Graphics cards are designed to work hard and deliver optimum performance and they continue to get better with more capabilities. Any gamer knows that the graphics card is one of the most essential components in your computer because without it, you can’t enjoy the latest and greatest games. So, how long do graphics cards last?
A graphics card should typically last around five years. Depending on your use and the care and maintenance, it could last seven years – or more. Cheaper, lower-quality graphics cards may only last 2-3 years, but how you treat the hardware will determine if it wears out faster or lasts longer.
What’s the Average Lifespan for a Graphics Card?
On average, a graphics card should last for about five years with moderate to heavy use. If you’re a heavy gamer, it may be three to five years. However, these components can last much longer (7-10 years) with proper care and maintenance.
Still, most people end up replacing their hardware (or the whole computer) before it reaches its end of life because the hardware component becomes obsolete.
In most cases, your graphics card won’t die or fail, but it will eventually be unable to perform with the newest games and technology. Still, there are some factors that may cause your graphics card to wear out faster or eventually fail, especially if you’re a heavy user.
What Makes Graphics Cards Fail?
Graphics cards are built tough. They’re designed to withstand heavy use, heat, and other conditions that most computer components are more sensitive to. However, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t susceptible to damage. Let’s discuss some of the biggest problems for graphics cards.
Overclocking Your Graphics Card
Overclocking is the practice of forcing the graphics card to perform outside the specs that it was designed for. If you increase the card’s clock speed and frequency, you may see better on-screen performance, but it can cause more harm than good over time.
There’s a reason that it’s possible to overclock your graphics card at all. It can be done safely and without damaging the hardware. However, many people do not take the correct steps to protect the graphics card or they don’t use the appropriate software.
Also, the impacts of overclocking vary between models. So, what worked with one graphics card may not be ideal for another brand.
Overclocking puts more strain on the graphics card than it was designed to handle. But, the bigger problem is typically the extra heat that the card produces. Heat is not good for any of your computer’s internal components, but your graphics card and GPU are especially vulnerable.
If the temperature gets hot enough, it can cause melting inside the computer, computer chips could get fried, and your fans could potentially fail completely. If your computer already doesn’t have the best cooling system, then you could cause even more damage.
It’s critical to keep the airflow running through your computer. Fans and vents ensure that internal components stay cool even while they’re working hard and producing significant heat. However, poor airflow can cause more harm than good.
Without airflow moving at the right speed and in the right direction, you could end up with dust and debris being pulled into the computer casing.
Dust is the silent killer of delicate electronics. Buildup around the graphics card and GPU can lead to excessive heat, or it could cause the fans to fail if they get clogged with debris.
Always check your computer’s vents for airflow and clean your PC regularly to prevent excessive dust buildup.
If you happened to jump on the bandwagon of cryptocurrency mining, then you already know that doing so requires an immense amount of power from your GPU and graphics card. Using your computer for mining puts a huge strain on your graphics components and definitely causes them to wear out prematurely.
Graphics cards used in mining work so hard that they produce enough heat to melt themselves. So, we don’t recommend using a standard graphics card for mining crypto if you want the computer to last at all.
Which Graphics Cards Last the Longest?
Not all graphics cards are created equal, and some are certainly better than others. Still, if you want to purchase a computer with a graphics card that will last there are some brands that consistently deliver good quality products.
Nvidia and AMD are some of the best manufacturers out there for graphics cards. If you use them properly and take care of them, they can last up to 10 years.
If you want to use your graphics card at its maximum capabilities and go with the most demanding settings while gaming, it’s probably best to spend the extra money to purchase a higher quality graphics card from the start.
How to Make Your Graphics Card Last Longer
If you want to squeeze every bit of use possible out of your graphics card or if buying a new one is just too expensive, there are some tips and tricks you can use to help extend your current card’s lifespan.
The first step is to adjust your computer’s settings. If you’re having a hard time getting your games to run at the frame rate you want, you can lower the resolution to increase the frame rate.
Some games have graphics settings in the game menu that will raise or lower the demand on your graphics card. Try out the different settings and see how it impacts your user experience and the game’s visual quality.
Another useful setting that some game developers include in the game menu is Dynamic Resolution (sometimes called DRS, or Dynamic Resolution Scaling). If you have this setting enabled, the settings will self-adjust to keep the frame rates high depending on what’s going on onscreen.
There are also settings in Windows 10 or 11 that you can adjust to improve your graphics experience and reduce the load on the graphics card.
To access the settings options, navigate to the Display Settings menu, then the Graphics Settings link. Once there you can adjust the VRS and Hardware Accelerated GPU Scheduling which can improve the frame rate in some games.
VRS (Variable Rate Shading) works on may popular games such as Borderlands 3, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Fortnite, Gears of War 5, Hitman 3, Resident Evil 3, and more.
Another helpful resource for AMD Radeon users is the company’s Settings Advisor (or, RSA). If you have a Radeon graphics card, RSA should be part of your software suite. The technology monitors how well a game is performing and makes suggestions for how you can adjust your settings for a better experience.
AMD also has Radeon Boost for the Radeon RX 400 graphics card. This technology uses information like your mouse movements to adjust the settings and improve your frame rate. This is also a game-specific feature, but some of the most popular big name games have the capability.
In addition to many of these high-tech settings and features, there are some simple and straightforward methods to help extend your graphics card’s lifespan. To get the most use out of yours, be sure to do the following:
- Ensure the computer has adequate airflow
- Check that fans and cooling systems are working properly
- Monitor the internal case temperature
- Clean your computer regularly, removing all dust and debris
- Keep your computer in a place with sufficient ventilation
- Take breaks and give your system a rest, especially when it’s under excessive demand
The Bottom Line
A graphics card should last for many years if it’s used and cared for properly. However, most people will get three to five years of good use from a graphics card.
The reason people upgrade or replace their computer equipment is usually because the component is obsolete rather than because it completely failed. The same is true for graphics cards.
So, it’s very possible for your graphics card to “stop working” before its physical components wear down or fail.
As games and other technology advances, the demands on your computer system become greater and greater. Eventually the current hardware or software may not be able to run the latest and greatest games as they’re intended.
Still, it’s possible to cause damage to the card. Heat is the biggest threat to computer hardware like your graphics card. Excessive heat can occur during overuse, especially if you practice overclocking and force your graphics card to run at higher performance levels than it was designed for.
Similarly, using your computer for mining cryptocurrency is one way to wear out your graphics card well before the expected lifespan.
You can help your graphics card continue to perform well for many years by lowering the graphics settings on your computer, decreasing the resolution, or running games at a lower frame rate. This will put less strain on your graphics card and help it run more efficiently.
But, if you intend to fully enjoy each of your games to their maximum capabilities, you should plan to put your graphics card to the test and make it work harder than it would in an average computer.
Buying a computer with a more advanced graphics card (like a gaming computer) will help ensure that the equipment can withstand your use, which may be a smart investment in the long run.