Display issues are among the most common hang-ups for PC users. Whether it’s a problem with your PC monitor screen or your laptop’s display, we’ve all asked, “Why won’t my computer screen turn on?” at some point. The explanation is often something simple, like an accidental change of your display’s brightness controls or a loose connection.
Unfortunately, not all the issues are that easy to solve. Sometimes, the real problem is difficult to track down. In this guide, we’ll explain and troubleshoot some of the major sources of display trouble. We’ll also provide a detailed diagnosis checklist for the next time you encounter display issues, plus links with more information on how to fix your computer screen.
Major sources of display trouble
Display problems come in varying forms and some are easier to address than others. The root cause and best solution are often different depending on how they manifest. For example, if you have no display on bootup or your computer monitor just went black in the middle of using it, you may have more troubleshooting options than those experiencing a potential mechanical problem, like monitor buttons not working.
In this article, we’ll cover 4 primary problems, with a focus on common issues and how you can address them:
- Power and connectivity issues
- Poor cooling and hardware problems
- Hardware or software that’s out of date
- Physical damage and maintenance issues
There are other possible reasons that your computer monitor is not turning on, but they’re challenging to diagnose or solve unless you’re a professional. And if the problems become severe, you may even want to consider an upgrade to your current monitor. Or, you can try researching your product’s serial number to look for similar experiences from others online.
1. Power and connectivity issues
If the computer turns on with the monitor plugged in but the monitor could not be detected, a good first step is to examine monitor cords and connections. With freestanding monitors that support multiple inputs, it’s easy for cords to become loose over time or after repeated use.
- Make sure everything is secure and that none of the cords are damaged to rule out the possibility of connection problems.
- You can also test your display with a different cord if you have an extra one available.
Depending on your workspace, power delivery may be the issue.
If your device is plugged in but nothing appears on the display, you may have an electrical problem. Confirm the power cord is connected to your outlet or use a multimeter to check that the outlet is working.
A quick way to find out if the outlet is the problem? Plug in a lamp where your monitor usually goes. If the lamp doesn’t light up, you may need an electrician’s help. But the good news is that your display may be just fine.
When troubleshooting power issues, check for signs of power, like blinking lights and audio cues, before contacting an electrician.
2. Poor cooling or hardware problems
For those wondering “why does my computer screen go black after booting up?” there may also be an underlying cooling or hardware issue. In this case, several hardware faults may be responsible.
If your setup is older, your hard drive’s jumper settings could be to blame, and you could correct this issue through the BIOS.
In this situation, consult our How to Enter BIOS Setup on Windows PCs
article for detailed instructions on accessing BIOS and what to do if you can’t. In 2020, manufacturers began replacing BIOS in favor of a newer protocol called UEFI. If you’re working with a more modern PC, use the instructions in our What is UEFI?
- Do you have no screen display, but your CPU fan is working overtime and everything else still seems to be fine? In this case, think about if you’ve had persistent cooling issues.
- Or maybe you recently upgraded your device’s cooling system. Adding new hardware involves interacting with a lot of sensitive components, exposing your PC to more risks than usual.
An overactive fan with a blank display is a telltale sign of improper installation, hardware damage, or faulty cooling. An overactive fan can also be a sign of a clogged heat sink, which can lead to overheating and hardware failures. To prevent issues, research your product for the best maintenance practices.
The most effective fixes in these situations are all on the technical side, so you may need to repeat some actions that may have inadvertently contributed to your problem. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider getting help from a repair service or check your device’s warranty. Otherwise, be systematic and take the time necessary to rule out specific faults. Testing your display on another device is a great way to rule out or identify causes.
3. Hardware or software that’s out of date
Compatibility issues are another potential source of difficulty, and they can become more acute with out-of-date software. They can be challenging to diagnose alongside persistent issues, but they’re more often associated with intermittent problems.
If your device malfunctions over and over, the solution may be as simple as updating some of your components’ drivers
. Check the serial numbers and product information for your critical hardware and search for the most up-to-date driver software. Assuming the hardware is still supported, you should be able to download and install the latest drivers just like any other new program.
4. Physical damage and maintenance issues
Sometimes, the explanation for a monitor issue is physical damage, including an impact or electrical issue. Whatever the root cause, your display may stop working at all if issues like these are left unaddressed. In most cases, if serious damage occurs, you’re better off replacing the device outright rather than trying to fix it.
Maintenance issues, on the other hand, are easy to fix. Keep a clean workspace by dusting periodically, and check on the connections every month or so. Also, make sure your monitor’s cooling vents are uncovered. You should also install a surge protector or disconnect the display from its power source when out of use, just to be safe.
Checklist for troubleshooting display issues
Now let’s boil everything down to a practical guide. Here’s our step by step list for how to exhaust most of your home troubleshooting options:
- Confirm that your device has an active power source.
- Confirm that any power cords are undamaged and unobstructed.
- Confirm that the connections are secure. You could disconnect and reconnect each port as part of this step.
- Find the brightness controls and try raising the setting. Not all devices go dark when the brightness is turned down, but this is still a potential source of frustration. Not sure how the setting got turned down? It may be time to update your display software.
- Have you tried turning it off and on again? You can overcome many common issues with a quick reset.
- If your system functions intermittently, check your PC settings to confirm the hardware and operating system are up to date.
If the issue persists, you may have a deeper problem that requires professional attention or even a replacement.
How to handle issues with a dual monitor setup
Wondering why your second monitor is not working? Go through the same checklist as a single display. Before anything else, check the connections to make sure everything is working properly.
Consult your display settings for more detailed information to ensure everything is set up correctly, too. And if you need to reset your dual monitor setup after an issue, read our setup overview
for detailed instructions.
Best ways to handle major display repairs
When attempting a major repair on your own, make sure you’re prepared. Research your device and find any available support documents before you get started. It also helps to have the manufacturer’s support information handy. Don’t forget your warranty, either. Repairs may be covered if you’re still within the time limit and terms
Resources for laptop users
Issues with a laptop display are often more complex than with a standalone display since the screen is an integral part of the computer, but some of the above issues and fixes may apply. If you’re considering home repairs, check out our “Do It Yourself Laptop Screen Repair
” article for more information.
The question “Why won’t my computer screen turn on” has many potential answers. Fortunately, most are quick fixes. Also, finding an affordable replacement display is easy. If repairs are impossible or unaffordable, you may be able to upgrade without spending too much to replace your current, malfunctioning display.
About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.