Will you be using your current computer in 2020?

We've reached the point where we don't need to buy a new laptop every second year.

Computers these days are built to last. It used to be that a laptop was next to useless at about the time its battery stopped holding charge. However I’m finding that the top of the line laptops that I got a few years ago are still performing really well. Case in point, my ASUS G73. I got this one in December 2010 to take to MMS in 2011. Also took it to MMS in 2012 and it’s still going strong now that MMS 2013 has come and gone. It doesn’t hurt that I got 16 GB of RAM put into it when I got it (back then the G73 was one of the few models that took this amount of RAM). I just swapped out the hard disks that came with it for SSDs. This laptop now pulls a 7 on the Windows Experience Index score.

Sure there are laptops out there that are faster (The updated version of this laptop pulls a 7.7 or so.) – but the point I’m trying to make here is that this machine which I’ve had 2.5 years doesn’t feel as though has even reached middle age. My first laptop, a Pentium powered Compaq that ran Windows 98 didn’t last anywhere near that long before it started feeling like a dinosaur.

I’ve got a 4 year old Thinkpad that has a new battery and replacement SSD while I suspect will keep going for a few more years. The same with a HP Envy 15 and a Toshiba Qosmio. Replace the battery and the hard disk and these computers aren’t all that different performance wise to what I’d get if I purchased it brand new.

When we look at the changes in the PC market, we’ve gone from a scenario where people replaced their laptops every couple of years with a new model to a scenario where it makes sense to hold onto your laptop a lot longer. If you buy a quality laptop today and assume that you’ll replace the hard disk and the battery sometime in 2017, it isn’t unreasonable to suspect that you might be using the same computer in 2020.

In the half decade or so, computers have gone from something we have to upgrade frequently to something that may last as long as a TV set. The slowdown in the PC market reflects this and it also explains the possible shift by Microsoft to a new ongoing incremental release strategy from the older “something big every few years” approach that we are more familiar with.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on May 6, 2013

I agree, that computers are very powerful now and for what most people need, that horsepower should last them a long time! How long is it going to take when a quad-core with 16 GB of Ram becomes the statistics equivalent to the modern day netbook?!

I think this is a significant cause of the slow hardware sales.

My personal laptop is maybe 5-7+ years old IBM Thinkpad (pre-Lenovo). It is running a Pentium M (single-cor) at 1.8 GHz and maxed out with 2 GB of RAM. It still works find for most things but some of the activities I am finding myself working on (Video editing, slideshows rendering and website hosting/developing) as making it show its age. For everything else it runs Windows 7 and Linux just fine.

I don't do any heavy gaming and such, but the form factor is nice, small and light. The 1024x768 resolution is a little limiting but with the extended battery I'm getting a routine 4-5+ hours out of the battery.

Unfortunately to get a PATA SSD, they are a bit expensive for the space and there aren't many out there with little future of more to come.

I'm beginning to look into a replacement system and have to keep in mind that whatever I get just may be what I use for the next 5-7+ years as well. Decisions.. decisions... :)

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IT pro Orin Thomas provides true tales, snafus, news, and urban legends for Microsoft Windows system administrators.


Orin Thomas

Orin Thomas is a contributing editor for Windows IT Pro and a Windows Security MVP. He has authored or coauthored more than thirty books for Microsoft Press, founded the Melbourne System Center,...
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