Sunday, November 10, 2013

Laptop Problem: Cannot Adjust Screen Brightness

Since I updated my laptop, I’m loving almost everything about Windows 8.1: new features, major UI changes in many stock apps, security fixes, and so on. There’s one problem that rather pestered me, though. I can no longer adjust the screen brightness. My laptop can still detect that I want to change the brightness as I fiddle with the function keys, but it just can’t do so.

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t really Windows 8.1’s fault here. I happen to pinpoint the latest driver of my graphics card (ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870) as the culprit of the bug. The default one that 8.1 installs by default actually lets me adjust the screen brightness. Then again, if I don’t update the driver to a newer one, I’d be then worrying about performance and glitches when I play my games. Caught between two problems, I suppose smooth gameplay is preferable to a stuck screen level of brightness.

Possible Solutions to Adjust Screen Brightness

In my case, obviously I need to find a more compatible driver for my video card. As of this writing, though, AMD has yet to release a newer version that addresses the brightness issue.

For other users out there who happen to also suffer from being unable to adjust the screen brightness of their laptop, they can always revert to an older, yet more working version of their video card driver. This can be done by any of the following:

  • Windows’ System Restore
  • Uninstalling current driver with maker’s special removal software (e.g., AMD CleanUninstall Utility) before installing older driver
  • Uninstalling current driver and then check for drivers through Windows Update
  • Manual downloading of older driver
  • Installing the driver that came with the laptop’s companion optical disc

If, however, you insist on using the current driver (even though it really is the one that’s causing the problem), there are other ways to adjust the screen brightness of your laptop without using the dedicated function key combo or the Control Panel > Power Options slider. For instance, go to your video card’s utility software package. For AMD cards, it’s the Catalyst Control Center, under the My Built-in Displays > Display Color setting of which are configurations for color settings, including brightness, contrast, and more.

AMD Catalyst Control Center Adjust Screen Brightness

A rather embarrassing explanation as to why you can’t adjust the screen brightness of your laptop is its low on battery and is trying to conserve power. That’s probably why you can’t make the screen more brighter.

If, for some reason, you’re initially able to adjust screen brightness after a reboot but unable to do so after a while, the problem must be a recently installed or updated software. Trace back your recent installations, uninstall them, and see if that fixed the issue.


This problem might be happening to tablets running on Windows 8, too. If your device is affected, try doing the possible fixes above. I can’t guarantee their effectiveness. Your device may even become more unstable. You have been warned.

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