Buying a computer is a huge investment and every one of us wants it to give us sufficient return. It is not logically and economically sound idea to spend our hard earned money on something that won’t last long.
So, you are normal for wanting a computer that can last long. More importantly, it is reasonable to ask about the overall life of a motherboard since a motherboard is the biggest and one of the most important hardware of the computer.
A motherboard can last for many years, even decades if it does not suffer any manual damage to it. Also, it can be completely useless within days even by a minor fault on the circuit. The question should not be about how long a motherboard can last but whether it will be able to fulfill your constantly upgrading requirement over time.
In this guide, we are going to talk about how long a motherboard lasts, the causes for its shortening life and the ways to prolong its expiry period.
What Factors Does The Life of a Motherboard Depend On?
It is a law of nature that any matter that operates continuously will exhaust one day. The most important part within a computer is a motherboard which incorporates all the components, either embedded or connected secondarily. It is sending and receiving signals from all the components at every moment.
Thus, it is natural for the life of a motherboard to be limited. The constant physical, electrical and thermal stress decreases its durability even more. A damage to one motherboard connection might force us to replace the entire board. Hence, like a human, the life of a motherboard is not certain.
But there are some factors that might determine the longevity of your motherboard. Let’s see a few of them.
These are some factors affecting the life of a motherboard. Now, let’s look at the causes or activities that can reduce the life of a motherboard.
What Can Reduce The Life of a Motherboard?
Like we said, a motherboard can last for a really long time. Once you fix a motherboard, it is almost a permanent attachment to the casing. No movement or constant assembling and disassembly directly means a longer life of anything.
If you clean your motherboard on a timely basis and carry proper maintenance of the parts routinely, you will not have to worry about its life. Similarly, if you use a motherboard and its hardware accessories of better quality in a controlled way, it will compliment on its life even more.
But there are still some internal or external causes that take a toll on the life of a motherboard. Let’s look through them with no further delay.
Physical Damage is the most obvious cause to not only diminish but to extinguish the breathe out of your motherboard. Even a slight loosening of solder can render it unusable.
However, it is not quite common for a motherboard to suffer physical harm if you are not an aggressive user. It is fixed inside a casing and a physical harm by a normal user is unlikely. And it is quite difficult to test its integrity if it got damaged.
There are few ways by which your motherboard can take a physical toll. A laptop user tends to care less for his/her system over time. On an unfortunate day, it might just affect your motherboard while carelessly putting it on a table or bed.
Similarly, if you like to constantly move or assemble and disassemble your desktop, then your motherboard might last less.
So, we always give advice to not move your system unless it’s absolutely necessary and save it from physical damage at all cost. Unless, you want a new one and your older board is not wanting to go down itself.
Faulty Circuitry or Electronic Parts
Electric current passes continuously and, most of the time, with stability through the circuit of a motherboard. But sometimes, there might be a power surge or irregular power cut. This might damage some of the circuit lines, and ports, or make the motherboard dead.
If the damage is on the optional parts such as the USB connection or an additional VGA or HDMI connection, the effect might not be instantaneous. Your computer will work normally. But over time, this damage might be caused to other parts and your motherboard will, unfortunately, fail.
Similarly, if the electronic circuit failed in important points, such as the processor’s end, then you will have to change it or pay a heavy cost to repair it.
A faulty motherboard circuit not only damages itself but also external hardware. Once we had a faulty motherboard USB. Every USB that we inserted into that port got completely damaged instantly. So, we would advise you to keep a stable electrical connection.
Excessive Heating and Cooling Cycle
Heating an electronic system is normal and it causes a lot of issues, including the reduction of the electronic part’s life. A motherboard is no exception. The manufacturers provide several cooling techniques such as fan, thermal paste and heat sinks. But, the heating and cooling cycle is bound to disturb the normal functioning over time.
We are not talking about just gaming or heavy users. Yes, gaming and heavy usage can heat the system much more and will accelerate the decline of the motherboard’s life. But, a normal and casual usage will also limit the time of a motherboard to serve a computer.
You might use a computer for a while and it will heat up. It will cool down once you close it. This continuous cycle along with the forced cooling by fans and heat sinks exert thermal stress of expansion and contraction. This will damage the circuit, or the parts after a while. The time is not as fast as a gaming system but will arrive eventually for all motherboards.
The laptop motherboards are less durable due to this very reason. All the systems are packed in a closed vessel and it won’t get proper airflow leading to increasing temperature and a less durable motherboard.
One of the factors that we do not consider while placing a system is Moisture and Humidity. Contact of the motherboard with water by any means will make it completely unusable. It might even short circuit other electrical parts.
It does not happen only when you pour water or coffee over it. If your room is humid or moist, then the air in the room will contain water. The fan circulates the same air inside your motherboard to cool it. The motherboard will absorb this moisture over time and we will be left with a damaged circuit board.
A laptop has an increased chance of water threat. You might have noticed your laptop’s keyboard with dew in winter. It will eventually get inside the system through keyboard and decrease the life of your motherboard. We will not even talk about sweaty hands, and spilling drinks over your keyboard. You must have gotten the idea by now.
Cheap Power Supply Unit
A PSU’s job is to provide stable power to the computer. Most of the Power Supply Units do this well. However, in a run to reduce the overall cost of a system, we tend to use a cheaper PSU. And sometimes, this might give us a huge blow.
All the hardware gets the power from the PSU through the motherboard. A cheap Power Supply Unit might not understand the proper need of your high quality motherboard. Most high-end gaming users use a demanding motherboard.
If the PSU did not provide the adequate or appropriate supply of power, then your motherboard is likely to fail soon. Some PSUs might even fry the circuitry due to unstable power.
You can expect a motherboard to work for 10 or 20 years if you use it normally with no additional stress. We have seen and heard about some boards lasting more than 40 years.
But as time passes, its functioning ability will start declining and as any living being passes away from the world, the motherboard will lose its capability and die. Any or all of the above causes might accelerate it and bring the time closer. But it will happen one day.
Now, let’s see how we can prolong the life of the motherboard and protect it from failure.
How Can We Prolong a Motherboard’s Life?
We cannot preserve everything we desire. Everything has to go out of our life one day. But what we can do is delay their extinction a little bit. It is the same case with a motherboard.
You can follow a number of good practices to keep the motherboard running for a longer time. Let’s see a few of those methods below.
Keep it Clean
The inside of the casing of your computer will fill up with dust over time. The fan we use to cool down may collect dust, or the air flow inside your room might accumulate it. The accumulated dust and dirt will clog the pores, ports, circuits and even prevent the fan from functioning well. Not only this, your system will heat much more due to a dusty motherboard.
So, we recommend cleaning your system routinely. You can simply use a blower to remove dust and clean it with a piece of cloth. You can also use the cleaning liquid available and other detailed methods to properly clean your motherboard. A clean motherboard will increase its longevity.
Cleaning a motherboard is not the only maintenance to perform in it. There are a number of hardware parts, wires and connections in it. You should regularly inspect if anything has gone wrong and rectify the issue at the earliest.
After thorough cleaning of the motherboard, you should check whether all cables are connected properly or not. You also need to replace the one if they are damaged or are on the verge of it. Furthermore, you should check the heat sinks and fans to identify any faults in them and make sure they are working well.
Also, you should examine if the thermal paste is still there under the processor fan and other parts. If not, you should use new thermal paste to ensure proper thermal control.
Overclocking is a term, mostly familiar to gamers and professional computer users. It basically means to run the processor at a speed higher than the designated one. Overclocking improves the performance of the system excellently but at the expense of thermal control.
Overclocking causes the processor to heat a lot and as a result, the motherboard will find its temperature raised. As we discussed earlier, excessive heating of a motherboard will definitely take a toll on its durability. So, it is best to not overclock your system.
But if you need to overclock, then we suggest you do it only for some heavy work and not all the time. This can reduce the heating and can help the heat sinks and cooling system to do their job well. Eventually, your motherboard will last longer.
Maintain Proper Airflow
Proper airflow in a room where you use the computer is a must. The computer fan cools the system by circulating the air available on the outside into the system. If there is not enough airflow in the room, then the same hot air will be circulating. Your system will not cool down and heat will pile up even more.
Heat is the enemy here and you will have to beat it by either providing proper airflow to the system or by keeping it in a room with good ventilation.
Water contact with an electronic circuit is never a good thing. You should not place any drink near your laptop. On a bad day, you might spill it and then damage your motherboard. Similarly, using a proper keyboard cover can prevent sweat from entering inside the system.
You cannot avoid the moisture and humidity present in the air most of the time. But you can keep your system in a less humid room or one where moisture content is limited. You can also use objects such as silica gel packs that absorb moisture near to your computer or its fan to prevent the circulation of air containing water.
This way you can protect your motherboard from dying faster due to moisture.
Finally, does the life of the motherboard really matter that much? Let’s look at this perspective now.
Will The Motherboard Remain Useful Till Over Its Entire Life?
In the beginning of this article, we mentioned that the question should be whether the motherboard will die before you use it adequately. The answer is Probably Not. Most of us find the motherboard useless before it even gets damaged.
Our wishes and desires are upgrading and so are the technologies surrounding us. A motherboard before 20 years used a soldered processor, supported a PATA hard drive, a low functioning graphics card, etc. But now, the motherboard of that era will not be able to handle the computational, gaming or even basic requirements of today.
In the same way, after a few years of usage, you might want to change the CPU or RAM. A few years back, the motherboard used to support DDR2 RAM. You cannot put the new DDR5 RAM on that board. You will have to get a new motherboard if you want to do this.
Hence, your motherboard will become obsolete before it dies if you leave physical damage and electronic failure out of the equation. You will have to upgrade your motherboard sooner or later.
This can happen by Physical Incompatibility as discussed earlier. Similarly, the manufacturers might stop giving updates to the motherboard for supporting newer hardware. Also, the motherboard might not provide the demanding power required to run the hardware of the present day.
But, even though the motherboard can become obsolete before dying, you should always strive to protect it and salvage every ounce of its capability for your work.