What happens when the lights go out? Here's how to fix black screens issues with the HTC Vive.

Among the functionality offered by any virtual reality headset, one of its most crucial features is the display. Acting as the window between you and countless virtual worlds, the HTC Vive is practically rendered useless when unable to deliver a smooth image across its two lenses.

However, if something goes wrong behind the scenes, the HTC Vive's output can sometimes disappear entirely. If you've been experiencing a black screen out of the blue, we've wrapped up some the common causes plaguing VR-goers, and the associated solutions.

Reconnect the HTC Vive cables

Although it might sound relatively simple, make sure to check that the HTC Vive's cables are all plugged in correctly. With room-scale gameplay allowing players to freely move around, tugging at the cable tether can dislodge connectors from the link box over time. It's worth checking cables fed into both your PC and headset too, to ensure lose physical wires aren't an overlooked cause of your troubles.

It should also be ensured that your HTC Vive matches the setup outlined in the manual, to guarantee the cabling arrangement has been assembled in the correct order. Due to the symmetrical design of the link box, it's easy to plug cables into the wrong side of the link box entirely.

Disable 'Direct Mode'

"Direct Mode" is a setting automatically enabled out of the box for the HTC Vive, however if experiencing display issues, disabling the functionality may be a viable workaround. While by default the video feed is directly outputted to the headset, when not using Direct Mode, your PC will treat the HTC Vive as an additional external monitor. Subsequently, gameplay will be virtually mapped to this new display, while still delivering a similar visual experience.

Here's how to disable Direct Mode, through the Settings menu of the SteamVR desktop application.

  1. Open SteamVR on your desktop.
  2. Expand the SteamVR drop-down menu.
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Navigate down to the Developer tab.
  5. Choose Disable Direct Mode.

Confirm the on-screen instructions that follow and wait for SteamVR to restart with all the changes.

Remove drivers

If you're experiencing any headset-related issue, it's also worth attempting to reset the HTC Vive's USB drivers – a move which reverts various functionality of the headset back to the out-of-box state. This is a great way to overcome software-related issues with your headset, without major tweaking with Steam VR.

  1. Unplug all cables connected to the HTC Vive link box.
  2. Navigate to SteamVR > Settings > Developer.
  3. Scroll all the way down to Remove all SteamVR USB Devices.
  4. Restart SteamVR to apply the changes.

Upon reconnecting your headset, downloads should now automatically begin for the USB devices. This should automatically install drivers for the core HTC Vive devices, similarly to the initial out-of-box experience.

Contact HTC support

Even after following all imaginable troubleshooting processes, the issue with your HTC Vive display may simply be caused by a fault with the hardware itself.

If you suspect the issue may be more complex than initially thought, attempt reaching out the HTC support and ask for their expertise on the matter. If the representative suspects your issue may be hardware-related, a replacement HMD may not be out of the question.

Have you experienced black screen issues with your HTC Vive?

Have you experienced issues with outputting video to your HTC Vive display? How did you fix the issue? Make sure to share your experiences with us the comments!