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How Long Do GPUs Last?

Graphics cards, much like any other piece of electronics, have their lifespan. In fact, almost anything in the world that we use has a lifespan. Your shoes, toothbrush, appliances, cars, clothes, and mobile devices will eventually show signs of wear and tear as the years go by and with sufficient usage. \

And with electronics, they’ll fail at any given time. One day you’re playing video games and all of a sudden you find out that your GPU is dying. It no longer works as efficiently as before. Your FPS drops for no reason. Your PC is making weird noises when you play games.

Graphics cards fail most of the time when they go beyond the absolute limits of their average lifespan, but there are other instances where you’re faced with a failing GPU.

And that’s what we’ll be discussing in this article…

How Long Do GPUs Last?

Featured Image How Long Do GPUs Last

This is a legitimate question asked by a lot of first-time PC owners and builders. Even with prices of certain graphics cards going down, there’s still something that haunts the back of every PC owner’s mind: can my GPU last up until I save enough money to buy a new one?

So how long does a GPU last?

An average GPU lifespan is about five to seven years, give or take. But being an electronic device, there’s always a chance that it will die for no reason. But GPU manufacturers have invested much in their GPUs’ quality assurance, so your GPU dying even if it’s a brand new one is highly unlikely. And even when that happens, the manufacturers will replace it with a new GPU as long as it’s under warranty period.

But with GPU usage, parts will slowly deteriorate. Capacitors go bad, your PCB or circuit board’s solders melt out or eventually erode off, and so on. Your integrated circuits like VRAM chips and voltage regulators go bad, or your GPU’s gold contacts and semiconductors diffuse. It doesn’t matter if you have an old GPU model or a new GPU.

Don’t worry. Gradual deterioration doesn’t occur within the first few years of the GPU lifespan unless you bought a secondhand unit. You’ll eventually notice that your GPU is dying once you go past the five or seven-year mark of the lifespan of a GPU.


There are circumstances where your graphics card will deteriorate faster than it normally should. And within these circumstances is one common denominator: HEAT.

And you’ll see why…

Why Do You Have a Dying GPU?

You’re wondering why your new graphics unit is suddenly malfunctioning after tweaking the graphics settings of modern games to high settings or when you’ve tinkered with graphics features like ray tracing and DLSS.

Outside of manufacturer defects, these are the biggest reasons why you’re going to have a dead GPU sooner than later.

Overclocking the GPU

Overclocking can be defined simply as trying to squeeze as much performance out of your GPU. Modern graphics cards will have two speeds: base clock speed and boost clock speed. Your GPU runs on the base clock speed, obviously. But overclocking will allow you to reach your boosted clock speed.

Overclocking allows you to get higher FPS and benchmarks, but at a cost. Overclocking produces overheating issues because the graphic cards are working overtime. Now don’t get this statement wrong. Graphics cards are built to withstand high temperature operation by their manufacturers. Running an overclocked GPU to play games at max settings will generate more heat than it normally should. Power consumption will also skyrocket just to get your powerful GPU through the overclocking session.

What happens here is that heat will negatively affect your graphics card’s components. Over time, solders can melt or your VRAM Chips and parts of the PCB are fried. Again, this doesn’t happen immediately the first time you overclock. There’s no issue here if you overclock sparsely and you don’t run it for longer than you should.

For example, if you overclock for one hour, your GPU lifespan shouldn’t shorten drastically. It would be the equivalent of normal GPU working conditions, except you’re just running at a higher graphical detail. Your PC components will not get affected by the overclocking either. It’s a different story when you overclock for hours on end and for more than once a month or so.

So what happens when there’s more heat than your system can generally handle?

Here’s what we call thermal throttling, or performance throttling. Graphics cards are built to withstand high temperatures. To prevent overheating issues, graphics cards will slow down intentionally in order to lower temperatures. This will cause your system to stutter for a good few seconds or up to a minute or so. This allows the graphics cards or processor to catch up and recover before it can continue to operate.

Lack of or Poor Airflow

Your PC’s intake and exhaust fans are responsible for continuous cooling. Intake fans pull cold air into the system and exhaust fans expel hot air out of the case. Both intake and exhaust fans should operate equally on all levels.

Overheating issues can stem from:

  • Intake fans not pulling in adequate amounts of cool air
  • Exhaust fans not expelling adequate amounts of hot air
  • Both intake fans and exhaust fans are not adequately pulling in or expelling air out respectively

Good airflow actually prevents these issues, and all it takes for good airflow is to clean the intake and exhaust fans. How much maintenance you’ll need to do is determined by how easily your fans get dirty. Personally speaking, I clean out the fans on my case once every three months.

Bitcoin Mining or Crypto Mining

Mining Rig How Long Do GPUs Last

The cryptocurrency mining process can be cruel on graphic cards, regardless of their brand and model. An Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti used for mining all year round probably has a lifespan of three years, maybe even less.

How long can a GPU last when it’s used for crypto mining? GPUs last far shorter than they should when they’re used for mining. You see, the process abuses your GPU for a long period of time. The mining rig will run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for up to a year or so.

Let us paint a more relatable picture.

Imagine turning on your car’s engine and leaving it on for a year. The car parts go through a lifetime’s worth of deterioration within that timeframe. By the time you turn off your car, all the parts will have gone through hell. The same goes for your graphics card on crypto mining.

Graphics cards are not meant to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even veteran PC builders are smart enough to set their PCs to sleep mode when they are not using the system even if it’s only for a few hours. You’ll extend your GPU life by doing so, not to mention your other components too.

Fans Not Working Properly

Your cooling fans are responsible for maintaining your system’s natural airflow. When you want more performance out of your graphics card, you’ll need to make sure that the fans are working properly.

Some graphics cards have at least one fan installed in them. The bigger cards will have two or three. These fans only have one thing to do: to make sure that there’s sufficient airflow coming into the heatsink.

If that doesn’t make sense, here’s how it works:

  • Graphics cards generate heat and is transferred through the heatsink.
  • The GPU fans blow strong enough to cool down the heatsink
  • Heat is expelled from the heatsink and circulated inside the PC case
  • The case’s exhaust fans will then expel all the accumulated heat in the system

When your GPU fans don’t work, heat is not removed fast enough from the heatsink. This results in overheating which leads to thermal throttling.

Thermal Paste Issues

GPUs have thermal paste pre-applied by the manufacturers. Extended usage of your graphics cards will dry up this thermal paste. When the thermal paste is dried up, it’s no longer efficient in transferring heat from the chip to the heatsink.

Applying thermal paste to old graphic cards isn’t challenging or expensive. Thermal paste is affordable and there are tons of YouTube videos that will show you how to replace your thermal paste on your CPU or GPU.

Heating Leads To Graphics Card Failure

We talked about how heat generated from the graphics card can lead to GPU failure, whether it’s heat caused by overclocking, lack of natural airflow, GPU fans being unable to maintain positive airflow or even crypto mining.

Regardless if you have an old GPU model or a new model, heat will always be an issue. When graphics cards and processors are put under intense workloads, they’ll produce more heat. When more heat is produced, fans will need to work harder to cool these components off.

When the system is unable to cool down on time, thermal throttling happens. Again, this is a normal response to overheating. When the system’s cooled off properly, you’ll get more performance out of your graphics card, processor, and other parts.

Your RAM, SSD, and even your power supply generate heat when they’re working and running. All this heat is circulating inside the PC case, which is why the exhaust fan needs to expel hot air as soon as possible to keep every component cooled off.

Here’s the interesting part…

All the PC components, from graphic cards to processors to RAM to SSD, are built to withstand varying temperature ranges. For example, graphic cards usually hover a maximum tolerance of 80 degrees Celsius (or 176 degrees Fahrenheit). What this means is that your graphics card will not fail if it reaches this temperature because it’s meant to withstand that certain temperature range. However, going past that mark will lead to some throttling.

Final Thoughts

So how long do GPUs last?

The short and sweet answer is this: it depends on how and how often you use your system.

Under normal workload, GPUs last anywhere between five to seven years. On a personal note, I’ve had my GeForce 1050Ti for eight years running and it’s just as good.

However, if you’re running a crypto mining rig, the GPU life span is halved. This is why you don’t really buy secondhand GPUs used for mining.

But what really kills any graphics card is obsolescence. Every year, manufacturers such as Nvidia and AMD are always releasing newer GPUs with higher VRAM storage, faster clock speeds, and more efficient cooling technologies. Your GPU is dying the moment something new comes up, and we’re not talking about the components’ physical deterioration. It’s just the natural ebb and flow of any electronics device.