Laptop Monitor Doesn't Work

Dell / DIMENSION 2400
March 24, 2009 at 06:31:05
Specs: Microsoft Windows XP Professional, 2.392 GHz / 766 MB
This isnt' my laptop and I am giving you all of the details I know about this problem. My friend told me about this and I am looking at it today, I just want some help to go on...

Okay, so my friend has a DELL laptop. It loads fine and the screen shows the DELL and Windows XP splash screens. Once it loads into Windows, though, the monitor quits working. He says that he has already tried the "Fn+F##" combination but it doesn't work. He thinks that it is a driver problem but I am not sure... Thanks for any help!

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March 24, 2009 at 08:14:37
It's extremely unlikely the symptoms have anything to do with any software, unless the display is fine each and every time he boots until Windows is supposed to load.

If the laptop has a VGA port, if an external monitor works fine there's nothing wrong with the video adapter or any drivers or other software.

In that case, the most likely thing is the backlight in the LCD display is failing. Many voltage inverters (they supply the high voltage to the LCD display) will automatically go into a lesser mode or shut off shortly after you boot the computer , and the display then becomes very very dim or totally black, if they "detect" there is something wrong with the backlight.

It could also be the voltage inverter is defective, but if the user has noticed a colored tint to the display for some time before this, it's definately the backlight (CCFL) that is failing.

For some info about replacing a voltage inverter or backlight, and what some typical symptoms are, see response 5 in this:

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May 8, 2009 at 05:57:01
Okay, I just got new information on this.

There are two problems with his laptop and they are not connected, at least we don't think.

Apparently, sometimes when he is working, he will click and the laptop will start clicking in the same spot non-stop. If he does anything like moving the mouse with the touchpad, it will stop. He said that a friend told him that it might be a gell thing in the pad that is causing that... I don't know, really.

The second thing, the screen sometimes doesn't turn on when he turns the laptop on, RIGHT as it is turned on. He said that nothing shows up when a flashlight is shown on the screen, so I narrowed the cause down to a flaky video chip or a bad inverter. Would that be right? He thinks that he might just buy a whole new laptop because this one was given to him for free.


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May 10, 2009 at 11:08:05
"...he will click and the laptop will start clicking in the same spot non-stop. "

The touchpad's left click button may be physically sticking (or broken) such that it stays down when pressed on. It may need cleaning underneath it, which may require opening up the laptop.
The touchpad module can be replaced if it's defective.
He could try another mouse.

"....the screen sometimes doesn't turn on when he turns the laptop on, RIGHT as it is turned on.He said that nothing shows up when a flashlight is shown on the screen...."

That can be caused by
- a poor connection of the ram in it's slots - he could try making sure the ram is properly seated - remove it, re-install it.
- a failing backlight - CCFL - in that case, he would have definately noted a tint to the display sometimes previously
- a defective voltage inverter - but that's more likely to go bad and stay bad -

If the laptop is frequently opened and closed, and/or if it is older and has been used a lot...
- the wiring between the video adapter and the display may be damaged, most often seen where the wiring passes through the hinge - in that case, the display MAY work fine when the lid isin certain positions, but NOT when it is in other positions. That wiring is a commonly replaced part.

From what I've heard of and encountered....
it's almost never caused by something being wrong with the video adapter.

Dimension 2400 is a desktop computer.
You haven't stated what laptop model he has so I can't look it up and I don't know how old it is. If someone gave it to him free I assume it's an older one that isn't worth much and it has been used a lot - in that case the most likely thing is the backlight - CCFL - is failing, and he probably HAS noticed an overall colored tint to the display at least some of the time.

If this IS an older laptop, or in any case, what condition is the main battery in? If it's an old battery (over 2 years) , more recent laptops will not run on the AC adapter alone, and if the battery is poor or not charged to at least a minimal capacity, there may be times when he gets no display when he first starts it up, especially if he was using the laptop on just the main battery - because the main battery can't at that time handle the load - the AC adapter must be connected and the battery must be charged for a when the laptop is not running before the computer will fully boot.

The possibilities of a failing CCFL, a defective voltage inverter, and damaged wiring between the video adapter and the LCD display in the lid can all be bypassed by connecting a VGA monitor to the VGA port on the laptop, if it has one.

If the laptop works fine with such an external monitor at all times, there's nothing wrong with the laptop's video adapter or it's specifically loaded in Windows drivers.

If the laptop works fine with such an external monitor but only until Windows starts to load, then there is no display (blackness), the wrong drivers may have been loaded in Windows, or the video drivers may be compatible but may not be detecting the monitor properly, which sometimes happens when you load specific drivers the first time then reboot, or when you load a different drivers version then reboot.
In that case Enable VGA mode should work.
Remove any bootable CD or DVD if present.
Repeatedly press F8 while booting and when the boot choices menu appears, choose Enable VGA mode.
Enable VGA mode loads Windows normally except it forces Windows to use default VGA drivers that all video adapters and mboards support, rather than the specific video drivers normally loaded. Once the desktop loads, look at Display - Settings
- if the monitor type is not specified, select the Advanced button and change the Monitor drivers to Plug and Play Monitor, save settings, reboot normally - you should have video in Windows
- if the monitor type is okay and you still get no display in Windows, the wrong drivers have probably been loaded. Boot into Enable VGA mode and un-install the existing video drivers in Add/Remove Programs (sometimes you can't un-install video drivers in Safe mode), reboot normally, then find and install the proper video drivers - they're available in the downloads for the laptop model on the Dell site.

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