When doing a task that requires focus, you don’t want any distractions as it can break your focus and ruin the entire job. The same goes with computers; when playing a video game that requires a lot of stress, experiencing screen tearing can be very annoying.
With all that said, this issue isn’t that serious. Moreover, this article contains easy fixes that are surely going to get rid of this issue. There can be smaller factors, but the main reason for screen tearing is the GPU and your monitor being out of sync. It can lead to graphical glitches, which may be disruptive to gamers or video editors.
Before going into the fixes of screen tearing, we first need to know what screen tearing is?
What Is Screen Tearing?
Sometimes when you are playing a game or watching a video, your display shows multiple frames simultaneously instead of just one frame. This is called screen tearing. Monitors show a standard output by displaying a series of frames quickly.
When you are experiencing Screen tearing, your monitor shows multiple frames instead of just one frame at a time. This distorts the screen. Both of the frames displayed on the screen are not in sync, and the output gets distorted.
If the frames are not in sync, they may create a tear line at the point where they meet other frames. Since the frames play at different rates, the tear line will move. If the frames are in perfect sync, the tear line will stay at the same place, but only the frames will change.
Screen tearing is not harmful to your PC, but it can be pretty distracting to many people who need complete focus when using their computers. Gamers got mad at the time of gaming they see the white light of death or when they lose game because of screen tearing, and the videographer’s whole work mixed up. Moreover, black screen and screen tearing will ruin your experience if you watch a movie.
What Causes Screen Tearing?
Now that we know what screen tearing is, we will dive into its causes. So, there might be several small factors involved in screen tearing, but the primary reason is the lack of Synchronization between GPU and monitor.
To understand this, we have to first learn about refresh rates. Now, most gamers use a 60Hz monitor. It is not the best, but it does the job. Being a 144 Hz monitor means that the screen of the monitor is refreshed 144 times per second. It is different from the frame rate, which creates a new image instead of restoring it.
Cause of lack of sync:
Now that we know what the refresh rate is, we will look at what causes the unsynchronized display and GPU. Sometimes when you are playing a game, your FPS might exceed the refresh rate of your monitor, which means that your GPU is rendering new frames faster than the speed that your monitor refreshes that image.
It is why most games are locked at 60 fps since they are played on a 60Hz monitor. It is not that hard to fix this issue since this is a common occurrence, and most display software has an option to prevent this from occurring.
6 Effective Fixes For Screen Tearing:
Even though there are a lot of possible solutions. We will go about the most effective ones.
1. Enabling Tear-free:
This option is ideal for Linux users. However, most Linux systems have Tear-free enabled by default. Tear-free does something which is called multiple buffering. Here the GPU does not render the frames directly on display, but it renders them on a back buffer before updating them on the screen.
This allows the monitor to pick up the latest frame, preventing two frames from showing at once. Moreover, this method does not cause input lag, but you might see a delay in output since the fps are not rendered directly on the monitor.
If your game does not depend much upon fast input response then this option is ideal for you. You can enjoy your game without having to worry about screen tearing while having low latency.
2. Vertical Synchronization:
Vertical Synchronization or V-sync is the most common solution to this issue. Most games have an option to turn it on from their menu. V-sync tries to match the refresh rate with the FPS. In more simple words, to prevent Screen tearing, V-sync will lower the FPS of a system for it to match the refresh rate of that display.
This solution can effectively eliminate screen tearing, but it presents us with another problem: input lag. Moreover, V-sync will only work well if your FPS is already greater than your monitor’s refresh rate. Otherwise, you would get a stutter in your display. So to get rid of screen tearing using V-sync, you have to sacrifice your low input latency.
Some games might not feel the need to have low input latency if there isn’t anything reflexive that you have to do. However, other games might not require a good display but low input latency. So depending upon the situation, you can opt to use or not use V-sync.
An effective way to get rid of the input latency introduced by V-sync is to set your frame rate 0.01 less than your refresh rate. For example, if you use a monitor with a 60 Hz refresh rate, you should limit your FPS to 59.99 to remove input lag. Most FPS games already have this FPS limiting option.
3. Adaptive V-sync:
With the high input latency draw-back of V-sync, we have another solution that might help you fix that screen tearing without having to experience input lag.
Now, v-sync does drop down your FPS from their current amount to match your refresh rate. So this solution will only work if your FPS is above 60Hz or whatever the refresh rate of your monitor is.
When your FPS falls below your refresh rate, the V-sync feature drops them further down to match the screen’s refresh rate. For example, it will lower the FPS down such that it becomes precisely half of the refresh rate of that display.
While this might remove Screen tearing, it also introduces stutter, a bigger problem.
This is where NVIDIA’s adaptive V-sync comes in. This V-sync works just like the other one but with one big difference: when the frame rates drop below the refresh rate of your monitor, the V-sync option is disabled automatically. When the frame rates recover and go back up, the V-sync option gets enabled.
It fixes the problem of screen stutter but might cause some minor tearing of the screen. This tearing will only last as long as your FPS is below your monitor’s refresh rate.
4. Using enhanced or fast sync:
NVIDIA and AMD GPUs (the newer ones) have a fast sync and enhanced sync option instead of V-sync. It is similar to the Tear-free option that we discussed earlier. It renders the frames at a back buffer instead of the monitor.
The monitor can then display the latest frame while keeping the input latency low. This prevents screen tearing since a single frame is indicated on the monitor each time the screen refreshes.
Even though the input lag is low, it is still higher than the input latency to decrease it; you might have to increase your FPS.
5. G-Sync and Free Sync:
NVIDIA’s G sync and AMD’s Free Sync work almost opposite the V-sync. Instead of changing the FPS to match your display’s refresh rate, it will change your refresh rate to match the FPS. It is helpful only if your FPS is below your refresh rate.
If your FPS is above the refresh rate, the G-Sync won’t increase your refresh rate to match the FPS. So you should only use it if you have a high refresh rate monitor but low FPS from the GPU.
With that said, G-sync helps to get rid of the screen tearing and the low latency problem. For example, if you have a monitor with a 144 Hz display and your GPU gives you 60 FPS, NIVIDA’s G-sync or AMD’s Free-Sync will lower that refresh rate to match the 60 FPS of your GPU.
This solution requires you to have a high-end monitor since it won’t work unless your monitor’s refresh rate is higher than the FPS. This brings us to our next solution, which is also related to high-end monitors.
6. Buying a new monitor:
IF you face a screen tearing problem, one permanent fix would be to buy a high-end monitor that gives you more refresh rate than your FPS. Professional gamers use monitors that have refresh rates over 240 HZ. This allows them to play the games at higher FPS while keeping the display tear-free.
In the long run, this is the best solution since it works best with G-sync and free sync. More refresh rate also means much smoother video quality and less strain in the eyes. So if you got some extra cash on you, I would say buy a high-end monitor it would be a better choice in the longer run.
Whether using your device for gaming, watching movies, or editing videos, you shouldn’t just let screen tearing distract you from your tasks. The issue is relatively easy to treat, and it is non-harmful but can be very annoying (especially if you are at the brink of finishing your mission and your character dies because of your screen tearing!)
This article lists the most straightforward fixes to the screen tearing issue that we could think of. There might also be other solutions like reinstalling drivers or changing your battery settings, but their success rate is pretty low. These were all the easy screen tearing fixes. I hope it helped you learn something new!