Why does my laptop’s screen flicker a lot?

John Smith October 30, 2014
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My laptop’s screen flickers on and off when I play games but not when I use an external screen.

I have this problem for a long time. My laptop screen keeps flickering mostly on games but sometimes also with Maya and Chrome. When playing Youtube it will lag a bit and my screen then flickers and says “Display driver stopped responding and has recovered”.

When I use an HDMI screeen there is no flicker on the external screen but my laptop’s screen continues to flicker and when I Alt Tab and pause the game, flickering stops. When I go back to the game and unpause it, it starts to flicker again. I know its not from GPU because some demanding games like Metro 2033 and even bechmarks like 3dmark 11 and Furmark will not caused it to flicker, but then again, in other games like Payday 2, Paranautical Activity and other simple games it flickers a lot! Ocassionally there is a day that my laptop works normally but that is rare. I also notice lag and slow execution of programs sometimes. Is it RAM,  HDD, power supply or what? :(

Intel Core i7-720QM
AMD 5870

  1. Oron J
    November 1, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    I agree with Jan that the most likely scenarios are a driver problem or a loose contact. Given the error message you get sometimes, the former looks more likely. Your machine is very powerful and should have no problem at all playing anything.

    I suggest you download the AMD driver removal tool and new AMD Catalyst drivers, remove the existing drivers and install the new ones.

    I too am puzzled at the 14GB RAM you mention. Since you have a discreet graphics card, it shouldn't be using RAM from the motherboard. How did you end up with 14GB?

  2. Jan F.
    October 30, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    First of all update your graphics card driver (perform a clean install if possible)

    Make sure neither the application nor the graphics card driver is forcing your display into an unsupported refresh rate. This can permanently damage your LCD.

    Try moving the display lid back and forth a bit to see if the flickering is related to physical movement/vibration.

    Finally, since you listed your system with 14GB of RAM I suppose 2 GB memory are shared with the graphics card. I would therefor recommend running a memory test.
    In Windows 7/8 click Start and in the search enter "memory". This should bring up the option to "Diagnose your computer's memory problems"
    Alternatively you can get the bootable memtest86+ and leave it running for at least one full pass.