I could not find the solution to this easily, so I’m leaving a breadcrumb trail here… I did not keep the links so I cannot give proper attribution but will try to pay it forward.
Short version: Try HDMI/VGA output if your Win8 primary monitor is blank. Then update the BIOS.
I decided to update my wife’s Dell Inspiron N5110 laptop to an SSD and Windows 8. Sadly, the machine’s factory config had a very slow HDD and that was impacting the system’s total performance. Replacing the HDD with an SSD required major surgery to the laptop – it is not for the faint of heart.
After installing the SSD and installing Windows 8 (painless!) the system booted though the splash screen and turned off the display. Yes, it simply went completely blank.
I stumbled upon a tip that suggested that the system was working but using the HDMI output. That proved correct. I was able to complete the configuration using HDMI and/or VGA monitors.
Even after completing and updating the monitor (still blank) was clearly working because the BIOS screens and splash screen worked on the monitor. Deleting the Video Card from Devices did NOT work.
Ultimately, I found a site that recommended updating the BIOS (was A09, now A11 from 11/2012). The BIOS update corrected the problem.
I should have known to update the BIOS and firmware before starting the upgrade. I hope you learn from my experience.
Oh…. the SSD+Win8 made an AMAZING performance difference. It’s like a brand new 10x faster laptop and an excellent investment. I’ve become a bit of a Linux appologist; however, I was pleasantly surprised to find Windows 8 to be very usable once I learned the latest hot-key assignments (Search on Win key -> Win+F).
I’ve been thinking about getting an SSD for a while now!!