Computer Turns On But No Display – 27 Fixes and Causes

One of the most frustrating issues you can face either randomly out of the blue or after you have just assembled your new PC is that the computer turns on but no display is shown on the monitor.

This article will be comprehensive guide on how to fix the dreaded blank screen issue. 

What makes this problem sometimes difficult to fix is that it can be caused by almost anything. It could be caused by an issue as simple as malfunctioning cable or as dreadful as a dead motherboard or a dead CPU.

In the following text I will talk about all the things that can cause or fix the blank screen issue.

27 Fixes for Computers Turns On But No Display

The idea here is that you should first try to attempt all the simpler fixes before you conclude that something more serious, such as a dead motherboard, could be causing the: computer turns on bu no display issue.

1. Restart Your PC

Let us start with the simplest suggestion first. Go ahead and try restarting your PC.

A good way to reboot your PC would be to shut it down entirely first. You may also want to take the plug out from the wall socket entirely for 10-15 seconds as well.

Sometimes a PC component simply crashes and a simple restart can revive it back into action.

2. Check The Monitor’s Power Cable

This is yet another fairly simple fix. 

Check that the monitor’s power cable is connected and that the monitor is receiving the power from the wall socket.

Often monitors have indicator lights indicating whether it is receiving power or not.

Computer Turns On But No Display
Monitor with indicator light showing its receiving power from the wall socket.

If your monitor does not have a power indicator light, then you will need to try both changing the power cable and plugging the cable into a different wall socket to rule out any possibility of your monitor not receiving power.

3. Check or Replace the Video Output Cable

A defective video output cable such as an HDMI, VGA or a DVI cable is a fairly common cause of no display or blank screens.

As such verifying whether your video cable is dead should also be among the first fixes that you should explore.

The easiest way to fix this would be to replace the video output cable with a newer one. You could also perhaps borrow a cable from your friend just to see if the issue actually lies with the cable or not.

hdmi cable rust
Rusted HDMI Connector is a telltale sigh of a bad HDMI cable which CAN cause blank screen or no signal. Source: Reddit.com

4. Connect to a Different Video Output Port

Yet another fairly simple fix is to try a different video port altogether. So if your monitor is connected to HDMI ports, try using the DVI, VGA or DP ports.

Often both the monitor as well as the PC have multiple video output ports of different types.

5. Check Your Monitor with Another PC

To eliminate once and for all if the issue lies with the monitor or the PC, it would be wise to check it with a different PC.

If you have already checked and confirmed that the monitor’s power and video output cable (HDMI, VGA, DVI cables) are working properly, then the final suggestion would be to check your monitor on another PC.

If you have another PC lying around or if you could call up a friend to bring his PC/Laptop over, then you can easily pinpoint where the issue lies i.e with the monitor or with the PC.

If your monitor works fine on another PC and if it can successfully show display, then the problem lies with your PC and its hardware.

Also Read: Why are Games Not Using GPU?

6. Your Graphics Card is Not Plugged in Properly (For PC with Dedicated GPU)

If you have a dedicated graphics card as your primary GPU for video output, then for starters make sure it is plugged into the PCIe slots properly.

Graphics Card
Make sure your dedicated Graphics card is plugged into an x16 slot FIRMLY.

When you plug in a dedicated graphics card into the PCIe x16 slots, there is often a distinct clicking sound that comes from the clip/latch at the end of the slot.

open graphics card
The graphics card must be locked into the latch.

The graphics card must be firmly locked into place so that there are no loose pins.

7. Dust Off and Clean Your Dirty PCIe Slot (For PC with Dedicated GPU)

If you have an old motherboard or if you haven’t been performing regular maintenance of your PC, then the accumulated dust can open a can of worms of potential issues for your PC.

As such, if your display was working properly but has suddenly started showing no screen, then a good advice would be to thoroughly clean your system, particularly the PCIe x16 slot intended for the graphics card.

For this you may even have to remove the dedicated graphics card to give the PCIe x16 slot a thorough clean.

8. PCIe Power Cables are Not Plugged to Your Graphics Card (For PC with Dedicated GPU)

A major culprit for computer turning on but no display particularly for fresh builds is that you may have missed out on plugging the PCIe power cables to your dedicated graphics card.

Lower-Mid to High End graphics cards are power hungry devices. They need to be plugged with dedicated PCIe power cables coming from the power supply unit.

graphics card connected
A graphics card that requires 2 x 6 Pin PCIe Power Cables.

You HAVE to plug in ALL the graphics card’s power connectors in order for it to work.

If the graphics card does not receive power, it will simply not output any display. Simple as that.

Also Read: What are PCIe Power Cables?

9. Plug the Graphics Card into a Different PCIe Slot (For PC with Dedicated GPU)

Staying with the theme of the dedicated graphics cards, try plugging your graphics card into a different PCIe x16 slot.

Perhaps the PCIe x16 slot currently populated with the graphics is defective or simply not suitable for the graphics card (does not have enough PCIe lanes, read next point).

Also Read: How to Check if PCIe Slot is Bad?

10. Graphics Card is NOT Plugged Into the Right x16 Slot (For PC with Dedicated GPU)

This is a very rookie mistake that many new PC builders make.

If your motherboard has multiple PCIe x16 slots, it does not mean that they are ALL suitable for a graphics card.

A dedicated graphics card requires an x16 slot with full 16 PCIe lanes. However, sometimes an x16 slot on a motherboard may only offer 4 PCIe lanes.

Take a look at the following motherboard Gigabyte GA-P67A-UD3 motherboard.

does it matter which pcie slot I use w
PCIe Slots for adding expansion cards. Note that the bottom x16 slot actually only has 4 lanes. You can figure this out by reading the specsheet of the motherboard.

You can see here that this motherboard has two PCIe x16 slots, however, only the top slot features the full 16 lanes and thus is ideal for the graphics card.

If I were to plug the graphics card into the second (bottom) PCIe x16 slot, then my graphics card would not work. Which in turn would mean that any monitor connected to it would simply show a blank screen.

So an easy fix is to always use the first PCIe x16 slot as a rule of thumb for your dedicated graphics card.

Also Read: Computer Not Starting After Installing New Graphics Cards – How to Fix?

11. You Are Using Motherboard Video Output Ports on a PC with Dedicated Graphics Card

On a PC with a dedicated graphics card, you will have video output ports such as an HDMI/DP/VGA/DVI ports on BOTH the motherboard I/O panel as well as on your graphics cards.

However, if a dedicated graphics card is installed on desktops, this usually disables the video output ports on your motherboard.

Therefore, if your video output cable is connected to the motherboard’s video output port, then you will not get any display.

Should You Connect Monitor to GPU or Motherboard
Use the GPU, not the motherboard for monitor.

In other words, on a PC with a dedicated graphics card, use the video output ports on the graphics card NOT the motherboard’s. 

12. Check that the CPU is Installed Correctly

lga processor socket
An LGA type CPU placed on top of a CPU socket on a motherboard.

Moving onto CPU, check that the CPU is installed properly. This is again a problem seen with a freshly assembled PC.

Often the LGA (land grid array) based CPU primarily used by Intel CPUs, have to be positioned very carefully with the socket of your motherboard and then locked and latched in with a lever on the side of the socket.

If the pins of the CPU do not align properly with the motherboard’s socket, this can cause a system wide malfunction, including a blank screen.

In this case, your motherboard would seem to turn on, but it NOT go past the basic POST function.

Also Read: Will Motherboard POST Without CPU?

This is usually not an issue with Pin Grid Array (PGA) CPU since they simple slide right into the motherboard socket so there is not worry of misalignment. AMD uses PGA for their commercial CPUs.

lga vs pga
Land Grid Array (with flat contacts) and Pin Grid Array processors (with needles sticking out)

Also Read: LGA vs PGA

13. Make Sure There are NO Bent Pins on CPU

This is a difficult pill to swallow, but must be mentioned nevertheless. While unlikely, it is possible that you may have bent pins on your CPU.

This is often an issue with PGA type processors (AMD CPUs) whereby a slightest of force or nudge can bend the pins of the CPU rendering the entire system inoperable. This in the end could result in blank screen but your motherboard and fans may seem to turn on.

I know this sounds like a complicated diagnosis for what seems to be a simple issue and I do hope this not the case for you, but nevertheless must be taken into consideration.

You can look into this when you have exhausted the other fixes and causes in this guide.

14. Make Sure that CPU and Motherboard Power Cables are Plugged In

Again a very simple fix. Often considered a rookie mistake; you MUST make sure that the CPU and motherboard cables are plugged in.

The 24 Pin ATX connector for the motherboard and the 8 pin connector for your CPU comes from the Power Supply Unit. 

how to test motherboard without cpu 2
24 and 8 pin power connectors

Furthermore, you must make sure that the orientation of the pins is correct! 

The pins have notches of different size and shapes to make sure you do not plug them the other way around. 

how to test motherboard without cpu 3
Connectors from the PSU attached to the motherboard

So to reiterate this very important point. The CPU and the motherboard plugs MUST be oriented correctly.

15. Your CPU Does NOT Have an Integrated Graphics Card 

You may have been using the wrong ports OR may have built your PC incorrectly.

So here is the thing. If you are using your motherboard’s video output ports for display, and you DO NOT have a dedicated graphics card installed, then you NEED to have an integrated graphics card. 

If your CPU does not have an integrated graphics card then the video output ports on your motherboard will simply NOT work and you will be forced to invest in a standalone dedicated graphics card for video display.

The Intel “F” series CPUs such as the intel Core i5 12400F LACK an integrated graphics card.

With AMD, only the “G” series CPUs such as the AMD Ryzen 3 3200G offer an integrated graphics card.

16. Make Sure CPU Isn’t Overclocked

An overclocked CPU is an issue that can cause a maelstrom of issues for your PC and a blank display could be least of your worry since an ill informed overclock can even fry your CPU entirely.

You can check if your CPU is overclocked using several methods including Task-Manager to check if it is operating beyond its rated clock speed.

The easiest fix is to simply revert the BIOS settings to default, which brings me to the next point.

Also Read: How to Check if CPU is Overclocked?

17. Reset BIOS by Clearing CMOS

Resetting BIOS can solve a lot of issues particularly related to bad hardware installation.

It is also the best solution to fix any issues with an overclocked CPU. 

In addition to that, if you are recently performed a change in BIOS settings, that could also lead to hardware issues and thus show no screen.

Hence, it is always wise to reset the CMOS which will bring the BIOS settings back to default.

Cmos battery latch
Take CMOS battery out by pressing the latch/lock

The best way to do this is to take the CMOS battery out of its slot and then wait for 10-15 seconds before plugging it back in.

Also Read: How to Reset Motherboard?

18. The CMOS Battery is Dead

Closely following in with the previous point, it is also possible that your CMOS battery is dead. 

This is can happen with new builds as well as with motherboards that are fairly old. Sometimes a new motherboard is shipped with a dead CMOS battery.

A dead CMOS battery will NOT let your motherboard go past the basis system checks or POST. Hence, while your motherboard will turn on and the fans will start spinning, you will get no display.

The CMOS battery is a coin-cell battery CR2032 – in case you want to buy a replacement.

19. You Have Performed a Bad BIOS Update (Bricked Motherboard)

One of the worst things that you can do is perform a bad BIOS update. 

If your system crashed or if the power went off during a BIOS update, then that means you have performed a bad BIOS update.

This, in turn, will brick your motherboard. A bricked motherboard is a term used to a define a motherboard that has been rendered no more useful than a brick due to a bad BIOS update.

wmbios_bbios2
BIOS chips on motherboard. This motherboard has a safety feature in the form of Dual BIOS. So if the Main BIOS chip (M_BIOS) gets damaged, the Back BIOS chip (B_BIOS) will kick in.

Unfortunately there is no easy fix to a bricked motherboard and in many cases you may have to send it out to the manufacturer or get the BIOS chip replaced (which is a pain).

Power surges can also cause the BIOS chip to get fried. Some motherboard have a redundant chip for BIOS exactly for this reason.

Read in Detail: What is a Bricked Motherboard?

20. Check if The RAM is Plugged in Properly and Also the Slots

Another fairly simple fix is to check that the RAM sticks are plugged in properly. If it is plugged in properly then it can also pay off to remove them, give the RAM sticks as well as the RAM slots a good dust off and plug the sticks back in.

Additionally, you can try plugging the RAM sticks in a different slot. If you have two RAM sticks, you can also test them by turning on the PC with just one RAM stick and trying each one in turns to verify if the problem lies with the RAM sticks or the slots.

21. Listen to the Beep or Get a Beep Code Speaker

If you have connected a beep code speaker to your motherboard, then listen to the number of beeps it makes.

A beep code speaker is often built into the PC case. Alternatively, you can also procure one separately:

Beep code speaker
Beep code speaker

A beep code speaker is plugged into the motherboard front panel connectors:

beep code speaker w front panel header
Terminal where you would install the beep code speaker

Also Read: How to Connect Beep Code Speaker?

The number of beeps and their duration can indicate where the problem lies (if the problem is with the hardware). For instance:

  • 1 short beep: issues with RAM
  • 5 short beeps: issues with CPU
  • 1 long beep, 2 short beeps – issues with Graphics Card

This article has a list of all the beep codes and their corresponding meaning.

22. Check Out the LED Lights on Motherboard

motherboard flashing leds
Motherboard may flash POST LED lights indicating something is wrong (missing CPU)

If your motherboard turns on but flashes LED lights, then that could mean a problem with the hardware.

Most of the times the LEDs are self explanatory. For instance, if the LED labelled as “VGA” is on, then that means the issues lies with the graphics card (you can then follow the previous points on graphics cards)

Other times, the LEDs are not so explanatory and you may have to refer to the motherboard’s specsheet to deduce their meaning.

The point here is that you must address the flashing LEDs as they indicate an underlying issue.

Note that not all motherboards have LED indicator lights.

23. Remove All Connected Peripherals and Cards (Have the Bear Minimum Installed)

This can also be an easy fix. Sometimes a hardware can conflict with a driver or with another hardware.

Hence, try removing all the peripherals first. So if you have any flash drives, scanner, printer etc connected, then remove them. Once removed, restart your PC and see if that fixes the issue of computer turns on but no display.

If removing the peripherals does not work, then remove the internal hardware so that only the bear minimum is connected. In other words, have a single RAM stick, CPU and power connected. 

To remove internal components, make sure that your PC is turned off, the power plug is remove from the wall socket and that you have discharged static by tapping both hands on the PC case.

You can leave the  dedicated graphics card in if your CPU does not have an integrated GPU (Refer to point #10 and #14).

Other than that, remove everything including your non-bootable hard drive (the hard drive that does not contain the OS) any other PCIe device such as WiFi card, port expansion cards etc. 

Once removed, try turning your PC on and see if that fixes the issue.

If removing the devices did fix the issue, then one of the devices or the slot that it was plugged into could have been causing the issue. 

Try plugging each device back in one by one to figure the problematic component. Once the component is identified, then before discarding it as defective, try first plugging it into a different slot to see if the slot is not the culprit in the first place.

24. Test The Power Supply Unit 

This is fix is a bit more tedious compared to others. 

It is possible that your Power Supply Unit is either defective or malfunctioning. 

There is no other definitive way to check whether your PSU is functioning properly or not other than to check with a different system.

So if you have a second PC or if you could ask your friends of assistance, you can get the PSU checked fairly easily.

Of course, the hassle involved here is that you would need to disassemble your PC case and remove the PSU.

25. Your GPU is Dead or Defective

I wanted to keep the more dreadful fixes/causes towards the end of the article because obviously, the last thing you want to hear is that you have a bad GPU, CPU or Motherboard.

You can verify this by first plugging the GPU into another PCIe slot (make sure it is at least x8; refer to point #10).

If you do not have a second x16 slot with alteast x8 bandwidth, then try it on a different PC to see if it works or not.

If it does not work on another PC as well then you most probably have a defective GPU.

You can also perhaps try a different video output port on the graphics card before discarding your GPU as defective.

26. Your CPU is Dead or Defective

A bad CPU can cause an array of problems including no display or black screen.

You can get your CPU checked by testing it on a different motherboard, but the motherboard that you test it on will also need to be of the same socket. 

I have written a comprehensive article on this: How to tell if CPU is bad or dead?

27. Your Motherboard is Dead or Defective

Equally as dreadful as the previous point is that you may have a bad motherboard.

I have written a comprehensive article on this topic as well: How to Tell if Motherboard is bad or dead?

Final Words

So this article summarizes by 27 fixes/causes for the common issue: computer turns on but no display or black screen.

As you can see, some are fairly quick and easy fixes, whereas others are tedious and altogether heartbreaking (bad CPU or motherboard).

I hope this resource was helpful in your endeavor to figure out where the problem lies. If I have missed a fix/cause please enlighten us all in the comments below.

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Author:

Atif Qazi
Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGuide101. He is a digital nomad who loves everything PC. He is a PC builder, tech enthusiast, engineer, and a lover of single player lore-rich RPG games.

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