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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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.

Reduce Heat

  • 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.
Surface Pro 4 broken screen with Kapton Tape
Image showing how I apply Kapton Tape to reduce shatter risk

Protect YOURSELF

  • 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?

Surface Pro 4 screens are available on eBay or Amazon. However most of them will caution you to only replace the screen with the same model that you took off.

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.

AIDA64 can tell you if you have a Samsung screen without opening the device
LG Replacement Screen For Surface Pro 4 / 5 (link to eBay Seller I purchased from)

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.

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 πŸ™‚ 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

Arctic Silver Thermal Paste

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 πŸ™‚

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
  • Cameras
  • Speakers
  • 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 πŸ™‚

Final Words

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 πŸ™‚ 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.

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89 thoughts on “Screen Flickering On Surface Pro 4 FIXED, Permanently”

    1. Hi there,
      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!
      Steve

  1. 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?

    1. Hi Taimoor,
      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 πŸ™‚

      Hope that helps,
      Steve

      1. Hi Steve,

        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?

        Cheers,
        Christian

        1. Hi there,
          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,
          Steve.

          P.S, mines still flicker free, months later and I spent all day yesterday playing Minecraft on it πŸ™‚

  2. Hello!,
    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!

    1. Hi Carlos,
      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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

      Links to the cables, N-Trigs and actual SP5 screens I used are all in the article for you πŸ™‚

      Good luck, let me know how you get on!
      Steve

  3. Hi Steve Brown!
    Thank you very much to share the information.
    In my case I break my original screen to change the puffy battery πŸ™‚
    I already bought too different screens for my surface 4 and both have problems.
    Now I will do exacly what you are recomending.

    Thanks!

  4. Hi there,

    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?

    1. Hi there,
      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.

      1. Hi Steve,

        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.

        1. 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 πŸ™‚

          1. 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)

          2. 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,
            Steve

  5. 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…

    1. Hi there,
      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

  6. 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.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Vish,
      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,
      Steve

  7. Hi Steve

    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?
    Thanks
    Peter

    1. Hi Peter,
      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 πŸ™‚

    2. 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

      1. Hi Paul,
        Thanks for the feedback. They always seem to go when they’re only just over the warranty!

        Mines still going strong though πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

      2. Like me!
        3 years was on half december… programmed obsolescence?
        It was just starting use virtual meetings caused by COVID19 and… voilΓ ! The ‘flick’ virus attacks my Pro 4!
        Good luck we have Steve’s experiences

        Take care yourselves!

  8. 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

  9. 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.

    1. 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 πŸ˜‰

      1. 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?

        1. Hi Chiang,
          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.

          Steve

  10. 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

  11. Hey Steve!
    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!

    1. Hi Jeffrey,
      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!

      Thanks,
      Steve

      1. 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.

      2. I contacted the seller on Amazon and the parts should be available now, but I see 18$ shipping tacked on to the price.

  12. Hi Steve,
    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?

    Thanks

  13. Hello Steve!

    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.

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Taoufik,
      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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

      1. 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.

        1. Hi Ayu,
          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 πŸ™‚

  14. Hi Steve,
    Wonderful info.
    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 ?

    Tks

    1. Hi John,
      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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

  15. 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.

    1. 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 πŸ™‚

  16. 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 Β£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?

  17. Hi there,

    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.

  18. 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.

    1. Hi CalypsoArt
      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.

      1. 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.

  19. 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!

    1. Hi Art,
      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 πŸ™‚ That’s how I started on this πŸ™‚

  20. Hi Steve,

    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:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/f97k1cjab2l618k/Kabel-F-r-Microsoft-Oberfl-che-Pro4-1724-Touch-LCD-Flex-Kabel-Anschl-sse-Klein-Bord.jpg_640x640q90.jpg_.webp?dl=0

    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.

    1. Hi Endymion,
      Yes, I am still replying to comments cos it’s getting a LOT of interest πŸ™‚

      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,
      Steve

  21. Hi Steve!

    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.

    1. 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?

      1. Hi DanC,
        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,
        Steve

        1. Hi Steve,

          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!

          1. Hi DanC,
            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 πŸ™‚

            Good luck!

  22. Hi Steve,
    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.

    1. Hi David,
      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

  23. 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.

    Thanks,
    Joe

    1. Hi Joe,
      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?

  24. 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.

  25. Daniel Michael

    Hi Steve,

    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

    1. Hi Daniel,
      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?

      1. Daniel Michael

        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.

        Thank you.

        1. Daniel Giraldo

          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?

          Thanks

  26. Hi STEVE
    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?

    1. Hi there,
      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.

  27. 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.

    1. 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?

      1. Hi Alex,
        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 πŸ™‚

  28. Hey!

    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?

    1. Hi Akos,
      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?)

  29. 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.

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

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