Why Do Flickering Red Pixels Appear On My Monitor? (Red Snow Fixes)
A cloud of flickering red pixels on your monitor (also referred to as ‘red snow’) is most commonly generated when a loose or damaged cable is present in your setup. Alternatively the issue may be the result of your graphics card becoming unseated from its PCIe slots or in some way degraded. Less commonly the issue could also potentially lie with your graphics card drivers.
The good news is that in the majority of cases flickering pixels are not the result of a fault within the monitor itself, and a one minute fix might be all you need to solve your problem.
Some of the troubleshooting you can try to eliminate flickering red pixels from your display include:
- Reseating cables back in their ports
- Clean out cable connections
- Remove low quality adaptors from your setup
- Replace a damaged cable
- Reseat your GPU into PCI slots
- Replace a GPU that is coming to the end of its life
- Update or rollback your graphics card drivers
We’ll walk you through each of these tips below to determine where the problems might lie – and how you can get your monitor back working normally again.
If by the end of this article you come to the conclusion that in fact a new monitor is the only way forward then you might want to consider whether a TV instead of a monitor may be a cheaper yet equally capable option for your set-up.
Troubleshooting flickering red pixels on a monitor
Present randomly, like twinkling stars in a night sky, and far more visible against dark tones on screen, flickering red pixels can present themselves on new and old LCD monitors alike.
They can appear gradually – or all of a sudden, with the distraction they create often rendering a display unusable.
From experiencing the problem first hand, and doing some research, both cables and graphics cards can be to blame.
Troubleshoot cable connections to remove flickering red pixels
- Reseat cables back in their ports. Red flickering pixels are commonly reported in setups that use DVI or HDMI cables to connect their PC to a monitor. In this setup the screws holding the cable head in place tend to become loose over time and require re-tightening. Repeated hot swapping of cables between devices can generate wear and tear over time, resulting in pins not sitting flush and forming as strong a contact as they originally did.
- Clean cable connections. Dust or debris that enter into sockets of DVI, HDMI, USB-C cables can cause a cable to become unseated or create a poor connection. Use an aerosol of canned air to expunge any unwanted blockages if you can’t generate enough force with your own breath.
- Avoid using adapters. Low quality adapters introduce a further connection point where signals can become distorted. Try to avoid using adapters where possible and only incorporate cables between your monitor and PC that enable direct connections.
- Replace a damaged cable. First try connecting a different PC or laptop to the same cable/monitor combination. It’s unlikely two computers will have exactly the same problem with their graphics card and so if the flickering red pixels persist you can almost safely say the cable is at fault. HDMI cables especially can and do degrade over time from heavy use, coiling, bending and rough insertion or removal from ports.
If none of the above tips have been able to remedy the appearance of red snow then it’s time to invest in a new cable.
It’s been reported many times over in the forums of Reddit that seemingly mint condition cables which work perfectly with one brand of monitor can begin to falter and generate flickering red pixels when hooked up to devices from a different manufacturer. Swap your cables around between setups if you have spares to check this isn’t the root cause of your problem.
Troubleshoot your graphics card to eliminate flickering pixels
Flickering pixels may also be a sign that things aren’t entirely right with your graphics cards.
- Reseat the GPU in PCIe slots. If the graphics card was not correctly installed in the first place, or you have recently moved your PC, the GPU might have become unseated from its slots on the motherboard. To the naked eye the card might look snuggly installed but it’s worth removing it, checking and reseating it securely.
- Your GPU is coming to the end of its life. All sorts of problems can be encountered as a system begins to age and so the heating and cooling of a GPU especially in a setup that has less than effective cooling solutions – again not a problem with the monitor itself. The points at which the GPU are connected to the motherboard expand and contract at different rates than the GPU itself, and so cracking is unfortunately not that uncommon. Unfortunately in this instance the only fix is to replace your motherboard.
- Update or rollback your graphics card display drivers. Occasionally bugs or conflicts with other programs appear when new software is introduced. That’s just part and parcel of owning and maintaining a PC. First check whether you have the latest drivers installed for your GPU, and if you do then check whether the red pixels appearance coincided with the time your last driver update took place. You may have to roll back to a previous version whilst the bugs get patched up.
YouTuber Tim Vernack demonstrates that after a driver update, his NVIDIA graphics card generated flickering pixels on darker tones. The fix was to adjust desktop color settings by altering preset color channel values by a few percentage points. This short tutorial shows how this is done
Troubleshooting red flickering pixels on a laptop display
If you are able to hook up an external monitor, and find that graphics are being displayed without issue, no red snow in sight, then you know that the problem lies with the laptop display and not the graphics unit.
If however the flickering pixels persist across both screens, then the problem is more inclined to be related to a fault on the motherboard itself.
Some laptop users have reported that after accidentally dropping their machine an internal connector between the display and the motherboard has become unseated, causing a cloud of flickering red pixels to appear.
Fortunately the fix in this scenario is to simply clip the connector back into its housing. No new parts required!
If once opening up your laptop body you find no loose connectors it may be that damage has been sustained at the logic board, causing a bad connection. In this case some external help from a repair shop may be required to dig deeper into the issue.
Despite being a cause for mild alarm, in most cases the presence of red flickering pixels on screen can be remedied by some fairly simple fixes including removing, cleaning and re-attaching cables, updating your graphics card drivers or reseating the graphics card within its PCIe slot.
If you’re unlucky the red snow might also be an indication that your graphics has sustained some damage though wear and tear and is on its last legs.