Troubleshooting a Dell Laptop Computer Screen that Won't Work

By Cleveland Van Cecil

Dell laptops are popular for their reliability and cheap price. These robust machines last for ages, but even a Dell laptop will eventually have issues. One of the scariest you may encounter is a laptop screen that will not work. Fortunately, there are basic troubleshooting steps you can follow in just such an emergency.


Before you do anything else, the first thing to try is to check that the computer is actually turning on. Press the power button near the screen of your laptop. Make sure you have a good charge on the battery, or that a known and working power supply is plugged in. If this power supply is plugged in but not powering the laptop, make sure that a green LED on the adapter is turned on. This is located on the thick, brick-like section of the Dell adapter. Try plugging the adapter it into a reliable power socket. It is possible that the one you were using had burned out. If the adapter does not seem to be working, try swapping out the power cord on the adapter. They are removable at the brick area of the adapter. Try a known, working power cord in place of the old one. If the power adapter is green, you should be able to turn on the computer. If the computer turns on but there is no video, proceed to further troubleshooting.


If the computer has turned on, and there is no video, attempt to adjust the brightness of the screen. On a Dell laptop, you can do this by holding down the function key on the keyboard and pressing the "up" arrow key. This will raise the brightness of the screen. If the brightness does not rise, it is possible that the inverter, a small board that controls screen brightness, has blown out. Shine a flashlight on the screen to see if there is any image coming through. If so, and you cannot raise the brightness, attempt to switch out the inverter. It inverter is located at the bottom of the laptop screen. Do not attempt to take apart a Dell laptop without checking to see if your warranty is still valid. If it is not, find a service manual for your particular model, as removing the inverter involves taking off the bezel, which is the frame around your LCD, the laptop screen, and removing the inverter from the video cable.

External Monitor

If there is no video at all, try hooking up an external monitor to your laptop screen. Dell laptops have video ports on the back of the unit, and the specific video connection depends on the model of the computer. Plug in the monitor to the back of the computer. To force out the video from your laptop to the monitor, press the F8 key on your Dell laptop. If the monitor gives you video, you have narrowed the issue down to the screen and its cabling. If there is no video from the monitor, it is possible that the graphics card--or the motherboard, which is the brain of the computer--has blown out. Check with Dell to see if you are under their manufacturer's warranty.