Question Screen goes black when certain video signals received

Dec 4, 2022
I play PC games on my big LED TV. Certain games have a tendency to make the display cut out at seemingly random times, even though the audio is still playing in the background. The screen stays black until I switch video inputs and then switch back. Turning the TV off and then back on also fixes it but takes much longer.

This has been going on in games for a few years, but recently I've discovered a couple YouTube videos that reliably trigger the same behavior, which has allowed me to reproduce the issue and try troubleshooting it. I still have no idea how to fix it.

This was not always a problem. I first noticed it years ago when playing the PC game Kingdom, but only after having played the game for over 100 hours. I was very perplexed when it first happened. And it was really sporadic: some game sessions were completely unaffected, while other times it would happen frequently. Over time I noticed that it was much more likely to happen during certain phases of gameplay, which made me suspect there was some specific kind of visual effect in the game that was somehow triggering the blackout.

I've had the same problem during a few other games, including all later Kingdom sequels, Dead Cells, and Risk of Rain. But, importantly, most games have been completely unaffected: I've played around 1000 hours of Far Cry: Primal, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, Borderlands 3, both Shadow of Mordor games, Hades, Transistor, Pine, Control, Crash Dive 2, and Deathloop, and none of them has exhibited this problem even once. So, it seems clear none of my hardware is simply failing. I would say it's something in those specific pieces of software (like if they all used a common third-party library), except that a display device will obviously have zero knowledge of that: it receives video signals, and nothing else.

Likewise, this problem never happens when doing regular computer stuff, or when watching movies on my blu-ray player or via my Roku device (the TV has a built-in Roku, but I have a standalone model I like more). I've watched a lot of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Criterion Channel, and even Rifftrax, and never once has the display cut out like it has in those specific video games.

My setup:
Notably, my computer hardware was completely different when this started; I was running Win7 with a different motherboard, and I was using twin GTX 970s for video. I've also swapped a couple of the HDMI cables in that time (for unrelated reasons). The problem has continued across all of that. I've had the same TV this entire time.

This has been impossible to troubleshoot since it has only been happening in games, whenever those games happen to do whatever bad thing they're doing, but recently I watched a couple YouTube videos on the PC that trigger the same problem. One of them is this critical review of Pathologic. The display always cuts out at the 1m47s mark -- but only if the video is playing full-screen. If the video is regular size or in "theater mode," the video continues uninterrupted. The problem still happens if I connect the PC directly to the TV (bypassing the A/V receiver, and using a brand-new HDMI cable).

Interestingly, in Google Chrome, the video comes back on its own at 1m50s. (I normally use Mozilla Firefox, in which the video cuts out and stays cut until I flip signals.)

My problem sounds exactly like this person's problem, "at certain points the screen will go black, but audio will continue to play (the TV is not actually turning off, and I'm not getting a no signal message)." And, just like that person, my video signal can be restored by switching inputs and then switching back. However, I've tried all the suggestions in the answer that user marked as the Best Solution, with no improvement.

How can I fix this, or at least diagnose it more thoroughly?


ETA: I've been playing Prodeus lately, and this same problem occurs every time the game loads a new level or the world map.
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