My ThinkPad Backlight Won't Come On


ThinkPad laptops were first produced by IBM, which in 2005 sold the brand to Lenovo; various models of the ThinkPad have existed across consumer and private markets since 1992. ThinkPads have earned a reputation for durability and business sense and, while not the most popular laptop on the market, have enjoyed steady sales through their existence. Like any electronic item, however, the ThinkPad is susceptible to flaws and malfunctions, including those related to the LCD screen’s backlight. There are two primary reasons that a ThinkPad backlight will not turn on: a dead backlight or a loose or faulty inverter.


  • The backlight exists to illuminate the image on a ThinkPad’s LCD screen. If the backlight itself malfunctions, it will not turn on, leaving you viewing only the ghost of an image on screen. A faulty backlight needs to be replaced, and the cost to do so varies according to the backlight you need and the age of your ThinkPad. In most cases, however, even with parts readily available, a backlight replacement will cost more than the ThinkPad is worth because the labor involved is so intensive.


  • The inverter transmits signals from the ThinkPad's motherboard to the screen. If the inverter connection is loose or if the inverter itself is malfunctioning, your backlight will not turn on. Reseating a loose inverter connection is usually quick and inexpensive, as far as laptop repairs are concerned. Replacing an inverter, on the other hand, will vary in cost based on the age of your ThinkPad and the availability of the correct part.

Warranties and Repairs

  • If your ThinkPad is still covered by its manufacturer’s warranty, or if you bought an extended warranty through the retailer that sold you the ThinkPad, you will be able to have your backlight repaired at no cost. If you are outside of the warranty period, you will have to pay for the repair out of pocket. Depending on the age and initial cost of your ThinkPad, a repair may or may not be worthwhile. If you will have to pay for a repair, bring the ThinkPad to a certified computer repair center and request an estimate prior to approving any work. Also, when considering repair costs, do not spend more than half of what you would spend on a new ThinkPad.

An Alternate Solution

  • Your ThinkPad, depending on its age, features either a VGA port or an HDMI port. You can use either of these to connect your ThinkPad to an external monitor. While this option keeps your laptop rooted to one place, it is a practical option that helps you prolong the life of the laptop. Additionally, an external monitor and the necessary cable will cost less than repairing the backlight or replacing the ThinkPad.

  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images
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