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Surface Pro only visible on External Monitors

tdub4

New Member
I have a dual monitor (2 external monitors) setup with my Surface Pro 7 which is the primary setup I use on the Surface and, traditionally, I keep the tablet itself closed (type keyboard folded over screen).

This morning I had all black screens (external monitors and tablet) and seemingly couldn’t get the Surface to bring back the display on any of the devices (local or external). After several troubleshooting measures of unplugging the docking station, removing the MSFT keyboard so it was just the tablet, holding the power button for 30 seconds, etc. I finally was able to get the display back up on the external monitors when I plugged the hub back in but still no display on the Surface tablet itself. If I remove it the tablet from all connections, I have not been able to get the screen to come up, BUT when I plug the hub back into the Surface I get my external monitors.

I have rebooted, disconnected the hub again, unplugged cables from monitors, looked at the Display Settings to see if the 3rd monitor (tablet) was there - which it wasnt….I am at a loss. What I was able to determine is that one of my dual monitors is displaying as if it is the video output/screen for the Surface (i.e. I can scroll my finger on the black screen on the Surface and the screen on the external monitor will move). That monitor shows the clear, crisp, smaller text (I assume 2560 resolution) while the other monitor is displaying in 1920 resolution whereas before they both were 2560. In looking at my display settings, it is only showing 2 monitors to "identify/Detect" and not 3 as before.

Any ideas of how to bring the tablet display back or is it dead?? Would a reset/reinstall of Windows resolve it?
 

sharpuser

Administrator
Staff member
Based upon your description, I think it is possible a Windows re-install will fix this.

Make sure OneDrive is up to date. Then use “Reset this PC” from the settings, and choose “remove everything.

After the reset, sign on with the same account you use now. OneDrive will bring your settings back, and you will have your data.

You will have to re-install desktop software, including Office.
 
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tdub4

New Member
Thanks for the suggestion. I was thinking I would try that this weekend...when I have some extra time for recovery in the case of any issues!
 

Hard.Wired

Member
@tdub4: If I am catching you before you do the reinstall, I had a similar problem with my SP3 dock a while back. Here is a basic checklist of what I did...
  1. Definitely do a backup if you haven't done one in a while.
  2. Unplug from the dock and use external power.
  3. Sign-in with a local account with administrator access.
  4. Make sure you still have internet access via Wi-Fi if you were using the dock for internet access in some way. This will allow you to be sure the latest drivers are reinstalled in the steps below.
  5. Open the Control Panel / Device manager.
    1. Right Click on each of the below devices (preferably in the listed order), click on "Uninstall device", check "Delete the driver software for this device" if available, and then click the Uninstall button.
      1. Each device under "Sound, video and game controllers" that is non-bluetooth related.
      2. Each device under "Monitors".
      3. Each device under "Display adaptors".
    2. Technically, you can now click on the "Action" pulldown menu and click on "Scan for hardware changes", but I highly recommend doing a Power / Restart instead.
    3. Give it a good few minutes to make sure its reinstalled everything (before signing back in if you did a Restart).
    4. Play with the Settings / System / Display options to make sure the primary screen is working properly.
    5. Connect it to the dock, without anything else plugged into it and give it a good few minutes to make sure its recognized/reinstalled everything related to the dock.
    6. Connect each device one at a time to the dock and give it a good few minutes to make sure its recognized/reinstalled everything related to the device.
If you start having problems as soon as you connect the dock you may need to Uninstall / Delete the drivers for the dock and reinstall them.

Also, sometimes another Power / Restart is a good idea after installing so many things.

I am hoping any of that works for you... I HATE REINSTALLING Windows if I don't need too.
 
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tdub4

New Member
@Hard.Wired Thanks for the suggestion. For clarity, my Surface screen is black when connected AND disconnected from the dock. If I understand your post, you had a working screen on the Surface when disconnected from the dock…is that correct?
 
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tdub4

New Member
@sharpuser Well, I reinstalled Windows this morning and the dual external monitors now show in the same 2560 resolution, but I still have the issue with no display on the Surface. The touchscreen works on the Surface whereby as I click or scroll on the blank screen the extrernal monitor displays the change but still blank on the Surface. If I go into display settings, it only shows 2 screens and not 3. I did reboot the machine and disconnected the hub during reboot….I noticed a very very faint flicker with lines across Surface screen which is a bit concerning. The only other idea I am thinking about, as mentioned by @Hard.Wired , is disconnect the hub, connect an external monitor to the Surface and reinstall windows agian to see if the hub is causing the issue. Any other ideas?
 

sharpuser

Administrator
Staff member
Sounds not so promising. As you noted, lines across your display suggest the display is being driven, but something is damaged.

What happens when the keyboard is not attached during boot up, including plugged in, and on battery only. I know you can’t use the external displays, but does the SP7 show anything at all on the screen.

Go into a very dark closet or room to do these boot up tests.
 
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tdub4

New Member
Sounds not so promising. As you noted, lines across your display suggest the display is being driven, but something is damaged.

What happens when the keyboard is not attached during boot up, including plugged in, and on battery only. I know you can’t use the external displays, but does the SP7 show anything at all on the screen.

Go into a very dark closet or room to do these boot up tests.
Thanks for the quick reply. I actually am going through another install completely disconnected from the hub, with Surface AC adapter and direct connection to monitor. I know that this seems like a VERY long shot but already started so letting it run through the process.

An interesting thing happened before I started this second install. Without any action by me, while I was sitting at my desk looking up possible resolutions on another device, the Surface monitor just came on and was useable (just appeared). It was mirrored to one of my two external monitors while the other monitor was black. I went into display settings and saw that it recognized three monitors but was showing as “1/2” and “3”. As opposed to 3 distinct monritors….that may be becasue I was mirirrong the Surface to the one external that was on. Unfortunately, I disconnected the hub to see if it would work independently and I lost the Surface screen again and it hasn’t come up since.

I will try these other options you recommended once it installs this time without the hub attached. By the way, the keyboard has been disconnected since I began my troubleshooting.
 

sharpuser

Administrator
Staff member
It occurs to me that you may have a loose or dead backlight circuit. I had this happen once on a Sony VAIO. Get a very bright flashlight, and shine into the screen. See if you can actually see a ghost of an image.

If the image is there, your backlight may be having trouble (for example, the dimming logic). Anyway, just check it out with a flashlight ...
 
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tdub4

New Member
Update: reinstalled Windows the second time,, but this time did not use the MSFT hub (directly connected to an external monitor and used standard ac adapter).

After install, the Surface was still black and only getting the picture on the external monitor. I rebooted and the Windows logo appeared on the Surface tablet but went away and again only picture was on the external monitor.

I rebooted again, this time disconnected from the external monitor (only ac adapter connected), and lo and behold the Surface was back. I connected the two external monitors through the hub and had all 3 monitors working again.

Unfortunately, I cannot say what I did for it to come back, but it is back……for now! Will report back after seeing some stability. As a side note, I am using the original Surface hub and not the 2.0 version. I do wonder if that is an issue in this setup (it hasnt been to date for the past year though)
 

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