Some days ago I had an heated debate (pun not intended) with a friend regarding the use of my laptops.

Basically he says which I'm slowly killing them by using them for computing intensive tasks which increases significantly the internal temperature and which I should be more careful on what I do with my laptops avoiding to run them at 100% of their CPU and GPU capacity, on my side I believe which if a computer is well built and not overclocked it should be able to protect itself from excessive heating by throttling or in extreme cases thermal shutdown and which is a waste to have a computer without using all of its computing power.

Both of us haven't serious knowledge on hardware so I'd love to have a scientific point of view on the question, especially considering which I'm getting my first MacBook in the next weeks and I have to know if I'm right by running it at full capacity or if I'm batter to protect its lifespan by offloading computing intensive tasks to a remote machine.

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    $\begingroup$ In general, you can double the lifespan of electronics for every 10°C decrease in operating temperature. $\endgroup$
    – Transistor
    Aug 3, 2021 at 10:52
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    $\begingroup$ Hi Emiliano. Welcome to Engineering. IMHO, this is an opinion based question and you will probably not get a fact based answer for your specific problem. Having said that my opinion, I stand with the opinion of your friend. The reason, is that although like you said computers are designed to operate under certain conditions, in my experience intensive thermal stresses and (maybe more importantly) thermal cycling tends to create problems in the long run. $\endgroup$
    – NMech
    Aug 3, 2021 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answers, I posted here hoping to get factual answers based on research since the only paper I've found on the topic seems to confirm @Transistor comment but it was based on the lifespan of stored (not connected or turned on) hard drives at different temperatures so I didn't knew about other components. $\endgroup$ Aug 3, 2021 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ @NMech this is definitely interpretable as a quantitative question: lifetime vs. CPU/GPU load vs. thermal management. $\endgroup$ Aug 3, 2021 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft I appreciate and respect your view and Transistor's (and share that theraml loads affect electronics life). My comment was because although there is burn-in studies for generic electronics equipment (Transistor's comment was along that line), I haven't seen any work that covers this subject adequately (nor do I think its possible) for different computer configurations. IMHO, each specific computer design may show significant deviations (e.g. quality of air that may clog up the vents quicker, intra-batch product variation, differences in air flow design for the same cpu, etc). $\endgroup$
    – NMech
    Aug 3, 2021 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


Yes, overheating electronics will reduce lifetime. No, a properly designed thermal control system (even including CPU throttling) will not allow thermal loads which measurably reduce lifetime.
That is, within a reasonable temperature range, all electronics will last far longer than you will keep the laptop. So, do the obvious stuff like making sure the air vents are not blocked.


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