I read somewhere that Laptops are "designed to fail"?


Oct 16, 2014
This is scary. I read somewhere on the internet (don't remember the website, it was a tech site like Tom's, I read it on my phone so can't give you the URL) that laptop manufacturers are making laptops that are "designed to fail" within three to four years.
The author wrote that big brands like HP and Dell are using something called "high lead solder" which will fail in a course of three or four years of usage,
and went on to say that this was an "intentional tactic" to force the user to keep purchasing new hardware - as computer hardware is not advancing at a stellar rate any more, if the hardware doesn't break, an average user can keep using the same computer for like 10 years before feeling the need to upgrade. Hence manufacturers found this way to program a death into the devices they're making. Is this true?



Actually that's completely opposite of the truth. Removing lead content is what has made electronics less reliable, and it's not the manufacturers fault, it's due to government mandates about the removal of lead from ALL types of products.



Jun 18, 2011
Is it true? Probably not but I haven't seen the article You may have the "using high lead solder" backwards. Solder previously had a higher lead content but because of the problems with lead electronics industries move to "lead free solder" which is what they are using now and there's even a certification for it. But the lead free solder has caused some problems because it is more susceptible to corrosion. In fact, one of the shuttle launches years back was delayed and the cause was traced back to lead free solder in a component that previously used leaded solder.

So I don't think that lead free solder is intentionally designed to fail. I think it's required because so much electronic equipment ends up in land fills that has the potential to contaminate water supplies.

That's not to say that the laptops aren't designed to fail some other way like hinges or displays or keyboards or what have you, but lead free solder isn't the cause.


Seeing as I have functional laptops that are close to 20 years old.....(Dell from 1998? and Sony from 1999)

I would look at it as just building cheap, instead of intentionally building to fail.

The software requirements generally outrun the hardware long before a fail point.
Think back to 2005. What system were you using? Would it still run todays software and games? Ha.


Actually he's talking about a FUD (Fear, uncertainty and doubt) urban myth story about the lead, which is opposite of what's actually happening, which is this:

…Which brings me to you, or rather to all of your soldered devices that are two years old or less. Most of these are now assembled using solder joints that have no lead in an effort to save our groundwater and our health. The fact that the lead has been generally replaced with silver or bismuth, both of which are actually greater health risks than lead, well we’ll leave that one for Ralph Nader if he decides not to run for President. The longer-term trend is toward all-tin connections, anyway, but they don’t work very well, either.

We’re talking about tin whiskers, single crystals that mysteriously grow from pure tin joints but not generally from tin-lead solder joints. Nobody knows how or why these whiskers grow and nobody knows how to stop them, except through the use of lead solder. Whiskers can start growing in a decade or a year or a day after manufacture. They can grow at up to nine millimeters per year. They grow in any atmosphere including a pure vacuum. They grow in any humidity condition. They just grow. And when they get long enough they either touch another joint, shorting out one or more connections, or they vaporize in a flash, creating a little plasma cloud that can carry for an instant hundreds of amps and literally blow your device to pieces.

Which is probably an over-exaggeration as well, but is closer to any kind of truth than the use of lead solder causing failures.
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