Knowing how old your desktop or laptop computer is can be pretty handy for various reasons. Maybe you need to check whether it’s still in warranty or to make sure any of the components isn’t noticeably older than others. Perhaps you want to know just how long the current Windows installation is running or need the exact age of your PC for troubleshooting purposes.
Whatever the case may be, below you will find many ways to answer the question of how old is my computer. Just don’t forget that there isn’t a 100 percent, full-proof way to determine the age of a computer that works in every situation and for every PC. Some are more reliable than others, but none can give a completely accurate answer in every single case.
Before we begin, we’d like to share a couple of handy guides readers of this piece might find interesting. Our LHR vs. non-LHR GPUs guide explains every difference between the two. Next, if you want to learn the differences between dedicated and integrated graphics, we have an article that covers the topic in depth. Finally, check our how long should a laptop last guide to find out when’s the time to replace your aging notebook.
1. Check your BIOS version & Windows installation date in Command Prompt
The first method is a surefire way to determine how old your computer is. As long as you know you’re the first owner and haven’t updated the BIOS. To determine the BIOS version found on your motherboard, open the command prompt by typing the term into the Windows search box.
Once you open the app, type systeminfo.exe and press Enter. Next, look for the line named BIOS version. There you’ll find the date of release of your BIOS. As you can see, our date is January 15, 2021.
This isn’t the date our motherboard came out since we have updated the BIOS on multiple occasions. But if you didn’t do such a thing on your PC, your BIOS version can be a pretty accurate way to determine your computer’s age. Note that you can also see your BIOS version in the System Information app. To learn how to open System Information read the part about finding out what CPU you have, found below.
Aside from the BIOS version, system information also shows you the original Windows installation date. The date shown in our system information is November 19, 2020, which is accurate. However, many online sources claim that you reset the date each time you install a major Windows update.
The thing is, we have installed multiple significant Windows 10 updates, such as Windows 10 21H1 and 21H2, but the date listed in Command Prompt still is the date we installed Windows 10 on this machine for the first time.
Your mileage may vary, but this should be a pretty good way to determine how old your computer is if you’re the first owner and know you didn’t install Windows on the machine multiple times.
2. Find out what CPU you have and check for its release date in a CPU database
Another way to determine the age of your PC is to find how old your CPU is. The processor is a component that’s rarely swapped or upgraded, and many modern motherboards only support two CPU generations at most. The outlier is AM4-based chipsets since even the B350 chipset supports four generations of Ryzen CPUs.
To find out what CPU you have, type System Information in the Windows 10 search box and open the System Information app. There, look for the “processor” line. Our processor is Ryzen 5600X. Once you find what CPU you have, go to the CPU database courtesy of Techpowerup and type the name of the CPU in the search box.
As you can see below, the release date of our CPU is November 5, 2020, only a couple of weeks older than the date we assembled our DIY PC. There are other ways to find out what CPU you have, all listed and explained in our guide on how to check your computer specs.
3. Find your motherboard model and look for the release date of its chipset
The following method includes finding what motherboard you have and then looking for the release date of the chipset that powers it. A chipset is the heart of each motherboard, determining what CPUs can work with the said motherboard along with most of its features. Again, the System Information app is the easiest way to find what motherboard you have.
Just type the term into the Windows search box, open the app, and look for the “baseboard product” row. There you will find your motherboard model. Our motherboard name is MAG B550 Tomahawk. The alphanumeric string in the name, B550, is the name of the chipset found in our motherboard.
By Googling “B550 release date,” we found out that the release date for B550 boards is June 16, 2020. Not super accurate, but relatively close to the build date of our DIY rig. You can also try Googling the release date for your particular motherboard model. We did this and discovered MSI released the motherboard in late June/early July of 2020. Again, not highly accurate but good enough to get a ballpark number of your computer’s age.
Another way to determine your motherboard’s tentative release date is to visit the listing on its manufacturer’s page and go to the Support page. There you should find all BIOS updates released for that motherboard. The earliest BIOS update is the one you’re looking for.
For our motherboard, the Update page showed that MSI released the first BIOS update on May 15, 2020. About a month before the official release date. Again, not extraordinarily accurate but good enough to get a ballpark estimate of the age of your PC.
You can use other methods to determine what motherboard you have. We’ve listed them in our guide covering the topic. While this method isn’t super accurate, it’s great for determining the age of a used PC since the motherboard is usually the last thing to get swapped or upgraded.
4. Laptops & prebuilt desktop PCs – find the serial number or model number of your computer
If you own a laptop or a prebuilt desktop PC, you can look for the serial number of your PC and perform a Google search to find out how old it is. This method works great for new and used computers. It would be best to look for either Serial No., Model No., or SKU mark on the sticker. The list of digits next to it should be your serial or model number.
On laptops, you can usually find this information on the sticker or a print on the bottom side of the chassis. The serial number is generally found on the sticker on the rear side of the case on prebuilt desktop PCs. Another way to find your PC’s model number is to open the System Information app and look for the line “System SKU.” We own a DIY PC, which is why we have “to be filled by OEM” next to the “System SKU” line.
However, if you own a laptop or a prebuilt desktop PC, this line should contain the model number of your PC. No matter whether you’ve found your PC’s serial or model number, type it into Google search, and one of the results (a review, online retailer listing, YouTube video, etc.) should include the release date of your computer.
5. Laptops – find what laptop you have and perform a Google search
Laptop owners can also find the model of their laptop and, with it, the release date. We have already written a guide explaining how to find what laptop you have. Read the methods we listed in that guide, and once you find the model of your laptop, perform a Google search. Some of the results (reviews, previews, press releases, news, etc.) should include the exact release date of your notebook.
6. Check System32 & Users folders on your computer
The following few methods include checking system folders on your PC. To be able to do that, you have to enable a few options in Windows Explorer first.
How to see system & hidden files and how to turn on Date Created column in Windows Explorer
First of all, open Windows Explorer on your PC. Next, click on View and then on Options. Once you’re in the Options menu, click on the View tab. There, look for the option called Hidden files and folders. Turn the option on.
Next, look for the option called Hide protected operating system files. This option is turned on by default; you want to turn it off. Windows will show a warning once you do this. Just click on Yes and continue.
The final part is enabling the date Created column. To turn it on:
- click on any drive (we clicked on C)
- then right-click and select Group By
- After the submenu opens, click on More
- Once in there, look for the Date Created option and turn it on. That’s it!
Checking System32 & Users folders
Once you enable the necessary options in Windows explorer, open the C drive or any drive where your Windows installation is located and check the age of your Users folder. This folder is usually created and modified on your original Windows installation date.
While the created date is older than our PC, the modified date is the exact date we assembled the PC and installed Windows. So, it looks like the Users folder is a pretty reliable way of finding out how old your PC is, as long as you don’t own a used computer.
As for the System32 method, go to the system drive, click on the Windows folder, and then click on System32. Then, look for the oldest folders regarding created and modified dates. This method might work better for you, but our oldest folders were created back in 2019, a year before we assembled our PC.
We don’t know what’s the reason for this, but since we used an old SSD as our system drive, it might be possible these are leftover folders from the previous Windows installation or something similar.
7. Check your System Volume Information folder
Another interesting and not-so-obvious way to find out how old your computer is is by checking your System Volume Information folder. This is a hidden and system folder, meaning you’ll have to turn on these options in Windows Explorer. We already explained how to do that above. Once you’ve done what’s needed, open your system drive (usually C), and you should see the System Volume Information folder at the root of the C drive.
Now, the System Volume Information folder is created after the disk in question is formatted for the first time. In other words, the creation date of this folder can be a pretty good way to determine the exact age of your computer, as long as you didn’t format it more than once.
This works best for laptops and prebuilt desktop PCs. It also works rather well for DIY PCs that use all brand-new components, and that didn’t have their driver formatted multiple times.
This method doesn’t work well for our particular PC because, as we already said, we used an old SSD as the system drive. However, we only formatted the drive once, back when we bought it. And as you can see, the System Volume Information created date is late April 2017. And yes, this is the date we first installed Windows on this SSD.
So, if you have a computer with a storage drive you know hasn’t been formatted multiple times, determining the age of the System Volume Information folder is the most accurate method of determining your PC’s age.
This is also a pretty good way to check if the person who sold your PC used older components. Chances are they installed Windows without formatting the drive if it has already been formatted. So, if they used an old storage drive for a PC that should be brand new, this is the way to find that out.
8. How to determine the age of your MacBook/iMac
Last but not least, let’s show you how to find out how old your MacBook or iMac is. First of all, you should locate your Mac’s serial number. The sticker with the serial number should be located somewhere on the chassis. If you cannot find it, here’s how to find it in MacOS:
- Click on the Apple Icon on the Upper Left Side
- Once the menu opens, click on the “About this Mac” button
- Next, click on the “More Info” button
- Once the window with extra info opens, look for the Serial Number information
- Copy the serial number and type “Apple Check Coverage website” in the search
- Enter your serial number and type Captcha, and click on the Continue button
- The next page should show you the release date of your MacBook or iMac computer
How old is my computer/laptop – conclusion
As you can see, there isn’t a full-proof way to determine your PC’s age. Some methods, such as looking for your motherboard or CPU release date, are great for getting ballpark estimates.
Other methods, such as checking your BIOS version or the original Windows installation date, can give you the exact date your PC first turned on. However, for the first method to be accurate, your motherboard BIOS shouldn’t be updated. On the other hand, the second method is useless if you upgraded your Windows from 10 to 11 or reinstalled Windows at some point.
Finally, checking the creation date of your System Volume Information folder can be a perfect way to find out how old your PC is, as long as your system drive wasn’t formatted after the initial formatting procedure needed for OS installation.
If you ask us, most users should get a reasonably accurate age of their PC by using the BIOS version or System Volume Information method. A small percentage of PC users update their BIOS or format their system drive more than once. If you’re looking for the best way to determine how old your computer is, these two methods should work best for most people.