Quick fix tips for simple screen issues

Laptop screens are usually very reliable by themselves, and short of the known physical damage and cracks, here are some common ways to troubleshoot an LCD:

Is it the screen or is it the computer?
Unless the LCD is cracked, its best to first determine that the computer is working properly whenever graphical defects arise.

Graphics systems troubleshooting:
Whenever you see lines, artifacts, discolouration and oddities on your laptop screen it is very useful to connect an external monitor to your laptop to see if the image coming from the laptop is alright. If the same effect that was present on the internal LCD is displayed to the external monitor, then it becomes pretty obvious that the LCD itself is not the issue. Graphics Processing Units (GPU) and Video Memory are responsible for rendering the image from your computer onto any sort of display - internal and external. It is common for GPUs to fail due to over-heating.
If you determine that the video defects are coming from your graphical system, unfortunately in most cases this would require a logic board replacement. Replacing an LCD will not fix the situation.

Video cable troubleshooting:
Electronics is all about good contacts. Time, air and moisture are the enemy of electronics because physical bumps or corrosion can disturb electrical contacts in connectors. If your image has disappeared, the screen is black or there are vertical and horizontal lines, your video cable may need to be reconnected. Typically image effects related to poor connections are intermittent. Lines would appear and disappear whenever the lid is opened or closed. Or sometimes the image is shaking but would become temporarily fixed with a slight bump. Or the colors are off/washed out and changing.
You could disassemble your laptop and simply reconnect the LCD video connector a couple of times, doing so will scrape the pin contacts inside the connectors of any oxidation, and will fix any possibility that the connector simply became ajar over time. Replacing an LCD would fix such an issue - but thats only because you must disconnect the video connector to replace the LCD, the new LCD isn't necessary.

Software problem troubleshooting:
Sometimes things just go weird, and your computer may start locking up settings that were usually available. Things like resolution in the display options becomes locked to low resolution, or the refresh rate of the panel is locked to not allow the highest possible refresh rate (typically 60Hz), or the color definition output maybe diminished. Such effects are related to the graphical driver and may arise due to file corruption that forces your computer to load the safest defaults. Of course finding out that you can only use 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 resolution versus your typical 1366 x 768 or 1920 x 1080 is inconvenient, but the problem is not due to the LCD itself. For a simple fix of such problems it is recommended to update/reinstall a video driver from your laptop manufacturer or your Gfx Chip manufacturer.

One important thing to note about Graphics Drivers on Laptops vs Desktops. Whether you have an nVidia, AMD or an Intel graphical chip it is always better for desktop computer users to go straight to the respective Gfx chip manufacturer website and get the newest install package, as opposed to going to the computer or graphical card manufacturer's website. Well, it is the inverse for laptops. Due to the presence of additional custom hardware settings and devices, the laptop vendor sites will have a more appropriate graphics driver package than the gfx chip manufacturer.
This isn't to say that the newest installer direct from nVidia/AMD will not work at all, but installing only the generic package may give rise to an issue with touchscreens and LCD color profiles that are custom to your specific laptop.

Is it the screen?
LCD screens rarely go bad on their own. In the past CCFL back-lit screens could burn out the back-light just like a regular light bulb could simply burn out. In some cases a failing CCFL bulb would color the LCD with reddish / pinkish tint. Since most laptops manufactured after 2012 come with LED back-lit screens, it is safe to assume that if your computer is not older than 5 years, it has an LED back-light. LED back-lights rarely go bad as their rated MTBF is usually 10 times longer than CCFL.

So, what can fail in the LCD panel? Aside from the backlight, not a whole lot.
The LCD itself is two panes of glass fused together with some really fine components sand-witched in between.

Dead pixels, stuck pixels, bright pixels are the most common defects that are related to what goes on inside the LCD panel. One, two or three dead pixels are not an indication that the LCD is going bad, but if your screen suddenly develops several black dots, it is common for them to spread. This is related to the age of the LCD and can be fixed with a new panel.

Some of the rarest cases of LCD failures are related to the LCD driver boards. LCD driver board is responsible for receiving the digital video signal from the graphical system and displaying it onto the individual physical pixels. Typical LCD driver failure would result in blank (transparent) image when the screen is turned on - power is supplied to the back-light but no pixels are being engaged by the driver board.

Cracked and water damaged screens
Physical damage is deadly to an LCD. A cracked LCD cannot be un-cracked or repaired, only replaced. Same goes for water damaged screens with internal staining.

, last updated June 14, 2018