Why won't my computer talk to my monitor?
June 17, 2008 7:33 AM   Subscribe

My monitor stopped talking to my PC. Strangely, the monitor shows the Windows startup screen before going dark. It does this every time I boot up.

I built my PC in Japan, and it's served me well for a year. For the entirety of that time, it's been attached to a new Dell monitor.

One night last week, I was playing music with iTunes when the screen went dark. The music continued to play. I rebooted the computer, but after the Windows start screen came up, it went dark again -- never saw my desktop.

So I took the box to work and connected it to other monitors. Oddly, the other monitors work fine with the machine. I haven't tested my monitor with other boxes yet. (I do have the CD that came with the monitor still).

Does this sound like a driver issue? A video card issue? What's my next step? Admin please hope me!
posted by jeffmshaw to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
It's set to a resolution and refresh rate that your monitor cannot handle. Rather than try and damage itself, your monitor cuts out and displays nothing.

Hook up to other monitor, change the display settings to something simple, and hook back up to your original monitor. Adjust from there.

(Hey, answer 1000 for me!)
posted by unixrat at 7:42 AM on June 17, 2008

Boot into Safe Mode (mash F8 during startup) and you should be able to get in & fix your settings.
posted by meta_eli at 7:43 AM on June 17, 2008

This happened to me once and it turned out to be a display driver problem.

See if it will boot into safe mode (help here). If it will, uninstall the display driver and reboot into normal mode. Windows should then use the default display driver to give you a basic, low-res display. Once you're back in, download the latest driver for your graphics card.
posted by chairmanwow at 7:55 AM on June 17, 2008

Yup, everyone has covered the basics. It's either refresh rate, resolution, or a display driver. You can fix it from Safe Mode.

Or perhaps iTunes had found yet another way to punish its users?
posted by wfrgms at 7:57 AM on June 17, 2008

But why would the refresh rate, resolution or display driver suddenly change without user input in the middle of a iTunes session? Just a second opinion here, but it sounds like your monitor could be starting to go bad. Check for loose/bad cables as well.
posted by Otis at 8:12 AM on June 17, 2008

But why would the refresh rate, resolution or display driver suddenly change without user input in the middle of a iTunes session?
Funky music visualization plugin?
posted by verb at 8:58 AM on June 17, 2008

I'll nth safe mode. If your monitor has an auto button, hitting that might nudge it back to sanity.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:21 AM on June 17, 2008

My monitor does this occasionally. I can always fix it by going to the power settings under display properties and telling Windows to never turn it off (or setting it to a particular time after which it should be turned off).
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:06 AM on June 17, 2008

it's a good thing you have other monitors, so the advice above should help.

Just in case you ever get in a situation like this and don't have another monitor available, you can always pull the little battery out of your (desktop) computer. This resets it to default configurations. Sadly enough, I had to do this once when I tried an unsupported resolution and ended up with a totally blank screen.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:18 AM on June 17, 2008

you can always pull the little battery out of your (desktop) computer.

Hruh? Are you talking about the BIOS battery? Because that completely would not help in this problem in the least...
posted by wfrgms at 6:03 PM on June 17, 2008

I started having similar problems with a laptop thats a few years old. Unfortunately it wasn't a simple driver issue, the screen would blank out in Windows or Linux. An external monitor worked fine, it wasn't a software configuration issue. It turns out it was the LCD backlight inverter going bad.

If you're having similar problems you'll see the same sort of thing when you connect the monitor to other computers. It will come on for a few seconds, maybe longer, and then turn back off.
posted by mutagen at 6:03 PM on June 17, 2008

2nding everything wfrgms said, as well as what mutagen said.
To test if it's the backlight going bad, just turn it on, let it go dark, then look at the monitor very closely and carefully, from different angles, and try shining a light on it. If you can very faintly still see what is supposed to be displayed then it is definitely the backlight.
posted by baserunner73 at 11:10 PM on June 17, 2008

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