Why is my monitor turning on but not displaying anything?

Having a monitor that powers on but doesn’t display anything can be frustrating. There are several potential causes for this issue that are worth investigating.

Quick Overview of the Main Causes

Here is a quick overview of some of the most common reasons why a monitor might turn on but not display anything:

  • Loose or damaged video cable connections
  • Incorrect input source selected on the monitor
  • Outdated, corrupt, or missing graphics drivers
  • Problems with the monitor settings like brightness and contrast
  • Power supply issues with the monitor or computer
  • Hardware problems with the graphics card, motherboard, or monitor

The good news is that most of these issues can be resolved with some simple troubleshooting steps. Keep reading to learn how to diagnose and fix a monitor that turns on but shows nothing in more detail.

Step 1: Check Your Video Cable Connections

The first thing to check when your monitor won’t display anything is the video cable connection between your monitor and computer. Here are the key things to verify:

  • Make sure the video cable is securely plugged into the output port on the back of your computer and the input port on your monitor. The cable should click or lock into place.
  • Try reseating both ends of the video cable even if they appear to be plugged in snugly already. Unplug fully and plug back in.
  • Inspect the video cable ends and ports for any bent pins, cracks, or damage. If there is damage, the cable or port may need to be replaced.
  • Test using a different video cable if you have one available that is known to work properly.

DisplayPort and HDMI are the most commonly used video connection types. Make sure you are using the correct cable for the ports available on your computer and monitor.

Loose connections or faulty cables are common causes of monitor display issues. Taking the time to properly diagnose video cable issues can resolve many blank or black screen problems.

Things to Keep in Mind with Video Cables

  • HDMI and DisplayPort cables have directionality – one end connects to the PC, the other to the monitor.
  • For the best 4K or high resolution performance, use a certified Premium High Speed HDMI cable.
  • DisplayPort cables are also commonly used since they support high resolutions and allow you to daisy chain multiple monitors together from one PC connection.
  • VGA and DVI cables can experience signal degradation over long distances or if not properly shielded, which can lead to display issues.

Step 2: Verify the Input Source

After checking your video cable connections, the next thing to check is the input source selected on your monitor’s settings. Here are some tips for troubleshooting monitor input sources:

  • Use the monitor’s on-screen display menu with the monitor buttons to switch the input source between HDMI 1, HDMI 2, DisplayPort, etc. It may have defaulted to the wrong input.
  • Try cycling through all possible inputs one by one to see if any input brings up the display.
  • Reset the monitor to its default input selection if available through the on-screen menu.
  • Consult your monitor manual or online specifications to confirm which video input(s) your make and model supports.

Choosing the correct input source that your video cable is plugged into will be necessary for the monitor to display anything. This simple setting is sometimes overlooked when troubleshooting monitor issues.

Step 3: Update or Reinstall Graphics Drivers

Assuming your monitor and video cabling is okay, graphics driver problems are often the next culprit when a monitor won’t display properly. Here are some tips for troubleshooting graphics drivers related to monitor display issues:

  • Fully update your Windows, macOS, or Linux operating system first to ensure your platform is up to date.
  • Go to your graphics card manufacturer’s website (NVIDIA, AMD, or Intel) and download the latest drivers for your specific graphics card model.
  • Completely uninstall your existing graphics drivers before installing the latest ones for a clean installation.
  • For Windows, use the Device Manager utility to uninstall and delete old GPU drivers.
  • For Linux, use terminal commands like sudo apt purge nvidia* to uninstall graphics drivers.
  • After installing latest drivers, restart your PC and check if monitor now displays properly.

Updating graphics drivers is one of the most effective steps for resolving blank monitor issues. Outdated, missing, or corrupted drivers can prevent proper communication and signal transfer between your GPU and monitor.

Monitor Shows Image Only During Boot Then Goes Black

If your monitor briefly displays during system boot then goes black, this points to a driver-related problem. The basic Microsoft Display Adapter will let your monitor display the boot screen, but isn’t capable of high resolution graphics rendering needed for the desktop screen.

Be sure to fully uninstall old graphics drivers before installing the latest ones from AMD, NVIDIA, or Intel. A clean driver installation is best and will often resolve this frustrating issue.

Step 4: Check Monitor Settings

Don’t overlook your monitor’s own settings menu for potential culprits behind a black screen. Try adjusting these monitor display settings:

  • Brightness – Turn up to max brightness in case it was just set too low.
  • Contrast – Increase contrast, as low contrast can cause a black screen.
  • Color Temperature – Adjust from cool to warm to see if display appears.
  • Reset Monitor – Factory reset monitor settings in case changes were made.

Navigate the monitor menu with the buttons on the front/side of the monitor or via the monitor control stick/joystick button. Adjusting these values can reveal an otherwise hidden or dimmed display.

Perform Monitor Self-Test

Most monitors have a built-in self-test mode you can activate through a special button sequence. Refer to your monitor manual for details. The self-test will display colors and patterns to check for screen abnormalities.

If the self-test displays properly, then you can rule out inherent monitor failure and instead focus your troubleshooting on the PC side. No display during self-test does point to a monitor hardware malfunction.

Step 5: Check Power Supply

Power delivery issues can also cause monitor problems, so checking these power components can help identify the root cause:

  • Monitor Power Cord – Make sure the power cable is securely connected to the monitor and wall outlet/surge protector.
  • PC Power Supply -Swap in a known good power supply if available. Test PC power supply voltages with a multimeter if possible.
  • Power Strips/Surge Protectors – Eliminate power strips and plug PC and monitor power cords directly into wall outlets.
  • UPS Battery Backup – Test monitor and PC directly connected to wall power, not through a UPS which could be providing dirty power.

Like any electronics, monitors and computers require stable, clean power to operate properly. Isolate and test power sources to identify any underlying power issues.

Monitor Won’t Wake Up from Sleep

If your monitor refuses to wake up from sleep or displays no signal after waking PC from sleep, this is a common problem with roots in power management.

Make sure you have the latest motherboard BIOS and chipset drivers installed for your system. Disable any aggressive power savings modes like selective suspend for USB/display devices which can interfere with wake-from-sleep ability.

Step 6: Test with Alternate Working Monitor/GPU

After checking cables, software, power, and settings, verifying monitor and graphics card functionality is the next logical troubleshooting step. Here are two things you can test:

  • Connect Working Monitor – Use a known good working monitor and connect it to your PC’s video output. If the working monitor displays, the problem is with your monitor’s hardware and not the PC.
  • Connect GPU to Alternate PC – Take your graphics card and install it into another working PC. If the GPU outputs to display on another PC, the problem is with your PC and not the graphics card.

Swapping in alternate working components is an effective way to identify whether the root cause lies with the monitor hardware itself or PC/graphics performance issues.

Step 7: Check Internal PC Hardware Issues

If you’ve tried all the above troubleshooting steps for an undetected monitor and narrowed down the problem to your PC, there could be a number of internal hardware issues at play:

  • GPU Problems – Graphics card is dead, not fully seated in PCIe slot, needs reseating, overheating, or has bad solder joints.
  • Motherboard Problems – Damaged PCIe slot, bent CPU socket pins, need CMOS reset, or BIOS update required.
  • CPU Problems – Processor is overheating, unstable, or not fully compatible with the motherboard.
  • RAM Problems– Not enough RAM, incompatible RAM speeds/timings, or RAM not seated properly.

PC internal hardware faults can manifest as monitor detection issues in different ways. The only solution is thorough computer hardware troubleshooting to isolate the failing component.

When to Replace a Faulty Monitor

If you’ve determined through process of elimination that the root cause is a defective monitor itself, replacement is likely your only option since most monitor repairs exceed costs. Before replacing, double check that:

  • Video cable and ports are not damaged and functioning properly.
  • Monitor properly works using self-test and alternate PC connection.
  • Graphics card and PC hardware integrity has been verified.

Also research your monitor model for any known defects or quality issues reported by other users that might indicate an inherent design flaw.


Troubleshooting a monitor that powers on but doesn’t display anything can be frustrating, but is manageable if approached systematically. Start with simple checks of video cables, inputs, software and drivers first. Then move to power supplies, monitor settings adjustments and hardware swaps to isolate the issue.

Carefully verifying each component step-by-step will lead to uncovering the true cause, whether it is a minor settings tweak or major hardware failure. Don’t give up early in the monitor troubleshooting process or assume monitor replacement is your only option. With persistence, most blank monitor problems can be corrected and restored to full working display.