Screen Flickering On Surface Pro 4 FIXED, Permanently
Screen Flickering on Surface Pro 4 Update – 6 months on
I just thought I’d revisit this article and give everyone an update. I’ve been using this device now for nearly 6 months. I’ve edited videos and played with very large graphics files using Filmora 9 and Affinity Designer. At times the device has got very hot. I run Core Temp to keep an eye on the temperatures and some of my video rendering has kept the CPU temperatures at a constant 72 degrees for well over half an hour. The back side of the Surface Pro 4 has been almost untouchably hot during these intense usage scenarios.
The original parts failed within a few days under this sort of load. The new screen outlined in this article is still going strong 6 months later. No signs of flickering or distortion. Indeed, it’s performed as you would expect a device to.
I have had some strange issues with the touch input registering ghost touches. This is where the screen thinks it’s being touched but in fact isn’t. At first I thought ‘Oh no, a new fault’. But I tracked it down to interference from a mains PowerLan adaptor. This is a device which enables you to extend your network using the mains system, rather than relying on WiFi to reach harder places in the home. When I unplugged the SP4 from the Powerlan adaptor the problem went away and hasn’t come back. So beware, the touch input digitizer can be affected by electromagnetic interference!
Update: Jan 29 2020 – Still going strong, I conclude the screen flickering on Surface Pro 4 is indeed solved 🙂
UPDATE: Jun 4 2020 – I’ve got an issue now. My screen no longer responds to touch input either. I’ve noted that a number of people have commented over the past few weeks that their SP4 doesn’t respond to touch after performing the routines shown in this post. My touchscreen worked perfectly until a couple of weeks ago. So, either my N-Trig has just failed, or there’s been a firmware update or something recently that’s broken the SP4. Now, the really weird bit is this, the pen still works. It’s just fingers that don’t work. This makes it relatively unlikely to me that it’s an N-Trig fault. More interestingly though is that this is the standard behaviour under the Surface-Linux kernel because Intel changed the way things work. Have the busted the SP4 drivers in a similar way? If anyone else has any feedback on this I’d love to hear it.
My Screen Is Distorted and Flickering On Surface Pro 4
If you’re researching the screen flickering on your Surface Pro 4 you’ve probably come across articles talking about ‘Flickergate’ online. Flickergate is the term given to a problem with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 whereby the screen flashes quickly, flickering or distorted. Dark black lines may also appear across the top of the display. These, in my experience, usually are the precursor to the dreaded screen flickering problem.
The screen may also exhibit ‘ghosting’. This is where an image of previous contents of the screen remains even after it should have disappeared. Eg, if you have a web page open and then close your browser but an image of the browser remains. The ghosting obstructs the windows that should now be visible.
The image at the very top of this article shows this ghosting effect. The browser window which you can see actually should not be there – I closed it.
What Causes Screen Flickering On Surface Pro 4
In most cases the fault shows itself after moderate use of the laptop. This causes the device to heat up internally and transfers that heat to the screen. This is a bit of a design flaw inherent in any device that has all the processing horsepower behind the screen. Traditional laptops don’t have this problem because very little heat is generated behind the screen.
Even fairly light use can cause the problem if the heat isn’t dissipated away from the screen.
Ultimately, the cause in this case is a faulty screen component. Microsoft acknowledged the problem and replaced many Surface Pro 4’s that exhibited the problem after much public pressure from flickergate.com and other places. But they only replace the defective device if the device is less than 3 years old. Most of these devices are now over 3 years old and Microsoft has essentially washed its hands of these.
Be aware though that faulty drivers and software incompatibilities may cause a similar looking problem. Though this is rare, it is important to make sure your drivers are all up to date. Flickergate will generally only happen once the device warms up.
Can This Flickering Be Prevented
If your Surface Pro 4 isn’t exhibiting the problem yet then you can help prolong its life by keeping it cool. The cooling fan in the Surface Pro 4 is very small and very under powered. If you’re using your Surface Pro 4 for moderate or heavy work it will warm up. I ended up purchasing an external USB powered desktop fan from Amazon. I positioned it to blow air onto the back of the Surface Pro to keep it cool.
It helped, but didn’t stop the problem from happening ultimately.
Online, people have posted videos of having bags of ice resting against the screen to cool it. This isn’t a viable solution at all. The problem is due to defective electrical contacts at the top of the screen which are glued to the LCD device. When the device warms up the glue also warms and becomes pliable. The backing warps and a good electrical contact is lost.
The part of the screen that needs the most cooling is actually at the top just under the bezel. This means you’d need to apply your ice pack to the top of the screen. Which, of course, will get in the way of your work. That’s ignoring the elephant in the room that ice melts into water and water and electronics don’t mix.
If your Surface Pro 4 is fitted with a defective screen it will eventually exhibit the problem. If you want to see if your Surface Pro 4 has a Samsung or an LG screen there’s a software product called AIDA64 which will examine your system and can tell you which version you have. If you have the Samsung display with no symptoms you’re lucky 🙂
Will Microsoft Replace My Device?
If you bought it from Microsoft in the last 3 years and it is exhibiting the flickering problem then yes, they will.
If it’s under 3 years old but not exhibiting the problem then they won’t. Even though it’s quite possible, indeed probable that it will go defective in the future.
If you bought the device second hand you’re quite likely out of luck either way. It’s probably older than 3 years and I’m not sure that Microsoft would be obliged to replace it as it’s second hand.
What Can I Do To Permanently Fix It?
Can I Replace The Screen On My Surface Pro 4?
The answer to this is yes you can. But it’s not easy at all. You’re going to need to be fairly technically competent. You also need to be aware that you’ll almost certainly shatter the old screen. In this case that’s not a big deal because it’s dysfunctional anyway.
There’s plenty of YouTube videos showing how to get the screen off your Surface Pro 4 and I’ve not produced one of my own as the ones out there are good.
The video above from YouTube gives a good overview. There’s a few things I’d change though having done a bunch of these now.
Tips For Getting The Screen Off Without Damage
It’s extremely difficult to get the screen off without damaging it. It can be done – I’ve done it. But it’s very very difficult. If your screen is flickering on your Surface Pro 4 then damaging the screen probably isn’t too much of a drama. It’s already dysfunctional. But you do need to be aware of things you can damage other than the screen.
Make sure the device is switched off before beginning. You can’t disconnect the battery unfortunately as it’s inside.
- The heat gun should be no hotter than 100 Celsius. This is around 210 Fahrenheit. Less is better though. Cooler temperature reduces your risk of being burned. The top side of the Surface Pro 4 is made of a plastic material that will melt if over heated.
- Place some heat resistant ‘Kapton’ tape over the top side plastic to help reduce the heat transferred to it. If you overheat this it will melt and distort. It will look horrible and the buttons may be a lot harder to operate.
- Cover the inside edges of the screen with Kapton tape. I usually put them just on the edge of the bevels and apply enough tape to cover around an inch of the LCD portion of the screen. Apply the tape all around the screen. The reasons for this are threefold. The Kapton tape will help reduce heat transference onto the LCD itself. This will reduce heat damage to the LCD itself in the event that you do want to re-use it. The tape also helps to reduce the likelihood of the screen shattering when you pry it apart. Finally it also helps to capture any glass shards if you do shatter the screen.
- WEAR EYE PROTECTION. A cavalier attitude here could cost you your eyesight. Wear eye protection. The screen may shatter unexpectedly and small pieces of glass may fly into the air. They are extremely sharp and if they enter your eye you will be injured.
- Protective gloves may reduce the cuts you’ll get if the screen breaks. But they do make it harder to work. This choice is yours.
Be Aware Of Internal Components
- Use plastic separators rather than metal if possible. I use a very thin craft knife initially to get underneath the screen and then switch to plastic or wooden separators once I have enough room to work. The lower left edge has flat plastic ribbon cables to connect the touch screen logic board to the screen. Using a knife here will cut straight through them. This isn’t a problem if the screen is already a write off, but if you want to get it off whole then you’ll ruin it if you cut these.
- Underneath the top of the display are the Bluetooth and WiFi antennae. These are very easily damaged and extremely difficult to get hold of replacements. They’re also stuck firmly to the screen. Do not use metal separators here. Try to separate the bottom, left and right sides first then you can lift the screen gently and use plastic or wooden separators to prise the sticky tape off the antennae without damage. Be gentle, they’re delicate.
Where Can I Get A New Screen?
In my experience this is bad advice. The model that you took off is fatally flawed. It is the entire model range that is flawed here – not just your screen. I’ve replaced flickering screens on the Surface Pro 4 with the same model only for the screen to begin flickering again a few weeks or months later.
I’ve researched online extensively to find a proper solution to this flickering screen on Surface Pro 4 problem and the amount of information is minimal. However, I have now discovered that the root of the problem is the screen model itself. The models affected are the Samsung LCD screen with model numbers beginning LTN123YL01. I’m not sure if all revisions of this device are affected. I have a Surface Pro 4 fitted with the LTN123YL01-007 which has not developed the fault (yet) but other revisions are definitely affected.
Which Screen Model Should I Get?
Given that the Samsung LTN123YL01 is flawed and this is the model for the Surface Pro 4 does that mean there is no alternative but to risk it flickering again?
No – luckily, Microsoft ultimately found a better supplier for their LCD screens and it is believed that the models they refurbished came with this new screen. Also, and more importantly, the Surface Pro 5 is fitted with a screen that is a suitable replacement for the Surface Pro 4.
There’s a catch though. Although the Surface Pro 5 screen will fit and work on a Surface Pro 4, the cable that attaches to the motherboard is different. So, if you’re upgrading your Surface Pro 4 screen to a Surface Pro 5 screen you will need to get a new ribbon cable to go with it.
The N-Trig device that processes the touchscreen input is interchangeable though. Keep the old one from your Surface Pro 4 screen and re-apply it to the new Surface Pro 5 screen. See the important note about reattaching the screen below for some additional N-Trig information.
The particular model screen I use is this one at eBay – Surface Pro 5 Screen – note that it is more expensive than the traditional Surface Pro 4 screens but I’ve not had one fail on me yet. The original Surface Pro 4 screens fail at an alarming rate. I don’t recommend replacing your screen with one. Use the Surface Pro 5 screen instead.
If you have an LTN123LY model you’ve taken off and need the right cable to replace it with the SP5 screen, you can find that on eBay too here. If you prefer Amazon, there is now a US seller with Prime delivery for both the screen and the cable. Click here to get the SP5 screen on Amazon instead. Click here to get the SP4 LG Cable on Amazon instead.
Incidentally, if you need a new N-Trig board for touch screen operation, they’re available too. Click to view the N-Trig Surface Pro 4 and Surface Pro 5 touch screen logic board.
Links To Parts and Equipment
These are links to the exact parts I’ve used to repair Surface Pro Screens successfully. The Surface Pro 5 screen fixes the ‘flickergate’ problem once and for all and is a much better option than hoping the screen doesn’t go faulty with the Surface Pro 4 replacement screen. In fact, if you do replace your existing screen you’ll end up with the screen flickering on Surface Pro 4 happening again, probably within weeks.
If you prefer to shop on Amazon, these screens are now available on Amazon.com from a seller called LCDOLED. Prime shipping appears to be available too. Click here to shop for these screens on Amazon instead of eBay (the link will take you to various different listings – they should all be Surface Pro 5 screens).
If you prefer shopping on Amazon these cables are now available on the US Amazon shop from a seller called LCDOLED. They’re the ones you need 🙂 Click here to buy from Amazon.com
While You’ve Got The Screen Off…
Upgrade the Hard Drive In Surface Pro 4
If you have a 128Gigabyte storage Surface Pro 4, now is a good time to also upgrade the hard drive in it. The only way to upgrade the hard drive is to get the screen off. The hard drive in the Surface Pro 4 is an NVME M-Key SSD hard drive. I have upgraded mine to a 480Gigabyte drive. I’ll write a separate article shortly outlining exactly how to do this. If you’ve got the screen off, replacing the hard drive is easy. I used the Corsair CSSD-F480GBMP510 Force Series MP510 480 GB NVMe PCIe Gen3 x 4 M.2 Solid State Drive which is an excellent price point for the size and speed. The disk is also a fair bit snappier than the original that came with the Surface Pro 4, so there’s a win there too. They also do 1 Terrabyte and now 2 Terrabyte versions too. Mind boggling.
Re-Apply Thermal Paste to Processor and GPU in Surface Pro 4
Also, while you’re in the device, you could consider re-applying the thermal paste on the processor and GPU inside the Surface Pro 4. Manufacturers traditionally provide horrible thermal paste on these devices. The thermal paste provides a proper heat transference from the CPU to the heatsink. This means that heat can escape the processor better and reduces thermal throttling.
I use Arctic Silver thermal paste as imaged to the left. I’ve re-applied this to Macs, Desktop PCs and Surface Pros. In fact, I also added some to my son’s PlayStation 4. It stopped the fans sounding like jet engines. It works 🙂
Is The Surface Pro 4 Still A Good Machine?
Once you fix the Flickergate potential on a Surface Pro 4 it’s a fantastic machine in my opinion. It’s quick (especially if you upgrade the SSD while you’ve got the screen off – the newer drives seems to be quicker). It’s portable, it’s light, it’s thin. The battery, even after all this time, still holds a good couple of hours of normal use. The screen is crisp with bright colours. The tablet mode – if you like that sort of thing – is great. It’s also the last model of Surface Pro that you actually can upgrade the hard drive.
I love the Surface Pro 4. But that flickering screen is a problem. Or was. Now that’s resolved permanently this device is the best portable I’ve ever owned. It blows the GEO Flex 2 in 1 out of the water for performance. But buying second hand is risky unless you’re prepared to replace the screen.
Important Note Before Re-attaching Screen
Some people have commented saying they’ve had problems with ghost touches or the Touch not working properly after upgrading to the SP5 screen. I can’t say for certain, but I strongly suspect it is not a problem with the SP5 screen but a problem of not reattaching the N-Trig properly. The N-Trig has conductive sticky paste on the back. This conductive sticky paste is so that there is a ground connection between the N-Trig and the display itself. The N-Trig MUST be grounded to the display, otherwise it won’t work properly. If you have already peeled all the conductive sticky tape off, you can get away with normal tape for sticking it down and a pad made of tin-foil on the larger square contact at the bottom of the N-Trig.
Finally, I recommend testing absolutely everything for a while before actually sticking the screen back on. But be careful when you move the Surface Pro if the screen isn’t stuck back on of course. I tend to place all the tape, but leave the paper backing in place. That way, it’s all there when you’re ready to stick down, but it won’t stick yet as the paper’s in the way.
Things to definitely check work properly;
- Touchscreen – pen and finger (unless using Linux, then you can only have one or other other)
- Volume and power buttons (they can be dislodged or overheated in this process
- Auto-dimming of screen (sensor is at the top)
- WiFi (5Ghz and 2.4Ghz bands if possible)
- Bluetooth – to make sure you didn’t damage those antennas at the top.
- Charging (unlikely to be affected, but just to be sure)
- I think that’s it 🙂
I find the LG screen clearer and sharper than the original with brighter colours. I’m not sure if I’m imagining it but would be interested to know what you think if you do the upgrade. Above I’ve included links to all the equipment I use to replace the screen on Surface Pro devices. If you purchase through these links I will be paid a small affiliate commission but it does not affect the price you pay and it will help me produce further articles and is much appreciated. If you don’t want to use those links you can go direct to Amazon or eBay to search for the devices.
Also, if you’re reading this in the USA (or indeed anywhere outside of the UK) I’ve not been able to find these part numbers on US stores. But they might be there – have a look 🙂 Both the screen and the cable are now available on the US Amazon store. Links below;
Just a small bit of trivia that you won’t know… This article was written using a Surface Pro 4 which previously had the screen flickering problem. It’s now fixed. I’ve played Minecraft on it. I’ve used Filmora Pro 9 (which heats up significantly!) and Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer. The previous Surface Pro 4 screens I used began flickering within days of using these. I conclude that the problem is now fixed and won’t be coming back!
Update: 29th Jan 2020 – it’s now been 6 months since this article was written and nearly 9 months since I actually changed the Samsung screen for a LG screen. I’m writing this update on the very same machine that the screen was changed on. It’s shown no flicker symptoms whatsoever. I can conclude that this fixes screen flickering on Surface Pro 4 machines permanently.
We share the same name lol…
I’m suffering with the dreaded flickering screen too and I’m about to take the plunge and replace the screen with a SP5 LG model.
I’m concerned about damaging my touchscreen facility and just wondered if there is a failsafe method or u tube video that shows you how to correctly repair or replace the Ntrig.
I don’t have a link to any YouTube videos specifically for the N-Trig I’m afraid. However, it’s pretty straightforward once you get the screen off. It’s just attached with some conductive tape. You’ll see what it’s like once you get in there.
The absolute key part is to ensure you don’t accidentally cut the ribbon cable attaching it to the screen while you’re trying to get the screen off. However, if the screen is knackered already it really won’t matter even if you do that. If you’re having the screen off an wanting to re-use it later (for example, you want to change a swelling battery but the screen is still good) then it matters. But if the screens duff anyway, don’t worry about it.
Hope that helps!
Steve Brown (the other!) 🙂
Hi. Has anyone tried leaving the screen as it is and using the SP4 on an external screen? does it affect anything else if we leave it as it is for a while?
I’ve done this, and it works very well. The only that doesn’t work quite as well, depending on the resolution of the external monitor, is the UEFI settings, which fully expects to be on the SP4 resolution and looks all wonky on a standard FHD resolution.
But yes, the SP4 is plenty useable on an external screen.
All the best,
Since this website has been catching up on the comments I went from non flickering to a flickering Samsung panel, I’ve purchased an LG Panel with the LG cable, a 512GB NVME (cheap but with only 2 lanes available I suppose better value for money) and bought a battery from Replace Base.
Having used a heat gun to remove the old panel and still managing to absolute rip the screen to bits it reassured me that I in no way shape or form want anything great holding the new panel down.. I want my SP4 to be a device that when needed can be opened up with ease, I like keeping the fans/heatsinks clean and thermal paste re/applied every now and again, I literally used 8 small pieces of double sided adhesive just for the corners and my gosh even with that amount it was still scary to remove the screen again. Given how weightless the panel is I suppose it takes next to nothing to hold it in place.
I’m running the SP4 I5 6300u on windows 11 by opting into the windows insider programme and selecting the “dev” channel for updates (all done from Settings and Updates within Windows 10) , it’s really nice so far and it’s more touch friendly.
Temps where a little concerning, with Kyronaut on Windows 11 I can get 40 / 70 degrees Celsius when something happening in the background (anti malware services is one that loves to drain resources) I’m just curious what temps you get?
I’ve since removed the LG Panel ready to install the new battery, then the SP4 will have a new lease of life with all these upgrades. As for adhesive I’m actually going to try some Unibond double sided carpet tape.. If it’s not too strong that will do me absolutely fine becauss I want I keep this is internally accessible as possible
Can you help me?
I checked that my surface pro4 is not compatible with Windows 11.
Intel(R) Core(TM) m3-6Y30 CPU @ 0.90GHz 1.51 GHz
Could I upgrade to be compatible with Windows 11?
My initial understanding from information currently available is that the Surface Pro 4 will not run Windows 11. But pretty much everything seems to be speculation at this point so I’m not sure that’ll be the end result ultimately. Incidentally, initial reports suggest the Surface Pro 2017 also will not run Windows 11. This would be a bit cruel since that particular model is only 4 years old!
Nevertheless, if indeed it transpires that Windows 11 will not run on the Surface Pro 4 or 2017 then the only upgrade path will be a new machine unfortunately – there’s no way of changing CPU or GPU on the Surface Pro.
I realize this is an older article but I am curious, is the LG screen still functioning properly and did you ever get the ghosting to stop on yours.
Yes, the screen is still functioning nicely with no flicker. Unfortunately the touch has stopped working but I honestly think that is down to the N-Trig not the screen – but since it’s still working I’m not willing to risk shattering the screen to try to replace the N-Trig at the moment. If I get another SP4 that needs a new screen soon I’ll replace it and not stick the screen down too hard so I can try it all.
Hi, did you ever resolved the problem with the touch screen not working anymore ?
My screen started flickering since a week ago.
My touch screen worked initially but failed a few months ago. The display itself is still working fine, but touch stopped. The pen worked, but no finger touch. I’m pretty convinced it is a hardware issue not software. I don’t think it’s the replacement screen though as there’s really nothing much to go wrong on that, the N-Trig is where all the magic happens.
If I do another one I won’t be sticking the screen down so solidly, so that I can get it off again if something else happens. This one I stuck down tight once I realised it was working again – wish I hadn’t!
It’s been a while since you last added an update to your blog, I was just wondering if you’ve had any issues with your SP5 screen since installing? Ironically my screen started to flicker not long after putting a comment on here (which was lost after an update to this website) so I’m just wondering whether it’s worth buying the screen now?
Hi, just wanted to check if the touchscreen not working is still an issue with the new screen, or if that was just a temporary software issue? Thanks.
Great writeup! I was just wondering how the new screens held up? Your last update was June 4th 2020 and it developed a fault with the touch aspect of the screen. Mine is still okay at the moment as I have it in front of my desk fan and I use a cloud based gaming service called “Shadow” so I’m still able to play games on max settings in 4k while still only generating about 45 degrees Celsius but when the time comes I’ll definitely follow your advice but I just wanted to double check how it’s been since your last issue in June 2020?
Hi, Steve again! it’s me again!
I get some new experiences which I wanted to share! maybe, you or others have some idea about this.
recently, almost every time that I start to charge my surface pro 4, all of sudden, the touchscreen goes fine on the whole screen or at least just 2cm of right doesn’t work-while before, more than 5cm don’t respond to touch by finger. after unplugging it if I still work with the right part, it remains well, but if I don’t, it goes back to same condition(5cm!).
some other things: I noticed that the speed of my surface has decreased, mostly when the problem is going on my system, while when the problem is gone, my surface works like the first day -more than 5years ago when I purchased it. I don’t think my battery is weak. the repairman approved it 1 year ago when he was changing the screen. Microsoft toolkit says the current capacity of my battery is 30397 out of 38152. but sometimes suddenly battery depleted completely tp 0% which never happened before. plus: I didn’t get heavy work from my surface these years like yours. maybe some occasional time when using photoshop or Reddit live and etc. mostly I use my surface for reading papers and books and taking notes. and always 50-40Gb of my storage was free.
so, I think maybe, there should be some issues between touchscreen and battery.
thank you so much!
what happens if we install drivers and firmware of surface 5 pro on surface pro 4? or part of it which may be related to touchscreen?
excuse me if I’m asking this, you may have tested this before and didn’t get a result or find this suggestion ridiculous.!!
I have the same problem as you after replacing my touch pro 4 to pro5 after using it for almost 11 months. of course not so that finger touch doesn’t work at all. it first started from 2 cm from right for 2 weeks, then everything becomes fine for around 2 weeks later, but again started-until now 1 month has passed after its second malfunction. (the joke is: one day in this month everything goes fine again! but after it started worse. now finger touch doesn’t work 5 cm from right. seems like a pandemic and wanna take my whole screen like yours!) of course, pen works, but almost so badly and annoying.
Thanks for reading my comments! I really appreciate that.
near 1 year ago I was searching for solving the annoying problem of flickering of my surface pro 4 screen, and after finding your article I became sure that I should change my screen to pro 5 one. I said thanks to you that time, and I said again too.
but some issues have arisen recently-started about 2-month ago-in my surface that apparently it is not specific to me too. and hundred people have it due to theirs comments on the internet especially on the Microsoft support site.
the problem title which you can easily find it in google suggestion too, is this:
“Surface Pro 4 touch screen not working right side”
more explanation: at first, near 2 months ago, A vertical strip of my touchscreen has stopped working. It’s about an inch wide, running from around the WiFi and Battery symbols at the bottom to the top of the screen. In this strip, touch basically doesn’t work at all. The strip does not work at all with my finger, and with my pen it works very, very badly. If I touch a point in the strip with my pen, the cursor icon flashes like a strobe and lags like hell. Works fine anywhere else on the screen. these problems continue for two weeks and then suddenly fixed on its own. but after 2 weeks later those problems started again and keep on for a month-until now- but more annoying than before! so that in the rest of screen touch become weaker and pen flash sometimes too-on the rest of screen too.! so that I have to click on backspace maybe 20-40 times during typing this text for you, because of typing one letter 2 times like hhello
I tested some solutions found on the internet but didn’t get result.
I wanted to know such an expert who you are, have any idea about this? did you heard anything about it? have you ever experienced it yourself? do you think maybe it is because of the surface pro 5 screen attachment to pro 4? you think it’s a software issue or hardware issue? please help!!
I have heard similar stories – I think it’s partially down to the fact that these machines are now becoming quite old having been released nearly 6 years ago. I also think a lot of it is down to the inability of them to sufficiently disperse the heat they generate, particularly when they’re used heavily.
For the Surface Pro 3 the most common fix was to recalibrate the screen using a software tool (which has presently escaped me, but I think was available from Phillips). Some people have allegedly had success with using that tool on Surface Pro 4 too, but I never managed to.
Personally I think the problem is separate to the flickering as I’ve had it happen on both the SP4 screen and the SP5. I suspect the N-Trig gets fed up with being too hot, but up until now I have never replaced one. To be honest, I have now switched to using an HP Envy x360 which is far faster, and doesn’t generate any heat behind the screen and is likely to have less problems as a result 🙂
Just did a screen + battery change (my battery was swelling so much it actually poped out part of the screen off!).
To remove the screen I used the surface: just let it run hot for a while, it was relatively easy to remove.
Problem I got is the battery replacement: its not an original and it aint compatible (or its totally dead). I read I could swap the battery controller. But I am not sure, only read 2 volts per cell (instead of 4 from my swelled up battery..) and I get no voltage at the pinouts (vs 7.5 V of my original battery).
anyone able to help to do the replacement for me?
Thanks for this detailed post. Recently i brought a refurbished SP 4 which has battery issue. After i followed your post i decided to go with sp5 screen replacement (LG Screen). so i brought the screen with logic board the screen to MB connector. Also i replaced the battery. Now it is working without any flickering , pen & touch works flawlessly. Only issue is that the metal cover on the screen side didn’t fit hence i made it flat on two sides to apply it.
Thanks again for your detailed post.
Anyone can help to replace for me?
maybe can also upgrade the HDD to 480GB?
My screen is flickering while typing this….
I am in Singapore
Even with a new SP5 screen (LG) I get flikkergate after a couple of hourse of use.
It heats up, and i start to get issues with it.
I tried several screens. same issue.
I just did the repair last week. Still taking the surface through it’s paces, but the screen is no longer flickering and i think looks better than the old one. BTW thank you Steve for the eyeglasses recommendation: the old screen shattered while i was taking it off and glass flew everywhere. Safety first everyone.
Echoing what Kilian said, be careful when buying the connector cable: despite the amazon page saying it was the new cable, i was shipped the old one and had to reorder.
One thing i did differently was reattach the n-trig using conductive glue AA-DUCT 906 to the new screen. It took a while to cure, held down with some clamps but seems to be working alright so far (knock on wood) with both the pen and my fingers. I didn’t use a lot, less than a pea-size drop. This post saved me a good chunk of change so yeah, thanks!
Thank you Steve for a wonderfully detailed post.
I changed my SP_4screen second time. First time It was broke so I changed it but I bought a used SP4 screen with revision LTN123YL01-003 and it never flickered despite heavy use. But unfortunately I broke it and eventually touch died.
This time I read your article and sourced my screen from Ali express.it took just 10 – 12days to reach here in uk.
I bought SP5 screen with connecting cable and it is working absolutely fine. I repasted Ntrig module. I noted it has golden conductive tape still on it but I placed a small aluminum foil piece folded flat making sure that it touch both Ntrig module and screen and applied double tape on all other sides.
No flicker no touch issues. I have been testing this for 2 weeks now.
Thank you once again
Steve – In a follow-up to your post about touch response, I am having the reverse: the touch is working fine, but pen input isn’t .
The pen is connected as the buttons have an effect in Windows.
The pen used to work when I first did the screen update, but no more. I replaced the tip, but no fix.
I share my experience about replacing the screen of the surface pro 4…As everybody explained, the replacement of the screen is f***** hard, there is no other word.
I had almost remove the first screen when it cracked everywhere because the constraints. I use a hair dryer rather than what it was advised. I also used IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol) to remove the glue and it works pretty well.
I wanted to replace the battery but I gave up, I have just replaced the thermal past by a new one.
The new screen seems to work well but i m afraid about the N-trig module, I don t know if have to re-past with conductor glue, what do you think about ?
Likewise, I did the tips for fitting the shied with the screen connector but i have still a small hole, I dont know if I have to put a tinfoil or i can leave like that, I don’t understand how it could have a problem. Some advice ? In fact, i m afraid that the tinfoil makes a short circuit somewhere in the futur.
Currently, I just put the double sided tape without remove the paper, I put the screen in place, and I have fixe the screen at each exterior side with classic tape. This way allows to test the screen for a while before to fix definitively (Just dont forget that the screen is not permanently fixed 🙂 )
For the reference of the screen I use l123wq1.spa1 and not spa2. According to the provider, the spa1 spa2 correspond to the batch of the screen, but it is the same screen (as spa3 also).
I thought I’d leave a few words here for those folks who’s installation didn’t go so smooth, and some ideas of solutions.
1. No matter how many videos of the screen removal I watched, I still ended up cracking the screen, and that’s a mess. Since the cracking took place mostly on the top edge, I also buggered up both of the antennas. I wish I had taken of photo of the open unit, so you see where on the antenna sub-board they are, where the sensitive spots are, to give you a fighting chance. Otherwise, it’s $35 more to Amazon.
2. When I re-installed the screen, things were not so good. The unit would turn on, then turn off immediately. This was inconsistent, sometimes it would let me logon, then the screen would either go black, or the unit shut off entirely. Suspecting faulty driver, I proceeded in a full clean install of Windows (after I won a hefty fight with BitLocker, but that a whole other story). The issue persisted. Then, just by accident, I happen to unplug the DC supply while the unit was on, and BOOM! the unit went black. HAHA, I got it: a dodgy battery. Somehow whilst I had the unit already opened, my battery decided to fail – that’s lucky. I sent Amazon a whole other pile of dollars, and replaced the battery, and the SSD while at it.
Needless to say, this was not a smooth operation and, while I am now a little wiser, I would prefer not to repeat the experience. So. should your new screen go black immediately upon install, that’s one remote possibility of what’s going on. And careful with those antennas!
I’ve bought a display in China and followed your instructions, it’s working, including a pen. My touch screen works but not very well, perhaps it’s good, thank you.
My firmaware on UEFI:
System UEFI 109.3192.768
SAM Controller 103.1837.257
Intel Management Engine 184.108.40.20626
Touch Firmware 220.127.116.11.28.3
System Embedded Controller 103.2851.256
Infineon dTPM 5.62.316.2
thanks a lot for this great guide! As recommended I’ve exchanged the flickering screen with a Surface Pro 5 screen and the result is just awesome. Touch and pen are working.
Particularly helpful was the hint to check if the N-Trig board is properly grounded. I bought a screen from China, which turned out to be an original LG, but substandard. The lower part of the backside was not flat, but had a slight angle. Depsite de conductive tape beeing ok this would have led to it not having proper contact. Luckily I read your guide and was able to fix this with a little bit of tinfoil.
For anybody trying to fix their surface, I would like to add two things:
1. If you buy a Pro 5 replacement screen, it might arrive without the EMI shield for the screen connector (if you’re repairing a Pro 5, you already have one on your old screen). The connector is wider, so the Pro 4 shield isn’t going to fit. I just bent open one side of the shield and closed the hole with tinfoil. Works totally well.
2. It seems that the Chinese found out about the possibility of screen conversion and are offering the adapter cable for this case. Be careful, there are a lot of shops offering a completely different cable, that certainly won’t fit.
Thank you for your feedback, it is very much appreciated. Thank you for your useful tips too – I hadn’t even considered the EM screens being different cos I’ll be honest, I didn’t put it back on!
The Chinese sites such as Wish and AliExpress can be a little dodgy – I’d always go for an Amazon seller in the country you’re in. You’ll benefit from their returns policy if anything is wrong.
I have a Surface Pro 4 which has over the past few months started exhibiting the ‘flickering’, you have so well documented.
I had no idea this was something to do with my SP4. I thought it was a keyboard/mouse issue.
Any way, just on Christmas I walked away from my SP4 for dinner and later that evening returned and ‘nothing’. Tried turning it on several times , but still nothing.
I am of course suspecting it is the final thing that happens if left to ‘flicker’?
What would be your recommended course of action.
My unit is more than 4 year old, so nothing available from MS.
Any assistance you can suggest is most gratefully appreciated
I suspect you may have two failures in the one unit here. Both are likely related to heat so it’s not overly surprising. On the plus side (if there is one) the fix for not switching on normally happens to people whose screens are still working – meaning they have to break a perfectly good screen to fix the won’t switch on issue.
This video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMGikVXxdBY&t=1042s might give you some guidance.
Hope that helps,
Steve, this is a great read. I bought a used SP4, started the flicker within 3 hours. I am going to try to get the SP5 screen upgrade under way soon. But I have a question about hard drives, as I plan to do this upgrade while the SP is open.
The current SSD has a service partition to restore the system to its original state. If I upgrade the SSD, what’s a good application/method to transfer all the partition info from one SSD to another? I am thinking of a way to create a bootable MicroSD, but I am sure there are other details I am missing.
I just reinstalled Windows to be honest. The recovery partition is recreated when you reinstall Windows anyway – and you can get the Surface Pro 4 drivers directly from Microsoft. I’ll try to dig out the URL for you for that, or you can Google it and let me know 🙂
Hi Steve! A quick follow-up. So I finally got the SP3 broken screen off. That thing is sticky as hell. I had to break almost all the edges of the screen to get it out. It cracked easily.
So I’m not very confident about the SP4 one. But since it’s getting replaced, I won’t care much about it anyways…
What bothers me the most, is the heat issue. I don’t know if you encountered it over the years. It’s frustrating, very much. I can’t even open Chrome browser. Sometimes even loading the OS just makes the CPU heat up and freeze completely.
I don’t know. What do you think? I don’t want to spend around 150€ or more for a screen, if then it won’t work. Flickering will be fixed with your solution, but if the laptop can’t work… it’s a waste.
Do you think replacing thermal paste will fix this?? I also bought Artic MX-4 paste, just in case… but I’m still doubting about buying the screen to replace…
Thanks a lot for your work, again!! Regards,
Huge thanks for this Steve!
Did this a few months ago and it is working great. Cheers
Thanks a lot for the reply! I also have my girlfriend’s Surface Pro 3 with a broken screen, so I guess I’ll try that one first, to get used to getting the screen out. It is smashed and doesn’t boot up (I found on Reddit it’s because of a check the boot does. So I have to change it for sure for it to work).
I will update about the process. First I have to get the LCDs.
Hi Steve!! First of all, as many have already said, many many thanks for the great research, information and clear explanations, help and advice with this dreaded issue. It’s very frustrating. I have a SP4 with the Samsung screen (checked with AIDA64), with the flicker issue. After a lot of -kinda- unsuccessful investigation, I arrived at your post, and it actually motivated me to try and do the SP5 LCD screen upgrade by myself, as well as probably upgrading the SSD to a 480G.
Apart from the flicker issue, I am having the issue with heat. I don’t know if they are related, I guess not. But sometimes, mostly when I use the surface with the power cable, the CPU gets very hot and the laptop directly stops working.
I am worried that while upgrading the SP5 LCD will fix the flickering issue, the heat issue, which bothers me more, will still be there and will render the laptop unusable. What do you think? Maybe replacing the thermal paste will help? The laptop has around 4 years.
Again, thanks a million for your research and hard work!! Regards,
While you’ve got that screen off I’d HIGHLY recommend a re-paste 🙂
My Surface Pro 3 is seriously overheating and the CPU temperatures fluctuate quickly and wildly. I’m pretty convinced it’s because the thermal paste is knackered but the screen on that is intact and I’m damned if I’m ripping it off while it works lol
First: thanks for the post!
I recently bought a used SP4. out of warranty and out of three years.
After 3/4 hour of intensive use (online lessons and videos) of my daughter, the screen starts to flick.
I search on web and found your post.
Installing AIDA shows I have a Samsung video…
While I’m writing this post, it’s about three hours that some youtube videos run and the problem is not appeared.
It’s only a temperature problem?
Do you think that a usb fan can solve?
Hi I have the same question as Majid.
is it because of microchip failure or flat cable? have you tested that?
Is people who has changed the display of the surface pro 4 by a new one can confirm that everything is fine now ? Or there are now new problems because of the switching?
Thx a lot. This solution is my best hope 🙂
If you read through the comments there’s literally loads of people who’ve done it and it’s worked… Some have had problems with the N-Trig being faulty as well but a new N-Trig from eBay is pretty cheap and usually fixes it. Just don’t stick the screen down until you’ve fully tested everything!
Ive just changed to sp5 screen, after a day or two now i have vertical line on my screens.
But back the old screen, still the same.
Can i get any help?
I’m not sure I understand you correctly. You changed the screen and it worked fine but now it has a vertical line. Then when you put the old screen back on, it also has the vertical line now as well? Or the old screen is normal?
If the old screen is normal then the new screen is faulty and you’ll need to speak to the seller of the new screen.
If both screens are displaying the vertical line then you can try to plug in an external monitor using the mini-Display connector. If the external display also shows the vertical stripe then your video hardware in the Surface Pro has gone faulty. If the external display works properly then your connector flex-cable is either dirty (clean it all with some isopropyl alcohol) or the cable has gone faulty and needs replacing too.
Hope that helps,
Thank you for your sharing experience in the wonderful post.
You saved my Surface Pro 4 life. After following the links to order the SF Pro 5 screen replacement and the conversion cable from Amazon, upgrading the hard drive to Samsung NVME M.2 970 500 Gb, reapplying the thermal compound paste, cleaning up the cooling fan, replacing a new battery, my Surface Pro 4 is now running powerfully like a monster. The touch screen works great on my OEM N-trig board also.
Thank you again, my hero
Good to hear, thanks Justin!
Thanks for your invaluable information.
I have the same flickering problem with my SP4. However, in my country replacing the screen is so costly. I searched a lot and somewhere I read that an IC failure in the LCD due to overheating seems to be the culprit, though it didn’t mention which IC. In that case, is it possible to replace that IC to save costs rather than replacing the whole LCD. I mean it’s really a shame for Microsoft not to bother to give any information or support, isn’t it? I found much more valuable info here than Microsoft page. This is ridiculous.
Thanks for everything.
Hi. I have a Surface Pro 4 that developed “flickergate” and I have successfully replaced the Samsung display assembly with the one from LG, including the corresponding display cable. I also swapped the SSD and re-pasted the CPU heat sink. The screen is working fine, no flickering.
However, touch is, well, out of touch. Sometimes.
The most “problematic” area (which I use a lot) is the right edge of the display. Sometimes (right now, for example) it works totally normal – a gentle swipe brings out the Windows 10 notification centre. At other times it takes multiple attempts to get any response; mostly so along the display’s edges.
I have tried to develop some understanding of what is going on, and temperature is one potential factor. Another is static electricity. But to be frank, I don’t have a clue. All I know is that sometimes touch work as expected, and sometimes it doesn’t.
I don’t know if it is a software or hardware issue, but it feels related to hardware although inconsistently so; sometimes I can use touch in the UEFI interface (the place to check software/hardware problems), and sometimes I cannot.
I have investigated the possibility to re-calibrate “the touch function” and managed to find the tool Microsoft once provided (they no longer do; I’ve asked), but as others have found before me, it doesn’t work in Windows 10. So I’ve investigated the possibility of installing Windows 8.1 “To Go” on a USB stick and run the touch calibration tool. I even bought the Pro version of WinToUSB (which apparently enables Windows To Go on none-compatible USB sticks), only to stop at an issue with the disk driver not being correctly signed. But then, I really don’t know if a successful calibration will solve the problem, or for how long (others have had to re-calibrate occasionally)…
So I might be down to replacing the physical N-trig module, but…
From ebay it seems there are different versions of the N-trig module, at least by looking at their “model numbers”. One seller has several N-trig modules for Surface Pro 4, each with a different model number. Perhaps it is just a listings tactic, what do I know.
Which brings it all down to this question: Are there any differences between the touch controller for Surface Pro 4 and 5? As far as I know, the LG display I just installed is also used in the Surface Pro 5. Would I then be home safe with the N-trig touch controller for Surface Pro 5, or are there other differences (on the “computer” side of the controller or elsewhere) that makes that a bad choice?
Just wanted to say what a lifesaver this post has been.
I bought a second hand pro 4 recently for a good price (new pros are well out of my price league).
Was horrified when the flickering started and wished I had read up before deciding on the pro 4.
Anyway, am part way through the SP5 screen retrofit – all seems good so far.
Hopefully I’ll get a few years out of it (in contrast to it being a very expensive paperweight!)
Thanks again (will keep posted on progress)
Thanks for your kind words Don – good luck!
Hi Steve, Read your post and comments concerning swapping defective SP4 screen with SP5. My SP4 Samsung LTL1234L01-007 was flickering and ghosting which I replaced with the same model secondary market screen only to have the same problem as before. I wanted to use the SP5 screen with new cable but were told by several techies and or companies that you cant swap the SP4 screen with SP5 unless you have a version 2 Pro4 tablet mine is version1. Im seriously interested in making the screen swap to Pro5 but have not seen anybody address whether the V1 and V2 makees any difference in the screen functioniing ass designed
I’ve heard from various sources that you must replace ‘like for like’. However, I’ve never been able to get any sensible answer as to what is a V1 versus V2 system or how to tell. My suspicion is that they think the V1 come with the Samsung screen and the V2 come with the LG screen. My SP4 was quite likely the ‘V1’ version and it worked for me.
But – I can’t say for certain unfortunately so it is a little bit of a ‘buyer beware’ on that front…
Today I replaced LCD from SAMSUNG wrong one(SP4) to LG (SP5). Works very good.
And never occur fricking during play you tube video.
I just wanted to let everyone know I had the screen flickering problem. I wish I knew about this website and “Flickergate” sooner! I had to open my surface pro 4 to replace the battery. Went bad just outside of warranty. While I had it open I upgraded the hard drive and put new thermal paste on the CPU. However, since I didn’t know about “Flickergate” I put the same display back on. As you might have guessed about a year later the screen flickering started. Thankfully I found this website before I tossed out my beloved PC.
I read this article and all the posts. Then, I ordered all the parts, followed the directions found here, and replaced the display. It has been a month now and the screen flickering has never happened again. Thank you so much Steve!
Hi Derick, did you replace SP4 screen with SP5 and do you know if your SP4 was V1 or V2 Im told you cant use SP5 screen unless V2. the v is the version, which is shown on the tablet screen connecting cables you hook up to the NIg for the screen
I have decided to try an external screen. Would be that a solution? I know that that converts my Pro 4 in a different animal, but, if it works I have my pc back.
Hi Steve I have suffered with Screen Flicker, it isnt so bad on my machine this time. If i turn the screen off for a few minutes after it starts it stops, on my previous SP4 it was unusable. Thanks for all your tips, i found out i have the bad Samsung Screen, but after reading Pablo’s comment i have projected to the TV and the Screen Flicker doesnt happen at all.
The other day, I purchased a replacement Display for SP4 from Aliexpress and replaced it yesterday. The revision was 7, but unfortunately, the shaking of the screen occurred.
Up to now, I have tried revision 5, 6, 7. All were not good. So I think that there is no way to use SP4 for years other than making it to the LCD of LG. A while ago, I bought an LCD for SP5. I’ll try to replace it when it arrives.
Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Thanks for this post! it really work out. I try in surface pro 4 LG Display and it works!!! I had to replace the trigger.. i change 3 surfaces 4 and i have to change the trigger in all of them.. dont know why they’re bad! Fresh install windows nad all updates (firmware included).
What does mean “the trigger”?
Is it “N-Trig Module?”.
thanks very much.
I downloaded and ran the tool and as I feared/expected it is a Samsung 123YL01-001 🙁
Now I “just” need to find a service center which will replace it with a SP5 screen. So far haven’t had any luck because they only want to replace it with a screen they get from MS which is a SP4 screen.
Brillian article, thanks Steve!
I am sure I will not be able to replace the screen myself so I will be more than happy to pay for a screen replacement.
I can get that for around 2400 DKK (or 400 USD). But how can I be sure that the Surface repair shop doesn’t put in the same screen model as the one I have? Is there a way to find out the screen model?
The only way to tell is to look at the AIDA64 information to see if your display panel is Samsung (ie, SP4) or LG (ie, SP5). AIDA64 is linked in the Links To Parts And Equipment section.
Hope that helps,
Hi Steve, thank you for the extensive information on the flicker gate issue. I have followed your instructions and successfully replaced the touch screen on my SP4 with a SP5 touch screen. N-Trig is not failing on me yet, perhaps the reported failures are related to firmware version?
BTW, I have the following firmware (shown in UEFI mode) and windows 10 1909
System UEFI 109.3192.768
SAM Controller 103.1837.257
Intel Management Engine 18.104.22.16826
Touch Firmware 22.214.171.124.28.3
System Embedded Controller 103.2851.256
Infineon dTPM 5.62.316.2
If it is of any help, Surface firmwares can be found at;
Thank you for your feedback on this. I think my battery is swelling which I think is why my touch has stopped. At the moment I’m waiting on it getting bad enough to replace – since it’ll help push the screen off if it is that, I should be able to get it off without breaking it and will then see if the touch screen springs back to life when it’s not under pressure from the inside.
My firmware is the same as yours, so I suspect the problem is hardware related after all
Hi Steve! I am about the have my Surface Pro 4 Screen Repaired. Which replacement screen to you advice, Surface Pro 4 or Surface Pro 5?
Now THIS is good crowdsourced field research on a topic with a lot of snake oil and blind zeal based on misinformation. Thank you Steve and co for putting the effort in to get us this far.
I just completed the screen upgrade (agreed on the color enhancement compared to the old display btw). Great success with a full display, no brightness or sensor issues, and no flickering under load. I have full touch capacity on apprx. 2/3 of the screen; however, there is an L-shaped area about 1/2 inch wide across the very top and about 2 1/2 – 3 inches wide on the right side of the screen that registers no touch response whatsoever. Any active gesture on the screen ends when I enter the area, and I cannot input new gestures from within the area.
Reading through the troubleshooting in the thread above, I was intrigued by the inconsistencies within the N-Trig grounding issue. For my module, I cut a rectangle and a square of copper flashing to fit on the long line and the square area of the contact plate that looks like a golden L-shape. But I am unsure if that is covering every point that needs to be grounded on the N-Trig, as there are other golden points on the board looking like they may also be ground contacts. This may account for the inconsistencies in people’s touch responsivity, as people may be contacting the N-Trig at different points. Can anyone say definitively if there is conductive adhesive across the ENTIRE back of the N-Trig board, or just the golden contact plate?
If it does cover more than just that L-shaped plate, that seems to necessitate another conductive adhesive to ensure contact at all grounding points. In this vein, I am considering trying this conductive adhesive designed for windshield defoggers;
Cures at room temperature: a biggie for conductive adhesives (many I looked at require curing at very high temps that could damage the display). It should also be resistant to the temperature changes inside the case, as they are within the same range as its intended operating temperatures on a vehicle’s defogging grid.
If this developing theory about the ground contact points is true, this may be a cheap solution.
Sidenote–Another possibility I’ve considered is the potential firmware or driver incompatibility between the old screen and the new. This is entirely on a whim with no evidence, as I am not versed enough in windows to know what to look for; simply, I was looking at my home screen post-swap and I noticed the recycling bin which I had kept in the very bottom right of my home screen had migrated towards the center. The new position was congruent with the new boundary for touch response. Likewise, my start menu and taskbar seemed to have shrunk also. Maybe it’s coincidental; maybe it’s a hint.
If anyone has any thoughts on either of these rationale lines, or feels the need to warn me off trying the Permatex defogger adhesive, please don’t hesitate.
Hi Steve! I plan to have my Surface Pro 4 repaired by a technician, due to this flickering issue. His advise is to install a Pro 4 LCD. But my concern is, may be after Installing the New Surface Pro 4 LCD, the issue might come again after sometime and wouldn’t want to waste money.
What’s your advice? Which LCD should the technician install? Pro 4 or Pro 5? Thanks
I wanted to write a little something to say thank you. I’m a missionary that’s been in West Africa for the past 12 years and going. I only mention that to let you know the reach of this thread. I have an SP4 that has developed the dreaded “flicker” issue. I was drawn to this site/thread by the beautiful large lettered word “FIXED” and “permanently.” Any way it goes, for the work I do, my machine is invaluable, and in my monetary circumstance there is no way I can replace it with another. This will lead me to inevitably implement this fix that you have so eloquently helped with here. I believe that appreciation should be shown when due. I therefore wanted to thank you for your objectiveness when answering questions, for the reasonableness and understanding shown to the underlying issue, and for your kindness to keep it going. Whatever the motivation, be it personal curiosity, an unselfish desire to help, or whatever other reason there may be, I wanted to personally thank you as the information has been greatly helpful. Hopefully you will be able to find the underlying reason that the touch screen has stopped working with exception of the pen. Please keep it up if possible.
Hi Steve, Good article. I want to suggest another option, for those that don’t want to replace the screen or have the ability. I attached a second screen, as a dual monitor and shut off the surface monitor in the display settings. Obviously this makes the surface much less mobile, more of a desk top setup, but at least it is usable until deciding to fix or replace. On the positive side, the surface runs a lot cooler with the screen turned off.
Yes, this is definitely not a bad solution either.
I will do the same thing you made to resolve the problem screen flickering . I bought the same things. I will upgrade also. I hope that the touchscreen problem not happen in my SP4.
Did you try this?
I certainly have – none of those things worked for me.
Hi Steve, thinking about doing this procedure but you latest update on the touchscreen failing has me on the fence. Did you get it to work again or is rhis a touch a thing I will lose when I change the screen?
It’s impossible to say at the moment, so I think being on the fence is relatively wise. I haven’t made any progress as yet, though I have migrated all my stuff to a SP3 I had around, which has everything working just fine. In the near future I will be trying to get the screen off and placing it on a different – not yet upgraded SP4 that I also have laying around. This will test whether it’s the device that went faulty or the screen. From there I can decide which route to take and should be able to advise better. Unfortunately at the moment by workstation I use for getting screens off is all in the loft…
First of all I would like to thank you for this article, it really helps a lot and it’s the only definitive solution to the Surface Pro 4 screen flickering problem I’ve found so far.
In my particular SP4 model the flickering problem is not so obvious, the pixel lines below are reproduced at the top of the screen and there is a little flickering as well.
At the moment I am buying all the components to do the screen replacement and also battery change (I recently realized it died) and some other improvements.
I have a question about the double sided tape for the screen reattachment, It has to be 4mm wide or it can be also 3mm? I wanted to but it in a local store but they didn’t have the 4mm one.
Thanks in advance.
Thanks for the kind words!
3mm should be fine 🙂
All the best and good luck! Let us know how you get on!
Here’s how I fixed the flicker on my Surface Pro 4
Desk Fan, Aikoper USB Small Table Personal Electric Fan: $16.99
Surface Pro 4 Pro 5 Pro 6 Hub Dock: $29.99
May not be the best solution, but I tried all the other suggestions before going this route.
Fan drain isn’t too bad, still gives me over two hours of computer time on battery power.
For best results, position the fan so it blows equally on both sides of the display.
This is certainly an option for some. I tried that myself originally and it did help, as in it took the time from switch on to flicker from 20 minutes to an hour or two. Much will depend on how bad the screen is knackered and how hard you drive the machine 🙂
But yes, it’s definitely worth a try and glad it’s working for you.
Hi Steve, yes I just got the same issues with the touch response on my Surface PRO 4! After having the flickering issue a week ago I update to Windows 10 1909 and it seemed to come with a firmware update for the Surface too (at least I saw an firmware update dialog). Interesting that after the update the flickering was gone (but it was also on the next day, so the device was cold), but it didn’t showed up again. But unfortunately the touch problem appeared! Its the same as you describe: The touch works under Windows partially (mostly not in the right corner) – but the pen works entirely! And even more strange: The touch input doesn’t work in UEFI mode at all! Best Fred
Thank you for this comment – just to be clear, you have NOT replaced your screen yet you also have a pen that works but finger touch does not?
If that’s the case then I am more convinced that this issue is a firmware problem!
It could be possible that the pen works while the touch doesn’t. since the flex controlled cables are separated. If the cable is misaligned or damaged then 1 can work but not the other.
The flex cable is closer to the bottom edge of screen controls the Touch while the other control the pen.
That’s a valid point. I /think/ my machine has a battery issue beginning. I suspect the touch overload that the Linux kernel developer saw in my debug is potentially due to the battery pressing on the back of the screen. I have some discolouration going on now as well. I can’t see any significant bulge on the screen, but discolouration usually indicates a battery that’s swelling. The screen will have to come off soon!
I got similar setup with you. The touch and pen work 100% if I left off the metal cover on the digitizer. If I install the metal cover then the touch is spotty, some parts of screen have no touch. Repeat multiple times with reset the cable connector. Same result so I just left out the metal shield. I think the cable is very sensitive, so if you battery is pressing the cable somehow and you might lose the touch.
Yes, I’ve NOT replaced the screen and the pen is working but the finger touch does not work in UEFI mode at all and only partial (left top corner) under windows 10.
Yes this is very similar to my problem. I am waiting to be brave enough to try to get my screen off and put it onto a different machine as I mentioned to Jan… But hopefully not too much longer now and we’ll have some answers.
Everything still works: didn’t replace screen, pen & finger touch operating normally.
What if I reset the Surface? The screen flickering continues? Did anyone know?
You can try – but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work 🙂
I dont know what to do. I have the screen flickering and everything else runs well. I am afraid that, by solving this problem, appear new problems.
The only new problem that appears to have reared its head is that the touch screen might not work. I’m not convinced this is a problem with the replacement screens as mine WAS working for nearly a year and has recently started showing problems whereby it won’t respond to finger touches but does respond to the pen. Other people have had the same issue…
But, if you have the screen flickering and don’t want to change the screen on the Surface Pro 4 then you can get yourself a mini-display to HDMI adaptor and hook it up to any monitor or TV that has HDMI input and use it that way. It’s not as portable but the screen won’t flash on the external display.
Hope that helps!
Hi Steve brother, what’s your suggestion for me. Should I try another surface pro 5 screen? I can get a replacement screen, I will have to wait at least 2 months to return old screen and receive a replacement. Thanks
At the moment I really don’t have an answer to that. I’ve seen people who haven’t change their screen suddenly losing their touch input but the pen still works (like mine). Other people are saying their system is working just fine. Other people have said that a software program can recalibrate it and it works fine again, but I can’t get that to work on my Pro4.
I’ve reinstalled the original SurfacePro 4 Windows image that came with the SP4 (ancient!) and hoped that might fix things. It didn’t.
At the moment I don’t have a spare SP4 screen (that would be prone to flickering) to test whether it’s a physical screen problem (which I highly doubt but at this point in time anything could be it). CJ tried a new N-Trig and that was worse.
Personally, I think Microsoft have updated something and broken Touch for some machines but not others.
So, I guess, yours could be a defective screen since it’s never worked. Mine is unlikely as it was working (and still does with a pen). You might be better off replacing yours if you can. It’d be worth a try I guess. Perhaps some of these screens aren’t genuine (though AIDA64 says mine is an LG).
I’m still actively searching for answers but at the moment not getting anywhere
I also forgot to mention I replaced the battery thermal paste and SSD, I did read many guides non of which mentioned any “conductive glue” or adhesive, I use 2mm Tessa tape to re attach my n trig back, I did notice, that it’s near impossible to find an emi sheild for the pro 5 screen especially since it’s cable is wider that then Samsung I’m personally wondering if that’s going to cause any issues.
Have you tried the surface diagnostic tool, also I have a feeling that your foil grounding is causing the issue give it a whir without it, I’ve seen repair videos where they taped the ntrig back on and it worked, I did that no grounding and my touch worked fine, I did notice I needed to remove the plastic to stop the phantom touch on the new screen.
I started with an ancient image for recovery and updated form there, also I do believe that you need to re calibrate the touch using the official surface diagnostic tool I’ll check tomorrow to see if it works.
I installed surface pro 5 LG screen on my surface pro 4 but my touch is not working in both finger touch and surface pen. My surface pro 4 touch was also not working before the screen flickering problem arose, now my screen has 6 months warranty I think the NTRIG is faulty. The screen flickering problem is gone now and I can use the tablet normally with the keyboard. What is your expert opinion on this? Thanks again for your kind support.
Yes, it sounds like your N-Trig went faulty before the screen replacement. If you haven’t stuck the screen back on yet then replacing the N-Trig is simple.
With regards to the screen display adjusting on its own, it sounds like you have the adaptive brightness setting switched on in Windows. Start Menu -> Settings -> System -> Display -> “Change brightness automatically when lighting changes”
Hope that helps,
I checked my surface screen with new N-Trig board but the result is same both pen and fingers touch is not working. Now I am confused whether it is a pro 5 screen problem , may be supplier has sent a defective one? Or the problem is with something else like pro 5 screen is not fully compatible with pro 4 or there may be some firmware issue. Thanks
Also, my screen blinks and brightness increases and decreases on its own when I move my surface, I have checked connectors for tightness they are looking good. Thanks
Just went through the process of replacing the screen (and battery and SSD drive) on my SP4 with the SP5 LG screen. Definitely a tricky job, it all seemingly went well, EXCEPT touch does not work on the about the right-most part of the screen (a vertical slice of about a quarter of the screen). It works everywhere else, but then nothing on that right-most section. Argh!?!?
Did I maybe screw-up my N-Trig board? The pen sort-of works a little bit over there, more than touch, but only a very little bit and sporadically. Because I replaced the SSD, this is a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro with all the latest updates and drivers.
What to do next? I guess maybe try a new N-Trig.
I am becoming more concerned by the day regarding the touchscreen problems that are being reported. It’s not something I initially experienced, and given that MS themselves began using the SP5 screen from LG on the SP4 – and the N-Trig is exactly the same model, I saw nothing that would suggest this would cause a problem.
However, there’s now too many people that have experienced problems and I too have lost the touch screen (after nearly a year of working fine) although the pen works.
With this in mind, I have been discussing the issue with the Linux Surface developers as they have access to the data from the hardware itself. In my case, it appears as though something is applying pressure / touch to the edge of the screen and overwhelming the N-Trig chip. The pen still works.
What I’m not sure on yet is whether it’s the screen, the N-Trig or possibly something odd like induced capacitance through the different tape used to attach the new screen. At the moment I can’t afford the risk to get my screen off again and can live without touch given that the pen works. However, in due course I will have it off again and investigate further.
I highly doubt you’ve damaged your N-Trig though. Make sure it’s properly earthed to the back of the screen though, as this does cause issues if it’s not.
Would like to hear if you get any resolution before I do 🙂
Sounds good Steve.
I did give it a couple of tries just to make sure I had it all connected correctly and to double-check, and then triple-check that the ground connection between the N-Trig and the back of my screen was good, but all to no avail; that right portion of the screen just didn’t work with touch.
As an added piece of information, on one of my first tries of getting it all to work, I had what I can only describe as an instance where it seemed like the screen was sensing being touched constantly on the bottom edge. You could see it “lighting-up” down there, and the cursor would constantly go back to that point. After shutting it down and re-seating the cables from the screen to the N-Trig chip, that went away; but maybe whatever I had done at that point had damaged something? (I sure hope not the screen’s touch sensitivity.)
I’ve ordered a new N-Trig module with its associated ribbon cable. It was only about $20 so I figured why not. (I still haven’t “glued” my screen in place, so it is pretty easy for me to still swap things in and out.) It is still about a week away from delivery, but I’ll update once I get it in place.
Thanks for the update and all of the information.
I’d be surprised if you’ve damaged anything from what you’ve said. It’s interesting that you’ve experienced the ghost touches with the cables and ground not being quite right. I was hoping that’s what’s wrong with mine.
I wonder if the N-Trigs have become de-calibrated, particularly since they’ve been on other screens previously. I found some articles that stated they could be recalibrated using a ‘CalibG4.exe’ program from Sony, but this was primarily for the Surface Pro 3 N-Trig (and did indeed work on one of my Pro 3’s that had a duff touch area). I can’t get it to work on the SP4 though. I personally think if we could get it recalibrated then it would function properly again – since the pen works. I highly doubt there’s actually anything wrong with the hardware itself, as the pen works. But I can’t find anything that will recalibrate the SP4 N-Trig properly.
I’d be really interested in hearing your results with a new N-Trig as I was planning to go down this route myself shortly once I can spare the downtime 🙂
Thanks for your valuable feedback,
Steve, et. al.,
Spoiler alert: This story does not end well.
I got my new N-trig and associated cable today. Installed it, booted up, and … it was worse! Essentially all touch was now not working. _Very_ occasionally a sporadic touch would register, but basically nothing. I tried re-seating the cables, making sure the back of the N-Trig board was grounded to the back of the screen, nothing.
I figured I’d then try to go back to the old board just to make sure I knew what my baseline was again. In doing so, I dropped my new screen and it shattered. I know, call me a klutz!
At this point, I’ve got to give up on this as forking over another ~$200 for another new screen with the whole touch situation still unresolved seems like throwing good money after bad.
Needless to say, I’m not happy about this, and I realize my story isn’t likely to be very helpful to others trying to figure out what to do.
I guess my advise would be: a screen replacement of a Surface is not for the faint of heart, and relatively speaking, requires a lot of time, patience, and some significant hardware experience. (Despite what my sad story may sound like, I do have a LOT of hardware experience, I just got particularly unlucky here.) The whole touch/N-Trig situation seems like an added risk, but I don’t have enough experience to say one way or another if that should stop you from trying yourself. So just know what you are going into (which Steven’s site here does a really good job with).
Thanks Steve, despite my experience, I found your site to be the most informative and helpful of anything I found out there.
Good luck everyone!
Oh man that sucks! On all fronts – but most of all that you shattered the new screen.
If I were you I’d plug in a mini-display port to HDMI cable off Amazon and use the SP4 on an external screen. If the touchscreen isn’t attached the SP4 will default to sending all video output straight to the HDMI port anyway, so you don’t need to set anything up. I’ve done this myself with a SP4 I use as a low power media server 🙂
Thanks for your kind words. If I find out a fix for the touch I’ll post back and let you know.
Thanks for this article, about to fix my secondhand surface pro 4, I have everything I need except for the cable coming from China, taking its sweet time to get here lol. Got my lcd off in one piece too! I really like the form factor of the pro 4, and hope to use it for many more years to come.
I just wanted to thank you for such exhaustive and useful article. You saved the life of many surfaces, including mine. Hats off.
I was on the verge of returning the lcd, but your final note made me persist on the ntrig logic board. Adhesive copper and lots of pacience did the trick for me. The flexible connectors on the screen are indeed tricky to re-connect properly!
Do you have a link to adhesive copper you used? I can’t find anything that looks suitable anywhere!
I bought a second hand surface pro 4 at a very cheap price for the specs. After a couple of days I did get that blurred screen on the surface pro and did a little research and came upon this article. I got all the parts necessary that you suggested and did the swap myself with no experience taking a tablet apart. I replaced the battery and added new thermal paste when I switched put the screen to the surface pro 5. It’s working real good now had it run overnight streaming videos. Thanks for finding out this information and sharing.
Thank you for your kind words! Glad it worked for you too!
I recently got a second hand surface pro 4, after a month I started have slight flickering issues related to over-heating, the previous owner claims he was even playing games on it and never had issues for years (it’s having the Samsung screen).
I wish I’ve read this article before purchasing… now I would like to extend the period before I have to change the screen.
Is there a way to make the fan turn on at lower temperatures?
I couldn’t find any way to make this happen unfortunately as it was something I looked into to try to keep mine cooler.
To be fair to the previous owner, unfortunately the flickering does come out of the blue and it is entirely possible that they’ve been using it hard for a while without issues.
I bought an external fan powered by USB and pointed it to the back of my SP4 for a while. That did help to stave off the flickering for an hour or so. From memory it was about 8 pounds (so about 10 US dollars?)
Thanks for the fast reply!
Microsoft replaced my m3 model with an i5 model, even though my 3-year warranty had expired long ago. Keeping my finger-crossed that the flicker will not happen again.
Update: Checked with AIDA64 and it seems that the replaced unit was installed with an LG panel (Model: LP123WQ122604). I did notice the screen is now a lot more flexible when pressed on comparing with my previous model.
However, there is a new problem now – my surface pen stopped working after a while on this new device. It won’t write or erase; only the top button works now. Tried reinstalling the drivers and re-pairing the pen but to no avail. Anyone with a similar situation?
I’ve had some issues with ghosting under Windows. Interestingly I’ve not had the same under Linux – so I wonder if Microsoft have broken some driver somewhere?
The other thing to make sure of is that the N-Trig board is earthed properly through the sticky conductive pad on the back. If the pad is destroyed when you remove it, I used some folder aluminium foil to achieve the same effect, though I’m not sure it’s ideal 🙂
some one who seemed to be expert said if you change your pro 4 touchscreen to pro 5, it will cause damage to your cpu after 4-5 month..Is it true?
I can’t speak for what’s happened to the person who you spoke to, however I’ve been using mine for at least 9 months and it’s still flicker-free and being used daily. I run quite CPU intensive stuff on mine (on Fedora Linux now too) and not had a problem.
I don’t think there’s any danger of CPU damage from running a SP5 screen on a SP4. It’s worth noting that at some point, Microsoft themselves switched to using the LG screen (the SP5) on SP4’s before they superseded them.
thanks for your response. Good luck
Do you experience phantom touch or any related touch screen issue after changing the LCD?I have issue with the touch screen. After 2-3 months, touch screen only detectable with surface pen (only some part of the screen) and not finger touch.
So far, flickering issue is gone after I’ve change the LCD according
I have had some ghost touches appear on my Surface Pro 4 with the new screen. They’ve always been associated with some RF interference though – generally when I had a cheap power supply attached or had an ethernet over power adaptor plugged in nearby.
It’s hard to know if it’s the screen in the case you’re talking about, or whether it’s drivers or indeed the N-Trig board failing.
One things to bear in mind, the N-Trig board needs to be grounded through the sticky strip on the back to the screen. If you don’t have it grounded to the screen it won’t work properly. Normally the sticky backing on the N-Trig board is electrically conductive and so it’ll be grounded if you just use the sticky backing that was on it. If you’ve changed it that may be why?
Most probably my N-Trig board was not stick properly as I remember i just re-use the old adhesive strip. I believe due to the heat produce by SP4 may cause the adhesive to worn out. By the way, thanks for the info. I’ll come back to you after I done sticking the N-Trig.
First of all I must thank Steve because he has the only solution I have found after two attempts of changing my screen with sp4 replacement. Finally this replacement with surface pro 5 screen is not FLICKERING.BUT the touchscreen is not working at all. I have used tin foil but didn’t work. I want to understand better which part of N-TRIG should be connected with screen. The little spots of cupper or the big line. Both are under the N-TRIG. So it would be great to know what else should I do?
You raise an interesting point actually – which I may have overlooked the importance of with mine. In the original N-Trig when I took it off the large square piece of the board had copper adhesive pad, and the longer line also had a copper adhesive pad. In my replacement I only have the replacement pad (or tinfoil) on the large area. Perhaps this is somehow responsible for my N-Trig not working properly now. I will investigate further 🙂
I think it’s the square-end part of the L-shaped N-Trig. I remember I rubbed off the white glue thing (square). It looks completely different then the other ‘black’ gluey stuff
Very much appreciated for your insights again. I will definitely take heed of steering away from samsung screen.
Guess I will now buy the pro 5 LG screen & adapter ribbon for replacement going forward. Fortunately, the repair shop will do the replacement even with our own purchased screen but alas no warranty.
Thanks for this article! I contacted my local repair place and they were very familiar with the SP4 shakes. They said that any of the aftermarket screens will eliminate the shake, and that their supplier is saying that the first gen SP4s won’t accept the SP5 screen, but the second gen will? Mine is a 1724 (1st gen) Any insights would be appreciated. This thing is my lifeline for work during this isolation.
I’ve not heard that before – indeed, I’m not even convinced there is a first or second gen? Pretty certain mine was a 1724 and the SP5 screen is working on mine. Not sure where I could find that out though?
Thanks so much for your article on repair pro 4 screen flickering. Excellent aid & guide to unfortunate pro 4 owners like me as there is almost an absence of info out there on assuring repair. My pro 4 has just developed “scramble” issue (after 3 yr 1 month) so microsoft’s replacement option is out.
Now I’m looking into option to replace the screen. Contacted few notebook repair shops in Malaysia that done pro 4 screen replacement & was told they have experienced issue with touchscreen after upgrading to pro 5 screen.
May I know if you had such issue? Right now, I have been offered to replace my screen pro with Samsung LTL123YL01-008 LCD, which had been done on several others without flickering issue.
Have you ever tried replacing any pro 4 with LTL123YL01-005 model? If so, can you kindly share with us your take.
Thank you much for your advice again.
I’ve had one Samsung screen that so far hasn’t exhibited Flickergate – it’s the 007 model I believe. However, my suspicion is that it’s just a fluke coupled with the fact that it doesn’t get any heavy use.
I /have/ had some ghost touches with the Pro5 screen under Windows. Oddly, under Linux I’ve not experienced it – even with the touchscreen enabled. So I wonder if there’s a driver problem. In any case, the N-Trig device is exactly the same on the SP4 and SP5 screen so I can’t see why it would be an issue.
Personally, I’d avoid any Samsung screen for the Surface Pro. Samsung might make great phones – the LCD for the SP4 is disappointing though
As with all the comments above, firstly I’ll start by expressing my gratitude for your article! I’m about to attempt the replacement on my SP4 and I followed your ebay link for the screen, I get an Ebay search for “surface pro screen 1796” I am faced with an enormous list of options all coming from China. Do you know of any reports of generic or fake brands coming from China? Or are all of these going to be legitimate LG screens? My concern arose when I asked the seller of the screen if he had a M1010537 Flex cable, he immediately asked “are you trying to put a SP5 screen on a SP4?”. When I responded “yes” he insisted that I needed to get a particular flex cable, he sent me an image of it and it’s number is M100336, it definitely looks the same, but it made me think that it could be possible that the screen I’m about to buy is not the same screen as you intended to recommend us buy. Any information to help guide my decision would so very much appreciated.
I obviously didn’t look close enough at the picture, the cables are totally different, so that part of my question is no longer important, but I’m still curious to know how well I can trust that the screen I receive is a legit LG screen not some cheap knock off. Have you or anyone else heard of any issues as such?
Thank you for your kind words regarding the article.
I can’t answer whether it’s a legit LG screen unfortunately. The only thing I can say is that I assume that the eBay / Amazon sellers probably get them from China originally so it’s quite probably the same screens anyway. But definitely beware of the cable!
Sorry I can’t be more help than that,
So I have all the parts ordered and on their way. Including a 1TB Samsung 970 EVO plus, very excited. I’ll update you and anyone else on how I go with this mission. Thanks again Steve, I probably wouldn’t be so confident to do this if it wasn’t for you sharing this knowledge. Very much appreciated!
The new screen is in place and is working beautifully! It took all day, but overall a huge success, I am so happy. I’m put up with the frustration of the flickering screen for 5 years! I learnt a lot by doing this, it was a lot of fun. Thanks again Steve for sharing this article.
Finally nearly 3 months later all of the parts have arrived and I’m about to attempt the replacement. 🙂 haha
Awesome! You’ll be fine. One other word of advice – can’t remember if I wrote it in the article – TEST everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) before you stick the new screen on 🙂
I don’t know if your still replying to comments for an 8 month old post but it’s worth a try. I want to confirm what new display cable I need. I found this on alliexpress:
You can purchase the M1010537 part, but it also has “003” on the end. Do you believe that makes it a different part. Also is this the ONLY new part that I need to attach the pro5 screen correctly?
Thanks again for your effort I helping us with this.
Yes, I am still replying to comments cos it’s getting a LOT of interest 🙂
I’m pretty certain mine had the 003 on the end anyway. But it shouldn’t make any difference in my opinion.
That is the only different part you need. The N-Trig board is interchangeable and thus, the cable is the same as you already have.
Hope that helps,
My 4.5 year old Surface Pro 4 just started flickering about ten days ago… and it seems to be rapidly getting worse! I’m highly considering doing this, which is a testament to how thorough a guide you’ve created here, as I never would have even imagined otherwise opening up a sealed device like this!
Thanks for the kind words!
If your SP4 is still under warranty with Microsoft then I strongly recommend getting them to sort it – although the chances are that you’ll get a Samsung LCD back, at least you’ll get a few more years out of it hopefully.
If it’s out of warranty then give it a go. (EDIT: You said it’s 4.5 years old, it’s out of warranty!) Two major things to beware of though. (They’re both mentioned in the article, but just to reiterate);
1/ WEAR EYE PROTECTION…. The glass will break. You don’t need small (or big) bits of glass in your eye.
2/ Be EXTREMELY careful with your tools at the top of the screen – the antennas are up there and if you rip them you’re hosed.
Other than, give it a go, it’s broken anyway 🙂 That’s how I started on this 🙂
Thanks for this. It is truly the most informative such instruction I’ve found.
I have an i7/16gb RAM/256gb Surface, and of course the flickering started after the MS replacement program ended. I see the S5 screens available from the $120s. I’d be willing to spend that to test my repair skills hand have the machine working properly. At the same time, it’s now 4 years old, and I’m wondering about your suggestion of upgrading the SSD, and further, the battery? (A Video of battery replacement made it look quite difficult. Do you think battery replacement is worth the effort?)
If I could replace the three components successfully it would come to about $350. Still $100 less that MS asks for standard replacement. Thoughts?
p.s. Since your initial post, are there other m.2 SSD models that you feel might be appropriate? I’m interested with any that might up the performance.
I’ve had no problems with my battery (touch wood) – though I have some where the battery has expanded and pushed the screen off. The only slight advantage to the battery issue versus the flickering issue is that because the screen gets slowly pushed off it tends not to fracture and should be easier to get off for a repair since part of it is already pushed away. But it would still be a delicate process.
That said, if your battery isn’t expanding by now it may well not anyway. If it’s holding charge reasonably still then I personally wouldn’t bother (and didn’t) but if it’s playing up then now would be the time to change it yeah.
Any NVME PCIe Gen3 x4 drive should work. I still use the 480G Corsair in mine since the screen is now glued back on of course. But if you wanted a 1TB NVME there’s no reason not to.
Steve, thanks for the info. Still on the fence about whether it’s worth it, but I just may need another project during lockdown, and this could be it.
Best to you.
If this flickering problem continues, has anybody reported this to Microsoft company and was replaced as mine was only two years old and I have got this flickering problem that is so irritating when you do your work with it.
Steve should get a medal here – I have asked Microsoft to read this article many times .. as have been fighting for my now 3rd machine >>(((
Just finally got a replacement Sp4 since October 2019 making a case with Microsoft – they said or pay £548 for Sp5 replacement but finally said they give me like for like
I have i7 16gb model ..
and it always heats up :((
they have sent me a sp4 (even during this virus) exchange – I have loaded the AIDA64 and yes I have the Samsung LTL120QL01-001 screen :(( this is my 3rd Sp4 now
and worried within a year it will do it again and guess there is a high chance.
I have 90 warranty and been told now more support for Sp4 ….
maybe I need to find someone to fit the LG screen etc .. does anyone know anyone?
hello, superb job on this inquiry. Our compagny has more than 200 SP4 and we are experiencing this problem more and more often.
Possible low cost tweak, we are testing tweaked power mode on it to reduce CPU frequency, black screen on sleep , etc…limiting heat at maximum even if the tablet is declocked.
As we noticed that , tablets in High performance power mode , have more frequently this artefacts than others.
Yes, this is definitely good advice. The SP4 does generate a lot of heat even in fairly normal usage. I think that’s where the crux of the problem lies. The Samsung screens just don’t tolerate the heat whereas the LG ones do. Running the SP4 on low power will prolong the life of the screen, but eventually it will probably fail.
But, with the LG screen (the SP5 one shown in the article) I can run my SP4 at full belt with no artefacts 🙂
I have no current issues on my surface Pro 4 but if/when the screen fails, does this effect using a second monitor through the video output ?
No, using a second monitor will work just fine. It’s the screen itself that’s faulty, not the GPU. Indeed, I have one SP4 here that I can’t be bothered changing the screen on because I just use it as a media centre PC. It’s very slimline and runs Plesk Media Server well 🙂 It’s plugged in to my TV.
EDIT: Just to add, if the screen is badly broken you may need to remove it. The SP4 will not send output to a screen via the mini-display adaptor if a screen is already plugged in unless you tell Windows to mirror the display. If the screen is so broken you can’t see how to set that up, you may need to remove the SP4’s touch screen completely. Then it will automatically send video to the mini-display with no configuration needed. Hope that helps 🙂
Thank you for the insightful article. Well, my SP4 screen started flickering yesterday. As suggested in the article, I should replace it with a SP5 screen instead.
I was wondering if the issue could be related to only the flex cables, not the screen. Or is it necessary that I must buy the screen and the flex cable.
I can pretty much guarantee that it’s the screen itself and not the flex cables. Indeed, even if it were the flex cables, the chances of getting the screen off in one piece are slim. I can now, because I’ve done about 10 of them and I have the patience to take it slowly 🙂 But the first 6 I broke every single time… It’s a pig to get off. But it’ll be the screen that’s broken anyway, so you’ll have to grab that as well as the cables. Sorry – wish it were not so 🙂
Is it possible to see if it really is heat affecting the LCD? For example, detatch the screen from the chassis but leave the flex display connected. Then operate the SP4 and see if the screen scrambles.
I’ve repaired some of our desktop LCDs and scrambling or partial black lines is sometimes fixed by simply reseating and cleaning the contacts and flex cable. I even have a laptop here given to me (Lenovo Edge E120) that randomly scrambles and flickers. I kept reseating the LCD flex until it eventually fixed itself. Sprayed electronics contact cleaner around 3-5 times too. Now it works like a champ. Got a an old Vaio Z laptop with a flickering display last December 2019 to repair. Did the same treatment and it fixed it. Client is still happy with it as a secondary PC though she bought a new laptop already assuming I can’t repair it.
Since there is glue in the flex, is it possible the glue (when it eventually melted) is bridging some contacts in the flex? Some chemical cleaner ought to get it off. If you have a defective model that is cracked, care to cut the flex off and see if the multimeter sees bridged contacts or traces? It might be very very slight or you may need to apply heat to the flex so the glue liquifies to the point it can bridge contacts.
Another way to try is to simply replace the flex cable with a new one using the same defective models and see if it gets fixed.
Though it really can be the screen itself. Got one desktop LG LCD here with ghosting and I can only think of the panel itself is defective.
Yes, I am absolutely satisfied it is the screen and not the cable. I did exactly as you suggested initially, and ran the Surface Pro 4 with the screen detached and open at the top. The flickering (in my case at least) eased – although never fully went away once it had started. It also took a lot longer to start once the screen was detached.
The fault is definitely with the screens, not the flex cable 🙂
I wonder if the problem came back or not?
Nope – it’s still going strong. I don’t even think about it any more 🙂
Are you in UK Steve? I saw on some posts that people were looking for recommendations for people that repaired and wondered had any come in.
My SP4 is out of warranty and has had this screen flicker a couple of times. However due it’s very light use it hasn’t become a major problem (yet). But I’d like to be prepared when it does. Everyone I speak to (hardware repair people) won’t even consider looking at it.
thank you for your research and for the sharing of these information. I want to exchange a broken display with the ID LTL123yl01–003. Can I also use the LG SP5 display, the N-Trig from the current display, the new (adapter) cable which you have linkend and the second calbe from the current display?
Thank you for your detailed writeup. I just have a quick question. I noticed that the original cable you linked is no longer available. I’ve found cables on ebay from other sellers that have the “1724 M1010537-003” nomenclature, but they are missing the “ZKFE668” part. There are a bunch that say “ZVFE668” instead. Do you know if these are equivalent/would work?
Thank you for your time!
I can’t say for certain if they’ll work but my suspicion is that they will. My advice there is, since they cost about $10, it might be worth a punt. The key part number, I think, is the M1010537 part.
Would be very interested to hear how you get on!
I contacted the seller on Amazon and the parts should be available now, but I see 18$ shipping tacked on to the price.
Interested in the results too. I went to go purchase the parts today and I can’t seem to find the display cable adapter from a seller that isn’t away on ebay.
Hi steve brown, Thanks for this fantastic post. I have one question as I can’t purchase from eBay, can I use any other model of surface pro5 screen other than one described in your post link and which ribbon cable will be used with other models of surface pro5 screen? as your mentioned flex cable that attaches with the motherboard is for LG screens. Thanks again
Yes, I believe all the SP5 screens were LG. You should be able to get them from AliExpress too if you don’t mind waiting.
I have few dozens of Surface Pro 4 with me, mostly are M5 or i5 specs and some i7 specs. Is there a way to check which brand of LCD are fitted onto the surface pro? Without taking apart the screen. Because some surface pro 4 are fitted with LG screens, especially the i7 spec tends to have more LG screen installed.
Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any way of telling without having the back off. If anyone else has any ideas please let us know!
Though if it flickers you can pretty much guarantee it was a Samsung 😉
I’ve just found a software that could pull the display model information out from the motherboard, Aida64.
Later on I’ll try to dismantle some faulty Samsung display and try to find a solution since I have dozens of them, maybe re-glue or solder the contact? Since you said it was caused by the glue become soften and unable to bond the contact for proper signal. Could be caused by bad IC on the display board and degraded over time and prone to heat?
Thanks for the link to AIDA64 – I can confirm that it does indeed show my screen as an LG. This is brilliant news and I’ll update the article accordingly.
Keep me in touch if you find a solution. The other thing that I’d really like to do with the old LCD’s is turn them into displays for other devices somehow, minus the touch perhaps since the glass is usually broken by the time I get them.
It could very well be a degraded IC. However, I can’t see any space for an IC across the top, all the ICs are at the bottom of the display and they don’t get hot. All the heat is at the top right and top left (mostly top right) and all the black lines that are indicative of the problem beginning start at the top. I think it’s simply the glue melting that holds the control cables on to the back of the display panel. I’ve seen the same problem on LCD TVs – but you can usually see their cables and apply enough pressure to (temporarily) solve the issue.
Let me know! Fascinated in your outcome.
Thank you! This is by far the best explained article about this issue, with the only definitive solution available.
Availability and delivery time for the parts may differ for different parts of the world and time, so just to get this right, I know you recommend certain screen, but would any sp5 screen work fine in my sp4 i7? I just bought one second hand and it has this issue. Also battery gives me about 6-7hrs full charge, but after some use real time might be below 4hrs, haven’t tested well yet since just got it yesterday and been concerned about the scramble issue, after finding out after an hour or 2 of happiness of the cruel reality of the sp4.
Hi there every body and happy new year, i followed all tuto ,and really every thing explained replacing the screen and flex with test results of his … its totally true, i replaced screen and flex , and use same digitalizer circuit glued at the corner of screen same digitalizer flex ; right now am rigthing with SP4 and its working well performing well , but with same digitalizer issue already explaned by him, thank you very much , God bless all
Hi Steve can you fix mine for me if i pay you?
Sorry, I don’t do repairs for other people
Great article, thanks! I don’t have the stomach to replace the screen myself (it belongs to my employer!). There are lots of UK online services offering screen replacements, but it’s difficult to know which are most reputable/reliable, particularly if a like-for-like replacement will cause the problem to re-occur. Have you heard of any good ones?
Peter – I have the same question (in London, UK) – Did you find anywhere?
Mine just starting flickering and it’s starting earlier each day. Very annoyingly I’m just 7 weeks over the 3 year period!!!
@Steve – this is awesome, thx
3 years was on half december… programmed obsolescence?
It was just starting use virtual meetings caused by COVID19 and… voilà! The ‘flick’ virus attacks my Pro 4!
Good luck we have Steve’s experiences
Take care yourselves!
Thanks for the feedback. They always seem to go when they’re only just over the warranty!
Mines still going strong though 🙂 It’s well worth doing, they’re a fabulous machine aside from that problem. And while the screen is off, grab a hard drive upgrade at the same time 🙂
I’m afraid I don’t. I do some myself, but only on refurbishing items, I wouldn’t want to do it on someone else’s, although to be fair I’ve not had any problems thus far… Anyway, I’ll throw this one open to UK readers to suggest 🙂
Microsoft is offering to upgrade my flickering SP4 to a new SP5 at a cost. Is SP5 also suffering flickering issue? Please advise so I can I decide on this offer.
How were you able to get Microsoft to offer you that? Who did you call?
Did you ever get an answer to:
” Who did he call”
I have the same problem with my 4 pro,, flickering, didn’t even use it that much…. what a waste.
Please let me know.
The surface pro 5 does not have the same flickering problems. This is why I recommend using a surface pro 5 screen on the surface pro 4 too. So if the price Microsoft are offering your a SP5 at is good then it’s probably not a bad idea.
Hope that helps,
Hey, just wanted to say thank you first. Most of the information you can find on this topic is just bs i could tell right away. But i’m not sure about that contact thing. I think i know which connector you are speaking of, the one who is soldered right onto the screen right?
I think it could be some semiconductor stuff broken like a little controll ic or what ever. But i’m just guessing. Did you ever tried to fix an SP4 screen? I’dont want to spend 200 € on a screen + investing a couple of hours in repair. I’ve onced repaired an Iphone screen which faced a similar problem with a piece of plastic stuffed between the screen connector and the LCD panel so that the screen would apply a greater force on the connector when the device is closed again. It worked pretty good for the next two years…
I have tried to fix the flickering SP4 screen by applying force to the connector at three top of the screen. On many TVs this is a solution, but in my experience it doesn’t work on the SP4. Whether this is because I can’t apply enough pressure in the right area or something else is wrong I don’t know.
In the end, replacing with a surface pro 5 screen seems to be the only long term solution
I know this may seem far-fetched, since you mentioned that the pro 4 screen is interchangeable with pro 5, is it possible surface pro 3 screen to be swapped to a surface pro 5 one?
My understanding is that the SP4 screen is not interchangeable with the SP3 at all as the cables are different and the screens are different resolutions. The bezels are different sizes too, as well as there being no Microsoft Windows logo Home key on the SP4 and SP5. It might work, but I wouldn’t risk it as I don’t think it will.
That’s really disappointing. It looks like I have to upgrade to a newer surface pro once my SP3 dies down then. I was hoping that it would be [technically] possible to attempt such feats.
There’s no real need to change the SP3 screen to an SP5 one anyway. The SP3 doesn’t have the flickering problem, and replacement SP3 screens are still readily available on eBay if you do break it 🙂
I was hoping to get the improved n-trig stuff from changing the screen (if it’s doable in the first place). SP3 n-trig feels pale in comparison to the latest ones, and shelling out few thousands for it doesn’t justify since I still have a working SP3 in a way (just a screen with phantom touch and broken digitizer (on selected grids)
Ah, yes, I think the N-Trig is upgraded on the 4 and 5 (they’re the same N-Trig on 4 and 5, but different to the 3).
If you’re getting phantom touches happening I’d check to make sure there’s no electrical interference happening anywhere. I had phantom touches happening regularly on my SP4 (with the new screen) and thought the N-Trig was faulty. But when I stopped using the powerline Ethernet adapter the problem went away and has never returned.
So electrical interference certainly can cause phantom touches on the Surface Pro.
Hope that helps,
Hi Steve Brown!
Thank you very much to share the information.
In my case I break my original screen to change the puffy battery 🙂
I already bought too different screens for my surface 4 and both have problems.
Now I will do exacly what you are recomending.
firstly, I want to thank you for your post. It is very well explained.
I have a surface pro 4 and I want to change the battery since it is dead and the touchscreen has a non-responsive zone and flickers. I want to buy a new surface pro 5 screen and follow your advice. But I have found this (https://www.ifixit.com/Answers/View/484866/Using+Surface+Pro+4+(1724)+LCD+screen+to+replace+Surface+Pro+5+(1796) ). Am I misunderstanding something?
Will I fix the dead zone of the touchscreen with a new LCD? or do I need a new N-trig board? Thank you very much for your advice!
This will help me immensely
A couple of things. That thread you link to appears to be trying to put a SP4 screen onto a SP5. This isn’t a good idea anyway because the SP4 screens are crap 🙂 And the comments on that part of it are correct – you couldn’t do it anyway because the LCD cables are wrong. But you CAN put a SP5 screen on to the SP4 – but you must get the LCD cable as indicated in the post.
Now, the N-Trig. The article you’ve linked to is incorrect on that front. The N-Trig for the SP4 and the SP5 are exactly the same.
My guess is that your N-Trig board is probably fine. What I suspect has happened is that the connector to the glass screen has broken and caused the dead zone. My advice would be to use your old N-Trig board, test it all out before sticking the screen in place. If it doesn’t fix the non-responsive zone then a new N-Trig would be needed. But I suspect it’ll be fine with a new screen. Test before sticking down 🙂
Links to the cables, N-Trigs and actual SP5 screens I used are all in the article for you 🙂
Good luck, let me know how you get on!
Firstly I just wanna thank you Steve. I have been looking for this for so long. Guides on the true fix for the flicker problem besides Microsoft replacement is severely lacking.
I have a question though. I can’t get the flex cable using the link. Would it work if I buy the surface pro 5 LG flex cables? Would they fit on the surface pro 4 motherboard?
No, the SP5 cable is different so it won’t fit the SP4. I had a link in the article to the right cable but it’s on the UK eBay site. Having said that, I suspect they’ll send something like that internationally? Someone will send it via the GSP 🙂
Hope that helps,
Do you only need 1 of the cables specified or do you need to replace both cables to connect the SP5 screen to a SP4?
Just the LG screen to motherboard cable. The N-Trig touch cable is the same, since the N-Trig board is the same for either the SP4 or the SP5
Hope that helps,
P.S, mines still flicker free, months later and I spent all day yesterday playing Minecraft on it 🙂
Have to say your idea to slap a SP5 LCD onto SP4 is genius.
And I finally understand that this is a specific cable allowing SP4 to connect to the LG display.
Found a seller, shipping internationally. Here’s a link that maybe helpful to others as well.
My replaced sp4 also has the flickering issue. What might be the reason ?
The replaced SP4 will have the same dodgy screen. Unfortunately there’s no way to tell from the outside what screen part number has been used. If it’s still under warranty, get it replaced again, preferably with a Surface Pro 5 if you can convince Microsoft to swap it. If it’s no longer covered by warranty, the screen can be replaced with a SP5 screen as shown on this post.
Hope that helps!
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