Technology Explained

5 PC Parts That Tend to Die: How to Extend Their Lifespans

Gavin Phillips Updated 03-07-2020

In an ideal world, your PC would last as long as you need it, and the only reason to get a new one would be for the performance boost. Unfortunately, life isn’t fair. PC parts die. Replacements can be expensive—so it makes sense to get the most out of every part you can.


The most important thing you can do is maintain your PC components properly. A long-lasting PC starts and ends with good maintenance habits, especially when you build the PC yourself. To get started, check out these tips on how to extend the lifespan of your PC parts.

1. Motherboards

asus rog motherboard

There are several reasons why you should upgrade your motherboard 6 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your PC Motherboard Not sure if you should upgrade your motherboard? Here are a few tips to explain when and why to buy a new motherboard. Read More . However, let’s hope you do so voluntarily instead of being forced into it by a broken motherboard. Motherboard reliability increases with each generation, as you might expect.

Why Do Motherboard’s Die So Quickly?

Even though there are no moving parts, motherboards are very complex and delicate in their designs. As the focal point for everything else on your system, small malfunctions can have catastrophic effects.

Motherboard lifespan is difficult to gauge, too, as accounting for individual user habits and local environments is almost impossible. Still, a 2018 Puget Systems study found that “while motherboards seem to be getting more and more complex,” the overall failure rate was just “2.1% or about 1 out of every 49 motherboards.” Importantly, this figure is “about half what we saw in 2017.”


A 2016 report returned similar results, with ASRock motherboards coming in at 1.45% and MSI coming in at 2.36%.

The biggest reason for motherboard failure is that the capacitors deteriorate over time and become exhausted. Sometimes the capacitors will even leak, potentially damaging other hardware components. You can replace a capacitor, but it is a non-trivial DIY operation that you may be uncomfortable completing yourself.

Other causes of motherboard failure include heat, static, and moisture.

Tips for Prolonging Motherboard Lifespan

Keep your computer away from environmental hazards like excess moisture or extra-dry air, which can promote static buildup. Excess heat can sometimes cause a motherboard to warp 3 Common Mistakes That'll Damage or Ruin Your Motherboard These mistakes are simple and seemingly insignificant but can lead to motherboard damage, which will cut your computer or laptop's life shorter than you expect. Read More , leading to shorts and broken components.


But the best thing you can do to prevent motherboard failures is never to touch the motherboard. That’s hyperbole—you obviously have to touch it to install or replace parts. But try to limit the motherboard’s exposure outside of the PC case.

When you must touch the motherboard, be sure to ground yourself first, so you don’t accidentally shock and fry the motherboard itself.

2. Data Drives

SSD solid state drive

Data drives come in two main forms: hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs). A computer cannot function without one, because that’s where the operating system resides. It’s crucial to your system. If it dies, you’ll need to get a replacement ASAP.


Why Do HDDs and SSDs Die So Quickly?

HDDs and SSDs are both prone to failure, but for different reasons.

HDDs are mechanical—they have moving parts—and will physically break down over time. The platter might get scratched, the head might stop reading, or the parts might become “paralyzed” by a power surge.

SSDs are based on flash memory chips, so they have no moving parts. However, they have unreliable long-term data retention, they are more susceptible to extreme temperatures, and power outages can lead to data corruption.

Tips for Prolonging Data Drive Lifespan

No matter which kind of data drive you have, it’s always a good idea to invest in a good surge protector Are Surge Protectors Necessary? Here's What They Really Do A surge protector is not the same thing as a power strip! Here's how they're different and why you need a reliable surge protector. Read More . Electrical surges can cause a lot of harm to all kinds of devices, not just PC parts.


Avoid extreme temperatures when possible. Refer to your data drive’s manual for safe operating temperatures. This means cleaning dust out of your computer to ensure good air circulation and prevent overheating!

Other than that, it’s mostly about buying a good model from a reputable brand. The next time you’re shopping for a data drive, check out our articles on some things to consider when buying a hard drive or a solid-state drive.

3. RAM

upgrade ram

RAM is vital for a pleasant computer experience, and it’s one of the first parts you should upgrade if you want to speed up your PC performance Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most? Need a faster computer but aren't sure what you should upgrade on your PC? Follow our PC upgrade checklist to find out. Read More . How much do you need? Well, it depends, but 8GB is the current norm.

Of all of the computer hardware components, RAM has the lowest relative rate of failure. However, depending on the model and brand of RAM you buy, the lifespan of the RAM module can vary. Dead RAM modules do happen!

Why Does RAM Die So Quickly?

Given perfect conditions, RAM actually has a remarkably long lifespan. The same 2016 study found incredibly low incidences of RAM returns, as low as 0.20% for Kingston and up to 1.08% for Corsair. Given the staggering amount of RAM in use around the world, these figures are extremely low.

But two things can kill a working RAM module in the blink of an eye: temperature and power surges.

Most RAM modules have an operating temperature between 0 and 85 degrees Celsius. If you head outside of those temperature limitations, you could corrupt your RAM. It won’t happen instantly, and it would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise. But prolonged exposure to “extreme” temperatures reduces the lifespan of your RAM.

Power surges from faulty motherboards, bad power supplies, and electrical spikes can also cause failure.

Tips for Prolonging RAM Lifespan

The most important piece of advice is to buy a high-quality module from a reputable manufacturer. Reputable manufacturers include Kingston, Crucial, G.Skill, and Corsair, although other manufacturers are available. Make sure to read the product reviews before buying.

Otherwise, ensure you have adequate surge protection. Check out the best surge protectors The 5 Best Surge Protectors in 2019 Power supply fluctuations can damage your devices. To protect your electronics, you'll want the best surge protector for your home. Read More you can buy right now.

4. Power Supply Units

A PC power supply unit (PSU)

A power supply unit (PSU) delivers power to all of the components in your computer. There are a number of considerations to keep in mind when buying the right PSU for your needs 6 Things to Know When Buying a Power Supply Unit (PSU) Power supply units aren't as glamorous as processors and graphics cards, but they're a critical PC component that you absolutely cannot overlook. Here's what to know when buying one. Read More , but lifespan is one of the more important ones.

Why Do PSUs Die So Quickly?

Despite the perception, PSUs are only slightly worse than RAM modules in terms of hardware lifespan under perfect conditions. The indicates failure rates between 0.49% for the best performing PSU (Fortron) and 2.41% at the other end of the scale (Cougar).

Again, the Puget Systems report corroborates the PSU rate of failure, with a “total failure rate of 1.15%.”

Under normal intended use, a PSU should last a long time—at least five years, possibly up to 10 years if you’re lucky. But if you start putting the power supply under high loads over long periods, it can be overstressed.

Tips for Prolonging PSU Lifespan

As always, start with a high-quality model from a reputable brand. Many generic models are overrated and don’t have much tolerance for stress. Poor build quality can also lead to faster aging and early death.

Another thing to consider is that some brands don’t manufacture the PSUs in-house. Instead, some PSUs are sourced from OEMs. This process means that the quality of PSU models can vary, even within the same brand.

The only effective way to prolong your PSU lifespan is to cut back on high-stress activities. For example, cryptocurrency mining is a very strenuous process. Overclocking your CPU or GPU can also place additional stress on your power supply unit, although you can mitigate this using appropriately rated hardware.

If you want a new PSU and don’t know where to start, check out the best PSUs for PC builders The 8 Best PSUs for PC Builders in 2019 Building your own PC? Choosing the correct PSU for your setup is essential. Here are the best PSUs available today. Read More .

5. Cooling Fans

pc case fans

You probably haven’t given your PC fans much thought. They spin up when you need them, and they spin down when you don’t. Sometimes, we don’t even notice when one stops working (at least, not straight away!). Fortunately, most case cooling fans are relatively cheap to replace.

The situation changes when you consider CPU cooling fans, which can be more expensive than their case cooling counterparts, and similarly, GPUs.

Why Do Cooling Fans Die So Quickly?

This one’s really simple. Just as with hard disk drives, cooling fans are mechanical—they have moving parts that are susceptible to general wear and tear. Over time, as the fans spin and spin and spin, they’re more likely to break down.

But this process is accelerated by the dust and particles that build up on the fan blades and within the rotating mechanism. When exposed to heat and moisture, the dust can even get caked on and turn into gunk, which could cause more friction and stress.

Tips for Prolonging Cooling Fan Lifespan

The first tip for keeping any type of cooling fan working effectively is cleaning. That means cleaning the excess dust and buildup from fan blades, plus the dust from the PC case that contributes to the issue.

You could also consider the location of your PC in your home. Leaving your PC on a thick carpet, for instance, can cause extra heat and additional dust ingress, in turn causing your fans to work harder to keep your system cool.

So, how often should you clean your cooling fans? If you’ve never cleaned them before, give everything in your case a good clean. Then, head back one month later and see how much dust and buildup are gathering on your cooling fan blades. You can gauge your PC cleaning schedule from there.

If your CPU dies, read our guide to choosing the right Intel Core processor Intel Core i3 vs. i5 vs. i7: Which CPU Should You Buy? Confused by the differences between Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors? Here's what you need to know in layman's terms and which CPU to buy. Read More . Alternatively, check out the best gaming CPUs for all budgets The 9 Best CPUs for Gaming for All Budgets in 2019 Your computer's CPU can make the difference between a good gaming experience and a great one. What's the best gaming CPU for you? Read More .

Stop Your PC Parts Wearing Out

There is no doubt that certain PC parts wear out quicker than others. You can manage the general wear and tear on yours computer using the tips set out in this article. Keeping your system cool, clean, and dust-free will maintain your PC hardware for much longer. Furthermore, looking after your hardware keeps costs down, as you won’t have to replace bits that break.

Of course, if you want to upgrade, do! Just make sure to ask yourself these important questions first 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Upgrading Your PC Thinking about upgrading your PC components? Great! However, before you do, there are a few important questions that you should ask yourself. Read More .

Image Credit: Michael Wick/Shutterstock

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Computer Memory, Computer Parts, Hard Drive, Hardware Tips, Motherboard, Solid State Drive.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. john Pollock
    July 9, 2020 at 10:02 pm

    One of the biggest electronic equipment failures is heat running products at lower running settings low transformers, low capacitors, (under rated), low chips, poor quality. you will know this all ready The last thing is people buy what is cheap !!! yours JP

  2. dragonmouth
    July 4, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    The main reason for component failure is Planned Obsolescence. Manufacturers need to keep selling their products to maintain or expand their profits. If they made reliable, long-lasting parts, they would either limit their profits severely or put themselves out of business.

  3. Simon
    August 28, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Sandy Bridge and SSD user since early 2012. Except for the PSU, which broke down twice in two years (but I managed to repair it both times) everything is working more than just fine. Same CPU, same mobo, same RAM as in 2012. I upgraded to a higher capacity SSD meanwhile, but my first ever SSD bought in 2012 is still working flawlessly in my parents's desktop PC.

  4. Ahmd
    August 27, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    I've bought my motherboard and ram in 2011 and still using them without a problem.

  5. oliv
    June 16, 2016 at 6:45 am


  6. Ray
    June 15, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    For the normal PC user and not the builder, I would have to say that in my opinion, keeping it clean will do the most preventive good, along with working fans. Even the working fans are useless if they're covered in muck.

    • Joel Lee
      June 19, 2016 at 3:47 am

      Thanks Ray, I agree 100%. A little bit of preventive work can extend the life of a PC by quite a long time. Dust leads to heat, heat leads to component breakdown. It's so easy to avoid, we just tend to be lazy about it. :(

      • john Pollock
        July 9, 2020 at 10:04 pm

        Very true

  7. Anonymous
    June 7, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    As my previous post was somehow discarded mid-transmission, I'll be concise:

    Motherboard: Make sure the one you purchase has Japanese capacitors. They're the most reliable.

    System Fans: Buy ball bearing fans instead of sleeve bearing types. They last longer and are quieter. A little more money, but it's way cheaper than a burned out processor.

    • Anonymous
      June 8, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Whenever You Use The DOLLAR Symbol Here In MUO, The Post Is Submitted To Prior Moderator Approval.

      Unfortunately, Lately There Is No Warning And People ASSume The Post Was Lost.

      • Anonymous
        June 9, 2016 at 12:33 am

        Thank you. This commenting system should come with an operator's manual.

        • Anonymous
          June 9, 2016 at 1:02 am


  8. Anonymous
    June 7, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    MOTHERBOARDS: A major failure point on motherboards are the capacitors. Little miniature soda cans sitting here and there. So when shopping for motherboards, ALWAYS buy ones with Japanese capacitors. They are the highest quality versions available, and you'll pay more for boards built with them, but one motherboard is always cheaper than TWO motherboards. :) Minimize the likelihood of failure this way.

    That being said, you still have to do due research when sourcing a motherboard. I generally will home in on several through computer build article recommendations, and then read every single review on them on Amazon, NewEgg, etc. Not every review will be real or accurate ("This board is crap! Can't say why, but it's CRAP!!!"), but you'll be able to get the picture if you read enough reviews.

    No matter what kind of system you're building (or repairing) it goes without saying that the highest quality recommendations will be from gaming system builders.

    SYSTEM FANS: My thoughts on fans are that you can never have enough. There's a trend nowadays toward fanless silent systems, which is good from a noise and power draw perspective, but the enemy of computers will always be heat. I could care less if I spend $5 more a month on a power bill because of extra fans turning when it saved me a few hundred in repairs due to heat issues.

    Most systems now have built-in variable fan speed control, so they only really hit full blast under a high system load. What generates a full load? Usually gaming. And gamers have either a headset on or the speakers turned up, noise? Not an issue.

    Most important point though is to spend just a few bucks more and buy ball bearing fans instead of the cheaper sleeve fans. If you have to save money, do it in the case or in some other non-system-killing area. Reliable cooling is the life of your system!

    I have 14 fans in my current desktop (it's in a refurbished 20 year old extra tall tower), counting the ones in the graphics card and mounted to hard drives. No, the sound isn't distracting because they are speed controlled and/or larger, slower rotating fans. Would I care if they were loud? Not really. It's the sound of system reliability.

    • Joel Lee
      June 14, 2016 at 3:53 am

      Thank you for sharing your knowledge, Kelsey! Lots of great advice in there and I tend to agree with your reasonings, especially the point about fan noise. I'd rather have a loud and cool system than a hot one that's silent!

    • Bob Getsla
      June 19, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      I would add another suggestion -- put your system up on a pedestal such that it is at least 6 inches above the floor. If you can keep your system even further from the floor, DO IT. The reason is simple, the closer your system is to the floor, the more dust and lint will get into it, and the more likely it is for them to clog up heat sinks and fans. And you don't even want to think about what might happen inside your power supply if it happens to collect a bunch of dust and lint.

      I like to put a cinder block or two under a tower system. That keeps the air intakes further from the floor, and as a side benefit, you won't have to reach so far down to plug in a thumb drive or use the DVD drive. The nice thing about cinder blocks is they are strong and cheap, so raising a heavy tower 6 inches from the floor is easy. You will be amazed at how much less dust and lint you will find inside your tower computer if you raise it up off the floor.

      Another suggestion is to make sure the air intakes and exhausts are completely open. That means placing your tower a foot or more away from any walls, and making sure there is plenty of air circulation behind the machine. I know there is a tendency to push it back close to the wall, but that tends to block the flow of warm air out of the machine. The last thing you want is warm air circulating around and getting back into the machine's air intakes. The result of that will be a number of needlessly hot components inside, especially your CPU, GPU, hard disk drive(s), and power supply. All of these components are more likely to fail if you do not keep them as cool as possible.

      When you do get around to cleaning your machine, be sure to safely power it down and then pull the power cord. Wait a few minutes, and then remove the covers so you can access the inner workings of your machine. Be sure to use an anti-static wrist strap and be sure to connect it to your computer's frame as well as your wrist when you open up your computer's case. Use a dish or other open container to hold all of the screws and other parts you remove, so they don't wander away. You do not want to have a screws or covers left over after you have cleaned and reassembled your machine.

      You should consider using a new (or at least clean) and dry 1 inch or 1-1/2 inch wide paint brush together with a vacuum cleaner (with the long thin crevice tool on the hose) to suck up the dust you break loose from inside your machine with that clean paint brush. This is much cheaper than using "canned air" to remove dust, and the dust loosened up by the paint brush tends to stay remain inside the vacuum cleaner, rather than moving from one side of your computer to the other. Try to use an all plastic brush. If there are any metal parts in the brush, carefully cover them with plastic or paper tape, so if you do happen to bump something with the metal part of the brush, you won't risk shorting any part to any other part through the metal in the brush.

      When you are finished removing the dust and lint from inside your machine, be sure to re-install all of the cables and other parts exactly the way you found them. (You can use a digital camera here to great advantage to supplement your memory of how things looked at various stages of disassembly) because some of those parts may have been used for multiple purposes. I have seen ribbon cables used to connect disk drives to motherboards that also happened to function as guides for the air flow inside the machine once all of the covers are back in place.

      This probably sounds harder and more complicated than it actually is. But I suggest you give yourself plenty of time, and use a digital camera liberally to document the placement of parts before you move them. That way, you can be sure they go back where they belong before you button up the case.

      In another galaxy far, far away, I keep some of the electronics in a TV station working, and this technique is among my methods of choice for keeping Murphy from getting into the act at precisely the worst possible time.

  9. Anonymous
    June 7, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    I had a Dell 4600 years ago and one day its motherboard suddenly died. I later found out that Dell had problems with motherboards dying in this model PC.

    • Dave
      June 8, 2016 at 2:29 am

      ha, I initially read that you had a Dell........4600 years ago. Time travelers DO exist!

  10. Anonymous
    June 7, 2016 at 3:09 am

    What About CPUs ?

    Thank You.

  11. Adrian
    June 6, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    In my experience they don't make motherboards like they used to. Gone are the days when you'd get 5+ years off of a motherboard (I still have a 16 year old Pentium I system running Windows 98 and works).

    Nowadays, they appear to use very low quality components, especially the power regulators and capacitors. If you get 1-2 years consider yourself lucky.

  12. Anonymous
    June 6, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    In my experience, RAM is exceedingly unlikely to fail once it's been installed. Not to say that it never happens, but it's actually a component least likely to die.

    The author neglects to mention discrete graphics hardware, which is something that dies all the damned time. Graphics chips often have under-specified or failure-prone cooling systems and with very few exceptions, the life of graphics hardware will be measured in minutes once it's no longer being cooled properly.

    Likewise, notebook batteries and transformers fail with some regularity, as do DC jacks inside laptops.

  13. me
    June 6, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    for hdd and ssd or any storage:


    Have a current working backup copy!!!!!!!