How to Fix a Disabled Graphics Card on a Laptop or PC: reset your graphics card from a black screen
If you’ve accidentally disabled your PC or laptop’s screen, it can seem like the end of the world, forcing you to chuck an expensive and otherwise perfectly good machine. Luckily, there’s a straightforward solution.
If you’ve turned off your computer’s internal graphics, don’t worry: we’re here to walk you through fixing an accidentally disabled graphics card.
How to fix a disabled graphics card without a screen: resetting the BIOS on a laptop or PC
If you’ve disabled your machine’s main graphics chip, your screen will instantly go black. This is because the hardware sending visual data to your screen is inactive. This is purely a software issue, however, and is completely reversible.
Depending on how comfortable you are with computers, the method for restoring your graphics card is going to seem either surprisingly simple or terrifyingly complex. To restore your internal graphics settings, you need to reset the BIOS by removing the CMOS battery.
If that sounds like an alien language, don’t panic – it’s not as complicated as it seems. BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System, and it’s the system that tells your computer what to do with each piece of hardware inside it.
The CMOS acts as a sort of short-term memory, which in turn tells the BIOS what to do every time you start your computer. This system is powered by a small battery, about the size of a nickel.
By removing this, the BIOS essentially ‘forgets’ what settings to use at startup, and reverts to its defaults. Don’t worry though, none of your files or settings will be modified or deleted. Instead, the computer just goes back to its standard start-up settings.
How to fix a disabled graphics card without a screen: removing the CMOS battery on desktop PCs
To fix an accidentally disabled graphics card, you’ll need to remove the CMOS battery. For desktop users, this will be a fairly easy task: simply ensure your machine is powered down and with all cables removed, then open up the case to reveal the hardware inside. If you’re unsure how to do this, refer to the manufacturer’s information, but be warned that doing so may void your warranty.
Once the internal components are accessible, you’ll need to find and remove the CMOS battery. Usually located in an exposed housing on the motherboard, this part looks like a large watch battery. Once found, you should be able to pop it out, but you may need to disengage some form of clipping mechanism first, depending on your PC.
Once the battery has been removed, wait for around one to two minutes. This should give the CMOS time to reset itself to its defaults. Then, replace the battery, reseal your computer’s case, and reboot your machine. Your BIOS should have reset itself, re-enabling your internal graphics in the process.
How to fix a disabled graphics card without a screen: removing the CMOS battery on laptops
For laptop users, accessing the CMOS battery could prove more challenging. Some models will have a small pop-out tray on the chassis to enable easy removal, around 1in across. However, if your laptop does not possess this, you may need to disassemble your laptop in order to reach the battery housing.
Due to the huge variety of laptop makes and models in existence, it’s impossible to provide a comprehensive guide to taking them apart. The best way to find out how to disassemble your particular machine is to ascertain your laptop’s model number, and then use a web search to locate a good tutorial.
Alternatively, another option would be to take it into your local PC repair shop. Tell the staff that you just need to reset the BIOS by removing the CMOS battery, and often they will be happy to do it for you while you wait.
Once you have access to the battery, simply follow the steps above for desktop PCs: remove, wait, replace, and restart. Once you’ve rebooted your machine, your BIOS should be back to normal and your graphics fully-functioning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some more answers to the more frequently asked questions to help you fix your graphics card woes:
My PC says ‘Graphics Card Not Detected.’ What does this mean and how do I fix it?
There are several reasons that your PC isn’t detecting your graphics card and therefore the screen isn’t working. First, if you’re using a PC open the case and ensure that all connections are properly fitted. A bad connection can cause hardware failure of course. Next, ensure that you have the proper graphics settings. You may need to disable the onboard graphics and reset it.
Next, you could have a power supply issue so check that your computer is pulling enough power to run the graphics card. If you’ve recently installed or upgraded your graphics card you’ll need to uninstall the onboard drivers and install the drivers for your new graphics card instead.
Aside from these options, you could have another connection issue, maybe Windows needs a software update, or you have a faulty graphics card.
What is the Blue Screen of Death? Is it because of my Graphics Card?
The BSOD is caused by some malfunction on Windows PCs where either the software or the hardware prevents your system from booting and running properly. This can certainly be caused by the graphics card, drivers, software, or another piece of hardware within your machine, you’ll need to do some research to figure out which one it is.
Windows will automatically reboot after displaying the BSOD but there is usually an error code on the screen. You’ll need to cross-reference that error code to find out where the problem is so that you can fix it. If you have a warranty on your computer call the manufacturer.