How to Fix Surface Pro 3 Black Screen of Death

Quick Fix

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Microsoft Surface Pro is a highly sought-after computer due to its versatility, combining the portability of a tablet with the power of a high-end computer. This lightweight 2-in-1 detachable device excels in completing various tasks beyond the ordinary.

Transforming your Surface Pro into a desktop maximizes its productivity and efficiency. If you want to boost your Surface Pro’s performance by converting it into a desktop computer, you can plug it into the Dock via Surface Connect cable.

However, several users recently reported experiencing their Surface Pro 3 screen not working after undocking. When the Surface Pro is removed from the Dock, the display should automatically return to the original screen. But the affected users only see either a blank screen or a black screen of death. There are some whose Surface Pro screen won’t turn on at all.

Instead of accomplishing more, these affected Surface Pro users are losing precious work time because of this issue. Microsoft has yet to acknowledge the Surface Pro 3 black screen of death, so there is no official fix yet. This is why we’ve listed down some of the common causes of Surface Pro black screen problem and their possible solutions below.

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Causes of Black Screen on Surface Pro 3

Software problem is one of the common causes of black screen on Surface Pro 3. Outdated display drivers and corrupted files can cause display problems such as BSD. Another culprit is incorrect or faulty power settings.

Aside from these two, damaged files, malware infection, and hardware problems can also cause screen problems.

How to Fix Black Screen on Surface Pro 3

Fixing the Surface Pro 3 black screen of death means dealing with the two common causes mentioned above. However, you need to rule out other elements that may be contributing to the problem. Here are some basic troubleshooting checks you need to perform before fixing your display:

  • Make sure that your Dock is compatible with Surface Pro 3.
  • To avoid errors, install the latest Surface and Windows updates from here. Make sure that your device is docked while installing these updates.
  • Update your Surface Dock. If you’re having trouble updating the Dock, you can download the Surface Dock Updater tool and choose 7.136.0.msi or later. Follow the instructions to run the utility.
  • Clean out junk files from your computer using a reliable tool like Outbyte PC Repair.
  • Restart the display subsystem by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Windows + B.
  • Perform a two-button reset. Hold the Power button for 30 seconds before releasing it. Press and hold the Volume Up button together with the Power button for at least 15 seconds, then release them. When you notice the Surface logo flash for a second, press and hold the same buttons again for another 15 seconds. Release them and wait for another 10 seconds. Turn your Surface device back on by pressing the Power button.

Once these steps have been completed, you can proceed with the fixes below:

Fix #1: Scan for Corrupted Files.

Corrupted and damaged files halt your computer’s performance. To fix or replace these damaged system files, you can use System File Checker (SFC) to scan your directories. To run SFC, follow the instructions below:

  1. Swipe in from the right corner of your screen, then tap Search.
  2. Type in Command Prompt in the search box then hit the Search button.
  3. Right-click on Command Prompt from the search results, then tap Run as administrator.
  4. Type in the following command, tap Enter, then wait for the process to finish: DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth. This command will load the files needed to fix corruptions in your system.
  5. Type in this command next, then hit Enter: sfc /scannow

This method will scan all system files and replace the damaged or missing ones with a working copy. Wait for the repair to be completed before closing Command Prompt. Now try to undock your Surface Pro to check if the display has been fixed.

Fix #2: Run the Surface Troubleshooter.

Every Surface device is equipped with a built-in diagnostic tool to handle common performance problems. You can download the Microsoft Surface Diagnostic Toolkit from Microsoft and install it on your device. Run the app after installation and follow the on-screen instructions to diagnose problems on your Surface Pro.

The troubleshooting process might take a while, so make sure that your device is plugged into power while running the Surface Diagnostic Toolkit. The total repair time depends on several factors, including the speed of your internet connection, updates to be installed on your Surface Pro, and the necessary repairs to fix the issues.

Fix #3: Reset Power Settings.

Windows 10/11, by default, automatically turns off the monitor after one minute of inactivity. But this setting can get corrupted and the monitor can continue to remain off even after you try to wake the device up. To fix this, you need to reset your device’s power settings.

The problem is you can’t configure this using the normal Windows user interface. You need to execute some commands to run the PowerCfg.exe utility.

To do this:

  1. Launch Command Prompt by following Steps 1 to 4 under Fix #1.
  2. Type in the following commands, then tap Enter after each line:
    • powercfg.exe /setacvalueindex SCHEME_CURRENT SUB_VIDEO VIDEOIDLE 43200
    • powercfg.exe /setacvalueindex SCHEME_CURRENT SUB_VIDEO VIDEOCONLOCK 43200
    • powercfg.exe /setactive SCHEME_CURRENT

The VIDEOIDLE 43200 seconds means that it will take 12 hours before the timeout display activates instead of the default one minute. You can change this value depending on what you need. Close the console and try to undock your Surface Pro again to see if the screen is now working.

Final Thoughts

Surface Dock is a powerful accessory that allows you to do more with your Surface Pro device. But getting the Surface Pro 3 black screen of death makes the device unusable, therefore preventing users from maximizing their Surface devices’ capability. Instead of waiting for Microsoft to release an official solution, you can try the fixes above to see which one will work for you.

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