Is it cheaper to buy or repair a laptop?

When your laptop starts having issues, you have two main options: buy a new laptop or repair your current one. Deciding whether it’s cheaper to buy or repair depends on several factors, including the age and condition of your current laptop, the type of repair needed, and the cost of a comparable new laptop. Keep reading for a detailed comparison of the costs of buying versus repairing a laptop.

Quick answers

Here are some quick answers to common questions about buying versus repairing a laptop:

  • For minor issues like replacing a failed hard drive, repairing is often cheaper than buying new.
  • For older laptops, buying new may be cheaper than repairing a major component failure like the motherboard.
  • For newer laptops that need a major repair, it’s worth getting a repair quote before deciding to replace the laptop.
  • Liquid damage and catastrophic failures typically require repairs costing over 50% the value of the laptop, making replacement more cost-effective.

Factors that affect the cost of laptop repairs

The cost of repairing a laptop varies greatly depending on these key factors:

  • Age of the laptop – Older laptops tend to have higher repair costs since replacement parts are harder to source.
  • Brand and model – Repair costs can vary between brands. Models like MacBooks tend to have higher repair bills.
  • Type of repair – Simple fixes like a battery replacement tend to cost less than complex fixes like a motherboard replacement.
  • Extensiveness of damage – Liquid spills, cracked screens, and physical damage raise repair costs.
  • Location and technician rates – Repair prices can vary greatly between small towns and major cities.

Common laptop repairs and their average costs:

Repair Type Average Cost
Battery replacement $50 – $120
Hard drive replacement $100 – $350
Memory upgrade $50 – $150
Screen replacement $200 – $400
Motherboard replacement $300 – $500

When does it make sense to repair a laptop?

Repairing makes the most economic sense when:

  • The laptop is less than 2-3 years old.
  • The needed repair is relatively inexpensive like a hard drive or battery replacement.
  • Liquid damage is minor and did not impact critical components.
  • The repair costs less than 50% of the value of the laptop.

Older laptops with major component failures like the motherboard often have repair bills exceeding 50% of the laptop’s value. At that point, investing more money in repairs provides diminishing returns versus putting that money towards a new laptop.

Factors that affect the cost of a new laptop

When deciding whether to repair or replace, you’ll want to look at new laptops with similar specs and features as your current machine. The main factors affecting the cost of a new laptop include:

  • Brand – Major brands like Apple, Dell, and Lenovo tend to cost more than lesser-known brands.
  • Computing power – Faster processors, more RAM, dedicated graphics cards raise the price.
  • Build quality and materials – Metal cases and rigid construction increase costs compared to plastic designs.
  • Display size and resolution – Larger, higher-resolution screens increase the price.
  • Form factor – Convertibles, ultraportables, and 2-in-1 designs cost more than traditional clamshells.
  • Touch screens – Adding a touch interface increases costs slightly.

Here are average prices for new laptops by type:

Laptop Type Average Cost
Basic clamshell $250 – $450
Mid-range clamshell $450 – $850
High-end ultrabook $850 – $1,300
Business/workstation $1,000 – $2,000
Gaming laptop $800 – $3,000
2-in-1 convertible $550 – $1,200

When does it make sense to buy a new laptop?

Buying new makes the most sense when:

  • The laptop is more than 3 years old.
  • Repair costs exceed 50% of a comparable new laptop.
  • You want to upgrade to a significantly faster/more powerful laptop.
  • Your laptop was damaged beyond repair.
  • Parts are no longer available for your model.

If your 3+ year old laptop needs a $500 motherboard replacement, for example, you’ll often be better off putting that money towards a new laptop with a faster processor, more RAM and storage, better screen, and new battery.

Other considerations when deciding between new vs repair

Beyond just costs, here are some other factors to keep in mind:

  • Your budget – If money is tight, repairing may be your only affordable option.
  • Your needs – Will a repaired laptop still meet your performance and feature needs?
  • Lifespan – A repaired older laptop likely has less life left than a new one.
  • Warranty – Repairs carry shorter warranties than new laptops.
  • Timing – Repairs can often be completed much quicker than buying and setting up a new laptop.

Questions to ask before deciding

Here are some key questions to ask yourself when debating between repairing or replacing your laptop:

  • How old is my current laptop? Is it worth investing in repairs?
  • What is the exact repair needed, and is it economically feasible?
  • What is the typical lifespan of my laptop model, and how close is mine to the end?
  • Will repaired components like the battery or hard drive last much longer?
  • Will repairs fix all the issues? Or will more problems likely crop up soon?
  • Does my laptop still meet my needs in terms of speed, power, and features?
  • How much use and value will I realistically still get out of my laptop after repairs?
  • Can I afford to buy a new laptop with similar capabilities as my current machine?

Tips for minimizing laptop repair and replacement costs

Here are some tips to keep your laptop running smoothly and minimize the need for repairs:

  • Invest in a good quality protective case, sleeve, or bag.
  • Avoid eating and drinking around your laptop.
  • Clean the vents regularly to prevent overheating issues.
  • Use your laptop on a hard, flat surface to promote airflow.
  • Only use reputable repair shops that source high-quality parts.
  • Back up your data regularly to avoid data recovery costs.
  • Consider extending your warranty for added peace of mind.
  • Research repair costs and laptop lifespans before buying.

Bottom line

Deciding whether to repair or replace your laptop is usually straightforward once you consider factors like repair costs, your budget, and the age/condition of your machine. For minor issues on newer laptops, repairs make sense. But for older laptops with major component failures, replacement is often the smartest financial move. Knowing your laptop’s repair costs empowers you to make the right choice.


Is it better to repair or replace a 5-year-old laptop?

For a 5-year-old laptop, replacement is usually better than repairing. After 5 years, critical components like the battery, hard drive, and cooling system are often at or past their functional lifespan. Investing $500 in major repairs for an old laptop typically isn’t wise since you’ll only get 1-2 more years of usable life from it. The money is better put towards a new laptop that will outperform an old machine and last 5+ years.

When do liquid spills make laptops unrepairable?

Liquid damage often makes a laptop unrepairable when it reaches and damages the motherboard. Replacing a motherboard often costs more than 50% of a laptop’s value, making replacement a smarter option. Even if a liquid-damaged laptop is technically repairable, corrosion may develop over time, shortening its overall remaining lifespan.

Can I upgrade components rather than buying a new laptop?

Upgrading components like RAM, storage, and even the battery can extend the life of a laptop and is cheaper than full replacement. But for core components like the CPU, motherboard, and display, upgrades are rarely cost-effective. Sometimes full replacement does make better financial sense than sinking money into multiple component upgrades.

Is AppleCare worth it for MacBook repairs?

For newer MacBooks still under warranty, AppleCare is often worth it. MacBook repairs frequently run $500+, so the $249 3-year AppleCare plan can pay for itself after just one major repair. However, on older MacBooks past the standard 1-year warranty, AppleCare becomes far less cost-effective compared to third-party repair shops.

Can I repair a laptop myself?

While you can repair some laptop issues like replacing RAM and storage yourself, repairs to the motherboard, display, and other core components are best left to professionals. Taking apart modern ultrabooks without damaging cables or components takes specialized tools and knowledge. And one mistake can transform a straightforward $200 repair into a full logic board replacement.


Determining if buying a new laptop is better than repairing an old one requires careful consideration of repair costs, laptop value, remaining lifespan, and your budget. While each situation is unique, keeping repairs under 50% of a laptop’s value is a good rule of thumb for cost-effectiveness. Beyond just the financials, be realistic about your needs and how long a repaired laptop will meet them. Ultimately, choosing the option that makes the most economic sense will maximize your technology investment.