Screen tearing is a very common problem with modern computers. Many things can cause it, and the number of solutions depends on what’s causing it.
This article will discuss some of the most common causes for screen tearing and possible remedies that you can try out to fix your computer! But first, let’s learn about screen tearing in detail.
What Is Screen Tearing?
Screen tearing is an annoying visual artifact that happens when your computer’s video card cannot keep up with the monitor’s refresh rate. The default Hz of most monitors is 60Hz, meaning that they can refresh themselves 60 times in one second. This means that if your graphics card renders a frame in less than 1/60th of a second (or roughly 17 milliseconds), then you will see a visual artifact called screen tearing.
It consists of multiple copies of different frames showing up on the screen at once, and they sort of move around, creating a very unpleasant moving visual. Screen tearing most often occurs during intensive scenes when your computer is trying to render more frames than what the monitor is capable of refreshing itself.
Some common examples are intense combat scenes, explosions, fast movement, etc.
Because screen tearing only occurs if your graphics card renders a frame faster than the monitor’s refresh rate (regardless of how many times it needs to refresh), having multiple monitors with different refresh rates will reduce your chances of seeing this artifact. This is why before purchasing any PC component, It is important to check all the reviews of it from any trusted website.
What Causes Screen Tearing And How To Fix It?
Screen Tearing can be caused by any misconfiguration or malfunctioning hardware/software related to V-Sync. Here are some things that could go wrong:
1. V-Sync Is Not Enabled (NVIDIA Only)
If V-Sync is not enabled, then the video card will render frames as fast as possible, even if some frames get dropped. This can cause screen tearing because more than one frame might get drawn onto the monitor. To fix this problem, simply open your NVIDIA Control Panel (located in Windows -> NVIDIA Control Panel), select Manage 3D Settings, and click on the Program Settings tab. Then select AVP: Evolution from the drop-down list and hit Apply. Once you’re done, restart your computer and see if that fixed the problem.
2. Outdated / Wrong Graphics Driver
Your graphics driver could be outdated or incompatible with your current version of windows. You should always make sure that you have the latest graphics driver. If not, it’s pretty simple to update your drivers by going to the manufacturer’s website (e.g., NVIDIA, AMD, etc.) and searching for “___ series graphics driver.” Most of the time, all you’ll need to do is download an executable file, run it and then follow on-screen instructions. The whole process generally takes less than 5 minutes.
3. Power Management Settings
Your power management settings could be causing problems even when you aren’t plugged into a wall socket. If you don’t know what this means, then go into your windows power plan and change all of the settings there so that they look like the picture below:
If you happen to be using SLI (dual cards) and experience screen tearing, then disabling SLI should solve the issue as it forces both cards to render identical frames. This is because when SLI is enabled, your second card will have to wait until the first card finishes rendering the frame before it can start. Keep in mind that if you disable SLI, then you’ll be running on a single graphics card so FPS drops are expected.
5. Multiple Monitors Running At Different Refresh Rates
If monitor A runs at 60hz and monitor B runs at 75hz refresh rates, then there’s a good chance that screen tearing might be caused because one monitor flips onto another monitor or vice-versa (especially if both monitors are side by side). This is because sometimes both monitors end up drawing different frames on the screen, which causes screen tearing. You should try getting identical monitors with matching refresh rates for this reason alone (then also because they cost nearly the same these days).
Interlacing works by scanning every other line first, then the 2nd half of all stripes are drawn on the screen vertically offset by 1/60 seconds to avoid flicker. This can cause screen tearing because sometimes you’ll see frames being pulled twice, causing the picture to be very noticeably messed up for anywhere between 1/30s and 1/8th of a second.
You’ll know if this is happening to you by simply turning on VSYNC in-game and observing how your monitor looks when it’s enabled vs. when it’s disabled. If there isn’t any difference, then the chances are that interlacing is not causing your problems, but if there *is* a difference, you should try turning on ” Use buffered vsync” in the Nvidia control panel and see if that works.
7. Power Settings
If your monitor is plugged into a wall socket, it’s possible that you don’t have enough juice to power both your monitor and PC at the same time. Make sure to plug directly into a wall socket using an ethernet cable for this reason. Your pc might also be underpowered so try updating drivers or getting a better PSU etc. Some motherboards can even auto-switch between power sources when they detect an under / over-power condition so that screen tearing could occur.
8. AMD FreeSync (Does Not Work NVIDIA)
To my knowledge, AMD FreeSync does not work with any NVIDIA graphics cards. This means that if you’re using an AMD card and want the benefits of having your screen tear fixed when you’re in a fast-paced animation, then you should try getting a monitor with a built-in FPS counter.
This will help you to determine whether or not your monitor is under 60 FPS at any point in time, which means that you’re “fast-paced” enough to be eligible for the benefits of FreeSync.
9. Monitor Refresh Rate
If you’re running your monitor’s refresh rate over 60hz, then it might cause tearing. This is because if you have VSYNC enabled, it’ll try to hold out on drawing the next frame until the current one has finished being drawn (as opposed to before, where it would draw them both at almost the same time – divided by two). If your monitor’s refresh rate is high enough, this causes a mismatch between when the next frame should come and what happens. It may seem like a short amount of time, but when you’re moving your mouse around rapidly and the next frame is a few milliseconds late, it can cause a temporary tear in the image.
10. Mouse Response Time
If you’ve just gotten a new mouse, you might notice tearing since your mouse movements are often fast enough to push the game’s FPS over 60. This is because older mice didn’t have nearly as quick response times, so the amount of time it took for you to move your mouse X distance ended up being longer than 1/60th of a second (so there would be no tearing). Nowadays, though, most gaming-grade mice can go down to 1000hz polling rates, which means that if you move your mouse that far in 1/1000th of a second, the monitor will tear. If this is happening, try increasing your “maximum pre-rendered frames” (in the Nvidia control panel) under 3D settings -> manage 3d settings.
Hopefully, this guide helped to clear up some of your screen tearing issues. I don’t know everything about the case; I’m simply gathering info from all over the place and putting it into one convenient thread that should help out most people.
Feel free to provide input if I missed anything or you feel like something needs to be added/changed in any way. Thanks for reading.
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