The world of PC gaming can be expensive.
As games become more advanced, PCs need to upgrade to keep playing them.
One of the most important parts of a gaming PC is the graphics card.
Without one that can support the latest games, you’re stuck being unable to play them.
Here’s what you need to know about graphics cards and how long they last.
How Long Do Graphics Cards Last?
Graphics cards can last anywhere from three to five years.
Extended use of the gaming PC can make the card wear down faster.
It may only last a single year in this case, whereas using the gaming PC infrequently can extend the lifespan of a graphics card to several years.
It may even last seven years.
What Factors Determine The Lifespan Of A Graphics Card?
Several factors can influence how long a graphics card lasts.
Understanding these factors can help you extend the life of your card.
Here are some of the major factors that influence a card’s lifespan.
One of the major reasons a graphics card might not last for many years is that it overheats.
Overheating problems plague PC gaming units.
That’s because it uses a lot of electricity and electronics to work.
While the electronics are active, they generate heat.
Since all those parts are in a case, the heat becomes trapped inside of it.
The PC tower becomes a furnace.
Certain elements can help decrease the heat inside of the tower.
It has vents and fans that bring cool air to the electronics.
However, these items are often not enough.
When a gamer uses their PC for several hours without a break, then the tower becomes hotter and hotter.
The graphics card starts to erode or deteriorate as a result.
It may only happen marginally at first.
As the gamer continues to overheat their PC, more and more damage occurs to the card.
All it takes is a bit of damage for the card to stop working.
Once one part of it melts or becomes damaged, the entire card is useless.
There are also several reasons the PC may overheat.
The first is obviously overextended use.
The second is pushing your graphics card to the max for a long period of time.
Since you’re putting stress on the card, it’s going to become hotter.
Finally, if the fan doesn’t work, then there’s nothing to draw in cool air to the PC.
The fan may not have enough power to run at its optimal performance, something may be blocking it, or it may have shorted and may not be working right.
Whatever the reason, if the fan isn’t working, then the PC is going to overheat and damage the graphics card.
Overheating is a serious problem for graphics cards.
Another serious problem that can damage your graphics card is overclocking.
This is when you push the GPU past its operating capabilities.
An example is when you buy a new game that requires a specific amount of RAM, CPU, and GPU to run.
Your GPU may not have the required performance parameters to run the game.
It may be close, however, so you decide to play it anyway.
You load up the game, and there are some obvious problems with the graphics.
The frame rate drops, there’s some stuttering, and the game doesn’t seem to be performing well.
Even though this is the first sign that you should stop playing the game or find a way to reduce its graphical requirements, you decide to keep playing.
It forces the graphics card to try and produce the kind of quality that the game needs.
This puts a lot of strain on the card and can seriously damage it in the process.
The longer that you play the game and push the card, the worse the damage becomes.
You should never overclock your GPU unless you have experience with the hardware and understand the safety net when driving the card’s performance.
3. Obsolete Card
The unfortunate aspect of PC gaming is that there’s always new technology in the works.
You can buy a computer for $3,000 only to find that its parts are obsolete a few months later.
While a brand-new computer can still keep up with games for a few years, you’ll eventually need to upgrade it to keep using it.
Your graphics card may be approaching a state in which it’s completely obsolete or almost completely obsolete.
This means that even on settings with lower graphics, your computer still can’t support the game.
There’s no point in repairing a card that’s obsolete.
No amount of repair will make it capable of performing better than it was originally designed to do.
Your card may be only three years old, but because you bought it right when new cards were coming out, its age advanced to five or seven years.
That’s why it’s sometimes a better idea to wait and save when a new graphics card is coming out.
This is especially true if the new card is a massive step forward in terms of GPU technology.
You don’t want to buy a graphics card that will age prematurely.
4. Poor Power Supply Unit
Not a lot of thought goes into the power supply for a gaming PC.
That’s not a good thing.
The amount of power that your PC can use is vital to its ability to perform.
A PC that has an inadequate power supply will need to work extra hard on minimal power to perform its job.
That puts a lot of wear and tear on its parts, including the graphics card.
If you’re building your own PC, then you need to know how much power it’s going to need.
One way you can do this is to look at other PCs that are similar to your build.
You can see the kind of power supply units they’re using, then copy them.
Besides the unit, you may also be using the wrong outlet for the PC.
Not all outlets in your home are the same.
Some offer 12V while others are 15V or even 30V.
The power supply unit should be plugged into the correct outlet.
Outlets that provide the most power are ones with three holes.
Not only are these safer to use because of their grounding wire, but they also produce a lot of power.
You’ll also want to avoid plugging the PC into a surge protector or wire extender if you can help it.
If you’re not plugging into the wall directly, then you’re losing some power as a result.
If your home doesn’t undergo many surges, then it’s safe to plug your computer directly into the wall.
It will be able to receive the right amount of power that it needs, and your graphics card will last longer.
5. Dust Clogs
A major threat to your computer as a whole is dust.
Although most computer parts are safe from dust because of the container, dust still manages to find a way inside of it.
Vents are one of the main reasons dust collects inside your PC.
It can fit through the tiny holes and settle on delicate electronic parts like your graphics card.
Fans can also push dust inside the computer when it draws air from outside the PC into the case.
Dust is a problem because it can cause certain parts of the PC to corrode.
It also can interfere with the wiring.
When dust clogs form, it can keep your graphics card from working correctly.
Having a can of compressed air can help remove dust from inside the PC.
Without dust inside it, your GPU won’t experience clogged dust and continue to work at peak performance for several years.
6. Manufacturing Problems
Not all graphics cards that leave the factory are in good condition.
Like anything that’s factory-produced, there are problems along the assembly line that can damage a product before it’s released.
As a result, an owner of the new graphics card may not realize it’s broken until they start using it.
There are many ways a graphics card can break before it arrives at its recipient’s address.
One of those ways is during its actual production.
One of the heavy machinery pieces used might malfunction and damage the card.
It might also receive damage when it’s stored away for packaging.
There’s a possibility that something can crush it while it’s transported.
It may even have exposure to other elements that can cause it to corrode.
There are a ton of different problems that can arise from its production to its arrival at your door.
Any of these factors can decrease its lifespan if not keep it from working altogether.
7. Normal Wear And Tear
As is the case with any working part, your graphics card also experiences normal wear and tear.
As soon as you start using it, the card starts to degrade.
Depending on the materials used to make it, some cards naturally last longer than others.
Once you start using your gaming PC, you can start counting down the number of years your card has left.
How To Increase The Lifespan Of Your Graphics Card
Now that you understand the various factors that can influence the life of your graphics card, you can make choices to prolong its lifespan as much as possible.
Here are a few ways you can increase the lifespan of your graphics card and save yourself some money.
1. Keep The Computer Cool
One of the best ways that you can prolong the life of your graphics card is to keep your computer cool.
There are a few ways you can do this.
The first is to invest in fans.
That means you either spend a lot of money on a large fan that works well, or you use a lot of low-quality fans.
The more expensive fan is likely going to last longer than the low-quality ones.
A fan that matches your PC in terms of keeping it cool while it’s operating is essential.
You can never go wrong with buying a larger fan or using multiple fans to keep your computer cool.
You can also choose to keep part of your case open.
Remove one of the walls to allow even more ventilation.
You’ll need to work harder to keep dust from affecting your computer, but it will also have an easier time cooling itself.
Some PC gamers also keep compressed air on hand.
While the air is effective at removing dust, it can also help cool your computer.
It does so by releasing a gust of air that can remove heat from the card fast.
Finally, make sure that you take breaks.
You can run your PC for a few hours, but you should try to take occasional breaks to let your computer cool off.
2. Don’t Overclock
Even though you may want to see what peak performance looks like with your graphics card, you should avoid it.
Let your graphics card operate at its optimum settings instead.
The game will look just as fine.
When you don’t overclock your card, it can last far longer.
That’s because you’re not putting it under any strain to perform at a rate that it can’t sustain.
If the visuals aren’t to your liking, then you may need to rethink what your requirements are in a graphics card.
3. Turn Down Performance
Your first instinct when you play a new game is to let it play at its highest settings.
Your graphics card may not support this.
Understand what resolution and FPS your card is capable of producing.
Then set the game to those graphical standards.
If you really want to spare your graphics card, then you can turn down the performance of the game to a lower setting.
When your computer handles a setting that is easy for it, then it doesn’t need to strain at all.
You’re not making your graphics card work hard.
As a result, it will last even longer.
4. Use The Correct Power Supply
Take the time to understand the power requirements for your PC.
Unless you buy a PC from the store, everyone is going to need something different.
That’s because gamers who build their own PCs often use different pieces of hardware from one another.
Once you know the power requirements of your PC, you need to find a power cord that can deliver that amount.
Thinner cords won’t supply the right voltage.
You also want to avoid using extension cords or plugging your computer into a surge protector.
It can undermine the amount of power that your PC actually receives.
For the best results, plug your PC directly into a three-pronged outlet.
5. Keep The Card Clean
Another important maintenance step is to keep the inside of your PC clean.
Dust will accumulate.
It always finds a way to do so.
To keep your card from becoming clogged with dust, you need to clean it out.
Wiping it with a cloth might damage the card.
A better way to clean the card is with compressed air.
You can spray the can at an angle towards the card.
The highly pressurized air will push against it and remove dust from it.
The result is a clean card that isn’t damaged.
You can also help keep the card from becoming dusty by keeping the area around it clean.
Clean the tower, floor, and any other surfaces around the tower regularly.
With less dust in the air, there’s less of a chance for the card to become dusty.
How To Save Money On Graphics Cards
At some point, you’re going to need to invest in a new graphics card.
Here are a few tips you can use to save extra money.
1. Try Secondhand GPUs
The world of secondhand electronics is sometimes filled with fraud.
You need to be careful about whom you buy from.
That said, you can score an incredible deal if you can find a legit seller.
Look at the local marketplaces and used electronics stores for legitimate deals.
Be wary of anyone selling GPUs that have a history in crypto mining.
Those GPUs likely have little life left in them since they’re worked nonstop.
2. Buy Earlier Models
If you want to save money and don’t mind playing games a year or two later, then you can always choose to buy an earlier graphics card model.
These tend to lower in price over the years to make way for newer models.
Since most people want to buy the newest models, you can find a lot of savings with older ones.
3. Discount Codes
Finally, be aware of any sales or discounts that sellers are promoting.
These discounts can often help you save a good amount of money.
You can also try to find influencers who reviewed the card you’re looking for.
In some cases, they made a deal with the store that allows them to offer a discount code for their viewers.
You may be able to shave off a bit of money from the price that way.
Graphics cards only have a lifespan of about three to five years.
However, their lifespan can decrease significantly if you overheat or overclock them.
You can increase the life of your graphics card by keeping it clean, cool, and using the recommended settings for it.