Screen has gone dull

I have a ThinkPad T20 (win98se) with an LCD screen that has gone dull (it has been flickering for a while, then yesterday it flickered non-stop and turned dull/dark) I can still use the laptop though the screen now is quite hard to read etc, since it is so dark. I hooked up an external monitor which interestingly enough only works as a mirror while I am not logged on as a user profile.
I don’t see the point in repairing it, since it’s 6 years old, I was just wondering how long you think the laptop will last now?, since I don’t mind using the external monitor.

I think that the laptop will work until anything else fails. Most likely the LCD screen has gone dull because of a failed FL inverter board. Neither a failed FL inverter board nor a failed LCD screen can prevent the laptop from working properly with an external monitor. The failed backlight will not harm the laptop itself. So, you definitely can use it with the external monitor.

62 Responses

  1. I have a HP laptop which i bought from Australia, its one with the wide screen migt be its HP Dv9000 series .The problem starts last month when I reloaded the window in it. The screen showing a patch from top to botton in the left side, it is not visible when windows start but visible when I open any folder or file or internet explorer. I installed the latest VGA Driver. Can any one tell me how to rectify that?

  2. Laptop Freak

    Ashish,
    Connect the laptop to an external monitor and check if the patch appears on the external monitor. If it doesn’t appear and the external video is fine, then it could be a hardware problem and related to the LCD screen.

  3. CHARLIE PORRAS

    Hello I really need your help! I have a Compaq Evo N800V Laptop, I was working just fine and suddently the screen went from full color to dimmer white color, freezed and I had to rebooted. When booting the image on the lcd is only horizontal lines crossing the screen . Then I turned it off. Put an External Monitor and it works great! So now I have a laptop working with an external monitor. I can send you a picture by mail. My email is porrascarlos80@hotmail.com

    Thanks!

  4. Laptop Freak

    Charlie,
    The external monitor works fine, so it’s not a software issue. It could be a loose video cable. Unfortunately, in order to reseat the video cable you’ll have to open up the laptop. One connection is located under the LCD screen, the second connection on the motherboard.

  5. CHARLIE PORRAS

    I will opening the laptop and taking a video or pictures of what I did . Will let you know.

    Thanks for your help on this. I receive an email from a payied website , where they said that chips on the back of the LCD can be bad and needs to be replaced but cost is too high.

  6. Chris McDermott

    The screen on my ibm thinkpad t20 seems to go into some odd state a few seconds after bootup. After looking fine for a bit, the image goes very, very dull (almost completely black).If I toggle the fn f7 buttons I can get the machine to cycle through to external output and back to the lcd screen, when again it looks normal for about 3 seconds and then becomes quite dark. Any idea what is going on?

    Thanks!

  7. Tobia Hawklyn

    I have recently acquired a Toshiba Portege 3500 (it’s a tablet pc) from a friend who has upgraded, and the screen has a couple of problems. First of all, it’s brighter at the bottom than the top (in laptop mode), and the top also has a few brown spots. I didn’t think LCD screens were susceptible to burn-in, but here seems to be some evidence. The brightness problem is probably related to the backlight, and after reading through your litany of “check the inverter board” I am going to do just that. Or at least beg my roomie to, he’s better at keeping track of screws. ;)

    I would appreciate any advice you could provide on this problem. :3

  8. Laptop Freak

    Chris,

    After looking fine for a bit, the image goes very, very dull (almost completely black)

    Sounds like a bad LCD inverter card. Fortunately this part is very inexpensive and I believe you can find if for $10-15. Most likely a new inverter will fix the problem. If you decide to repair the laptop yourself, you’ll need a hardware maintenance manual for your model. LCD inverter card instructions are located on the page 128-129. BTW, it’s not necessary to remove the display from the laptop as it shown on the picture, you have to remove just the screen mask and replace the failed inverter card.

  9. Laptop Freak

    Tobia,

    it’s brighter at the bottom than the top (in laptop mode)

    I don’t think that a new inverter board will make any difference. The inverter board works as a power supply for the backlight bulb (CCFL), it converts low voltage DC to high voltage AC. From my experience, if there is something wrong with the LCD inverter, the backlight bulb will not light up at all.
    I guess it’s possible that the inverter board outputs lower voltage than needed and because of that the backlight bulb not as bright as it should be but I’m not sure 100%. I’ll ask my friend – LCD screen professional when I have some time, may be he can clarify this situation for me. I think you might have a failing backlight bulb.

  10. Tobia Hawklyn

    Well, it’s something to hope for anyway, since that’s easier to fix than the backlight bulb itself. If it’s the bulb, that would probably warrant a screen replacement. I’m supposed to have a second one of these on the way (you know how shipping is during the holiday season) so hopefully I will have something to compare to. :x

    Thank you for your reply, and for your further investigation.

  11. I hope you can help. I have a Dell Inspiron 510m (English) and am living in Argentina. The laptop was purchased just under two years ago and the LCD screen has suddenly gone very dark. The computer works fine when connected to an external monitor. Do you know if replacing or repairing the LCD screen is likely to need specific (English) parts or is this a basic manuvere which someone in the know should be able to perform?

  12. Laptop Freak

    Ash,
    The LCD screen has suddenly gone very dark but you still can see a faint image, correct? I would replace the FL inverter board first, most likely it’s your problem. You also might have a bad CCFL tube (backlight bulb) but tubes do not fail as often as inverters.

  13. Hi.

    I figured I’d ask my question here rather than submitting a new one. Hopefully someone can help me out.

    I’m looking to get an external TFT monitor and was wondering whether I’d be able to connect my laptop (Acer Aspire 1355XC) to it using the VGA port I think I have.

    Since the monitor I’m thinking of getting is a widesceen, I wanted to check and see whether my laptop would have problems connecting and displaying on it properly. My laptop currently is 1024 x 768, the monitor res at native is 1440 x 900.

    I’m not wanting to use it as a second screen like Matrix or whatever the correct term is. I want to project whatever I see on the laptop on to the monitor, and then also be able to close the laptop and continue to use the monitor as display for when I’m watching movies or something. Is that possible by the way?

    I hope all that made sense. Waiting for your replies.

    Cheers!

  14. I have a New ASUS laptop, and love it. The external VGA port does not work when I try to hook it up to an external monitor or digital projector. Any solutions.

  15. Collegekid

    I have an Acer 8104 that seems to have an FL inverter problem after seeing this site and countless others. The really weird difference is that the best solution for everything to return back to normal is to plug my notebook into an external monitor. When I unplug the monitor, the notebook monitor continues to run correctly. However, when I restart, the monitor flickers again and then ultimately goes black with the desktop being faintly seen. Does this still seem to be the inverter? I don’t want to open nor replace the inverter if its not the problem. Where else is a good place besides ebay to find inverters because my model isn’t there? Also what can cause inverters to fail like this (playing video games that change the resolution meaning the video card is more to blame, ect…)? Thanks, I really appreciate it.

  16. I have a gateway 7326gz and six months after i bought it the screen started lickering. i sent it back cause it was under warranty apperantly it work for another 6 months until my warranty ran out and the problem is back. I tried updating the drivers but it still flickers.moving the screen does not make it flicker. but it will flicker randomly. any ideas

  17. Laptop Freak

    Abs,
    I tried connecting my laptop (native resolution 1024×768 pixels) to an external LCD monitor (native resolution 1280×1024 pixels) and set the laptop output video on both screens. The maximum resolution I’m able to get on the external monitor with this setup is 1024×768.

  18. Laptop Freak

    Soone2,
    It might be not enough just to hook up an external monitor. Probably you have to set up the laptop to output video on bouth screens or just on the external screen. For example on Toshiba you can do it with Fn+F5 key combination, on Dell laptops Fn+F8 combination. I’m not sure with key combination you have to use on Asus laptops.

  19. Laptop Freak

    Amir,
    You had the same problem 6 months ago before you sent it for repair. What did they replace, do you have any receipts? I think you might have a faulty FL inverter board.

  20. Hellody, I’ve got an issue–
    Years ago the hinges on my laptop were getting stuck, so a technician (where I live, here in Peru) for some reason had to drill in some screws on the corner of the screen. He probably announced “problem fixed”. The screen worked for a day, and never worked again. So for a couple years now, I have just connected my “laptop” to a monitor via the VGA port. However, the port is getting worn, and only when I press hard, does it not flick. Is there any other way to connect a laptop to an external monitor?
    I think one solution is the PCMCIA VGA port cards. But are they all so expensive? I don’t need a card to go to multiple monitors, just one.
    Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

  21. I bought a new Dell B120 notebook about a year ago. A few weeks ago, we noticed the screen was dull and, as best as I can describe it, slightly pixelated. I noticed that if a press down very firmly on the bezel along top edge of the screen, the screen returns to its normal brilliance.

    I’d appreciate any suggestions you could make. Thanks.

  22. Alan Clitherow

    I just doscovered this site through google, looks great, hope you can help. The screen of ny daughters laptop has been going dim and then normal for some time and I see that this is probebly some kind of inverter / backlight problem. The output to a monitor is fine. Now the bottom right of the LCD (near the point the inverter-to-bulb output enters the screen) is getting really hot to touch, hot enough to distort the plastic case. How do I tell if this is an inverter problem (cheap) or an LCD problem (new laptop time!). Any advice much appreciated.
    Cheers,
    Alan.

  23. Laptop Freak

    Tim,
    Here’s what I would do to troubleshoot the problem. Remove the screen bezel and check the connectors inside, make sure you don’t have loose connections. If the video on the screen goes back to normal only after you press on the edge of the screen then you might have a bad screen.

  24. Laptop Freak

    Alan,

    Now the bottom right of the LCD (near the point the inverter-to-bulb output enters the screen) is getting really hot to touch, hot enough to distort the plastic case.

    That’s where the inverter board is located. If you remove the screen bezel, you’ll see that there are only 2 parts that can generate heat – the backlight bulb (inside the LCD screen) and the inverter board. I think you have a faulty inverter board and can fix the laptop by replacing the inverter. I hope it’s not time for a new laptop yet! :P

  25. Hey,
    I recently manhandled my laptop screen and it cracked. Since then the laptop will boot up but the screen is just full of ink blot looking obviously because it is cracked. How hard is it to replace the screen? Is it worth it or is it time for a new laptop? I saw some screens on Ebay for a decent price but I am not sure if it is worth it to attempt to replace the screen.

    Any insight you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
    Barry

  26. Laptop Freak

    Barry,
    Here are some disassembly guides I’ve created for Toshiba laptops; some of them have instructions for replacing the LCD screen. I don’t know your laptop model, but there shouldn’t be much difference. Read through two-three guides and you’ll get the idea.

  27. Lawrence Chikonde

    Hi
    I have a Dialogue Flybook A33i. The problem is the dull screen, i connected to an external display device and it shows just fine. Following the trouble shooting tips on your site, i opened the lcd screen to search for the switch just in case it was stuck. Unfortunately i cannot tell where the switch is. At one point as i had it open and well pressing around the edge, the light came back on for a week and now its down again. I need help with where the inverter and switch for this dialogue flybook are located or any other helpful suggestions. Your help will be greatly appreciated

  28. I have a QOSMIO G15 501R with display issues. When you turn the machine on the QOSMIO logo comes up fine then after (2)seconds it goes into a dark mode, but you can still see the screen if you look real close,when I do a switch (FN+F5) it comes on as it should, but goes back to that very very dim look. With an external monitor its just fine, when I spoke to TOSHIBA they told me it seems as if your INVERTER is bad….How do I open up that screen to replace the INVERTER?

  29. Laptop Freak

    Lawrence Chikonde,
    I’m not familiar with this notebook at all, but from my experience I can say that the lid close switch is located on the laptop base, somewhere close to the hinges. Usually it looks like a small pin. If you cannot find it, probably your laptop has a magnetic lid close switch.
    On most notebooks the screen inverter is located inside the display assembly, below the LCD screen. You can see an example here, on the step 9. Your inverter may look a little bit different. I think you might have loose connections or bad inverter. Make sure connectors on both sides of the inverter board are seated properly, reseat them. If it doesn’t help, I would go with replacing the inverter. You have a good chance fixing the backlight problem.
    You might have a faulty backlight bulb or video cable, but from my experience, inverters fail more often.

  30. Laptop Freak

    Lee,
    Yep, sounds like a bad inverter board. Steps for taking apart the display assembly would be almost the same for all Toshiba laptops, you’ll find some examples here.

  31. Ted Trobaugh

    How does one know — if one does not have test equipment — if a display problem is with the display screen itself or the inverter board.

    I have a Dell Inspiron 1100 with a Toshiba display (I have already removed the display). The symptom is that when the display turns on, it comes up white. All other elements of the computer work, as is evidenced when you plug a monitor into the external port.

    The display responds to the computer — for instance, changing the display resolution causes the display to go black and then come back on white. It is, therefore, receiving some signal from the motherboard.

    It is not a bright white.

  32. I have a compaq r3210ca laptop. When I turn it on I see a vertical white line that is about 5 pixels wide going from top to bottom of the screen. It is closer to the right side of the screen. Do you think it is a problem with the LCD or with the inverter?

  33. Laptop Freak

    Antar,
    Most likely it’s just a bad screen. The inverter board cannot cause such problem.

  34. I recently dissasembled my Toshiba Satellite A105 laptop in order to look at a broken headphone jack but when I reassembled it the screen doesn’t come on anymore. It’s completely black with no image at all. I noticed when I pulled the case apart I disconnected the black wire that runs between the silver sheet behind the lcd and the motherboard. I tried reseating this and all other cables but had no luck with that. The computer works fine with an external monitor but when I tried to replace the LCD with another I still got nothing but the black screen. I have to assume that the problem is caused by a bad connection or bad cable but I have no idea where to go from here. Everything appears to be plugged in well. Could I have damaged the black wire or any others for that matter?

  35. Bob Seldon Jr

    I have a toshiba satellite 1955 s801….after reading all the problems with the lcd screen not displaying or has intermittent display problems I feel that the problem is most likely the inverter. My problem is this, I cannot seem to find a guide for disassembling this model of toshiba!! Everytime I purchase a repair guide (mostly off of ebay) all I get are user’s manuals!!!! I now have 5 of them!!!! Please help me!!! This is the model with the speakers mounted right next to the bottom of the display monitor. I do not want to break anything by forcing the issue so if you have a diagnostic manual that shows how to get to the inverter/lcd display cable. PLEASE HELP ME!!! I am at my wits end with these companies that say they are selling repair manuals only to get user’s guides!!!! Thank you so much! Bob Seldon Jr, USN (disabled)

  36. Laptop Freak

    Bob Seldon,
    I haven’t created a disassembly guide for this particular model, but you can check out my guides for other Toshiba laptops. Taking apart the display assembly and replacing a faulty inverter board is similar for most Toshiba models. Read through a few display disassembly guides and you’ll get the idea.

  37. I have a compaq presatio v2000. I turned my laptop on one day and the screen is dull and looks like a color photo negative. I tried hooking up an external monitor to the laptop but as soon as you plug it in the computer shuts off. The only way to turn it back on is to disconnect the the power cord, monitor, and remove the battery. Then it will turn on but same problem exists and you cannot hook up an externsl monitor no matter what. I never hsd a problem hoojing a monitor to it before. Any advice in this matter would be helpful. Thanks

  38. Hi, I have a Compaq Presairo V2000…. it is of the old age of one year and nearly five months. The screen has gone dark… I think it must be the inverter, I have one on the way from an ebay seller, and a new video cable as I screwed-up the connector which runs to the video board (the LCD lead is easy to remove, but the other side of the inverter board is a different story) My question is, should I have taken on the task of fixing this, or should I have complained to Compaq? Of course, the warranty on this notebook is only for a year.. so I am screwed, but this thing should have lasted more than a year and five months.. esp. since I did not use it every day and treated it with kid gloves.
    p.s. I have one more question, I think I will try and fix my video cable by replacing the pico header which connects to the inverter, but I need the color coding info in order to reset the pins (which still have good connections to the wires)).. If you know where I can find this info please post the link(s)…Thanks!!

  39. Hello, Laptop Freak:

    Great guides…! I just replaced the brake hinges on my Toshiba Satellite 5205-s703; everything else on the laptop has been working fine. After putting everything back together, the screen is practically black. You can barely see it, but it looks like everything boots up correctly, and I get the Windows XP and welcome screens with the accounts on it. I did notice very faintly a “SOMETHING Failure” in the upper left of the screen when I first powered it up after the hinge replacement. Any ideas?

    Thanks,

    Gregg

  40. Chukwudi

    Hi Laptop freak,
    I just got this site through google. I have a laptop (Great Quality) that has been working very well for 2 years now. I switched it one day and it was showing a dark screen. I could see the desktop faintly. It worked quite well a day before that day and I shut it down normally. Someone told me it has 2 do with the module of the LCD which might have been damaged by power surge (I actually used the laptop on a 17.5KVA generator). Pls what is a module? Is it the same with FL inverter board or baclight bulb? Pls help me out with this problem!. Thanks for all your assistance.

  41. Richard

    Hi LTF,
    I turned on my Toshiba m65809 and about 3 inches from the right, there is an inch wide vertical line. its there from boot up to shut down. doesnt go away. about 4 months ago they replaced my motherboard with a refurb, then again a week later with another…no prob since then. do you think this is related? ive only had the laptop since feb 06. what should i do? is this hardware? is this software? please help! thank you!

  42. Emmett Hodder

    I have a similar situation where I am happy to use an external monitor, but I wanted to know if I could safely remove the laptop screen without damaging the laptop? I just want the lower half of the laptop so I can set it in front of my monitor. Second choice of course is to buy an external keyboard and stash the laptop under my desk, but I’d prefer to just remove the entire screen half of the case. Can I do this without damaging the laptop?

  43. malikjaru

    I found your site today, wonderful. I have a Dell Inspiron 1100 and my screen is dim as well. I cannot really tell if it’s pinkish or not though. Maybe. Was given to me to use, but everytime it boots, screen looks dim. Then I use fn + arrow key to turn up brightness. After turning it up three nothches, the screen goes black again. Screen will only come back to dim visibility after turning back on. I thought the problem might be the power cord because the owner before me opened it up and saudered some parts in the power supply. He says that is not the cause though. How can I tell if it’s the backlight or inverter? Is there a way to send questions directly to you? Seems like I have to search around and around for topics and comment on the topic with hopes that I get a response to my particular problem.

  44. I own a g41 ibm thinkpad, I purchased this unit used.

    I noticed after a few mins of using this laptop that there are dark “smudges” in a few areas the largest is 1″ long (not dead pixels) It’s very noticeable in white backgrounds such as notepad. It’s simply looks like dark smudges not black but darker than the rest of the background area. Is there an easy fix for this other than lcd replacment?

  45. I have a Toshiba Satellite A105-S2176. A month or so ago, the screen started flickering with horizontal lines; after doing this several times, it turns black. An external monitor works just fine with it. I should add that it seems to have something to do with heat; I let it sit turned off for a few days and booted it back up again, and it lasts about 30 minutes before it starts in again. However, it can be forced to try and display normal by holding an edge of the screen or flicking it in the right spot. I already tried taking apart the screen and reseating the connections, but it doesn’t work. I know it’s something in the graphics because I’ve closed programs and shut down Windows while the screen was out. Do you know what’s going on and how I could fix it?

  46. I have a HP dv9000 series laptop. it was working fine yesterday. this morning i turned on the laptop and the screen flickered and turned off. tried numerous times but no solution. even on bios it does the same. external monitor works fine. this is a new laptop (2 months old). since i moved countries my warranty is not covered. can you help point me in what the problem could be and how i can fix it?

  47. Chris Markbury

    my smasung sync master931 monitor is 1 year and a half year old. when i turn it on i can see my screen but except for the right side, it is pitch black i can use what is behind the black but i cannot see what i am doing. the right side of the screen is 4 inches going all the way up and down the screen.

    i am only 16 years old i hope that you will write back and help me with this problem.

    ps this is not a laptop (reg. computer)

  48. Hi, I need a lot of help…my mom has an Acer Aspire 3000 and her LCD screen broke. My question is how can I get the LCD screen off so she can use an external monitor instead. Do you think it would hurt the system by me doing this? What else can I do to take the LCD Screen off the computer?

    Thanks

  49. Durairaj Nethaji

    Hi,
    I am having Compaq Presario v2000 series Notebook computer. now my display is very dim but it shows the letters but i cant able to read it because the backlight is dark but the display is dim. what can i do for rectify that problem. please anyone help me on that issue.

    Thanks

  50. Hi,
    I have Toshiba Satellite P100 17inch laptop, purchased one year ago.
    Earlier it was so bright that I had to reduce brightness using nVidia Display console. But now after just one year of normal use (with screensaver) brightness has reduced (although still about acceptable).
    What is the problem ?

    Thank You.

  51. Laptop Freak

    Durairaj Nethaji,

    now my display is very dim but it shows the letters but i cant able to read it because the backlight is dark but the display is dim. what can i do for rectify that problem.

    In most cases if the backlight is off but you still can see image on the screen (very faint image) the problem is related to the screen inverter. Replacing the inverter board might help.

  52. Laptop Freak

    John,
    Check Toshiba power management utility, you can access it through control panel.
    Make sure the brightness of the screen is turned on for both the battery mode and AC adapter mode.
    Try changing brightness with Fn+F6/F7 key combinations.

  53. Thanks.
    I had installed Windows 2003 Server on ‘Toshiba Satellite P100′ laptop. Toshiba support site does not have ‘Toshiba Power Saver’ utility for Windows 2003. (In Control Panel power options, I have selected ‘Always On’ scheme).
    Fn+F6/F7 keys are working.
    But even at maximum Fn+F7 setting, brightness is lesser than it was.
    What should I do ?

    Thank You.

  54. Maurine

    I have a Compaq 12xl327 laptop. The screen, after being on for a while, starts to get very light around the edges. What do I need to do to fix this?

    Thanks!

  55. Laptop Freak

    John,

    Fn+F6/F7 keys are working.
    But even at maximum Fn+F7 setting, brightness is lesser than it was.

    If you confirmed that all software settings are correct and your laptop responses to Fn+F6/F7 keys, most likely this is related to hardware.
    From this description it’s hard to tell what is going on. I’m thinking maybe this problem is related to the inverter board. Apparently the inverter board is not providing enough power for the backlight but it’s only a guess. Also, there could be something wrong with the screen backlight. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you what is wrong without testing the laptop with another inverter or spare backlight.
    Did you try reimaging the hard drive with factory software?

  56. Laptop Freak

    Maurine,

    The screen, after being on for a while, starts to get very light around the edges.

    Test the laptop with an external monitor. If external monitor works fine but internal LCD fails the same way over and over again, probably it’s related to the LCD screen. You’ll have to replace the screen.
    By the way. What if you enter the BIOS setup menu and leave the laptop in there for a while. Does it fail the same way even with the BIOS setup screen?

  57. malcolm

    Hi i have an acer aspire 3000 with a dull lcd-screen on the vga port with external monitor it works fine. switched the lcd from a working laptop no change switched backlight inverter board and the vga cabel still screen stays dull any ideas.

    Kr,

    Malcolm

  58. Kelly

    Hi, I have a Dell Inspiron 1526 and the screen has suddenly gotten dull. I thought it was just because the battery was running low, so I plugged it in and let it charge all night. But it’s still dull. The only time the screen gets bright is when I turn it on. Any ideas on what the problem may be?

  59. PETER PAPPAS

    I have the same model 1955 S 801 and I think I finally have to replace the inverter board.
    How did you make out with taking it apart without the exact manuals you requested?
    Peter P

  60. Matti B.A.

    I have a four and half years old IBM R50e. Lately I have vertical lines on my screen from the time I turn it on. When my computer working intensivly the screen fills up with more lines. Some times they move around. What could be the problem?
    Matti B.A.

  61. Matti B.A.

    I have a four and half years old IBM R50e. Lately I have vertical lines on my screen from the time I turn it on. When my computer working intensivly the screen fills up with more lines. Some times they move around. What could be the problem?
    Matti B.A.

  62. I have a Compaq Presario v3000 series 3033AU model (AMD Turion). After switching it on, quite rarely it displays for a few seconds & works fine with external monitor. Is it a inverter or bios (corrupt) problem. The company tells me for the replacement of the motherboard

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