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What Is Screen Tearing And How Do You Fix It?

by Lisa Hayden
Screen Tearing

What Is Screen Tearing And How Do You Fix It?

Screen tearing is a common problem in digital monitors. It can be frustrating and distracting for users, but it’s also hard to fix. Since we are using only one image buffer in our window instead of multiple buffers like in a full-screen game, each frame has to be rendered individually. If the rendering is faster than the monitor can display it, then part of the new frame will display for a fraction of a second, and then another part will appear over it before finishing. The result is a “tear” in the image.

There are a few ways to prevent screen tearing. One way would be to never render more than one frame at a time, but then part of your game might not appear on the screen for many frames, resulting in slow gameplay. Another (less ideal) option would be to reduce the resolution of your game.

This would make rendering faster, but it would also reduce space on the screen and likely result in a blurry mess since most monitors do not support this scaling.

Is v-sync the solution?Is v-sync the solution? Should I turn it on or off?

One approach to eliminating screen tearing is to force the entire frame onto the display at once (called “v-sync”). While this eliminates tearing, it does so at the expense of reducing frame rate, which might make your game unplayable, and it also increases lag since you have to wait for the entire frame to render before a new one can be drawn.

The best way to reduce screen tearing is to find a reasonable middle ground between always rendering full frames and never rendering full frames.

Although V-sync can solve screen tearing, it can cause or promote input lag because vertical synchronisation prioritises monitor refresh rate over GPU frame rate. Input lag occurs simply because you force the GPU to be in sync. If your monitor has a refresh rate of 120Hz and you enable V-sync in the GPU settings, it will obviously impact its overall performance due to the neglected FPS.

Nvidia Control Panel & Adaptive V-Sync

When frame rates fall below the VSync frame rate cap, stuttering occurs. As soon frame rates fall below the cap, VSync reduces them to the nearest level, such as 45 or 30 frames per second. More often than not, you can notice screen tearing when VSync is turned off in-game, and when the camera or viewpoint moves horizontally or vertically, this causes screen-wide horizontal tears.

Using a managed control panel from graphics card manufacturers gives you much more granular control; e.g., Users of GeForce GTX video cards have the option of enabling Adaptive VSync either globally or per individual game. This option can be found in the NVIDIA Control Panel’s ‘Manage 3D Settings’ tab. Adaptive VSync switches VSync on and off dynamically to maintain a more stable framerate, so it is a much more managed solution if you are using a GTX graphics card.

AMD Enhanced Sync and NVIDIA Fast Sync

If you have a newer graphics card, you can replace VSync with AMD Enhanced Sync. These two technologies display the most recently completed full-frame, preventing tearing while introducing no input lag. The lower the input lag, the higher the frame rate.

When using Fast Sync or Enhanced Sync to keep your frame rate at the highest possible refresh rate and less likely tearing occurs in your graphics card’s frames, your FPS should be at least double the maximum refresh rate of your monitor. The input lag is significantly lower than with just regular VSync enabled, but not as low as it would be with VSync disabled

How To fix Screen TearingHow To fix Screen Tearing

  • Deactivate the game mode and full-screen optimizations on your Windows machine
  • Check Graphics Drivers: If you cannot update graphics, try using the latest drivers to fix the problem. Do update your graphics to the latest build or downgrade them if it’s not in the same way. There are numerous cases where not using the latest drivers causes the issue because the game you are playing is also optimized for running with the latest one.
  • Disabling Smooth Scrolling: Smooth scrolling is a feature that enables you to scroll more ‘smoothly’ However, this feature has often caused tearings on users’ screens. This can be fixed with a simple tweak to make it scroll smoother. The majority of Windows 10 users have the feature enabled on their computers. This glitch seems to be a glitch that could only be removed with a restart on your computer. You can check out the bug if you’re still using it before you start it again in the process of re-using the smooth scrolling feature. For most users, disabling the feature is a simple fix for this glitch.
  • Turning off the frame limit: The frame limit feature is known to cause screen tearing in some cases. It can limit the number of frames a game can output to a computer monitor. It’s a handy feature to use if you use low specifications hardware. Turn the Frame Limit off on whatever game you’re playing or the application you are using. The steps may differ from game to game, and don’t forget to restart your computer before changing the settings. This is a convenient feature for you to use in any of your low specs
  • enable / disable NVIDIA VSync
  • Turn off game mode & full screen optimization: Microsoft added a feature-rich Game Mode in the most recent Windows update. The mode includes system optimization, gameplay recording, one-touch screenshots, and other features. Many users reported that the mode was causing problems for them. In some instances, active Game Mode does cause the screen tearing issue.
  • Try replacing the resolution and the refresh rate: There is evidence that the resolution of videos and games can decrease game performance. The refresh rate can also be reduced to improve the performance of the graphics. Lowering the resolution allows the graphics card to run more smoothly on the screen. You can complete the process by restarting the computer whenever you change the resolution or refresh rate settings. The change is not the same as in other PC systems, and the settings in different graphics card settings are different. To ensure that the changes are working properly, return them if they don’t work properly.
  • How about changing the FPS? Changing FPS (frames per second) results in smoother, more natural gameplay. If your game or video settings are not properly configured, make them in line with your monitor’s graphics card specifications. Try to locate the change in frame rate or FPS (frame per second) setting and first lower it by the tiniest amount to see the difference. If a monitor has screen tearing, make sure the settings are matched.

Quick Tips & Myth bustersQuick Tips & Myth busters

  • Frame rates of more than 60 fps do not cause screen tearing. Screen tearing occurs when the buffer switch and refresh cycle are out of sync. The two cases are completely different. This issue can occur at any frame rate because the buffer switches are out of sync with the refresh cycle.
  • Screen tearing does not directly result when you record game clips. It is just a result of the buffer being out of sync. It does not have a vendetta on a particular video game or people who play games. Poor coding by hasty developers resulting in poor display output and limited full screen optimization options within games are usually the culprits
  • Most browsers have an inbuilt Smooth Scrolling Feature. If you are facing a screen tearing issue in Chrome or any browser that you are using, you can turn off the Smooth Scrolling feature in the browser
  • Find graphics cards that deliver maximum performance and then find a monitor that supports various in-game menu options and fps modes rather than the other way around
  • Pay particular attention to display’s refresh rate when you purchase them and do not ignore display adapters’ settings that it will support
  • Most people experiencing screen tearing issues resolve it with carefully chosen GPU, associated graphics card driver, and display units that are compatible. It really is that simple!

Final Thoughts

As you might have realised, Screen tearing is just a distortion that occurs when your Graphics card and your display unit are out of sync. Every avid gamer out there would have experienced it at some point in time. Thankfully, the fixes to most tears are pretty straightforward!

Get a monitor display hardware that supports GSync along with the latest NVidia graphics card (GPU) and it almost feels like a piece of cake.. well almost…

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