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How-To: Troubleshooting a Laptop LED Screen that is Dim

Updated on February 23, 2013
FN Key on Dell Laptop
FN Key on Dell Laptop

Getting Started

A laptop screen can appear dim for a number of reasons, if its dim but readable it can be because the power supply isn't working right, a software setting or issue, or even a bios issue. These can often be checked without the help of a professional.

In the event the screen is so dim, you almost need a flashlight or some other light-source to make out what is being displayed you will most likely need professional help. But we will cover a few things to try before enlisting professional help.

First you need to determine if the screen is dim due to a software or bios setting.

Depending on your model the way to test this can be vary. However you should check these two things first on any laptop.

  • Check your power supply and make sure it is plugged in and showing charging on your taskbar. If not check all connections all the way back to the wall. Where the "Brick" is these often disconnect, and over time will come loose push firmly both ends of the cord into the brick.
  • Hover over the battery/charge indicator in the system tray and make sure it is set to performance or high performance instead of power saving.

Dell Laptops Controls

Most Dell Laptops you will hold down the FN key (it is located between the CTRL and ALT keys)
while holding down the FN key press the up arrow a few times if there is no change there is a possibility that the screen is bad. However, there are a couple more things to check

Toshiba Laptops Brightness Controls

Toshiba Laptops allows you to control the brightness by holding down the FN key plus F6 to reduce the brightness, and FN+F7 to increase the brightness.

Sony Laptops Brightness Controls

The following are the default key combinations for the Sony VAIO VGN Series


If the above key combination doesn't work, you will need to re-download and install in the proper order the following file installers from the Sony website: If you have ever re-installed or upgraded your O/S on your Sony VAIO without utilzing factory provided disks you could experience problems and these services and files will resolve these issues in most cases.

  1. VAIO Event Service
  2. Sony Utils DLL
  3. Sony Shared Library

Other reasons your screen may be dim.

If after following these instructions your screen is still dim, there are more things that could be causing the problem if it is so faint that you need external lighting to see it, this may be because the backlight has burnt out, or the fuse on the motherboard has blown. In most cases the screen has failed and or the inverter has failed. If you don't have access to spare parts it is often the most cost effective to find a local repair shop that will perform a free or low-cost diagnostic. Not to diss the Big Box stores, but they are often high-pressure and over-priced on their repairs, a reputable locally owned computer repair store is often the best way to go.


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    • nwapchelp profile image

      Michael Reid 3 years ago from Farmington, AR

      I know I reference inverters at the end of the article, however these steps work for both LED and or the older ccfl type of screens.

    • profile image

      Casimiro 3 years ago

      Interesting, but this seems aimed at ccfl screens, not led screens. The latter don't use inverters.