What to Do if Your Computer Monitor Starts Flickering
The most visible and yet often most underappreciated part of any computer system is the monitor. It’s where your movies play, your spreadsheets are displayed, and where your gaming adventures come to life. The slow but sure development and improvement of LCD and LED monitors over the last twenty years has put top-quality displays within reach of even the most limited budgets, to the point that the older CRT monitors are all but extinct from the marketplace.
Monitor flicker, unfortunately, hasn’t followed CRT monitors onto the ash-heap of history. Although the new monitors are far more reliable than the old CRT technology, it is still possible for them to develop a flicker. But don’t panic – if your computer monitor does start flickering, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s curtains for that piece of hardware. It could just mean a driver refresh is required or that you or someone else previously made changes to the Windows configuration.
In this article, you’ll troubleshoot your flickering monitor so that you can find out what’s wrong and fix the issue.
Why a Computer Monitor Flickers
Even though the display on your computer screen looks like it’s a static picture, it’s not. Instead, the image is constantly redrawn and erased at a rapid rate that your eyes can’t perceive. A modern screen can refresh up to 100 times per second or even more. This action refers to the refresh rate, and it gets measured in Hertz.
When you look at monitor specifications, you will see a number such as 60Hz, 100Hz, or something else. The number indicates how many refreshes occur per second. On a 60Hz monitor, the screen refresh runs 60 times per second. A 100Hz monitor will refresh 100 times per second. The faster the refresh, the quicker the display reacts to changes and the smoother the experience. This outcome is why 100Hz TVs became so popular and why 100Hz computer monitors are ideal for gaming where the display changes constantly.
Different people are more sensitive to refresh than others. Some people can run monitors as slow as 30Hz and still see a perfectly stable screen. Other people will be able to detect the refresh and will see it as flickering.
Steps to Fix a Flickering Computer Monitor
1. Check The Monitor Cable
Both ends of a monitor DVI cable have screws to hold them securely in place, but not everybody uses them. Ensure both ends of the connectors are secure and that they are held tightly in place. If securing the connection doesn’t fix the flicker, the cable itself may be defective. Grab a spare one and swap them out to see if that resolves the problem.
2. Check Power
Check that both ends of the power cable are also secure. A loose power cable can sometimes cause a screen to flicker, and a buzzing sound often accompanies this.
3. Check Display Settings
If you have recently updated your graphics driver, check the display settings to ensure nothing has changed.
- Right-click a blank space on the desktop and select your graphics card, NVIDIA Control Panel in this example. The menu option will vary depending on the manufacturer of your video card.
- Within the graphics control panel, click on Change resolution. Select the flickering monitor in the options and make sure the refresh rate is at least 60Hz. If you have a 100Hz monitor, set it to that. Save any changes and retest.
You can also check through Windows 10 Settings.
- Navigate to Settings and click on System.
- Scroll down and select Advanced display settings.
- Display adapter properties text link in the center box.
- Select the Monitor tab and check the refresh rate from there.
4. Check Your Graphics Card
Issues with the graphics card can sometimes cause a monitor to flicker. These situations are unusual, but it is a possibility. If you have multiple monitors and only one screen acts up, the issue isn’t your graphics card. If all monitors, or your only monitor, flickers, it is worth checking out the hardware and connections.
Check that your graphics card does not have accumulated dirt and dust on the surfaces. Make sure the cooling fan is working and that all case fans are turning when they should. Use Speedfan or a similar program to monitor the temperature of your card, as overheating is a prime cause of most graphics card issues. If all looks okay, it might not be your graphics card causing the flickering.
5. Check The Monitor
The final potential cause of your computer monitor flickering is the monitor itself. You can try testing the monitor by changing the port you are using. If you use a DVI connection, try using the VGA or DisplayPort output. If nothing changes, you may need to borrow another monitor to test. Or test your monitor on another computer that you know works fine. If the monitor flickers on another computer or with a different hardware connection, then sad to say, your monitor has probably reached the end of its life.
Monitors are repairable, but the repair will likely cost more than just buying a new one unless your monitor is very high-end and expensive.
There are several reasons why a monitor can start flickering, thankfully, not all of them mean you need to buy a new monitor. Often enough, a simple tweaking of display settings will remedy the situation. Hopefully these suggestions help you diagnose your monitor flicker problem.
If you have other suggestions for diagnosing monitor problems, please share them with us below!