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Monitor Goes Black While Gaming: 5 Causes and Fixes

Having a monitor going black or turning off while gaming is a widely reported and common problem. However, the fix can involve checking several settings or hardware that are slightly difficult to find, and it can be confusing to know what to do. 

When a monitor goes black while gaming, first try updating your drivers and check the display settings – a black screen may also suggest hardware issues with the computer or the cables that need to be replaced. You can try using onboard graphics or a single monitor setup to test this. 

I’ll go through the common causes and fixes for sudden monitor issues while gaming so that you can solve this annoying problem. Keep reading to learn more.

1. The Drivers Are Outdated

Drivers are the software that controls specific components of a computer. Display drivers need to be updated to keep working with the latest software, particularly games. 

Staying on top of updates is best done by using an auto-updater. Most major companies that develop video hardware offer a client to check for updates and help install the display drivers properly. 

How To Fix

On a Windows computer, you can use the command “dxdiag” to find out what the video or display card is:

  1. In the search box, type “dxdiag”.
  2. There should be a result with “dxdiag.exe,” often with a yellow and blue icon. 
  3. Click on this, and a grey box will come up, with a tab up the top of “Display” or “Display 1”.
  4. Go into the “Display” tab, and look under “Device” on the left-hand side.
  5. Note down the name of the display card and model number. 

You can follow a guide here to check your video card if the above instructions aren’t working. 

The two most prominent manufacturers are AMD and Nvidia, so look for information around these names in the popup. If you have something else, you may be using what is called onboard video.

Onboard video will struggle to run many modern games, so it’s best to get your hands on a dedicated video card if you want to play any game. 

Once you’ve got the video card’s name, find the appropriate client and perform an update if available, restarting the computer as required. 

Clean Reinstall of Drivers

If you already have the drivers installed, it’s still worth uninstalling the existing drivers to do a clean install then. 

This is done through Device Manager: 

  1. Bring it up by searching for “Device Manager” in the Windows search bar. You will be presented with a list of all the hardware, including display adaptors. 
  2. Click the arrow next to it. It should expand to show the name of your video card.
  3. Double click on the video card. It will pop up its properties, select the “Driver” tab up the top and click “Upgrade Driver”.

2. The Monitor Has Low a Resolution and Refresh Rate

A monitor will go black when it cannot display the picture correctly due to the resolution. 

The resolution is the name of the dimensions of an image that a display monitor will hold. You’ll need to know what resolution your monitor can support to see if it could be the cause of this issue. 

How To Fix

Look up what type of monitor you have by searching for a brand name and any numbers or letters you suspect to be a model number. 

The resolution is one of the most critical pieces of information about a monitor, so look for these details on a monitor’s information page or in the manual. The number will often be represented by two numbers, separated with an “x” or the word “by.” 

For example, a standard resolution for many modern computer monitors will be 1920 x 1080. This resolution is not supported by all devices, mainly more than ten years old or very low-power computers. 

Once you have determined the resolution, the monitor’s refresh rate information should be listed nearby. This number spans from 60 to 240-hertz, although technology has been pushing the 240-hertz barrier since the release of a 360-hertz monitor in 2020. 

LCD-based technology tends to be 60 hertz, whereas expensive gaming monitors will be 144 hertz or higher. 

Some games may force a resolution and refresh rate above that or be incompatible with your monitor, causing the picture to go black. 

If you notice the screen only goes black on specific games, see if you can reset the installation or set it back to default. 

This can be not easy if the game is never visible because it starts by booting into a black screen. Use the game client such as the Steam platform or Epic Games launcher to do a reset. 

Otherwise, get into the video or display settings in the game, and set it to a resolution and refresh rate compatible with your monitor. 

If the various graphic settings and program configurations conflict, updating the settings can resolve these. 

You can also try going into the video card settings and ensuring they are all the same between the various components. The video card may allow other applications to change the video settings, inadvertently causing issues. 

Go into the video card settings and look for priority or 3D settings.

  • For Nvidia, open up the Nvidia Control Panel, then under “3D Settings”, select the bottom radio button of the three, moving the slider to performance.
  • For AMD, go into the Catalyst Control Center, go to “Gaming” on the left, then “3D Application Settings”, setting AMD as the main controller. 

For pictures showing the menus and settings and other options, check out the guide from How-To Geek

3. The Windows Animations Require Too Much Power

Windows has many fancy graphical and animated components which require processing power. These can cause your monitor to go black at the most inconvenient times, including during your gaming session.

How To Fix

Windows animations can be disabled to test whether they are causing display or video issues. 

Follow these steps to disable Windows animations:

  1. Open up the Windows Control Panel by searching “control panel” in the bottom bar. 
  2. Click on “System and Security”, “System”, then on the right; it should say “Advanced System Settings”. Click on this and then “Advanced Settings” up the top of the box that pops up.
  3. Click the “Settings” button in the section titled “Performance”, then select the third radio button “Prioritize Performance”. If this doesn’t seem to help, any of the other three radio buttons will restore the better-looking Aero theme, so your computer is looking like it used to. 

This does involve a few steps, so check the following guide and the included pictures to follow the procedure yourself. 

4. There Are Too Many Computer Monitors

Having two, three, or more screens are very popular with computer setups. However, this can cause some issues as games take up a lot of resources, and when the computer tries to display images across all the screens, it can tax your hardware too much. 

This may result in the video card or drivers switching off secondary screens to conserve processing power. 

How To Fix

To test if this is causing issues, physically unplug any extra monitors and have a single monitor plugged in via cable. 

Go into video settings and confirm that you only have a single monitor present. 

  • Type “display settings” into the Windows search bar. 
  • Look at the diagram showing the various monitors to check that there is just one box with the numeral one. 
  • Select the monitor, then underneath, tick the box next to “Make this my main display.” 

You can follow a guide on Computer Hope if these instructions are not working. 

If you have multiple screens, this can also lead to the image being duplicated across multiple monitors. The other option is to have your desktop extended instead. 

Windows has a hotkey for this, by holding the Windows key + P. This should pop up a window that you can then press the combination again to select another option. Generally, your options will be: 

  • PC screen only 
  • Duplicate 
  • Extend 
  • Second screen only 

Make sure your desktop is set to extend, and then try launching the game. 

5. The Hardware Needs Replacing

You could be experiencing issues in three common areas due to hardware failure: 

  • Monitor 
  • Cable  
  • Video card 

You should try and rule out fundamental software issues by following the configuration suggestions above. If the problems persist, you may need to look closely at your setup’s hardware. 

How To Fix

Isolating which one is suspect can lead to a proper diagnosis of what is causing your monitor to go black. When testing each item, remember to be careful to avoid damaging any other components of your gaming setup.

Cable

The cable is one of the most manageable items to test for issues, so start there. There are a variety of outputs for a video card, and the older cables cannot support specific resolutions or refresh rates. 

The standard cable types are: 

  • DisplayPort 
  • HDMI 
  • DVI 
  • VGA 

Amazon has all these cables for the lowest prices and will ship right to your door. The Silkland DisplayPort Cable comes in 3.3 feet (1 meter) to 10 feet (3 meters). 

If your video card is compatible, it’s worth upgrading to a new DisplayPort cable as it handles the highest resolution and refresh rate. 

You may also want to check what version of a particular cable you have. The versions are given different symbols to demarcate their various functions. One example is for HDMI, which per the 1.0-1.2a versions can only support up to 60 hertz, but the 2.1 version supports 144 hertz. 

If you’ve got a friend with a gaming setup, you can bring your display cord over and plug it into their setup to see if the cable can handle higher resolutions and refresh rates. This helps narrow down which component is causing the issue. 

Monitor

Monitors will also have limits on how high a resolution and refresh rate they can support. 

Getting your hands on a monitor to test is not the easiest thing to do, but you can try a different method if this is not an option. Set the refresh rate of your computer via the display settings to 60 hertz and then launch the game. 

If possible, try and set 60 hertz inside the game to see if this makes a difference. If a game will display on 60 hertz, it suggests that your hardware cannot run programs at higher hertz rates, and you will have to lower the resolution or upgrade the component. 

There are software solutions that can lock a monitor’s refresh rate, preventing other software from changing it to an incompatible value, but this can cause damage to a computer, so it is not recommended unless you are experienced with computers. 

If the game can successfully display at 60 hertz at a low resolution, the issue could be that the monitor, cable, or video card can’t handle the higher figures. 

Video Card

Take note of what is happening when the monitor goes black. If the computer freezes and you cannot alt-tab or use task manager, it is likely the computer has frozen. 

This could be a sign of a card that is overheating or suffering some other type of fault. You can try opening up the computer settings and forcing the dedicated or onboard video. 

  • For Nvidia, open up the Nvidia Control Panel, click on View, then enable the option that reads ‘Add “Run with graphics processor” Option to Context Menu.’ 
  • Another option is to find the display cable inputs on the back of your PC and plug the video cable into that instead. 

Onboard video will typically not be as powerful as a dedicated video card, but it still can run some games. If you can load up a game without the screen turning black on the onboard but not the dedicated, this is a sign your video card is having issues when put under stress. 

Here is a video that covers the various options for setting up video output: 

Summary

A monitor that is turning off while gaming is likely a sign of configuration or software issues. These can be easily fixed by adjusting the configurations so that they are compatible. 

Further testing with alternative equipment like a friend’s monitor or cable can help narrow down hardware faults. Video cards have a shelf life, so it’s worth trying to run the game via the onboard graphics to see if the monitor issues stop, pointing to a video card issue. 

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