A graphics card can be a costly investment since high-end GPUs regularly sell for thousands of dollars. With that in mind, it’s not a surprise that buyers would want assurances about how long the graphics card will last.
While the average graphics card should last at least five years – and more if you don’t push it too hard – there are no guarantees that the card you purchase will outlive its warranty.
What Affects a Graphics Card’s Longevity?
Most graphics cards will last for years, even if you use them every day and aren’t very careful with them. However, there isn’t exactly a simple answer for all GPUs since graphics cards of the same model won’t die simultaneously.
While the things you do with your card affect how long it lasts, some cards will simply die sooner for no apparent reason. That’s why it’s so important to treat your GPU well and try to make it last as long as possible.
Graphics cards wear out in a few different ways. To understand why the GPU will eventually die, consider these factors.
- When a graphics card is being pushed to work harder, it heats up fast. Turning up my settings and installing mods on ARK: Survival heated the 1080 TI I used until the graphics card actually shut down to protect itself. The more heat the card is exposed to in situations like this, the more it can become warped and damaged over time.
- Your GPU’s thermal paste and pads aren’t meant to last forever. The longer it’s in use – even if you aren’t running it super hot – the more likely it’s drying off and increasing the overall temperature of the card.
- Many people don’t keep their GPUs as clean as they should. Messy things like dirt can make the card work harder to cool itself down with less success. Bad dust can even keep the fans from working efficiently.
- How you install your graphics card can determine how well it’s performing in a year. Consider adding extra fans to your case to help bring down the temps. You can also look for a mount designed to keep larger graphics cards from bending under their own weight.
So even if your graphics card is well-made and built to last, it might not survive as long as you want if it isn’t cared for. People who take better care of their cards are more likely to see extended lifespans.
Do Some Graphics Cards Last Longer Than Others?
While some graphics cards get a good reputation for reliability, it’s difficult to say whether a specific model will last longer than another.
Ultimately, the graphics cards most likely to last a long time are the ones treated gently. They aren’t overclocked and don’t have their voltage ramped up. Some people even lower the voltage or underclock their card to make it work a little less hard.
How Can I Find a Graphics Card That Will Last a Long Time?
Look for over-engineered graphics cards that focus on cooling and have a solid build. You don’t want to choose something that will be bending under its own weight in six months. The solidity of the card and its cooling capabilities will help ensure it lasts for a long time.
Sometimes the life of a graphics card will outlive its usefulness if you run cutting-edge programs. I purchased a GTX 690 in 2012 that still works to this day. However, I’ve replaced it twice since then with a 1080 Ti and a 3080 Ti because I needed a performance boost for the games I play. That graphics card has kept running even though it’s no longer as effective as it once was.
One way to get an idea of how well a card is put together is to read reviews. Look to see how many people had a negative experience with the card dying early. Don’t purchase that card if you note an unusually high number of reviews about a poor experience.
How to Make My Graphics Card Last Longer
You can do a few things to help your card have a longer lifetime. Computer components aren’t something you can plug in and then never touch or maintain again – at least, they aren’t if you like to have your parts last a long time.
Adjusting the power management on your card can extend its lifespan. The voltage determines how much power the card uses; some people recommend under-volting a card to help it use less energy. Over time, even a tiny difference can help you see reduced wear and tear on the card.
There are various ways to remove heat from your graphics card that will help the stock fans on it do their job even better. Look for water cooling and other solutions, especially if you regularly see high temperatures.
If you want your GPU to last longer, you must keep an eye on the temperatures to get a good idea of how hot it runs from the beginning. If you know that it’s generally running around 65 degrees in a certain game and suddenly it’s pushing 80, it’s a sign that something is wrong.
You’ll know to run some diagnostics or check the card itself before the higher heat becomes a bigger problem.
Maintain your card by keeping it clean, replacing the thermal paste as needed, and ensuring the rest of the case has the proper airflow.
Even if your graphics card is running at its best, there’s no guarantee it can remove as much heat as it should if the case isn’t properly cooled. You need fans bringing cool air in and moving hot air out.
Don’t leave your computer in a place that will get extremely hot, and always make sure your case is large enough to have some extra airflow.
Consider Other Cards
If you aren’t going to be using graphically-intensive programs, consider whether you need an expensive GPU. You may be able to use a less expensive card that’s easier to cool or even integrated graphics. Less complex cards will have fewer components and likely generate less heat.
Will My Graphics Card Still Be Useful at the End of Its Life?
Technology changes incredibly fast, and new graphics cards are released every year. Many people will want to upgrade to a more recent GPU before their current one dies.
How to Choose a Futureproof Graphics Card?
While no graphics cards are entirely futureproofed, there are a few things to focus on if you want the most extended life possible for your card. Cooling and construction are the most important things that might help extend its life.