Generally, Screen tearing makes your gaming experience or your productive task worse. It is a technical issue whereby multiple images are shown on your Monitor from different frames within one image. As a result, it makes the images in certain frames distorted. Let us look into what it is and how to fix that issue. It creates a torn look because the object edges in the video motion fail to align. It generally occurs with Graphic Cards and Display Technologies.
What is Screen Tearing?
The screen tearing occurs when the Monitor’s refresh rate and the GPU’s frame rate are failed to synchronize. It happens when the frame rate exceeds your monitor refresh rate, or your frame rate drops below the refresh rate. When your Monitor encounters this issue, parts of two or more frames are drawn to the display at a time and create a tear between the frames in the form of horizontal lines across the monitor display. This failure occurs with a non-matching refresh rate and the absence of synchronization between two similar frame rates. It is one of the worst annoying visual artifacts you can face while playing games. And it may degrade your gaming experience. It is noticeable when your game is in motion or watching movies.
Since most laptops use vertical synchronization, Tearing is noticeable on desktop monitors but not on laptops. This visual artifact occurs when the video signal is not synchronized with the display unit’s refresh rate. The main culprit for it is overclocking or a low frame rate.
How to Prevent Screen Tearing:
This artifact occurs when the video feed from the source is not synchronized with the refresh rate of the display unit.
It may happen if the refresh rate of the source and the display is not matching. Further, it moves on with speed proportional to the frame rate difference or the phase difference.
Even though the source and the display units have equal frame rates, it may occur due to the lack of synchronization between the source and the display.
It can occur with most of the video cards of common display units.
How to Resolve Screen Tearing Using Tools:
Screen tearing can be fixed using the following methods-
- Vertical Synchronization or Vsync
- Nvidia Adaptive VSync
- AMD Enhanced Sync
- NVIDIA Fast Sync
- AMD FreeSync
- NVIDIA G-SYNC
The Tearing depends entirely on the technology of the display device, video card, application software, and the nature of the video. The simplest solution to resolve the issue is the use of multiple buffering. Therefore, most systems use multi buffering and some methods to synchronize the display and the video memory refresh cycles.
Most of the systems use vertical synchronization to resolve it. In which the video card is prevented from processing until the display unit finishes its current refresh cycle.
Synchronization is nothing but pulses added to the video data at the end of every scan line or raster scanning pattern. It ensures the sweep oscillator in the receiver is kept locked in coordination with the transmitted signals to ensure the image is reconstructed on the display.
The vertical synchronization separates subsequent video fields. In it, vertical sync pulses are sent within the vertical blanking interval. The vertical synchronization pulses are made by prolonging the length of Hsync pulses to the entire length of the scan line.
Its signal is a series of longer pulses to indicate the new video field. No picture information is transmitted during the vertical retrace. It is designed to allow horizontal synchronization during the vertical retrace.
During the VBLANK, the driver instructs the video card to copy the off-screen graphics area into the active display area. And it treats both memory areas as displayable, and it can switch between them as page flipping. Vertical synchronization pulse frequency is 60HZ in NTSC and 50HZ in PAL systems.
NVIDIA and AMD video adapters have the “Adaptive Vsync,” which will turn on the vertical synchronization if the frame rate exceeds the display’s refresh rate. Otherwise, it will be turned off. It removes the stutter that may occur when the rendering engine frame rate drop below the display unit’s refresh rate. The FreeSync and G-Sync reverse the concept and adapts the display refresh rate to the incoming content. These technologies need support from the video adapter and the display.
The Limitations of Vertical Synchronization:
While you use vertical synchronization, the rendering engine’s frame rate is limited to the video signal frame rate. So, though it improves the display quality, it has some drawbacks.
As we already discussed, vertical synchronization also causes video artifacts. Generally, video recording frame rates are much lower than the display units or monitor frame rates. When played on a display unit with a typical 60 Hz refresh rate, The player misses the display unit’s deadline. Therefore interceding frames are displayed faster than the actual intended speed, resulting in a 2:3 pulldown called Judder.
Most online games use a wide variety of rendering engines for better visualization using vertical synchronization. Generally, the rendering engines build each frame in real-time, but because of vertical synchronization causes input lag. The input lag interferes with the game’s interactive nature, requiring fast reaction time. In addition, input lag affects your mouse clicks and key presses.
Benchmarking is associated with the performance and characteristics of the rendering engine or video card to render the display video as much as possible without regard to the Monitor’s capabilities. Otherwise, it may cause invalid results.
Other Techniques Employed in Fixing Screen Tearing:
Some graphic processing unit software performs memory accesses to match the display hardware refresh cycle. It is known as horizontal blank interrupt or raster interrupt, or the video frame buffer called racing the beam. It allows the rendering engines to copy the routines to catch up with the monitor’s active refresh point when it falls behind. In addition, these interrupts provide a mechanism for graphic processing units to change the midframe so that it will have different values above and below the point of interruption.
It was the only resource to eliminate tearing in the early days. V-Sync synchronizes the vertical refresh rate of your display unit with the GPU frame rates.
It makes your graphic card wait until the full-frame is displayed. It will lead the system to wait and more input lag.
The Vsync will cap the frame rate to 60FPS to match with the Monitor’s 60Hz refresh rate. As a result, it will eliminate tearing but lead to higher input lag.
Therefore the net result is that Vsync eliminates tearing but offers more input lag. When you are not playing games or video streaming, it is better to keep Vsync to “Off” to minimize input lag and better results. While playing a graphics-oriented game, you can enable Vsync to eliminate tearing.
Nvidia Adaptive VSync:
Adaptive Sync was first developed and standardized by VESA on the dynamic adjustment of the display’s vertical refresh rates to that of GPU’s frame rate output. It syncs the GPU frame rate and changes the display’s refresh rate accordingly to prevent Tearing and stuttering. It also provides seamless and smooth video playback of varying frame rate content.
V-Sync caps your GPU frame rate to match with your monitor’s refresh rate. But the Adaptive-Sync dynamically changes the display’s refresh rate in response to the game’s required frame rates to render. So it helps not only to wipe out the screen tearing it also helps to redress juddering.
Nvidia Adaptive VSync helps you to avoid frame-rated stuttering and tearing while you play games. The stuttering may occur when the frame rates go down below the VSync frame rate cap. The frame rate is 60 frames per second to match the 60HZ refresh rate of the display unit. When the frame rate dips below the cap, it locks the frame rate to the nearest possible level, such as 30 or 45 frames per second. Adaptive VSync continuously turns VSync on and off to maintain a more stable frame rate.
Nvidia Adaptive VSync Working:
When the frame rate exceeds the refresh rate of your monitor, you can observe screen-wide horizontal tears. In addition, it may distract your gaming or viewing experience. The Nvidia Adaptive VSync evidently fixes both the problem by locking the frame rate until the performance improves to minimize the Tearing and unlocking the frame rate when it is below the VSync cap to eliminate stuttering. The Nvidia video card user can enable Adaptive VSync globally or on a game basis using the NVidia control panel using appropriate drivers.
Most of the Gameplay demands varying levels of frame rates for different scenes. Consistently rendering the same frame rate across the entire game is ineffective. Therefore it needs to sense and sync the refresh rate accordingly. The adaptive Sync technology adjusts the display refresh rate to match the GPU outputting frames.
Each and every single frame is displayed as soon as possible to prevent input log, and it is not repeating it to eliminate game stuttering and tearing. Other than the game, it can also be used in video playback at various frame rates, from 23.98 to 60 frames per second. It modifies the monitor’s refresh rate to match the frame rate of the content to eliminate the video stutters.
AMD Enhanced Sync:
AMD Enhanced Sync delivers a tear-free gaming experience when the frame rate exceeds the Monitor’s refresh rate at very low latency to take your viewing experience to the next level. It does not support multimedia applications. If employed, it may cause flickers or other undesirable behavior. However, it helps you to run games with an uncapped frame rate.
It does not replace V-sync, but it instead works along with it. Enhanced Sync disables V-sync when the frame rate drops below displays refresh rate to minimize stutter. Instead, it focuses on latency at a low frame rate. Enhanced Sync allows occasional tearing instead of allowing the GPU to repeat the previous frame and launch a temporary stutter.
It allows 3-D applications to deliver a smooth visual experience with lower input latency. It provides tear-free images by synchronizing the monitor’s refresh rate to the frames being delivered from the graphics card. Besides, it reduces stuttering associated with the traditional V-Sync technology. Enhanced Sync works very similar to triple buffering.
NVIDIA Fast Sync:
NVIDIA Fast Sync is designed to minimize the input lag during synchronization. Besides, NVIDIA specifically targeting CS: GO and other graphically simple twitch games. In Fast Sync, Nvidia implemented triple buffering at the driver level to reduce input lag in the latest games, generating a frame rate higher than the refresh rate.
It introduces the last rendered buffer to eliminate both screen tearing and input lag. First, the graphic engine sends the back buffer with an entire frame which is fed into the new last rendered buffer. Then the graphic engine moves on to the next frame. Finally, the last rendered buffer pushes the frame to the front buffer, constantly scanning for new frames and sending them to the display unit. This further step allows a minimal time for the GPU to deliver the full-frame to the display without any lag.
Fast Sync instructs your computer not to send every individual frame to the display if the display unit’s refresh rate is lower than the GPU’s frame output. Therefore it allows the input to be processed at a higher rate than the frames are displayed to reduce screen tearing and latency. Fast Sync is more beneficial when frame rates are much higher than the refresh rate of the Monitor. And if the frame rate is lesser than the refresh rate, then it doesn’t do anything. In that scenario, the rendering rate should coincide with the refresh rate of the Monitor.
AMD FreeSync technology helps you to eliminate screen tearing, latency, and stuttering. The VRR or variable refresh rate is employed in display units. The main advantage is it has no licensing fee for display OEM for adaptation. Further, there is no expensive proprietary hardware module.
Its LFC or low frame rate compensation works when the frame rate falls below the minimum refresh rate of the Monitor. When the frame rate drops below the refresh rate, the frames are duplicated and displayed multiple times to sync to the refresh rate. It is fully compatible with variable overdrives. Transitions between various refresh rates are seamless and undetectable while using. FreeSync dynamically adapts the display unit’s refresh rate to variable frame rates. It helps remove the stuttering delay caused by the video interface having to finish the current frame.
NVIDIA G-SYNC is a novel display technology that delivers the user’s smoothest and fastest gaming experience. It helps to make the scenes appear instantaneously; objects look sharper and create a stunning visual experience. It allows the display’s refresh rate to adapt to the frame of the graphic cards instead of outputting the device adapting the display’s refresh rate. The device must contain a proprietary G-Sync module, and it is not royalty-free.
How to Fix Screen Tearing:
We have already discussed tearing happens when display hardware shows data from multiple frames in a single screen draw. It occurs when the system is not in Sync with the Monitor’s refresh rate. There are so many ways to fix the issue. But it is very much important that the frame rates must sync to the display unit’s hardware specifications. So let us discuss a few easy fixes to resolve it.
- Restart your computer
- Change the Game FPS
- Change the resolution and refresh rate in your system
- Turn on / off Game mode and Full-Screen Optimization
- Update or Reinstall Graphic Driver
- Disable smooth scrolling
- Use High Performance Power Plan
Restart your Computer:
While you play games, if you are getting distorted images or tearing, then first close your game application and restart your computer system. Restarting your system will synchronize the frame rate with the monitor’s refresh rate. In addition, it will help you to resolve the screen tearing problem. Even after you restart your system and the problem is not resolved, then you try any other method discussed below to resolve the issue.
Change the Game FPS:
To change Game FPS, you first need to find the monitor’s refresh rate.
Here are the steps:
- Right-click on your Desktop
- A popup menu will appear
- Select the -> Display Setting
- Scroll down and select -> Advanced Display Settings
- Find the Refresh Rate in HZ
- Note it down
It is your monitors refresh rate
Now we need to change the game FPS; for that, you need to go to game settings, and under the video/ graphics setting, you can find an option to change FPS. You adjust the FPS to match with the screen resolution. The latest games have the Frame Limit feature in their options. Most of the game applications have the option to turn the frame limit off. Save the settings and restart your system. Now check whether the it is fixed or not.
Change the Resolution and Refresh Rate:
Changing resolution and refresh rate can sometimes fix your screen tearing issue. We already discussed it happens when the refresh rate of your monitor is not synced. Therefore it is very much essential to adjust the resolution to match with the frame rate.
- To launch the Search application; Select and press Windows+ S
- Type the words ‘resolution’ in the dialogue box
- The Display Setting application will open
- Select ‘change the resolution of the display’ and click on it
- Select the “Advance setting” option in the popup menu
- Another properties window will appear
- Select “Display adapter properties for Display1.”
- Now hardware properties window will open
- Select “Adapter” and click on “List all Modes.”
- An exhaustive list of display resolutions available for your system will be displayed. Change them according to your graphic card specification detailed in their hardware specification, and select “OK” to save the setting and exit.
Now restart your computer. Check whether the problem with your computer is resolved or not.
Turn on / off Game mode and Full-Screen Optimization:
All Windows 10 computer systems have “Game Mode” enabled by default. According to Microsoft, the Game Mode helps you to achieve a more stable frame rate depending on the system and the game. But some people advise that disabling Game Mode can boost the performance. Actually, the game mode helps you to optimize your system and play the game more smoothly. It is because the Operating system automatically detects the game and tries to deliver maximum performance. Besides the performance, it allows you to record your Gameplay or stream it across the devices. In addition, it enables the user to take screenshots with a single click.
- Tap Windows +S
- Type “Settings” in the dialogue box
- Settings will open
- Click on the Gaming section
- Select the Game Mode OFF.
- Exit the Settings
And restart your computer and check that the issue is resolved now.
Still, the error persists; you need to disable the full-screen optimization.
- Right-click on the game
- Select the Properties
- Click on the Compatibility
- Put Checkmark on the option Disable Fullscreen Optimization.
- Click Apply to save changes
- Once saved, exit and restart your computer.
Update or Reinstall Graphic Driver:
If all the above ways didn’t solve your issue, then we need to try updating your graphic driver. Sometimes the damaged graphic card drivers may cause such issues. Therefore upgrading or downgrading it may resolve the issue. However, sometimes not using the latest or updated driver man causes the problem. Consequently, you need to uninstall the drivers and then reinstall them.
- Open the Device Manager by Taping Windows+ X keys
- Now Device Manager will open
- Search for display adapters and click on it
- Under the display adapter tap, right-click on the graphics card driver
- Then choose to update the driver
- Now a new window will pop up
- Select the Option and Tap “Search automatically for updated driver software.”
If it shows, the driver software is updated already
- Then, follow the steps discussed above till the adapter
- Right-click on the graphics card driver
- Choose uninstall the driver
- Once it is uninstalled, you can install the latest driver manually.
Disable smooth scrolling:
Smooth scrolling is one of the unique features in Windows that enable you to scroll up and down more smoothly. It adjusts the graphic output in such a way that the display doesn’t look rough when scrolling. Most of the users enabled this option in their systems. However, sometimes this feature may cause the issue on the display; in that case, disable the smooth scrolling. Once you change the setting, do not forget to restart the system.
Use High Performance Power Plan:
The Windows system power plan is set to ‘Balanced’ by default. If your power plan is set to “Balanced or Power Saver,” you may experience issues like tearing, crackles, dropouts, and more negative performance. Therefore it is advisable to switch to a High-Performance power plan. Though it uses more energy, it increases the quality of processor-intensive programs.
- Tap the Windows+ R key to open the run program
- Type “powercfg.cpl” then press Enter
- Now Power Options window will pop up
- Now select and click on the “Show Additional Plans” Option
- It will open up a window with various power options
- If you do not see the High-Performance option, click the down arrow next to Show additional plans.
- Now Select “High Performance”
- Save changes
Exit the window and restart the system.
We hope all the methods discussed above may help you resolve your gaming system’s screen tearing issue.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a digital artifact?
A digital artifact is an unwanted, unintended alteration in digital data introduced in the process by the technology used. Digital artifacts can be anything such as audio, video, image animation, or any combination.
It may happen due to hardware malfunction such as processor, memory chips, cabling malfunction, software malfunction, and the use of Lousy compression, aliasing, rolling shutter, and error diffusion. Sometimes it may happen due to overheating or overclocking of GPU.
What is a vertical blanking interval?
Vertical blanking is part of data stream transmission. The vertical blanking interval is the time between the end of the final visible line of the frame to the first visible line of the subsequent frame or next frame. The blank level is implemented in CRT displays to avoid painting the retrace line. Generally, Digital displays will not display incoming data stream during the blanking interval. In analog displays, vertical blanking can be used for datacasting. The blank between sending video data is used to modify the frame buffer in GPU. It can provide time reference when switching the source buffer for video output to eliminate visible tear. It is primarily employed in Video games and used as drive in-game- timing.
What is Multiple Buffering?
Multiple buffering is nothing but using more than one buffer that holds a block of data. It helps the viewer see the complete data block though the data may be old. The multiple buffering meets the specific addressing requirements of a display unit.