How Long Do Graphics Cards Last?

Longer than you might think

Like every PC component, graphics cards have two shelf lives to consider. The first is their relative usefulness for their primary task: gaming. The second is when they fail and can no longer work at all.

How long a graphics card lasts in the former is very much dependent on your wants and needs, but the latter is down to the hardware itself and if years of heat have taken its toll.

Can a GPU Last 10 Years?

Absolutely. If you play the same game for ten years, then there’s no reason that the same graphics card won't continue to play the game and when it was released. Sure, there might be new features or expansions for the game which are more graphically demanding, but the base game should remain playable for all that time.

If you plan to play more than one game over several years and want to keep up with the latest gaming trends, then graphics cards are unlikely to remain capable enough for a full ten years. They can last several years, though, especially if you buy the most powerful GPU available. For example, the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti was the most powerful GPU ever when released in March 2017 and remains one of the top 15 most powerful graphics cards in the world, capable of playing absolutely everything at very high settings.

Even more modest GPUs can have a lengthy shelf-life, though. The Nvidia GTX 1060 was released in July 2016, and as of May 2021, it’s still the most popular graphics card among all Steam gamers, with some nine percent of gamers using one, as per the latest Steam Hardware Survey.

Modern games are very inclusive, too, supporting many older generations of graphics cards and many lower-tier graphics cards—if you’re willing to play at lower resolutions, detail settings, or frame rates.

Most graphics cards won’t be useful in 10 years, but five years, even seven or eight years at a push, is certainly doable. If you buy the most powerful GPU, it may be able to play low-end games or at low resolutions in 10 years, but they’ll also be missing out on many features that may be released in the meantime too.

Do Graphics Cards Go Bad?

Graphics cards might last a long, long time if you play the kind of games they can handle, but eventually, every graphics card will play its last game. Most often, that’s because they are no longer fast enough to keep up with modern games, but there’s also a chance that a GPU will go bad over time.

Graphics cards either work or they don’t, so they don’t show signs of degrading. Still, if they operate at high temperatures or are overclocked and pushed hard with high voltages for a long time, they can eventually stop working altogether. The most common problem with graphics cards that seem to be going bad is overheating. They usually overheat due to dust clogging a heatsink or with a bearing in a cooling fan failing.

How Often Do Graphics Cards Fail?

Very rarely. Unless your graphics card is ancient, has seen heavy use in overclocked gaming, cryptocurrency mining, or is overheating, it’s unlikely to fail.

Manufacturers don’t release failure rates for their cards. Still, some retailers provided return rates for card failures in the past, giving modern GPUs a failure rate between almost nothing and five percent.

FAQ
  • How long do graphics cards last when mining?

    Cryptocurrency mining is an intensive process that puts more stress on your graphics card than less demanding gaming. If you take the precautions to prevent overclocking and overheating or purchase a specialized mining GPU, you may experience many years of efficient performance.

  • How long do laptop graphics cards last?

    Laptop graphics cards can last for years without issues, but they may become outdated first, especially if you use yours for rigorous gaming. Generally, laptop parts are more challenging to replace and don't last as long as desktop PCs. If you're interested in a GPU upgrade for your laptop, you could opt for a new model or an external enclosure.


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