Fixing the screen flickering on a Dell Inspiron N5720 (and maybe many others)

I have a Dell Inspiron N5720 and was quite happy with it. After installing Windows 8 some mysterious screen flickering appeared. I ignored it for a while, but I noticed that it only happens when not plugged in. So only a few possibilities are left:

  • The graphics card/display/something in between is broken
  • The battery is defect
  • Something is wrong with the drivers

Checking the first two possibilities would’ve been too time consuming without a real result. And it’s kind of unlikely that the battery and/or graphics card broke just as I installed Windows 8. And the fact that it only happens when on battery is also a good hint, as this indicated that it could be something with the power saving settings (spoiler: it was).

A Dell Inspiron N5720 has a nVidia GT 630M and an Intel HD Graphics 4000. Let’s see what the Intel Graphics Control panel looks like. To open it, follow these instructions.

Select Advanced mode.

Go to the Power menu and change the power source to “On battery”. Now uncheck the little check box that says “Display Refresh Rate Switch”. Apply. OK. And you’re done.
And that’s it. Never had another screen flicker after that. I assume that this could solve the screen flickering on most, if not all laptops with an Intel HD Graphics 4000. Hope it helps!
EDIT:
It seems like Windows 8.1 isn’t kind to us. Among other problems, the flickering, even if fixed before the update, returns once the update is complete. The option that prevents flickering still exists, it’s just kind of hidden now. I fixed it this way:
  • Right click on desktop.Go to “Graphics settings” or however they call it now (they forcefully localize this stuff now..) This should appear:

Power Settings

  • Click on Power, then on “On Battery”.

New Intel HD panel

  • Switch it to maximum performance, and turn off the “Display power saving technology”.

I hope this helps. I haven’t had flickers since the update after changing this.

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  8. I have just read your article about flickering screen with Windows 8.1 and HD 4000 in battery mode. This issue teased me since a while !
    Your post is awesome. Everything’s running well now.
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  9. Thanks for the info. No more flickering screen on Startup.
    Model Dell Inspiron 14R N4110.

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  12. After dealing with this for so long and not being able to figure out the reason, I am SO glad to have finally found this. I thought my graphics card was dying, and that I would have to buy a new laptop soon. Thank you so much!!!!

  13. Hi, great post. Stumbled upon it when looking up the same problem for a Dell Inspiron 13 7000 series. Same problem is fixed on that machine too.
    One consideration though : when you disable the power savings technology of intel, you risk to drain your battery much quicker (this is of importance for a Dell 13 7000 series as it is a hybrid and can be used as a tablet).
    But : good find. Thanks :-)

  14. Hello Denis.

    I had the same problem on my laptop with Win7, Win8 & now Win10.
    Tried reinstalling all sorts of drivers, before I happened to read this post.
    And as it seems out, you’ve solved the problem!
    Thank you for posting this!

  15. Hello Denis, I have a Dell 7737 inspiron Intel laptop. And all of a sudden the screen started flashing. This happens when using power source as well as battery. Not sure it is is windows 8.1 updgrade issue. On reboot/startup it shows flashing circles on left side of screen and once booted up, the whole screen flashes and the desktop icons flash and become small n big. Random programs started opening up and it seemed the cursor is on steroids. The flickering circles on left screen are still there too. I left google crome open with 1 browser window and 10 mins later like 20 were open and google crome crashed. I uninstalled google crome and issue is still there. I tried your graphics settings suggestions and issue is still there (sadly once I hoped your solution). Now all I have is a laptop that is flickering screen with desktop icons gone wild and I’m unable to work. Any help from you or anyone else would be really appreciated. Thanks so much Roger

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  17. Regarding the HD530 video flickering issue. I can create it and eliminate it at will now that I know exactly what is causing the issue. As for why it happens that is for Intel to figure out.

    It turns out to be the DDR4 memory speed. The issue will begin intermittently at 2600MHz and gets progressively worse as I increase the speed. At the maximum speed for my kit 3466MHz the screen just vibrates wildly.

    I solved it permanently by installing a nvidia GTX 750 graphics card and disabling the HD530 in the BIOS. Now I have triple the video speed and no more flicker issue. On a personal note I do feel cheated by Intel as was I expecting the video to work properly and did not want, or should have had to spend an extra $139 to solve Intel’s video issue.

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  19. Thanks. Works great. I make the changes, apply, save, and flicker is gone, but comes back once i plug laptop into power and then unplug it as if the profile resets and i need to do this everytime after i cycle the power. Any ideas?

  20. Thank you very much for sharing the solution here. Your Blog was a huge Savior for me. For the last one year I didn’t know the reason for the problem for my Dell 3420. I had vainly approached all repair shops and paid huge sums and they were not able to solve the problem. Today just by changing the settings as mentioned by you, but for Windows 7, I am stunned, surprised and free of all the trouble. Please keep up the good work. God Bless!

  21. We had one legacy application flicker after the update to Win10 Pro 1607. We used compatibility settings and checked the box for “disable display scaling on high DPI settings.” Why this app flickered the Win10 screen, we may never know, because 40 other Fujitsu laptops running Win10 Pro and the same app, same version, did not have the issue.

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  23. Hi!
    I have a very similar problem on a Lenovo Thinkpad T430 with Intel HD-Graphics 4000 on Windows 10 Pro operating system. If I connect it to a Sony TV (Sony Bravia KDL-32 EX 728), the TV keeps turning on and off the screen. I already changed the power options to maximum performance and deactivated both power saving technology and display refresh rate in battery mode. The problem still appears both on battery and pluged in. I can solve it when I change in the display-menu to 30 Hz, but then I see artifacts on moved images like movies. Do you have any idea how to solve this?
    Thanks a lot for helping out!

  24. You have solved my problem and saved me a thousand bucks! I thank you so much for your simple, brilliant solution!

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