Macbook Display Goes Black

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Mr. Brownstone, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. Mr. Brownstone macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2010
    A few weeks ago the display on my 2008 Macbook started going black randomly. I wouldn't call it a flicker, because when it goes black, it does not come back on unless I turn the brightness all the way down, and then back on again.

    Sometimes it will go black, I turn the brightness all the way down, then back on again, and it will stay lit for a few minutes. Other times, the screen flashes when I turn the brightness up to 1 but then goes to black immediately. There are times where it won't stay on for more than a split second for almost half an hour, and I can't do anything but keep trying to turn it on in the meantime. Eventually it will start to work for either a few minutes, or half an hour, or longer, but if I turn it up too bright, it goes to black again. I keep it at 2/16 brightness once it starts working. If I'm feeling lucky I'll go up to 4/16.

    So after doing some research I decided to try and replace the inverter. I just did this successfully, and after a few minutes the problem returned. So now I'm at a crossroads. I can take it apart again and replace one of the inverter cables, but I'm not too hopeful about that. I'm out of warranty and will not pay hundreds of dollars for Apple to repair it. My long term plan-B is to buy an LCD monitor and wireless keyboard to use it in clamshell mode.

    So my question is if anyone has any other ideas about what may be wrong, and what I can do to fix it. The display itself appears to be fine. My dad thinks it may be a motherboard issue. Any thoughts?
  2. felixthea macrumors newbie

    Mar 23, 2010
    I have the exact same problem. Can't help you but wanted to let you know that you're not alone :D
  3. Pax macrumors 6502a

    Dec 12, 2003
    It could only be one of 5 things
    (I'm not patronising you, I'm trying to think out loud)
    1. logic hardware and firmware which provides the command signal to the inverter
    2. cables from logic board and PSU to inverter
    3. inverter
    4. cable from inverter to CCFL
    5. CCFL in the display

    On this list you've eliminated (3) - assuming you've done the work OK
    (1) sounds a bit unlikely - I would have thought this would be a failure, not go intermittent. Have you tried resetting the SMC, it could be a firmware problem? Long shot I think.

    The symptoms do sound like something on the high power side (4 or 5). Something can't take the power which is why you can't run it to bright. I guess it could be the CCFL itself 5, or the cable 4.

    The only test I can think of for the CCFL is to get a "known good" panel and plug your new inverter into it. I doubt it would have to be an identical MB panel, just a similar one. If you have some good electronics test gear you could also check if the inverter output is nominal, but you'll need some $1000s of kit.

    It's a head scratcher.
  4. eman macrumors 6502a

    Nov 5, 2007
    In the great white north
    When the screen goes black, does the sleep light come on? Does your sleep light work? I'm thinking this could be a sleep switch issue.
    When the screen goes black, can you still see the desktop with a bright light (flash light)?
  5. Voeps macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2010
    Sorry to revive a old thread but my 2008 black Macbook has recently had the exact same problem. However my brightness seems to eventually work fine once it is "warmed up".

    Whenever I open my laptop or wake it from a sleep the screen comes on for a split second then the brightness goes to 0. The display can still be seen with a bright light so its not going back to sleep, its just the brightness. The only way to get the screen to work is turn the computer brightness to 0 then slowly back up, and repeat until it stays on (around 10 times). Once it's warmed up, I am able to stay on for hours on full brightness with no problems.

    Any ideas?
  6. eman macrumors 6502a

    Nov 5, 2007
    In the great white north
    I would suspect the inverter board first and It's also the cheapest fix, so start there.
  7. kristoffer4 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 17, 2006
    My 2008 MB also started doing this...could it be a bug in 10.6.4? :rolleyes:
    I can go days without doing though. The macbook is 2,5 years old.
  8. Skald macrumors member


    Oct 20, 2008
    Display goes to black or Macbook shuts down

    My black Macbook (from June 2008) has just developed the same problem. It happens only now and then, and until today, the laptop did not shut down. I'm up to date on Snow updates

    Sometimes the screen just goes black or almost black. I can barely see the desktop and a message screen (too dark to read but it looks like the box that asks "do you really want to shut down?"). I tried F2 (more brightness) to no avail, but never thought to try F1 (less brightness) first).

    When I attach an external monitor, the desktop shows up fine (thank goodness) and I can work. Sometimes the laptop display the comes back on, too.

    Today this happened, but the laptop shut down (no white light, no sound). It would not restart. I left it off for a while, fired it up, and all was well.

    I have a Genius appointment tomorrow but might cancel to see if a forum member comes up with something.
  9. 10sexyapples macrumors newbie

    Aug 27, 2010
    Display goes to black or Macbook shuts down

    Wondering if anyone ever had any resolution with determining what was causing this issue.

    This has been going on for a while now with my husband's macbook. He can only open it to about 20 degrees and then it goes too dim to see. I just tried messing with the brightness and for the first time in months was able to see the screen with it all the way open. I never thought to try anything like that either.

    I had ordered an inverter cable and board that never came a month ago. Just canceled the order and was going to order elsewhere, but, sure would love to know if replacing the inverter board and cable even has anything to do with this.
  10. Great Dave macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2007
    Have you called Apple?

    I am wondering if there is a problem with 10.6? Or possibly a firmware update?

    I, too, have the same issue and know of another that has a problem.

    Also, to answer someone else's question - no the sleep light does not come on when it goes black.

    It seems to work better, if the screen brightness is not all the way up - or make sure you don't increase - meaning that if you increase it expect it to go black....soon.

    What seems to work for me is when you do increase and it goes black, get it to come back on and then immediately reduce the brightness by two steps.

    I have called Apple several times and even have asked to be transferred, they claim that they never have had any calls related to this and it's the first they have heard of the issue. But, I think that is a bunch of crap because there are so many posts on a variety of sites related to this same issue.

    Anyway, please make sure you call...

    Hopefully, they will either do a software update (if it is software) or do some kind of recall, as this is definitely a defect.

  11. DNAnthonyy macrumors newbie

    Sep 27, 2010
    I am having this same problem. It has to be a defect. I turn the brightness to zero and back up and its fine for a little while. I'll try calling apple tomorrow.
  12. alcatraaz macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2010
    Same problem on my macbook as stated above, mine is an early 2009 white macbook. Going to the Genius bar today, this has to be a defect, if so many are reporting the same problem, Apple better fix this up!

    Also if anyone with the same problem has an update on it, pls do post back on here, so we can keep track and take further action
  13. fivegrand macrumors newbie

    Jun 8, 2008
    Yup my early '09 MacBook White is doing this too.


    I've noticed conditions and remedies that are quite different from most all y'alls.

    My display ONLY goes black while I'm downloading a large file through a browser. It makes no difference on mine where my brightness/contrast settings are. It makes no difference if it's freshly fired up, or been running all day, or just been restarted, or run/sleep cycled for a couple weeks.

    When it goes black, I still get sound, I can still move the cursor around and see the cursor plainly as before. It does not go to sleep.

    The only way I've been able to get the display back has been to close it, wait a second or so, open it, then tap the space bar. Interestingly, this does not interrupt the download in progress. Also, it doesn't make any difference which browser I use, it still does it.

    Mine did this with 10.5.* it was delivered with, and it continues to do it with current up to date everything.
  14. alcatraaz macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2010
    So i showed it at the Genius Bar, and he told me its the inverter problem, Apple would charge between $300 - $500, as i am out of warranty, which is a ridiculous price to fix a macbook.

    The problem is, that even if i fix it up at an authorized dealer ( who tend to be cheaper) there's no guarantee that it would fix the problem, as seen in the forums, anyone have any bright ( no pun intended) ideas?
  15. Pax macrumors 6502a

    Dec 12, 2003
    Have you reset SMC? It sounds like display is going to sleep at the wrong times. Check Display Sleep in Energy Saver in System Preferences. Also could trash the correct .plist file - it might be corrupt... Google what to trash, I don't know.

    Yours sounds like a software/firmware problem rather than hardware. I'd suggest re-installing Mac OS if these don't work.

    Just a few guesses, I don't know what you've already tried.
  16. macmac2009 macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2009
    Black Out Macbook Black

    My macbook black blacked out this morning. Last night I downloaded and
    Installed "MacBook SMC Firmware Update" (1.4) and I left it downloading some stuff. When i checked it this morning, the screeen was blank. But after careful observation, i can see the items on the screen vaguely. I now use an external monitor to work on my macbook.

    Question: How do i delete the SMC firmware Update (1.4)?
  17. Ivansj82 macrumors newbie

    Feb 26, 2010
    Same issue

    I am also having the same issue, has anyone fixed it? I have a white macbook from 09. Was it a software issue (please say yes)
  18. ellixm macrumors newbie

    Jan 26, 2010
    Similar issues again with my 2008 Blackbook. It started about a month ago.

    The way I can best describe it is that the display brightness seems to have this issue where from reducing the brightness down to zero and then up one level it goes to full brightness for a second and then cuts out. Pressing F1 & F2 over and over eventually will fire up the backlight at the lowest level of brightness and stays on.

    For whatever reason the backlight can spend periods of time only coming on at full brightness and immediately shutting off. As I say eventually whether it be after 30 seconds of F1/F2 or 15 minutes the backlight will eventually come on at the lowest level and stabilise.

    Any solutions out there? Anyone tried reinstalling the OS to see if it was a firmware update bug? Or is it definitely a hardware issue?
  19. dhushara macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2012
    Macbook goes black - fixed

    Okay now its 2012 and this thread still seemed to have no solution but here is my fix.

    Having tried resetting the SMC as suggested in other forums, and then dismantled the computer I found the LCD was still fully functional but the back light was off, there was no flickering on opening and shutting the screen and I checked the leads were intact, then by accident while reconnecting the leads I found it would sometimes work on minimum brightness if switched on multiple times but would go back if the illumination was increased. I presumed it was the inverter malfunctioning but so many people have had no success with replacing that on this forum, I doubted it was the answer. Then this morning laterally thinking about some people wondering about the firmware update, I did something irrational.

    I rebooted on an older snow leopard system on an external while the screen was functional enough to do so and voila full brightness! The I rebooted on another newer backup OS voila! Finally back to the internal 10.6.8 and voila!

    So here I am with a bright display which is good for sleep and wake - the machine is still half dissembled but now finally seems stable.

    Since this did seem to fix it what does this actually mean about this recurring problem for many users? How does rebooting of another OS fix this fault so it seems to be fixed on the original OS?
  20. dhushara macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2012
    Update to black screen post

    Having previously had almost complete blackout anywhere over the lowest brightness setting requiring endless twiddling the brightness to zero and back to get even that, after switching OS's back and forth I had a clean run for an hour at full brightness, then back to blackout, so I went back over anything I might have missed and tried a PRAM reset (power on with opt command P and R pressed). Suddenly back to full brightness which is stable to sleep and restart. This might explain the strange OS shift behavior above. If this holds I'll say no more!

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