Can you wear out a CPU?

musicpenguy

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 29, 2006
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I am wondering - do CPUs get worn out? I am using my Macbook Pro now as my media server/encoding machine - and it is pretty much always encoding some sort of video and has its CPU maxed out - does anyone know if the CPUs get worn out and slow down over time?

Thanks!

(It's a 17" Intel Core Duo 2.16 GHZ)
 

m85476585

macrumors 65816
Feb 26, 2008
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Something else will probably fail first, like a capacitor or some miscellaneous part on the logic board that renders the whole thing useless anyway. Heat will accelerate failure of the logic board, though the computer should still last a reasonable lifetime (3-5 years). My biggest concern would be the battery since leaving it at 100% and keeping it warm are bad for it. Don't just take it out, though, or the CPU will clock down to 50%. Discharging it regularly is the best thing you can do, or if you never want to use the computer on battery, don't worry about it.

Normally I would say not to worry about running the CPU at 100% all the time, but Apple keeps pushing the thermal envelope, and I doubt MBPs are designed to run like that. That doesn't mean 100% CPU for a short time or even days or weeks is bad for them, it just means that if that really is the only thing you do for the life of the computer, you will probably shorten the life.

Things you can do to reduce the effects are use a program like SMCFanControl to run the fans at max speed all the time and/or get a cooling pad. Running the fans at max speed will of course wear out the fans uicker, but those should be cheaper/easier to replace than the logic board.
 

Michael CM1

macrumors 603
Feb 4, 2008
5,676
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Yes, and anybody who says otherwise is really really uninformed -- dare I say stupid. If the fan controller were to die, you could possibly burn that sucker out quickly. This is much less likely on mobile CPUs, but any computer part can be worn out. I have personally never had it happen on any machine I own, but I remember seeing pictures of an AMD Athlon chip that had a heat sink removed for about 10 seconds. Looked like a light saber had been run through it.

Make sure your fans keep working, keep the computer ventilated, blast the fans with air once in awhile.
 

m85476585

macrumors 65816
Feb 26, 2008
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Yes, and anybody who says otherwise is really really uninformed -- dare I say stupid. If the fan controller were to die, you could possibly burn that sucker out quickly. This is much less likely on mobile CPUs, but any computer part can be worn out. I have personally never had it happen on any machine I own, but I remember seeing pictures of an AMD Athlon chip that had a heat sink removed for about 10 seconds. Looked like a light saber had been run through it.

Make sure your fans keep working, keep the computer ventilated, blast the fans with air once in awhile.
Intel chips will throttle down to prevent damage if the fan fails. I don't know if they will operate without a heatsink. That is completely different than operating at a high temperature, though.

Out of all the components in the computer, a CPU failure should be the least of your worries.
 

sammich

macrumors 601
Sep 26, 2006
4,281
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Sarcasmville.
Is this true/verified?
This has been around for 3.5 years. Ever since Apple moved to lower powered (smaller) power adapters and Intel Chips.

In short: lower wattage adapter means running everything at max power will outstrip the adaptors ability to supply power by itself. If the battery is there, it can supplement if supply is maxed out.
 

Stridder44

macrumors 68040
Mar 24, 2003
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California
You have to define "wear out."

There is a high chance that if you're using it at 100% for DAYS at a time, like running Folding@home in a laptop, the laptop could overheat and your CPU would get even hotter, potentially (and most likely) causing damage.

The single best thing you can do to extend the lifespan of your CPU is to lower the temperature. All in all, the difference between "minimal" usage and "hard" usage is the timespan between 20 - 50 years and 15 - 25 years. There really isn't anything to worry about, not to mention modern day CPU's throttle themselves if they reach dangerous temperatures (although that doesn't mean you should push them to the max for long periods of time).

A server CPU running 24/7 for long periods of time would probably wear out less than a CPU that is turned on and off everyday, but it would still be marginal. CPUs are precision instruments, they usually either work or they don't work at all.

But in any case, the real concern is always temperature. The switch between hot and cold is what causes some deterioration over time.


tl;dr version: No, just be sure your CPU is getting good ventilation/airflow and keep it as cool as possible (wether that means getting a laptop cooling pad, cleaning out the CPU fans, keeping the room cold, etc.).
 

p3ncil

macrumors regular
Jul 6, 2009
249
8
A server CPU running 24/7 for long periods of time would probably wear out less than a CPU that is turned on and off everyday, but it would still be marginal. CPUs are precision instruments, they usually either work or they don't work at all.
hmm... but i don't think they are comfortable with the surge of electricity whenever you turn your computer on. correct me if i am wrong though.

either way. just use it. a mbp isn't for decoration.
 

dukebound85

macrumors P6
Jul 17, 2005
18,059
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5045 feet above sea level
Yes, and anybody who says otherwise is really really uninformed -- dare I say stupid.
Hardly. Wearing out a cpu due to normal usage is very low. Other components will break first that will render the computer useles...such as cpu fans....that is not "wearing out" the cpu however

If the fan controller were to die, you could possibly burn that sucker out quickly. This is much less likely on mobile CPUs, but any computer part can be worn out.
Is a fan controller a cpu? no. The question was can you wear out a cpu, not can you wear out components that work with the cpu...
I have personally never had it happen on any machine I own, but I remember seeing pictures of an AMD Athlon chip that had a heat sink removed for about 10 seconds. Looked like a light saber had been run through it.

Make sure your fans keep working, keep the computer ventilated, blast the fans with air once in awhile.
That example is not the cpu wearing out from normal usage. That is an example of how a cpu will fail if it is used in an environment outside design by removing a part that ultimately renders the computer useless


There is a subtle difference that you are failing to pick up on so please don't be so quick to call others "stupid"........

Is this true/verified?
yes, that's true
Intel chips will throttle down to prevent damage if the fan fails. I don't know if they will operate without a heatsink. That is completely different than operating at a high temperature, though.

Out of all the components in the computer, a CPU failure should be the least of your worries.
Very true

You have to define "wear out."

There is a high chance that if you're using it at 100% for DAYS at a time, like running Folding@home in a laptop, the laptop could overheat and your CPU would get even hotter, potentially (and most likely) causing damage.
Do you have any design experience? Using something at 100% will not overheat the cpu and cause it to fail. It is designed to work at 100%. Additionally, there are always conservatism in designs


in short...OP: Do not worry about running your computer at max usage as long as you are operating in the environment range set by Apple
 

musicpenguy

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 29, 2006
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Thanks for all the input - I keep the MBP on a stand and Apple as their last Applecare act just replaced the fans as they failed and it started sounding like a drill :)
 

Stridder44

macrumors 68040
Mar 24, 2003
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California
Do you have any design experience? Using something at 100% will not overheat the cpu and cause it to fail. It is designed to work at 100%.
Herp derp, no duh. But we're talking a highly enclosed space here. I'm not saying "don't ever push it to it's max because it'll go kaboom", I'm saying in a tiny enclosed area like a laptop it's not a great idea to run a CPU at max, 24/7, for days or months at a time (like running Folding@home for example) simply for temperature concerns. I've played games with both CPU and GPU fans running full bore for hours before without a problem whatsoever, but I wouldn't want them doing it for days.

In a desktop, where things are spacious and well cooled, it's far less of a concern because there's more room for cooling.

Additionally, there are always conservatism in designs
Yeah, you missed the part where I already said that.


hmm... but i don't think they are comfortable with the surge of electricity whenever you turn your computer on.
...which is exactly what I said in my post. What are you trying to say?

either way. just use it. a mbp isn't for decoration.
Please point out where I said not to use it.
 

lixuelai

macrumors 6502a
Oct 29, 2008
798
57
Nothing wrong with using a notebook at 100% CPU for years. Other components will fail way before the CPU does.
 

m85476585

macrumors 65816
Feb 26, 2008
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When's the last time you saw a CPU fail? I don't disagree that running at 100% all the time will shorten the life of the computer, but the CPU is still one of the most reliable components.
 

dukebound85

macrumors P6
Jul 17, 2005
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Herp derp, no duh. But we're talking a highly enclosed space here. I'm not saying "don't ever push it to it's max because it'll go kaboom", I'm saying in a tiny enclosed area like a laptop it's not a great idea to run a CPU at max, 24/7, for days or months at a time (like running Folding@home for example) simply for temperature concerns. I've played games with both CPU and GPU fans running full bore for hours before without a problem whatsoever, but I wouldn't want them doing it for days.
Once again, it is designed for that. There is no issue running a laptop at 100% for weeks on end. They designed the machine to withstand it....
In a desktop, where things are spacious and well cooled, it's far less of a concern because there's more room for cooling.
Hence why they do not use mobile processors aka being able to use higher watt chips due precisly for the increase in cooling capacity....

You can run either a desktop or a laptop at 100% as long as you want as the machines are designed for it. The fact that a laptop is smaller, has less area for cooling is irrelevant as those factors are incorporated into the design

How exactly do you think they come up with cpu's (speed/wattage/etc), fans(size/rpm/etc), heatsink capabilities for laptops? It is done by extensive analysis' that's how. Those analysis incorporate design parameters, such as cooling rates needed, to come up with a product (in this case, a laptop). The same is done for any computer

Nothing wrong with using a notebook at 100% CPU for years. Other components will fail way before the CPU does.
Exactly

This argument is akin to those beliveing running higher octane gas in a car actually improves it somehow when the car isn't designed for it...aka it's a silly argument to make
 

Stridder44

macrumors 68040
Mar 24, 2003
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Once again, it is designed for that. There is no issue running a laptop at 100% for weeks on end. They designed the machine to withstand it....
And so are hard drives. They're "designed" (as you'd say it) not to fail, but it happens. You're assuming everything always works 100% of time without question, but that's not how life works. Go ahead and run a CPU in a laptop 24/7 for months (or years if you can get that far) on end and see how that pans out for you.

Again, I'm not saying NOR DID I EVER SAY don't use your CPU at full speed. I'm just saying running it 100% for a very, very long time will shorten it's lifespan.

This argument is akin to those beliveing running higher octane gas in a car actually improves it somehow when the car isn't designed for it...aka it's a silly argument to make
That analogy makes no sense at all in relation to what we're talking about. Also, using the higher octane gas in a car that wouldn't know what to do with it wouldn't have any negative impact (although I agree it is a dumb thing to do if the car isn't designed to take advantage of it). Again, so you actually read what I'm saying this time and not make crap up, Higher octane has NO NEGATIVE impact on a car that can't take advantage of it, but dangerously high temperatures WILL HAVE a negative impact on a CPU that isn't designed for it.
 

lixuelai

macrumors 6502a
Oct 29, 2008
798
57
HDDs have moving parts. Big difference. I browse plenty of computer forums and I have never seen anyone post about their CPU die from normal use or even moderate overclocking. Only times ever were from crazy overvolting for extreme overclocking.
 

dukebound85

macrumors P6
Jul 17, 2005
18,059
1,185
5045 feet above sea level
And so are hard drives. They're "designed" (as you'd say it) not to fail, but it happens. You're assuming everything always works 100% of time without question, but that's not how life works. Go ahead and run a CPU in a laptop 24/7 for months (or years if you can get that far) on end and see how that pans out for you.
The question is do cpus wear out by using them 100%

My point is no they are not as
1) They are designed for that load with conservatism built into the design
2) They are not the component to worry about. Other parts (such as hdd's)will fail before the cpu
3) As such, there is NO reason to worry about wearing down the cpu as the cpu is not the limiting factor
Again, I'm not saying NOR DID I EVER SAY don't use your CPU at full speed.
I never said you did. Might want to re-read the thread:cool:

What you are sat=ying is that using a cpu at 100% for extended periods of time will cause it to degrade/fail. That is just inaccurate
I'm just saying running it 100% for a very, very long time will shorten it's lifespan.
As I have said, the cpu is not the limiting factor.

If you run a cpu at 100%, the failure will not be a result of the cpu being worn down. Other components will fail long beofre the cpu shows any signs of "wear"


That analogy makes no sense at all in relation to what we're talking about.
Sure it does. You are making a silly argument implying that the cpu being worn down is the limiting factor in the computer failing

Other components, such as fans or logic bords, will fail long before the cpu wears out...
Also, using the higher octane gas in a car that wouldn't know what to do with it wouldn't have any negative impact (although I agree it is a dumb thing to do if the car isn't designed to take advantage of it).
That wasn't the point of the analogy, which was that people believe it's better for the car when it has no effect if its not designed for higher octane.:cool:
Again, so you actually read what I'm saying this time and not make crap up, Higher octane has NO NEGATIVE impact on a car that can't take advantage of it
That wasn't what I said. You should try reading my posts.

And what "crap" am I making up again?

What I said...People believe it has a positive effect. it doesnt. I never said it has a negative effect (aside from costing more)...
, but dangerously high temperatures WILL HAVE a negative impact on a CPU that isn't designed for it.
The only way you will reach "dangerously high temps is when a component, such as a fan, fails to cool it.

You will never reach dangerously high temps by running the cpu 100% for whatever length of time as that is the design. Yes high temps to the cpu in the event of a cooling failure will cause it to fail. However, running at 100% until such a failure will never result in dangeroulsy high temperatures

HDDs have moving parts. Big difference. I browse plenty of computer forums and I have never seen anyone post about their CPU die from normal use or even moderate overclocking. Only times ever were from crazy overvolting for extreme overclocking.
Yup, same here

The cpu is NEVER the limiting factor when used within operating specs (yes, that includes 100%)
 

Stridder44

macrumors 68040
Mar 24, 2003
3,969
136
California
The question is do cpus wear out by using them 100%

My point is no they are not as
1) They are designed for that load with conservatism built into the design
2) They are not the component to worry about. Other parts will fail before the cpu
3) As such, there is NO reason to worry about wearing down the cpu as the cpu is not the limiting factor
1) No duh, I said this in my first post
2) I never claimed this was false. Other parts will indeed fail before the CPU.
3) I never said it was, you should re-read the thread. I said TEMPERATURE is a CPU's biggest threat.

I never said you did. Might want to re-read the thread:cool:
I never implied you did. Perhaps you're the one who should re-read the thread :cool:

What you are sat=ying is that using a cpu at 100% for extended periods of time will cause it to degrade/fail. That is just inaccurate.
So a CPU running that is enclosed in an area that is less than 1" with a bunch of other very hot electronic parts at extremely high temps for its' entire life will last just as long as a CPU under the same circumstances running at much lower temps? Wishful thinking.

As I have said, the cpu is not the limiting factor.

If you run a cpu at 100%, the failure will not be a result of the cpu being worn down. Other components will fail long beofre the cpu shows any signs of "wear"
Again, as I've said many times already, I've been talking about TEMPERATURE, not "use". You keep putting words in my mouth.

Sure it does. You are making a silly argument implying that the cpu being worn down is the limiting factor in the computer failing

Other components, such as fans or logic bords, will fail long before the cpu wears out...
Again, you're putting words in my mouth. As I've been saying this entire time, TEMPERATURE. I'm not talking about general use. And yes, no duh, other components will fail before the CPU does.

The only way you will reach "dangerously high temps is when a component, such as a fan, fails to cool it.

You will never reach dangerously high temps by running the cpu 100% for whatever length of time.
Despite what you like to believe, a simple fan is not the end all beat all answer to heat. Again, this is laptops and temperature I'm talking about.


HDDs have moving parts. Big difference. I browse plenty of computer forums and I have never seen anyone post about their CPU die from normal use or even moderate overclocking.
Video cards don't have moving parts either (aside from the fan) and yet it happens there too. Also I never said anything about a CPU dying from normal use or moderate overclocking. And overclocking is 99% of the time in desktops, and we're talking about laptops. Also, if you had read any of my posts, I'm talking DECADES, not just overnight.

Only times ever were from crazy overvolting for extreme overclocking.
Gee, you think it could be from *drumroll* a dangerously high temperature?
 

dukebound85

macrumors P6
Jul 17, 2005
18,059
1,185
5045 feet above sea level
1) No duh, I said this in my first post
2) I never claimed this was false. Other parts will indeed fail before the CPU.
3) I never said it was, you should re-read the thread. I said TEMPERATURE is a CPU's biggest threat.
Glad you agree with me

I never implied you did. Perhaps you're the one who should re-read the thread :cool:
You are the one pointing out to me what you said, not I. I merely responded that I never implied the point you wrote....

So a CPU running that is enclosed in an area that is less than 1" with a bunch of other very hot electronic parts at extremely high temps for its' entire life will last just as long as a CPU under the same circumstances running at much lower temps? Wishful thinking.
Except that the chip was designed for it.

It's no wonder there are desktop and moble class chips. Why do you think that is?

*hint* Design is a part of it lol


Again, as I've said many times already, I've been talking about TEMPERATURE, not "use". You keep putting words in my mouth.
I'm not putting words in your mouth. Here is what you posted.
I'm just saying running it 100% for a very, very long time will shorten it's lifespan.

Again, you're putting words in my mouth. As I've been saying this entire time, TEMPERATURE. I'm not talking about general use. And yes, no duh, other components will fail before the CPU does.
See above. I am merely responding to what you write.
Thanks for agreeing with me yet again by the way (on your second point)


Despite what you like to believe, a simple fan is not the end all beat all answer to heat. Again, this is laptops and temperature I'm talking about.
Where did I say it was? I just used that as a point to illustrate that its the cooling system that determines the cpu temp. Running at 100% will never do any harm if teh cooling system is operating



Video cards don't have moving parts either (aside from the fan) and yet it happens there too. Also I never said anything about a CPU dying from normal use or moderate overclocking. And overclocking is 99% of the time in desktops, and we're talking about laptops. Also, if you had read any of my posts, I'm talking DECADES, not just overnight.

Gee, you think it could be from *drumroll* a dangerously high temperature?
And if you read the thread, it has been stated the cpu won't fail if used in the design constraints and in the environment it was designed to operate in

OC'ing takes the part outside of what it was designed to do so yes, high temperatures are a concern there obviously.

SUMMARY

All my point is that cpu usage, no matter how high as long as its under the design constrainst (which includes 100%), will not be the factor to worry about with your laptop as other components will fail before the cpu. As the OP's concern was about cpu usage, it is acceptable to state that there is absolutely NO need to worrry about it

Reagrdless, I now begin think we are saying essentially the same thing and hopefully the OP has his concern addressed
 

Stridder44

macrumors 68040
Mar 24, 2003
3,969
136
California
Glad you agree with me
Agree with you? You mean agree with what I originally said.

See above. I am merely responding to what you write.
Thanks for agreeing with me yet again by the way (on your second point)
Haha wow someone's full of themselves. I've been talking about extreme temperatures being dangerous to a CPU's life and you've been leading this discussion on a wild goose chase full of BS by implying things I never said nor meant. But go on, if that's how you justify your argument.

Where did I say it was?
Gee, I don't know, maybe here:
The only way you will reach "dangerously high temps is when a component, such as a fan, fails to cool it.
And if you read the thread, I have stated the cpu won't fail if used in the design constraints and in the environment it was designed to operate in

OC'ing takes the part outside of what it was designed to do.
And if you understand computers at all you'd realize that ANYTHING can fail, ESPECIALLY under extreme heat. Also, lixuelai is the one who brought up OC'ing, although why I have no idea because it has nothing to do with our discussion.

Gee, comprehension fail much?
Sorry, reading and trying to understand your maze of implications and fallacies can get tiresome.


All my point is that cpu usage, no matter how high as long as its under the design constrainst (which includes 100%), will not be the factor to worry about with your laptop as other components will fail before the cpu. As the OP's concern was about cpu usage, it is acceptable to state that there is absolutely NO need to worrry about it
Which is EXACTLY what I said in my first post with this:

tl;dr version: No, just be sure your CPU is getting good ventilation/airflow and keep it as cool as possible (wether that means getting a laptop cooling pad, cleaning out the CPU fans, keeping the room cold, etc.).