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What Is a Screen Inverter?

A screen inverter creates the image displayed on a laptop screen.
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  • Originally Written By: Derek Schauland
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2014
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A screen inverter is a small circuit board in a laptop computer that passes a power current from the body of the machine to the attached liquid crystal display (LCD) screen. It works by turning a direct electrical current from the motherboard into an alternating current. The alternating current then sparks what is known as a “backlight,” a complex series of signals that cause the images generated from the hard drive to appear on the screen. This instrument is also frequently known as a backlight inverter or an LCD inverter, among other names. It is critically important to proper laptop functioning, but it often one of the first things to fail in an aging machine. Repairs are sometimes possible but not always, and in any event they tend to require a bit of expertise.

Main Purpose

The primary function of the inverter is to power the laptop LCD. To some degree, this means it is responsible for channeling energy from the mainframe to the screen so that the screen both illuminates and projects accurate images. Stand-alone “desktop” computers typically have monitors that are completely separate from their hard drives, and inverters in these settings don’t work the same way. Some translation is still required, but it is usually carried through an external cable connected to a video card. In a laptop, everything is build together, which means that these connections have to happen on the inside. The screen inverter performs this role.

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How it Works

Inverter boards have become smaller and of better quality as laptop technology has improved, and their performance has gotten better and more reliable as a result. In most laptops this device looks like a thin strip with multiple switches and wires, and it’s usually located just below the LCD display, right in the hinge where the top folds onto the keyboard; people can access it by removing the plastic frame around the screen. It is typically connected on one end to the internal video line and on the other to the backlight. In addition to powering the screen, the inverter also creates a better screen resolution and can give users more control over their display options. Its primary job is to shuffle and interpret electrical currents.

Common Problems

Even though the device performs a seemingly simple task, when it fails the results are usually unworkable. Connection difficulties or wiring problems can mean that the screen will appear to be lit, but the light will be very dim and the images may be very difficult to see. This can make the computer difficult and frustrating to use, even if the memory and hard drive are in perfect functioning order. The LCD may display might also show only very faint images, or the laptop could appear to be powering up, but the screen remains dark.

Faulty circuits or bad conductor coils are two of the most common causes of inverter problems. It can sometimes be difficult in these cases to determine if the backlight has just burned out or if the inverter has gone bad. The symptoms of each are very similar and both can display a dark or briefly lighted screen with some or no images, but problems with the inverter are usually harder to fix. The backlight is often more like a light bulb that can simply be replaced; the inverter is a more complex piece of hardware that usually needs more extensive repair and reworking.

Repair Tips

The easiest thing people can do when they suspect a bad screen inverter is to take their machine in to a repair shop, but this can get expensive. In most cases simple tweaks and reconnections can be done at home, provided people have some understanding of computer engineering.

There are multiple websites that detail the step-by-step process of accessing the board, examining the damage, and replacing it if necessary. Depending on the extent of the problem, simply buying a new inverter is often easier than trying to repair old problems. Many computer retailers sell this piece, and in most places it’s not very expensive. It’s often recommended that users check the warranty information on the computer before making any repairs or replacements, though; if the laptop still has a valid warranty, the manufacturer will usually take care of the repair at no cost.

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Discuss this Article

anon943366
Post 16

On my Acer 5315, the screen is really blurry and slow. It takes so long for the screen to respond. What is the problem? Does anyone know?

reaume
Post 15

I replaced the inverter and it worked fine. Four days later it looks like the new part no longer works. Any suggestions? I'm getting a very faint hp logo, and login, and nothing else.

anon320221
Post 14

Ever since a few weeks ago, when I turned on my Presario CQ60-419WM, the screen only shows a vertical black gap of approximately 1 1/2 inch on each side of the screen and vertical lines in between the gaps. If I connect an external monitor, it works fine. The problem is just with the laptop LCD screen.

anon276558
Post 13

The screen of my Packard Bell Easynote went completely white yesterday. When using an external monitor I get a display and I am able to use the computer. Could this be the inverter?

anon271162
Post 12

My XPS M1530 displays on an external monitor but not on the LCD?

I've been working on my laptop for almost 1 year.

My problem is that my laptop will display perfectly fine on any external monitor, but not on my LCD screen. Please help me. Any ideas?

anon258626
Post 10

I'm just trying to find out if it could be the backlight or inverter because my screen keeps going dim or black but my motherboard and everything else is working fine. It's a pain because I'm a music producer and this is a big setback for me. Please help my fellow geeks, thanks.

anon257428
Post 9

@anon88386: You have a bad LCD. Is your laptop still under warranty? You may get a replacement LCD for free.

anon194442
Post 8

I have a problem on my toshiba satellite a50 that I bought few years ago. The os boots properly on the laptops vga output, but the LCD is very dim.

anon134252
Post 7

1. Check inverter

2. Check cable data

3. Check out from vga way to cable data inverter. Use blower or air solder, to hot solder.

anon117558
Post 6

Plugged a dell xps m1530 US bought into the power socket in uk, and suddenly the screen went. It got lines and eventually no picture. I did the restarting but no use. my guess either the inverter, the back light, video cable or the screen itself. The display on the external screen when connected is fine.

How do i rule out the options? please help. Thanks

anon88649
Post 5

well, some says it might be an inverter, and the connection is loose, but what is exactly the cause?

anon88386
Post 4

I have an ASUS G73JH-A1 notebook and after two weeks I had a sudden LCD problem which is the screen display divided into two parts: the left side was white with vertical black moving lines and the right side has rainbow colors.

Please help me identifying what causes this problem exactly and what to do to fix it?

Thank you. My best regards, Samy

anon79298
Post 3

remove battery/power adaptor before replacing screen inverter.

anon77654
Post 2

i am the same. Does this mean the laptop screen itself is damaged?

anon74812
Post 1

i have totally blank screen. no light whatsoever but the external works fine.

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