Screen tearing is a visual artifact caused by a frame rendering issue during video playback or gaming because multiple non-synchronized frames are being rendered by the display. This results in a portion of the previous frame being displayed simultaneously with a portion of the following frame which creates a screen tearing effect.
Why does screen tearing happen?
Each computer monitor has a specific refresh rate. The most common one is 60Hz, whereas better gaming monitors opt for 120Hz or 144Hz, and in a few cases, 240Hz. The graphics processing unit doesn’t take the same time to render each frame – some are more demanding than others, and take a bit longer. A 60Hz monitor will refresh every 16 milliseconds, while a 144Hz one refreshes at 6.9 milliseconds, which does put a lot of load on the GPU. In the real world, the GPU will actually send a new frame to the monitor as soon as it is ready for output.
When this happens, you have a GPU that is drawing and sending the next frame, whereas the monitor is still displaying the current one. The horizontal shear in the display, the horizontal line we mentioned, is where the old frame ends and the new one begins. You get the old frame in one part of the screen, and the new frame in the rest.
How can Screen tearing be solved?
The common solution up until a while ago was V-sync or vertical sync. This allows you to synchronize your game’s frame rate with the refresh rate of your monitor. Today, we have AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia’s G-Sync that do more or less the same, but work better and are more advanced. Both are adaptive sync technologies that force the display to only show as many frames as the graphics card is outputting. This severely reduces screen tearing and also helps with stutter and input lag« Back to Definition Index