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Second Monitor Detected by Windows but not Displaying


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New Member
Dec 27, 2023
Hi There

I have a Dell XPS 15 laptop running Windows 10. it is connected to an external Samsung monitor. This setup has been working with no issues for a few years. Recently when I start the laptop the second monitor doesn't display anything over HDMI. Windows Display Properties show that it is correctly detected and that the Display should be extended but the external display is blank.

It mostly happens when swapping back to the Dell from my work laptop. The display always works with the work laptop. It fails sporadically on the Dell. Often it will start to work again if powered off and left for a while. I have tried uninstalling the monitor in Device Manager and restarting but with no success. It almost seems random. I don't hot swap the cable i.e I plug in the HDMI lead before turning everything on.

It's really frustrating so I'd be very grateful for any help.


Hi Martin,
Seasons greetings and hopefully a great New Year to come.

As a PC Doctor for many years Ive come across this time and again. A number of causes are present in what your doing, however, follow the steps below and all should be well. I will point out that Dell stuff is usually a law unto itself for working on swapping monitors etc, they tend to like being left alone to brood.

I will point out that these mods will apply to your Work and home use PC/Laptop, so having a 128 GB USB 3 stick is going to help matters for you.

Ok start with basics, Video Drivers, You more than likely trust to Microsoft Update to keep the drivers on top form, this can be a false economy (CAN BE !! not will) Open your device Manager (Right click on start Win 10/11 and run it from there.
Look at your Display adapter and make a note of its Make and model (More than likely be NVIDIA) Model is particularly important.
Go to the makers website and download the latest drivers onto the the USB Stick for the Home Laptop and for the Work laptop. (I am assuming you have rights to update drivers yourself, if this is not the case then pfft, some techs are finiky with other updating drivers, a well known status car maker is one of them and people get laptop privelidges removed for attempting it so check first.)

Update the video drivers on both laptops to the latest version and keep the things up to date.

Secondly dont try hot swapping the monitors over, do a restart and when its loaded look in the display settings for IDENTIFY, this puts a large number on the screen for a few seconds to show which monitor is which on that machine. Alter the settings so both Computers have the same screen layout.

IDENTIFY is a key to finding this issue solution. The drivers make all the difference, but if your work laptop is a SPECIFIC one for your firm (as in the company has had them made for the job ) expect issues to arrise.

Stupid point to add, but check your laptops are compatable with dual screen display. Some are some arent, companies make minute changes to motherboards to save money.

Anywho. HDMI drivers tend to be pretty generic across the PC world and so rarely cause issues, the sockets however are not designed to be swapped and changed about unless they have a supporting frame on them to cope with constant plug unplug, walking round with it plugged into the HDMI port. You may find it easier and more efficient to set up a Bluetooth 5.0 stream system to your monitors rather than cables. I used to have a work laptop that could stream to my pad and to my home PC at the same time.

One issue I did get prior to the Bluetooth streaming was a socket on the Laptop I had to rework with a hot air system to seat it back on the board this involved a full strip down and disassembly, rework the socket / change it and reassemble, costly in time.

I hope this helps you out and you find a solution to it through these steps. It worked for me, so keep on top of driver updates and do get lazy doing hot swaps.

Have a great new Year.

Thanks so much for your reply Dig

Yes, I was suspicious that Windows Update may have been behind this as both laptops were working seamlessly for a long time. The work laptop is totally locked down so updating this is probably is not an option. I'm downloading the latest NVidia display adaptor drivers for my home laptop. I had considered investigating a bluetooth option, so I'll look into this. I'll let you know how I get on.

Thanks again

Updating to the latest NVidia driver has restored the display on my external monitor. So brilliant! Thank you!

I'm a little confused as Device Manager shows two adaptors:
  1. Intel (R) UHD Graphics 630
  2. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
When I click through Display Settings -> Advanced Display Settings, both displays show the Adaptor as the intel 630. However, updating the NVIDIA seems to have done the trick.

So thanks again and a Happy New year to You
The intel Option is more than likely an onboard BIOS device much the same as the Motherboards in PC desktop, BIOS video hasnt changed a massive amount in years.

Glad to have offered a solution for you.

Bluetooth streaming can be done fairly cheaply, the USB 3 Bluetooth 5.0 plugin is a native device in most cases or you may find the laptops have there own though this is usually 4.0 on you work laptop. Software for free can be done with OBS Studio, it streams to Youtube so having a home TV with Bluetooth these days is an open option so you can set both up easily enough and very cheaply.

As a thought the work laptop may have a secondary monitor solution using a virtual machine in the main OS for "ULTRA HIGH SECURITY" read that as a image copy for cheapness, repairing an infected virtual machine can be done very quickly and it is able to be used on any brand of PC / laptop not requiring a dedicated machine. This is just a guess but it is what I have come across in the world of saving money on workers equipment.

Have yourself a great New Year and may all your troubles be Typos.

Thank you again Dig and Happy New Year to you

I'll look into the bluetooth options and think you may well be right about the VM possibility on the work laptop.


Happy New Year to you too and I have the holiday season has been a good one.

Glad I could be of service.

Chopping and changing monitors does present a few problems it has to be said. I hope you find the answers you need for the future, but as mentioned keeping drivers updated is always going to help matters. I would ask your work to perform an update of the system drivers to offer you more options for monitor display. With my eyesight as I get older and being diabetic I use a 40" TV through HDMI to use my PC and laptop,

Predetermined laptops are a pain where business use is intended, they go for the cheapest possible working solution so the cheap end ones go to those who do a lot of travel. As mentioned they do tend to have a proprietary OS buried in the depths to run a VM again with limited functionality, ie use our printers only, use our networks only use our laptops only yada yada etc and so forth. I can understand why they do it but getting help with the system outside of the dedicated tech office boy in the firm is pretty much impossible, although a lot of them do have a backdoor to give remote access to the said tech guys when they are sat at home playing with their xboxstation V25 or whatever they do waiting for a 1 minute fix to be announced on the phone or telex then taking two to three months working on a 20 second fix to justify the stupid wages they get paid and justify to the bosses the need for their existence.

Anywho, I wish you and your family the best of luck this coming year and hope you are all safe and well.

Before we put this thread to bed, I have had some frustrating times connecting various laptop/monitor combinations.
The biggest problem seems to be the inclusion of one of my most hated schemes 2 Windows based OEMs pulled, namely the display port. It was originally devised by VESA in 2006 before the HDMI port was originally and almost universally accepted. Display Port was rejected by all but 2 OEMS (Dell and HP) as redundant by the time it was attempted to be brought to market. Many saw this as a attempt to bring a Windows based proprietary video output to capitalize on like their friends at Apple had taught them.
Now you are presented with a whole bunch of challanges. Display port to Display port, fine.
Now try to connect to something other than a compatible Dell or HP monitor, good luck. Sometimes Display Port -> HDMI adaptors work, sometimes no. It is dependant solely on the system. Display Port to VEGA is sometimes works. It seems it is not a driver/BIOS fix, it's how Intel/NVidia/AMD video processor interfaces with the rest of the I/O system.
Thank goodness it seems the Dispaly Port is in the rear view mirrow, adios!
Not sure if Nvidia has a UnInstall tool like AMD does so if a driver update goes bad we use the uninstall tool that does a complete removal of AMD drivers then reinstall the drivers and all is good.
Aha you came across the cabling issue as well.
Go onto Amazon or Ebay and purchase dispolay to hdmi (assuming your Hdmi is in the monitor, cable of suitable length and the VEGA is pretty much a dead horse now and rarely used in todays machines, again as I said the dedicated work machine will more than likely use out of date tech so grab a cable VEGA to HDMI as well.

Biggest issue Ive come across is the game port cables are NOT made for interchanging plug in and leave due to the number of plug connections internally the damn things break to easily.

A common interface is an idea, they may still be available but plugging and unplugging is going to cause issues with any socket arrangement over time. Ive repaired a lot of HDMI ports and VGA port in my time and 100% of them had to be taken out and junked as reworking never completely solved the problems again due to the fine connections in plugs and cables. Go wireless if and where you can before disaster strikes and the sockets need changing. "Bluetooth or bust!" should be your Mantra and New Years promise. Hot plugging itself is just asking for issues to start.

A number of Bluetooth plugins USB are available dirt cheap and a lot of TVs these days have bluetooth function. Or if the work laptop is as expected as far from intelligent as possible a USB plugin will do the job and send monitor output to the USB plugin. Happy streaming.
Dell docking stations w/dual display are junk. We have a bunch of them at work and it seems like I am getting RMAs for warranty replacement. They will drive you nuts if you let them. I got a al cheapo Chinese one from Amazon for home use which does the same exact things and hasn't missed a beat. AFAIK the connectors (all of them) routinely loosen up or break very easily. The monitor cables aren't light and put a strain on poorly contructed jacks. I see failure of the normally problem-free large barrel 19V power connector jacks
The problem with Dell docks is DELL. From what I have seen of their gear in the past 25 years is the cheapest partial solution is better than doing a proper solution. Especially accessories. They tend greatly to be taken on board by any and most cheap chinese companies that promise gold and provide synthesised junk made from recycled parts.
Their Computers have to work so they are done as cheaply as possible to get them to pass muster. Accessories, go elsewhere to buy them youll save a fortune in the end.
Unfortunately you are correct. The good news is the connectors are really cheap. for example if you look at the current portable dock, the 19 volt large barrel jack has 1 tiny contact for the outside barrel which constantly loses connection. I invented a tool by bendinding a very small tight hook out of a large sewing needle that gets behind connectors and allows you to bend the contact bak out, problem solved. The HDMI and Dell/HP proprietary digital crap connectors are another story. Those cables connected to them are stout and put a strain on those jacks as well. When those fail, many times it's time for a warranty replacement or a trip to the eRecycler although I have seen those cheap VGA convertors die instead.
Biggest issue ive seen in the mod packs is the complete lack of shielding and proper heat sinks on power transisitors and IC,s using the "Well it will only be on for a few seconds in the shop, let it blow once they have the unit at home then discount the warranty as improper use. "
In the UK the main PC vendors tend to just sell the Laptops and desktops now and avoid selling accesories unless they have been tried and tested or at the very least reviewed by a site of repute.
Once bitten never a twice in it these days.
Biggest issue ive seen in the mod packs is the complete lack of shielding and proper heat sinks on power transisitors and IC,s using the "Well it will only be on for a few seconds in the shop, let it blow once they have the unit at home then discount the warranty as improper use. "
In the UK the main PC vendors tend to just sell the Laptops and desktops now and avoid selling accesories unless they have been tried and tested or at the very least reviewed by a site of repute.
Once bitten never a twice in it these days.
Isn't that the truth! Even Dell will make you jump thru more hoops than you would believe. They want to know Bios and Firmware versions of EVERYTHING you have connected even if you explain well I had another unit same make model firmware hooked up identiclly and it worked doesn't matter. Keep that in mind if you need to obtain a RMA.
Is that the regular size Hoops sir or the itsy bitsy curved ones that tend to trip up the careless passer by.

In my years as a tech, DELL proved time and again what the word INCOMPETENCE actually means. Company Mantra "Cheap is good, Cheaper is better"
One of my employees thought he had made the big time when he passed an interview and got a job with Dell UK. The same employee returned to me after a number of weeks asking for his job back. I declined on asking him why he had left them, he said "Because I could not lie convincingly on the phone to customers or follow guidelines or macro responses" he went on to say something about Conscience.
His case was sympathetically received and explained, since he left we found we were achieving the same efficiency so his post had been removed. There's a moral in there somewhere about fences and grass.