GPU Is On (& Fans Spinning): But There’s No Monitor Display?

Every few months (or weeks..!) I have an issue where my computer powers on and the fans are spinning fine, but no output appears on the PC screen. This is a confusing and annoying issue, especially because I always double check that all cables are correctly inserted into my computer and monitor.

Luckily this issue can often be fixed easily enough – although admittedly you might need to try a few fixes out first, before finding The One True Fix™ for your own monitor display problems.

Recap: GPU Vs Motherboard For The Monitor Display

Before diving into various fixes for this problem, I wanted to quickly recap on how you can get display to appear on your PC monitor. Your computer (be it a laptop or a desktop PC) can connect to your PC monitor with one of four cables:

  • VGA (an old cable dating back to 19871)
  • DVI (a slightly newer cable… from 1999!)
  • HDMI (a cable which can display High Definition video and carry audio data, first released in 2002 but the newer HDMI 2 spec was announced in 2013)
  • Display Port (the ‘best’ sort of cable, which was first released in 2006 – but recent versions have been released in 2019 and 2022)

Many setups will use a HDMI cable, although newer systems will probably be running DP (display port) – whereas some legacy systems might still have VGA or DVI connections:

A VGA cable used for older monitors and systems
A VGA cable used for older monitors and systems

Whichever cable you use, it will plug into a slot on your monitor display, and then plug into the back of your computer in two places: the motherboard, or the graphics card. How it slots into your computer is actually really important, because inserting it into your computer incorrectly can directly cause the ‘no display’ issue that you are seeing.

With that background knowledge covered, let’s dive into how to resolve this frustrating issue.

How To Fix A Running GPU (Which Has No Display)

Display cables plugged into my GPU but no output on a monitor
Display cables plugged into my GPU but no output on a monitor

Having bad display drivers or an old, failing cable is the most likely cause of blank displays on your monitor. However plugging your display cable into the wrong slot, along with possible Windows or BIOS bugs, can also be at fault. Re-seating some of your hardware components has also been known to cure this no-display problem.

First Time Start-Up? Try An Old Cable

If you have just finished building your PC, or it’s a pre-built computer that you haven’t powered on yet, you might need to try using an old display cable. This is because some hardware might struggle to recognize newer cables (like DisplayPort), until you install a range of driver updates.

So if your computer and monitor has VGA or DVI slots, try connecting your computer this way temporarily. Yes the resolution might be painfully low, but sometimes this can help your computer boot up with no display issues.

Then you can install all the usual drivers, and update your BIOS. Make sure that you specifically install your graphics card’s display drivers, instead of relying on the default display drivers that Windows installs.

Once this is done, power down your computer and switch to a HDMI or DP cable – and try turning on your PC again. With any luck, you will see output without any issues.

Check Your DisplayPort And/or HDMI Cables

If this issue has randomly started happening on an existing PC setup, it might be down to the cables themselves – or simply a loose connection (i.e. one end of the cable has come out).

You should ideally inspect the whole cable to ensure that there’s no physical damage along it (any big ‘dents’ in it could mean that the wires inside are damaged). You should then check the ends of the cables, and that they are plugged correctly into your motherboard or graphics card:

A plugged in HDMI cable and unplugged DP cable going to the back of my GPU
A plugged in HDMI cable and unplugged DP cable going to the back of my GPU

If they look a bit dusty or dirty, try blowing some air onto the ends of the cable to clear this – before plugging them back in. Do the same thing with the cables at the back of your monitor:

Two cables plugged into the back of my PC monitor
Two cables plugged into the back of my PC monitor

Tip: HDMI cables can be fairly prone to falling out of a slot, especially because they don’t have any clips (like DisplayPort or Ethernet cables). However even with their clips, DisplayPort cables can still become slightly loose – resulting in the ‘no display’ issue.

Ensure Your Display Cable Is In Your GPU (Not Motherboard)

Where you plug the display cables in can also matter. Some CPUs don’t have any build-in graphics: therefore if you plug the display cable into your motherboard by mistake, you simply won’t see any output – because your computer literally has no way of displaying any output. In this case, you will always need to plug your display cables into your graphics card.

Quickly check behind your computer and make sure that the motherboard display cable slots are clear:

The HDMI and DP ports are both free in my motherboard
The HDMI and DP ports are both free in my motherboard

Tip: The same rule is true in reverse, though: if your graphics card is faulty or you aren’t running power to it yet, plugging display cables into it will not do anything. The motherboard will never ‘see’ these display cables, after all. In this case, you will need to ensure that your CPU has in-built graphics and then only ever plug the cables into your motherboard.

Have Two Monitors? Hit WIN+P And Try Different Display Modes

If you connect your PC to multiple screens, the ‘no display’ issue might not be an issue after all. Some people plug into a second screen that they only use occasionally, so they turn that screen off. Every so often, though, Windows can mess up and start sending output to that screen after all. But since it’s turned off, you won’t see the output.

Annoying, right? I’ve been hit by this ‘issue’ multiple times! To quickly rule this problem out, you should be able to press WIN+P that will bring up the Windows display dialog behind the scenes.

WIN plus P will allow you to select which screen display to use
WIN+P will allow you to select which screen display to use

After pressing WIN+P, try pressing the up and down arrors and sometimes hitting enter. This will (eventually) try sending the display output to all your different screens, hopefully resolving the problem.

Alternatively, if you do have multiple cables plugged into your PC, just yank all of them out – other than the one that goes to your main, turned-on screen. That way, you can be (fairly!) sure that Windows is correctly trying to send the output to that single monitor.

Reinstall Your Graphics Drivers

If you find that you can sometimes boot up (with display), you should immediately try reinstalling your graphics drivers. This can help to flush out any weird issues that are causing your system to occasionally boot up without display.

Installing the drivers is usually just a case of navigating to the AMD driver download page or NVIDIA download page, and selecting your GPU model. This will allow you to download the right drivers for your system. You then need to double click the download file, and follow the instructions.

You might want to download the full display software suite, or alternatively you can try installing just the display drivers (both options should resolve the no display issue):

Repair the AMD drivers to restore them
Installing AMD display drivers for my RX 6700 XT

Once done, try restarting your system and hopefully you can always start up with display on your monitor going forward! I tend to find that this problem then goes away for a few months at least, although it can start to rear its head somewhere down the line – requiring me to then reinstalling the drivers again.

(Or maybe that’s just because AMD display drivers are really buggy, and I should consider switching to NVIDIA instead?!)

Reset Your BIOS Settings To Default

Something I haven’t discussed yet is that a bad overclock can cause your computer to start up without any monitor display. I had this issue a lot with a previous build: I went for a fairly ambitious overclock, and around 1 in 10 start-ups would result in zero display output.

As a result, I went into my BIOS and clicked the option to restore my BIOS to its original settings:

The option to restore my BIOS to default options
The option to restore my BIOS to default options

If you have changed a lot of BIOS settings, it is worth restoring your BIOS to its default – and then seeing if your display problems go away. If they do, you can then start changing your settings back one-by-one and when the display problem reoccurs, you know which setting is causing the problem.

Alternatively if you suspect that the issue is down to a bad overclock, you could try dialling back the OC a bit so that it’s less demanding. Either run your CPU (or RAM) at a slightly slower speed, or give a bit of extra power. An unstable OC can be hard to diagnose, but the system almost booting up (with fans running and LEDs on – but no final display on the screen) is a common cause.

Reseat Your GPU And RAM

A close up view of Corsair RAM a Noctua CPU cooler and the end of a graphics card
My Corsair RAM (under the CPU cooler), and also my graphics card

Next up, I would suggest reseating your GPU and RAM. This literally involves removing them from the PCIe and RAM slots on the motherboard, and then putting them back in again. While GPUs and RAM modules both have clips that keep them in place, they can sometimes pull loose – causing a range of weird issues.

So you should press the clip next to them, remove the entire GPU or RAM module, then plug them back in – ensuring that they clip clicks back into place without issue.

If you find it hard to access either your GPU or RAM, just try reseating one of them – and then power your machine back in. You might get lucky and find that the one you reseated was the culprit all along!

Is Your PSU (And Its Cables) Correctly Installed?

Another possible cause here is that your PSU (or its power cables) are not supplying sufficient power to your components. For example, if one of the PCIe power cables isn’t fully plugged into your graphics card, you will definitely experience a range of issues – including no display problems.

A close up view of two PCIe power cables going into a Radeon 6700 XT graphics card
A close up view of two PCIe power cables going into a Radeon 6700 XT graphics card

Equally, while some graphics cards only need one PCIe connectors, while others need two or three – it depends on their TDP (how much power they require). Ensure that you are plugging the right number of PCIe cables into them.

Also if you have a powerful GPU, make sure that you don’t pigtail the connector – because this can result in too-little power being supplied to your graphics card too.

Consider Buying New Hardware (Sorry!)

If nothing else works, you might need to consider buying new PC hardware or a new monitor – sorry! My previous build had a budget first-gen B350 Ryzen motherboard. It had a few different niggles and bugs, and it was generally a badly reviewed motherboard (as an ‘early adopter’, I didn’t know this when I purchased it, though!).

I had the ‘no display’ issue around 20% of the time with that old motherboard, but buying a new motherboard fixed the issue for me:

An ASUS TUF Gaming B550M Plus motherboard for AMD Ryzen
An ASUS TUF Gaming B550M Plus motherboard for AMD Ryzen

I have then recently starting having the issue again with my latest computer – but luckily I was able to track this down to a faulty DisplayPort cable. So this was a much cheaper fix!

Equally a failing graphics card, or monitor, can also cause this problem. You might just need to do some trial and error to track down the exact cause, then buy a replacement.

cropped A picture of me Tristan
About Tristan Perry

Tristan has been interested in computer hardware and software since he was 10 years old. He has built loads of computers over the years, along with installing, modifying and writing software (he's a backend software developer 'by trade').

Tristan also has an academic background in technology (in Math and Computer Science), so he enjoys drilling into the deeper aspects of technology.

Tristan is also an avid PC gamer, with FFX and Rocket League being his favorite games.

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!

7 thoughts on “GPU Is On (& Fans Spinning): But There’s No Monitor Display?”

    • Sometimes this issue is intermittent – i.e. sometimes you can boot up and see monitor display, other times you can’t. Naturally you can only update the drivers in that former case! 🙂

    • You have to get display from your motherboard (unplug your GPU from the motherboard, and connect the video cable in it) and then you un-install the drivers with DDU and after you power the PC off, you connect the GPU again and install the new drivers.

  1. Hey Tristan, my PC only shows display on the internal built in GPU. When I switch my monitor to the HDMI input, it goes black. I tried removing the CMOS battery – tried reinstalling and resetting Windows – tried removing the RAM and GPU – tried dusting the whole case off. The thing is, the GPU isn’t even showing in the device manager. It’s like it’s not even plugged in. However the GPU has power connected and all the fans are spinning so I am not sure what else I can do?

    • Hey Anas, hmm sorry to hear it, that’s frustrating for sure. I agree that you’ve tried all the key steps really. To me, the only things remaining are to try a different cable (and ideally a different type of cable, such as DisplayPort or DVI) if you haven’t already. However if that doesn’t work either, it could potentially be a faulty PSU (i.e. it’s not supplying enough power to the GPU) or the GPU itself is faulty. Unfortunately it’s hard to say for sure, but I would guess at a PSU or GPU issue (unfortunately), based on everything you’ve tried.

      • Could a 3rd party PSU 8pin cable be the culprit in such case? I bought a cable from Amazon and got the same results as the above with my new GPU.


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