Fix: Surface Pro 4 screen dimming problem

By: Ivan Jenic
7 minute read

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We continue our series of articles about problems in the Surface Pro 4. After solving (or at least trying to solve) waking up problems in our previous article, we move on to another common Surface Pro 4 issue. This time, we’re going to talk about the annoying screen dimming problem on Surface Pro 4, and how to (try to) solve it.

A few things can cause the screen dimming problem with Surface Pro 4, so we’ll cover all of them. If you’re also facing this annoying problem, check our solutions below. Also, here are a few more problems you can solve with the same solutions:

  1. Surface Pro 4 screen brightness keeps changing – It’s possible for the Surface Pro 4’s screen to keep changing brightness without your permission. In fact, it’s actually common issue.
  2. DPST Surface Pro 4 – Intel’s DPST (Display Power Saving Technology) is actually a known culprit for the screen dimming problem on Surface Pro 4 devices.
  3. Surface Pro 4 brightness not changing

How to fix the screen dimming issue on the Surface Pro 4

Table of contents:

  1. Turn off adaptive brightness
  2. Disable Intel graphics features
  3. Check for updates, and make sure your drivers are up to date
  4. Roll back to an older driver
  5. Set the DPI size
  6. Update Windows
  7. Remove the latest Windows update
  8. Change the refresh rate

Fix: Surface Pro 4 screen dimming

Solution 1 – Turn off adaptive brightness

Adaptive brightness is a tricky thing. This feature can be extremely useful, in terms of saving power, but sometimes, it can also be troublesome. In case you don’t know how this feature works, adaptive brightness scans your surroundings and automatically sets your screen brightness based on a level of lightness around you.

As we said, adaptive brightness can go wild sometimes, causing various issues on a device, including the screen dimming problem. So, if you’re facing the screen problem, you should try disabling the adaptive brightness feature, and see if the issue is resolved. Here’s what you need to do to disable adaptive brightness on your Surface Pro 4:

  1. Go to Search, type power options, and open Power Options
  2. Next to your selected power plan, tap or click on Change plan settings
  3. Now, go to Change advanced power settings
  4. Expand Display > expand Enable adaptive brightness
  5. Now set both ‘On battery‘ and ‘Plugged in‘ to offsurface pro 4 screen dimming
  6. Click OK.

Once you disable the adaptive brightness feature, the problem with screen dimming on your Surface Pro 4 device will hopefully be solved. However, if the issue is still present after disabling adaptive brightness, try the solution from below.

Solution 2 – Disable Intel graphics features

Another feature that’s similar to adaptive brightness can cause your Surface Pro 4’s screen to dim. That feature is Intel’s Display Power Saving Technology or DPST, that adjusts your screen brightness based on how dark or light the content on the screen is. So, adaptive brightness scans your surroundings to adjust brightness, and DPST scans what’s actually on the screen.

Of course, the solution is to turn DPST off, as well, but that won’t be as easy as disabling adaptive brightness. Some older PCs have the option to disable DPST via Intel’s driver configuration software, but unfortunately, that software is not available on the Surface line of tablets, so it’s impossible to ‘legitimately’ disable this feature on your Surface Pro 4.

However, there’s an alternative way of doing that, by using one registry tweak. So, if you want to disable Intel Display Power Saving Technology on your Surface Pro 4, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go to Search, type regedit, and open Registry Editor
  2. Go to the following path:
    • [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMControlSet001ControlClass{4d36e968-e325-11ce-bfc1-08002be10318}000]surface pro 4 screen dimming1
  3. Now, open the DWORD called FeatureTestControland change its value from 9a40 to 9a50
  4. Restart your computer.

Once you perform this action, Intel’s DPST will be disabled, and potential screen dimming issues will be solved. However, if the FeatureTestControl value is different than 9a40 on your Surface Pro 4, check out this article for a further solution.

Solution 3 – Check for updates, and make sure your drivers are up to date

Microsoft releases new updates for devices from its Surface line quite often. So, there’s a chance that Microsoft or Intel pushed a new update for the Surface Pro 4 before you found this article. Just in case, head over to Settings > Updates & security, and check for updates.

The same thing applies to your Surface Pro 4’s graphics card. Go to the Device manager, and check if a new version of a graphics driver for your device is available.

Update drivers automatically

It is very important to choose the right driver versions from the manufacturer website. In case you choose and install the wrong one, this will not only be an issue for the GPU but may harm all your system.

Tweakbit’s Driver Updater (approved by Microsoft and Norton Antivirus) will help you update drivers automatically and prevent PC damage caused by installing the wrong driver versions. After several tests, our team concluded that this is the best-automatized solution.
Here is a quick guide on how to use it:

    1. Download and install TweakBit Driver Updaterdriver updater starting window

    2. For various PC problems, we recommend this tool.

      This software will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Fix PC issues now in 3 easy steps:

      1. Download this PC Repair Tool rated "Excellent" on TrustPilot.com.
      2. Click “Start Scan” to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
      3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues with Patended Technologies (requires upgrade).

    3. Once installed, the program will start scanning your PC for outdated drivers automatically. Driver Updater will check your installed driver versions against its cloud database of the latest versions and recommend proper updates. All you need to do is wait for the scan to complete.
      scanning proccess of Tweakbit driver updater
    4. Upon scan completion, you get a report on all problem drivers found on your PC. Review the list and see if you want to update each driver individually or all at once. To update one driver at a time, click the ‘Update driver’ link next to the driver name. Or simply click the ‘Update all’ button at the bottom to automatically install all recommended updates.
      Automatically Update complete
      Note: Some drivers need to be installed in multiple steps so you will have to hit the ‘Update’ button several times until all of its components are installed.

Solution 4 – Roll back to an older driver

Contrary to the previous solution, the newest driver may actually do more harm than good. If it doesn’t compliment the other drivers, there could be problems. In that case, the best decision is to just roll back to an older, working version of the driver.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Go to Search, type devicemngr, and go to Device Manager. 
  2. Under Display adapters, right-click your graphics card, and go to Properties.
  3. Head over to the Driver tab.
  4. Click Roll back driver, and follow further on-screen instructions.
  5. Restart your computer.

NOTE: if the Roll back driver option is grayed out, that means there’s no previous driver available. In that case head over to Microsoft’s site, and look for some older drivers for your Surface Pro 4.

Solution 5 – Set the DPI size

Adjusting DPI (dots per inch) can also play a role in resolving screen problems on Windows laptops or PCs. This option should be set to the best settings. However, there could be some interferences.

Here’s how to change the DPI settings on your Surface Pro 4:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Head over to System > Display.
  3. Now, go to Custom scaling, and you’ll see a screen like this:surface pro 4 screen dim

Now, choose one of these three options and save the changes:

  • Smaller – 100% = 96 DPI (Pixels/Dots Per Inch)
  • Medium – 125% = 120 DPI (Pixels/Dots Per Inch)
  • Larger – 150% = 144 DPI (Pixels/Dots Per Inch)

Solution 6 – Update Windows

As it’s the case with all Windows-related products, Microsoft delivers updates for the Surface Pro 4 through Windows Update. So, make sure to always keep your device up to date, because there could be some important updates you can’t afford to miss. And by important updates, we think patches and hotfixes for problems like this one.

To check for new updates, simply go to SettingsUpdates & Security, and check for updates.

Solution 7 – Remove the latest Windows update

Contrary to the previous solution, it’s also possible that the very update you just installed caused the screen dimming problem on your Surface Pro 4. Because, well, Microsoft’s updates aren’t always that perfect.

To uninstall the previously installed Windows 10 update, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Head over to Updates & Security > Windows Update.
  3. Go to Update history > Uninstall updates.surface pro 4 dpst
  4. Now, find the latest update installed on your computer (you can sort updates by date), right-click it, and go to Uninstall.
  5. Restart your computer.

Solution 8 – Change the refresh rate

And finally, the last thing we’re going to try is changing the display refresh rate. Although this shouldn’t directly affect the screen, you can try it if none of the previous solutions worked. You have nothing to lose. Here’s how to change the refresh rate of your Surface Pro 4’s display:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Now, head over to System > Display > Display Adapter Properties.
  3. Go to the Monitor tab.
  4. Make sure the Screen refresh rate is set to 60 Hz.

We also recommend this third-party tool (100% safe and tested by us) to automatically download all the outdated drivers on your PC.

Screen dimming and other display issues can be very annoying, especially on portable devices like the Surface Pro 4. We hope this article helped you to solve the screen dimming problem on your Surface Pro 4, and if you have some other screen-related problem on your device, check out this article for a potential solution.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2016 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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For various PC problems, we recommend this tool.

This software will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Fix PC issues now in 3 easy steps:

  1. Download this PC Repair Tool rated "Excellent" on TrustPilot.com.
  2. Click “Start Scan” to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
  3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues with Patended Technologies (requires upgrade).

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