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Beginners Guides: Repairing a Cracked / Broken Notebook LCD Screen

Beginners Guides: Repairing a Cracked / Broken Notebook LCD Screen - PCSTATS
Abstract: A broken or cracked LCD screen makes a laptop utterly useless, good thing PCSTATS can show you how to replace that busted laptop screen with a minimum of fuss and for less money than a service center charges. PCSTATS will be fixing a cracked LCD screen on a Lenovo T530 ThinkPad notebook, the general procedures outlined here work for any notebook though.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Oct 02 2013   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > Beginners Guides

Other Reasons Why Laptop Screens Sometimes Go Dark

Cracked LCD panels aren't the only reason why notebook screens go dark. If you can't see anything on your notebook screen it may be caused by one of the following faults too:

1) The backlight isn't working; dead inverter.
Laptop screens use either Light Emitting Diodes (LED) or miniature fluorescent light bulbs called Cold Compact Fluorescent Lights (CCFL) to backlight the panel and make text formed by the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) visible. CCFLs are the older backlight technology of the two and require a separate power supply called an "inverter" which frequently fails. The inverter supplies high voltage Alternating Current (AC) to excite a small amount of Mercury vapour contained in the CCFL bulbs. The excited mercury vapour emits a strong ultraviolet light which subsequently causes an internal coating of fluorescent powder to fluoresce and emit a bright visible white light.

It's pretty cool technology and I highly recommend you watch 'The Secret Life of Machines' - Season 3, Episode 4 (Youtube link) by Tim Hunkin for the best explanation and demonstration of how fluorescent lights work that you will ever see! The key demo starts at 13m:14s and runs to 16m:00s. (All hail Tim Hunkin for creating the best television series ever!)

embedded video 480x360 in commented out text

Getting back to the problem; if there's no functional backlight, you can't see what's on the display. CCFL's do burn out after a few 10's of thousands of hours continuous use, but tend to go dim or orange in colour before fizzling entirely. When a notebook screen "just goes dark" it usualy means the inverter which powers the CCFL's has died.

The inverter is a separate electrical circuit from the LCD panel, usually nestled in the lower part of the screen bezel between the hinges. Power from the notebook goes in one side, two white rubbery high voltage wires come out the opposite and connect to the CCFL bulb in the LCD panel. Again, if your screen uses LED backlights none of this applies.

If the inverter circuit fails and you replace the LCD panel the screen still won't work, you need to replace the inverter circuit board too. For most laptops, once you have the screen bezel open it's not too difficult to replace the inverter with a new one and reconnect the wires.

To reiterate - LED backlit notebook screens do not use an inverter, so this type of failure does not apply to this kind of screen. Most laptop manufacturers have adopted LED backlights, but if you're searching out replacement LCD panels you must be certain to get the right type for your particular notebook as some laptops are made in both LED and CCFL backlight variants depending on where in the world they are sold (ie. LED for first world, CCFL for third world markets).

2) Broken or loose video cable.
As with a computer monitor, the screen in your laptop has a cable connecting it to the rest of the computer over which video data is sent. Because of the compact nature of notebooks and the hinge, a special flexible cable is used which can become damaged or in some situations the connectors can work loose. If that happens, the screen is essentially unplugged and nothing will show up on the display, Nine times out of ten, bad design cracks the flat wire harness and you'll need to find a cable and replace it. This is a challenging prospect, but not impossible and certainly helped if you can track down a notebook service manual or disassembly video published to YouTube. In the olden days, if you were handy with a soldering iron it was possible to fix the cable harness, but with today's pin densities that's just about impossible.

3) Loose Component Connections

Big notebooks with separate graphics cards can sometimes experience situations where the videocard becomes unseated after a jarring drop. This will usually prevent the whole computer from booting up and you may be lucky enough to resolve the fault by opening up the rear access panels and reseating the videocard and memory modules. We had a Dell laptop once that "died" in this manner. The cheap plastic chassis allowed too much flex so when it was dropped (in a protective case) it wouldn't boot up again. The fix was to remove the memory, hard drive and battery and then reinsert them firmly. Worked like a charm. Never bought a Dell laptop again. :-)

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Contents of Article: Beginners Guides
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Repairing a Cracked / Broken Notebook LCD Screen
 Pg 2.  Step Two: Answer the Four-point Technical Detail Checklist
 Pg 3.  Step Three: Buying a Replacement Notebook Screen
 Pg 4.  Step Four: Disassembling the Notebook Pg 2
 Pg 5.  Step Four: Disassembling the Notebook Pg 3
 Pg 6.  Step Four: Disassembling the Notebook Pg 3
 Pg 7.  Step Four: Disassembling the Notebook Pg 4
 Pg 8.  Step Five: Installing the Replacement Screen
 Pg 9.  Step Five: Installing the Replacement Screen Pg 2
 Pg 10.  Step Five: Installing the Replacement Screen Pg 3
 Pg 11.  Step Five: Installing the Replacement Screen Pg 4
 Pg 12.  — Other Reasons Why Laptop Screens Sometimes Go Dark

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