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 doing so 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 10p piece.
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, most can simply be popped 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.