Wondering how long a motherboard should last or if it’s time to upgrade? We can help!
Luckily, motherboards should last the longest of any of your computer parts. They are the centerpiece of your system that all other pieces plug into, so while all those other pieces have a more limited lifespan, your system usually won’t be affected by your motherboard dying out on you.
All motherboards generally are treated separately when it comes to their lifespans though. Out out of the box, there is no way to tell what devious plans you have for it. Believe it or not, it usually isn’t the manufacturer that is impacting the lifespan of a motherboard but rather the user that is to blame for the centerpiece of their computer failing after a number of years.
This quick guide will tell you everything you need to know about how long motherboards should last, how to know if a motherboard is dying, and tips for extending their longevity.
How Long Do Motherboards Last?
Generally, a motherboard will last 10+ years under proper operation. A motherboard’s important structures are simply electrical with no moving parts, so they last a long time. More often than not, advances in tech (rather than outright motherboard failure) are going to be what kills a motherboard’s usefulness.
Most motherboards will live long enough to become possible performance bottlenecks, especially when newer, faster CPU’s are released. However, you can easily get through multiple generations of CPU’s on a single motherboard in this timespan.
More than a decade of lifespan songs like a lot, but that’s also before anything else goes on it and before you’ve been putting any heavy loads for it to run through as well. It’s important to note that you can absolutely decrease motherboard lifespan by heat damage (from insufficient cooling or poor fan usage), major overclocking, etc.
As far as how much your motherboard can endure physically? This should be a significant amount as they are generally built to withstand the test of time. Again, this is assuming you are just going to be leaving the motherboard on its own, not bothering it with insane graphics cards, CPU upgrades, and so on.
Once you start adding things to your motherboard, that’s when the stress begins to build and that is where the lifespan can take a bit of a dive.
We have a guide that specifically covers ways a motherboard can bottleneck a PC. It includes some solid tips to help you identify whether or not this is the case within your own system.
Signs & Symptoms of a Failing Motherboard
Once the motherboard starts to fail, there are usually some telltale signs something is amiss. Just be aware that many of these issues occur from other components as well, so it can sometimes be difficult to narrow them specifically down to the motherboard.
You’ll want to try to isolate components as much as possible within your PC when troubleshooting your motherboard. Switching CPU’s, GPU’s, etc, can help the process.
We have a helpful guide to GPU lifespan and a guide to identifying a failing CPU, so definitely check those out to help rule out components before moving on to zeroing in on your motherboard as the culprit.
First off, if you ever smell burning while using your computer, that is one of the biggest warning signs that your motherboard just simply can’t take it anymore. If this happens turn off the PC immediately to prevent a fire from starting and reevaluate from there.
Although a massive number of things can cause glitches on your computer, among the list are issues with your motherboard.
Sometimes, the computer might be running perfectly until all of a sudden, programs stop loading, weird artifacts start appearing on screen or there certain parts of the screen just stop failing to render.
This is an obvious sign that the motherboard is failing at this point.
Once the glitches start happening, you can be very certain that freezes will follow shortly after that and once the freezing starts happening, that’s when your computer becomes nearly unusable and this can occur during a program or even something as simple as loading up the home screen.
For some reason, this blue screen is universal for bad news when it comes to just about any form of electronics. With computers, it happens to signify that your motherboard and everything attached to it is now about as effective as hooking your computer up to a piece of burnt toast. At this point, its time to to take the computer apart and start troubleshooting as something is very nearly about to cause your entire system to completely break.
Failure to read
Sometimes the symptoms of motherboard failure aren’t as obvious though and one of these is the ability to read programs and or drives. This will be noticeable if all of a sudden your USB mouse suddenly isn’t being recognized or various drives you have plugged in are not being read by the computer. This is a sign that is synonymous with other parts of the computer having issues as well though, so its worth doing a bit more diagnosing before concluding that the motherboard is at fault.
Things That Decrease Motherboard Lifespan
Obvious yes, but still very important. The physical damage done to a computer can easily ruin the lifespan of a motherboard if it is too severe.
Let’s say you had a particularly bad spill of some kind or an overheating PC, that puts a lot of strain on the motherboard and although there is nothing to really gauge how bad the damage is, that doesn’t mean the motherboard is getting away unharmed here.
When transporting your computer around or just placing it somewhere else in your apartment or house, you can also accidentally wreck the motherboard as well. Make sure any moving is done with the proper packaging to prevent such things from happening.
That physical damage can also extend to environmental factors.
Humidity can affect your motherboard’s lifespan more than you may think. The more humid the air, the more your motherboard will face corrosion and when that happens, the motherboard will become more and more damaged until it just plain dies.
In order stop that from happening, try to keep the environment your computer sits in as cool as possible and if needed, a dehumidifier will do the trick at a pretty reasonable price.
Overclocking and Overvolting
For the PC gaming community, overclocking has pretty much become the steroid injection in the computer world. It amplifies your system beyond its current means while causing some minor damage in the process, an apt analogy for sure.
While messing with the clock and voltage systems of your PC can lead to great performance boosts in game and out of game, the damage you may be doing to your motherboard in the process might be irreversible.
While most modern motherboards are built to withstand a certain amount of Overclocking, the older and cheaper models are not built the same way. Going really high on both the clock and voltage can not only harm your motherboard’s longevity, it can even cause a fire if the system is pushed too far.
Once your motherboard starts to fail, there are several potential symptoms that will start occurring on your PC that will tell you the motherboard is about to expire.
How to Improve Motherboard Lifespan
Clean it weekly. It sounds simple right? But its true because like all electronic devices, motherboards suck up dust like none other and this can cause things to not communicate properly inside your computer which can lead to systems failing or even worse, fires to happen. The best way to clean it is to either use canned air to spray the dust off after opening the PC or simply blow the dust away while using goggles to prevent anything from getting into your eyes.
Check your power
Power supplies are very important when it comes to your computer and without a solid one in place to support your PC, the motherboard will suffer immensely from it. This is especially true when you are increasing either the voltage or the clock speeds in your system.
Increased speeds and voltage will require your motherboard to draw a lot more power from the power supply than it is used to and this instability could cause a big time failure by overheating parts of your motherboard.
Worst case, this can cause your computer will be unusable. Most power supplies come with the amount of power they can provide listed, so be sure to check before engaging in any practices like Overclocking or Overvolting.
Cool It Off
If you are suspecting that your motherboard may be having issues, one option you can turn to is setting up a fan in front of the computer. When setting it up, you don’t want to put it too close to the computer as it could block a vent and we definitely don’t want that.
Once you have it set up, just keep it on whenever you use your computer and, by doing so, you will keep cool flow on the PC whenever you use it which should generally keep the system cool.
The motherboard is the true base of your PC, being that everything else in the PC works off of it. It should last you a very long time regardless of the brand, but just know that new technology doesn’t always play nice with old motherboards.
While the motherboard itself might have a bit of juice left in the tank, it might not be able to support the more modern graphics cards and other accessories and when that happens, you will be forced to get a new motherboard either way.