11 Laptop Screen Problems and Quick Tips for Solving Them

Laptop Screen Problems

Laptop screen problems are annoying. And what really stings is that you’ve got important work to do by a deadline. Laptop screen problems are unfortunately very common. Issues that require replacing the screen or GPU are serious and expensive. But problems like loose connections are inexpensive fixes. Before you go out and buy a whole new laptop, diagnosing your own laptop issues will help you determine if it’s worth running yourself into debt. Plus, if you can keep your old laptop, you won’t lose or need to transfer all your files.

1. Blank Screen

Laptop screen problems can make you start thinking about the longevity of the laptop.

One of the most common laptop screen problems is a blank screen. 

And it’s also one of the most frustrating laptop screen problems because getting to the root of the issue is challenging.  There are lots of reasons behind this issue, but the two primary causes are:

1) a motherboard with faulty hardware parts,

2) or a broken LCD/LED screen.

Solution 1:

With your laptop turned off, connect it to an external display.  Then turn the device on.  If the external display shows your laptop’s boot up sequence, then you know that you need to replace the display.

It’s an easy repair.  But unless you’re used to working on laptops, DON’T ATTEMPT TO FIX IT YOURSELF.  If the machine is under warranty, the manufacturer can replace the display for you.  If not, take it to the nearest laptop repair hub that works with manufacturer’s certified parts.

Solution 2:

If the display still isn’t working after plugging it into an external monitor, it’s time to try resetting the laptop’s BIOS (basic input/output system):

  • Tun your laptop off
  • Unplug and remove the battery
  • Hold the power button down for 30 seconds (this depletes the internal battery)
  • Plug the power cable into the laptop without inserting the battery
  • Then turn your laptop on

This should reset the laptop’s BIOS and fix the blank screen issue.  Just re-insert the battery and you’re good to go.

Solution 3: 

About 90% of no display issues are due to faulty RAM.  And the fix could be as easy as cleaning a dirty memory stick or replacing it all together.  To fix, reset the BIOS and clean/remove/replace the RAM stick(s).

  • Turn off the laptop
  • Remove the power supply and battery
  • Open the laptop and locate the RAM stick(s)
  • With the stick(s) removed, carefully clean it by using an eraser to gently rub the gold contacts
  • Then put everything back together and turn on your laptop

If the display still isn’t working (and there’s more than one memory module), repeat the steps above.  This time, instead of cleaning the memory sticks, start your laptop up with only one RAM module inside.

If the display still isn’t working, take the same stick of RAM and place it in as many memory slots as your laptop has turning the device on each time to see if the screen works.  Display still isn’t working?  Repeat this step with as many memory sticks as are in your laptop.

If this test doesn’t fix the issue, try the same procedure with a brand new stick of RAM.  If the screen works properly, then you know you need new memory sticks.  And if not, there’s a huge chance the problem is related to the motherboard or GPU.  At this point, just let a computer professional take care of it or it may be time for a new laptop.

2. Pixel Defects

Defects include hot, dead, stuck or otherwise malfunctioning pixels.

Hot pixels = always on or brighter-than-normal

Dead pixels = always off and don’t light up at all

Stuck pixels = can appear as tiny colored squares on your LCD or LED screen

This happens whether your laptop is old or brand new.  Sometimes, this problem is due to trapped or wedged pixels.  Or more seriously it could be an issue with the GPU, requiring that the graphics card to be changed. 

If your laptop is still under warranty some manufacturers will only agree to fix the screen if the number of bad pixels exceeds a certain number.   

Solution 1:

You can start fixing this by pressing the display – give it just enough force to alter the screen.  Applying pressure will usually loosen and free the pixel(s) and the lines or dots will disappear.  If that didn’t work move on to Solution 2. 

Solution 2:

Try using one of the free applications below.  They all use flashing color or bright images on your screen to locate and fix stuck pixels (you may not want to use these programs if you’re especially sensitive to flashing image):

JScreenFix is a web application that uses both HTML5 and JavaScript, so you don’t have to download anything.  It’s suitable for a wide variety of platforms, including Windows, iOS and MacOS (the process can take up to half an hour).

PixelHealer is designed by Aurelitec and limited in scope in that it’s only compatible with the Windows OS (operating system), from Windows 7 to Windows 10 (this will take up to 30 minutes).

InjuredPixels is an application you can use when you’re not sure what pixel problem you’re dealing with.  It’s a freemium pixel detector that blanks out your screen in multiple colors to test the display.  The stuck or dead pixel shows up against the color wall depending on the kind of damage, making the pixel issue easy to identify.

3. Screen Brightness Issues

Over time, LCD and plasma screen brightness can fade or dim.  You know you’re dealing with a screen brightness issue when maximum brightness looks dimmer than normal.

Solution 1:

Sometimes the laptop lagged and didn’t follow the system protocol immediately.  Or the lid switch was stuck.  You can easily fix this laptop screen problem by closing and opening the lid.

Solution 2:

Do a quick reboot.  It may be a minute system error or a problem that can be solved by restarting the device.  After the laptop is fully restarted, find out if the display is still dim. 

Solution 3:

If that didn’t work, the problem could be anything from hardware to a burnt backlight or inverted/broken cable.  Addressing these issues is way more complicated than simply replacing the screen, so – PLEASE SEEK A PROFESSIONAL.

Solution 4:

This may also be the result of physical damage to the wiring that supplies the display with power or video information.  We recommend also taking this issue to a computer professional if your laptop is no longer under warranty.

4. Digital Artifacts

These can be anything from visible dots, lines, or shapes. They make things hard to read and images difficult to see. 

The error occurs during signal transmission or interpretation.  The cause is either a faulty graphics card or loose video cable. 

You can sometimes fix this by simply tightening the connection.  But more often than not, you’ll need to replace the cable or graphics card.

Solution 1:

If you encountered the problem while playing a PC game, this is one of those laptop screen problems that could be caused by video card driver issues.  If you’ve been playing your game for hours, the graphics card may just be getting too hot.  First, give your laptop a break, then try again.  If that didn’t work, make sure you’re running the latest version of the game.  Finally, make sure the video card driver is up to date.

Solution 2:

If you always see artifacts regardless of the program you’re running, try plugging a different monitor onto your laptop.  If the problem persists, make sure that the graphics card is firmly connected to the laptop.  Then be sure you have the latest video drivers.

Solution 3:

If the artifacts are the result of trying to compress or change a video from one format to another, try different formats until you find one that doesn’t cause the issue.

5. Fuzzy, Blurry or Distorted Colors

We had an issue on one of our laptops where colors looked washed out on videos; this can also be associated with fuzzy or blurry lines that appear on the screen.  We tried to live with it, but even objects within videos were hard to make out.

Solution 1:

Distorted images may be caused by loose connections or defective hardware.  But in our case, the problem was fixed by changing the display settings in the OS (operating system). 

Solution 2:

Another solution is to update your display drivers or the system BIOS like so:

  • Tun your laptop off
  • Unplug and remove the battery
  • Hold the power button down for 30 seconds (this depletes the internal battery)
  • Plug the power cable into the laptop without inserting the battery
  • Then turn your laptop on

6. Color Distortion

Sometimes, laptop screen problems are only colors that aren’t showing up the way they should.  This includes things like a divided or jumbled display. 

Solution 1:

This often results from a defective GPU; if the laptop has a dedicated graphics card you can easily get to, you can try adjusting it and adjusting connections to see if this fixes things.

Solution 2:

But often times, the GPU is connected to the motherboard.  You’ll need precision tools to make repairs successfully without causing further damage to the laptop.  Our recommendation is to just send your laptop to a professional repair center, there’s nothing you can do here. 

7. Object/Font Size Issues

Objects and icons can appear too small, too large or blurry.

Changing the resolution settings can help. 

Screen resolution determines how much information you’re able to see on the display; it’s measured horizontally and vertically in pixels (ex. 1920 x 1080p).

While a larger screen resolution will allow you to fit more information on the display, it could also cause them to appear smaller.  The size is determined by the graphics card, screen size, video driver and display driver.

By default, display settings are chosen by Windows 10.

Solution:

To change the resolution in the Control Panel:

Right-click on the Windows button.  Open Control Panel.  Click Adjust Screen Resolution under Appearance and Personalization.  In the Resolution drop-down menu, select the screen resolution you want; the Native Resolution suggested by Windows will be noted as (Recommended).

8. Frozen Laptop Screen

This happens when an image suddenly hangs or freezes while you’re working.  When the laptop enters a “Not Responding” state, the mouse works.  But if you click on an icon or Start button, nothing happens.

NOTE:  If the mouse won’t move either, this could be a hardware problem like RAM, the hard disk, or an overheating issue.

The following solutions works on almost all versions of Windows including:  Windows 10, Windows 8/8.1, Windows 7, Windows XP, and Windows Vista.

Solution 1:

Wait. 

And whatever you do, don’t keep clicking the mouse or pressing random buttons.  This will only put extra load on the CPU and increase the amount of time it takes for you to regain your laptop. 

This may sound counter-intuitive, but most of the time when a laptop hangs, a particular process, or application is taking up a lot of RAM and CPU resources, making the whole system un-responsive.  Waiting 5-10 minutes gives the system time to become responsive again.

Solution 2:

This is by far the easiest solution, but only use it you’re still unable to regain control of your laptop after 10 minutes:  close and re-open the lid. 

Solution 3:

Still no results?  Then, press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to launch Task ManagerIf Task Manger opens, you can check which process is consuming the most amount of CPU and RAM resources.  Choose the process that’s sucking up all the power, which will kill that process and should get your system back.

Solution 4:

If Task Manager doesn’t open, try pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del to show the CAD screen which allows users to log off (sign out), switch users and open Task Manger.  You can also use power options such as restart, shutdown, hibernate, and sleep to fix the hanging problem.

Solution 5:

If that doesn’t work, try pressing the Windows logo key+Ctrl+Shift+B keys together.  This forces Windows to refresh the screen by restarting the graphics card driver.  You’ll hear a short beep followed by the screen blinking or dimming for a second, which should fix the freeze issue.

Solution 6:

This should be your absolute last resort when all else fails because you’ll lose all un-saved work.

If nothing else works, press and hold the power button until the laptop powers off.  Give it about 10 seconds then power your machine back on and the hang up/freeze should be fixed.

9. Flickering

This can be a headache in more ways than one.

The constant blinking is a distraction that produces fatigue resulting in decreased productivity due to increased breaks.  Not to talk of eyestrain and ensuing headaches.

Hardware failure can cause flickering; this is when the screen cable is loose or damaged.  You can first try lowering and raising the screen repeatedly to see if the flicker is related to movement. 

The inverter and backlight can also be a problem, but to fix this will require opening the laptop.  If it’s still under warranty, just send it back to the manufacturer.  If not, send it to a licensed laptop technician.

There are 3 different types of flickering:  brief, random, and persistent.  The type of screen flickering your laptop is experiencing will determine the proper way to fix it:

Brief flickering

Refresh rate refers to how many times the display re-draws what you see on the display per second.   You’ll want to change the screen’s refresh rate to match the capabilities of your display: 

  • Right-click the desktop and choose “Screen Resolution.” 
  • Then, click “Advanced Settings” and “Monitor.” 
  • Then, place a check beside “Hide Modes That This Monitor Cannot Display.” 
  • Finally, choose a higher refresh rate from the list.

Random flickering

If flickering comes at a more random consistency, you can solve the problem by updating your graphics and drivers.

Fix 1:

If the flickering began immediately after an update, you can simply revert back to an older driver:  Go to the “Device Manger.”  Then, right-click your adapter, then the “Driver.”  Click “Roll Back Driver” then click “Yes” to confirm

Fix 2:

In the Control Panel, click “Device Manager.”  Then, under “Display Adapters,” you’ll see the exact model of your graphics card.  Next, after you’ve found your model, get on the Internet and go to the manufacturer’s driver Web page.  Finally, download the appropriate drivers

Persistent flickering

Gamers are likely more used to this issue…

Persistent flickering happens when V-Sync (Vertical Sync) locks the refresh rate of the display which reduces horizontal flicker to improve image quality.

If persistent flicker occurs when Direct X or OpenGL is used, you can solve this problem by turning on Vertical Sync. 

  • For NVIDIA cards, you can find V-Sync in “Manage 3D Settings.” 
  • For Intel, look for “3D Settings” or “Asynchronous Flip.” 
  • And for ATI/AMD cards, turn on “Wait for Vertical Refresh.”

NOTE:  Viruses are also a known cause of screen flicker.  In this case, you’ll need to install an anti-virus program or run an update if you haven’t lately.

10. Touchscreen Issues

You could have trouble with a touch display that works intermittently; doesn’t respond at all; or (in the opposite extreme) it’s too sensitive to inputs.

Frustrating as it may be, this is not one of the laptop screen problems that’s difficult to fix.   The first thing you want to do is make sure that the touchscreen is as clean as you can get it.

Solution 1: Restart Your Laptop

Many laptop issues can be resolved by simply restarting the system.  Once rebooted, try the touchscreen again to see if it works.

Solution 2: Re-enable the Touchscreen

The touchscreen may not be working because it needs to be re-enabled. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Press the Windows logo key and R at the same time to invoke the Run box.
  2. Type devmgmt.msc, then click Ok.
  3. In the Device Manager, double click Human Interface Devices to expand the category.
  4. Right click HID-compliant touchscreen, then select Disable.
  5. If you get a pop-up message, click Yes to confirm.
  6. On the same Device Manager screen, right click on HID-compliant touchscreen, then select Enable.
  7. Finally, now you can find out if the touchscreen works.

Solution 3: Update the Touchscreen Driver

A missing or outdated touchscreen driver could be all that stands between you and a more intuitive relationship with your laptop.

There are two ways to update your touchscreen drivers:

Manually

Go to the manufacturer’s website for your laptop’s touchscreen.  Find its latest correct driver.  Download and install the one that’s compatible with your Windows operating system.

Automatically

You can do the same thing with Driver Easy.

The program automatically recognizes your system and finds the correct drivers for you.  The beauty is you don’t need to know your system exactly.  Despite that, you won’t risk downloading and installing the wrong driver.  And you won’t need to worry about installation mistakes.

Solution 4:  Calibrate the Touchscreen

Your touchscreen problem could be due to a calibration error.

Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Go to your laptop’s Control Panel and view by category.
  2. Click Hardware and Sound.
  3. Click Calibrate the screen for pen or touch input in the Tablet PC Settings section.
  4. In the Display tab, click Calibrate.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to finish the setup.
  6. Save the calibration data and restart your laptop.
  7. Now try using the touchscreen.

Solution 5:  Configure the Power Management Settings

The Windows OS turns off some hardware devices in order to save power.  That means your touchscreen may be turned off by the power management settings to conserve power.

Follow the steps below to change the settings:

  1. Press the Windows logo key and R at the same time to invoke the Run box.
  2. Type devmgmt.msc and click Ok.  Then Device Manager will pop up.
  3. Double click Human Interface Devices, and right click on HD-compliant touchscreen, then choose Properties.
  4. Click the Power Management tab on top and un-check the box next to Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power.  Then click Ok to save your changes.
  5. Finally, restart your device and find out if the touchscreen works.

Solution 6:  Run a virus scan

A virus could be affecting the functionality of your touchscreen.

What you want to do is run a virus scan across your entire system.  And no, Windows Defender isn’t potent enough to catch all the issues.  This will take time.  Then follow the instructions provided by the antivirus program to fix the malware.

Finally, restart your laptop and see if the touchscreen works!

11. Sudden Display Blackout

Laptops have internal settings that force the screen to black out or for the laptop to go into hibernation mode when it’s not in use for a set amount of time.

Solution:

If you’re laptop screen goes black during use because you haven’t touched the keys or mouse for some time, you can fix this problem by adjusting the sleeping/hibernation settings.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let laptop screen problems get you down. Sure, they can be tremendously frustrating. Many users simply panic and buy a new laptop. But not you. You know that display issues are usually problems you can easily fix yourself. And even if you can’t do the work on your own, you now know that taking it to professional is way cheaper than replacing an otherwise excellent system. And now you have 11 fantastic solutions to try first. All that’s left is to take what you’ve learned and put it into practice. Ready to fix your laptop screen issue? Then what are you waiting for?