What is Screen Tearing & How can You Prevent It!
In this article, I will explain what screen tearing is and how you can prevent it. The screen tearing occurs most notably while playing games on the PC. It happens when graphics cards and the connected monitor fall out of sync with each other.
Also read our Monitor Buying Guide.
What is Screen Tearing?
The most common display of screen tearing is where the top portion of the monitor shows a different frame than the bottom. This can happen anywhere from once twice or even more times than that.
Here are some examples of screen tearing:
Each monitor has a maximum refresh rate, and most of them operate at about 60Hz. Most games on a PC can be played at a variable frame rate which correlates to the refresh rate of your monitor.
A monitor with a refresh rate of 60Hz can change the frame it displays 60 times in a second. Displaying 60 frames per second can render a new frame 60 times per second, but in reality, it may be more or less.
Unless the game you’re playing allows you to cap your frames per second to a specific number.
When the game you’re playing decides to render frames at a higher rate than your monitor can keep up with, tearing occurs. The screen tearing phenomenon mainly occurs in scenes including explosions or multiple moving objects.
How to Prevent Screen Tearing?
There are ways to prevent this issue, like VSync (Vertical sync), G-Sync, and Free Sync. VSync is a graphics technology that synchronizes the frame rate of a game with the monitor’s refresh rate.
It stops the graphics card from displaying to the monitor until the monitor has finished its current refresh cycle. This can cause repeated frames but, for the most part, stop or reduce the screen tearing.
However, VSync is not a complete solution, and in some games, it can cause input lag and affect your performance in online games.
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Build upon vertical sync is adaptive VSync, which allows for monitors to only use the vertical sync when the game’s frame rate exceeds the monitor’s refresh capability, which allows for even smoother gameplay.
More advanced versions of adaptive VSync include AMD’s Free Sync or G-Sync from Nvidia. These technologies adapt the monitor’s refresh rate as the maximum refresh rate to prevent screen tearing.
You won’t notice a difference while playing since the monitor was only capable of its maximum refresh rate from the get-go. You will require a graphics card and supported monitor for these technologies to work.
So, unfortunately, no mixing and matching. In short, buying a monitor with Free Sync for AMD graphics or a G-Sync monitor for your Nvidia graphics card will yield optimal results.
A little secret for NVIDIA users is that you can use a Free Sync display with your graphics card, but it will only use the adaptive sync capabilities of the curved monitor, which is still better than nothing.