speakers, etc.) even after checking that all cables are plugged in correctly is a good indicator of a failing CPU. Another major indicator are frequent software glitches, bugs, and crashes. If your computer freezes all the time or is much slower than before, then it may be dying.
In general, if you are using a very old CPU, you can expect it to die some time soon. You might hear your CPU fan spinning loudly, trying to keep the CPU thermals under control.
If you are not experiencing such issues, but your performance is very poor, then your CPU might not be dying, it has just become obsolete. Of course, this is only if you have a five-year-old or older CPU. If you have poor performance on a two or three-year-old CPU, then it is not obsolete but something else is up. It is more often a software issue, or thermal issue rather than a CPU dying.
The CPU outliving its usefulness is the most likely scenario unless you had some issues with electricity or a lightning strike near your place. CPUs typically do not become so old that they completely stop working, but they often overheat when they get old. This, again, has more to do with other factors rather than the CPU itself.
If you have checked your CPU thermals and see that they are high, then there are a few things that you could do. Try to clean the CPU fans and heatsink and change the thermal compound. If this does not fix it, then it might be an indicator of a failing CPU.
Best CPUsFinal Thoughts
So, How long do CPUs last? They last five to ten years, according to AMD and Intel respectively, but typically last much more. Many people claim that they have been using the same CPU for decades without any issues whatsoever. Another piece of evidence are ATMs. ATMs are basically computers and they run 24/7. Despite working all the time without any break, they can last for decades.
All evidence points to CPUs outliving their usefulness, rather than randomly dying. With the tempo at which modern technology is developing, it is understandable that a five-year-old CPU has become obsolete or too slow for a modern-day user. The question, “How long do CPUs last?” can be replaced by, “How often should I upgrade my CPU?” instead.