Screen Tearing
Screen Tearing

Screen tearing happens when a monitor and a GPU don’t sync up properly. It’s a common problem, especially with high refresh rate monitors, and can be really annoying when you’re gaming or watching videos. You’ll see a kind of distorted image on the screen, where a frame or an image looks like it’s split or torn. This can make it hard to see what’s on the screen, which is especially bad for competitive gaming where even a tiny bit of screen tearing could make you lose.

Understanding Screen Tearing: A Visual Guide

Screen tearing is an annoying visual artifact that can disrupt your gaming and video experience. This table breaks down the causes, symptoms, and solutions to help you overcome this frustrating issue.

What is it?Screen tearing occurs when your monitor’s refresh rate and your graphics card’s frame rate are not synchronized. This mismatch leads to the image on your screen being displayed in multiple parts at once, creating a torn or jagged appearance.
What causes it?The main culprit is asynchronous refresh rates. If your monitor refreshes at 60 Hz but your graphics card is rendering frames at 75 FPS, the monitor can’t keep up, resulting in tearing. Other factors like VSync issues, outdated drivers, and demanding games can also contribute.
What does it look like?You’ll see horizontal lines cutting across the screen, often shifting and changing as the image updates. It’s most noticeable in fast-paced games or videos with quick movements.
Is it harmful?Screen tearing is mainly an aesthetic issue, but it can be distracting and make gaming or watching videos less enjoyable. In extreme cases, it can cause eye strain and fatigue.
How do I fix it?Several solutions can help: Enable VSync: This synchronizes your graphics card’s frame rate with your monitor’s refresh rate, eliminating tearing but potentially introducing input lag. Cap your FPS: Limit your frame rate to match your monitor’s refresh rate for a smoother experience. Update drivers: Ensure you have the latest drivers for your graphics card and chipset. Try adaptive sync technologies: NVIDIA G-Sync and AMD FreeSync dynamically adjust the refresh rate to match the frame rate, offering a tear-free and smooth experience.

Remember: The best solution might vary depending on your specific hardware and configuration. Experiment with different options and find what works best for you.

Most Apparent Causes of Screen Tearing

The primary cause of screen tearing is the GPU working out of sync with the monitor. This happens when the processing unit (GPU or CPU) generates more frames than the monitor can display, resulting in overlapping data within a single frame. This issue is often exacerbated when the GPU is under heavy load, such as during demanding AAA games or intensive background tasks.

Is VSync a Solution to Screen Tearing?

VSync, or Vertical Sync, is a technology that synchronizes the vertical refresh rate of your monitor with the frame rates of your GPU. While it can eliminate screen tearing, it also introduces significant input latency, as it forces the graphics card to wait until the monitor is ready to display a full frame. This trade-off between screen tearing and input lag is a crucial consideration, especially in competitive gaming.

Effective Methods to Fix Screen Tearing

  1. Disabling Xbox Game Bar: The Xbox Game Bar in Windows can strain the processor, leading to screen tearing. Disabling this feature can help alleviate the issue.
  2. Adjusting Display Resolution and Monitor Refresh Rate: Ensuring that your GPU’s resolution matches your monitor’s resolution is crucial. This can be checked and adjusted in the display settings of your computer.
  3. Updating or Resetting Graphics Drivers: Outdated or malfunctioning graphics drivers can contribute to screen tearing. Updating or resetting these drivers can help resolve the issue.
  4. Modifying The Power Plan: Especially relevant for gaming laptops, adjusting the power plan to a high-performance setting can improve CPU efficiency and reduce screen tearing.
  5. NVIDIA G-Sync Feature: For Nvidia graphics card users, enabling or disabling the G-Sync feature can help manage screen tearing. This technology synchronizes the display’s refresh rate with the GPU’s frame rate.
  6. Turning Off Smooth Scrolling Feature: In Windows 10, disabling the smooth scrolling feature can help reduce screen tearing, especially if it conflicts with your monitor’s refresh rate.
  7. Disabling Frame Limit Feature: Removing frame limits allows the GPU to execute more frames per second, which can improve response time and reduce screen tearing on high refresh rate displays.

Alternative Technologies: NVIDIA Fast Sync & AMD Enhanced Sync

For newer graphics cards, NVIDIA Fast Sync and AMD Enhanced Sync are alternatives to VSync. These technologies display the most recent full frame without constraining the frame rate to the maximum refresh rate of the monitor, thereby reducing input lag while minimizing screen tearing.


  1. What exactly causes screen tearing? Screen tearing occurs when the GPU generates frames at a rate that doesn’t sync with the monitor’s refresh rate, leading to overlapping data in a single frame.
  2. Is screen tearing only a problem in gaming? While more noticeable in gaming, screen tearing can also affect regular video playback and other visual tasks.
  3. Can updating graphics drivers fix screen tearing? Yes, updating or resetting graphics drivers can help resolve screen tearing issues.
  4. Does enabling VSync always fix screen tearing? VSync can fix screen tearing but at the cost of increased input lag, which might not be desirable in fast-paced games.
  5. Are there any quick fixes for screen tearing? Adjusting display settings, disabling certain features like Xbox Game Bar or smooth scrolling, and ensuring your GPU and monitor settings are aligned can provide quick fixes.
  6. How does G-Sync help with screen tearing? G-Sync technology from NVIDIA synchronizes the display’s refresh rate with the GPU’s frame rate, reducing screen tearing.
  7. Can screen tearing damage my monitor? Screen tearing does not cause physical damage to monitors but can degrade the viewing experience.
  8. Is screen tearing more common on high refresh rate monitors? Yes, high refresh rate monitors can be more prone to screen tearing, especially if the GPU output doesn’t match the refresh rate.
  9. What is the difference between Fast Sync and Enhanced Sync? Both are alternatives to VSync, offering reduced input lag while minimizing screen tearing, but are suitable for newer graphics cards.
  10. Can screen tearing be completely eliminated? While it can be significantly reduced, completely eliminating screen tearing depends on various factors like hardware compatibility and specific game or application settings.

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