Screen tearing is graphics distortion that occurs when the graphics processor is out of sync with the display. It causes a horizontal line to appear during video playback or gameplay in a video game since the top section is out of sync with the bottom.
When the GPU is under a heavy load, it may not be able to keep up with the refresh rate of the monitor. The result is that part of the screen is redrawn in one frame and the rest of the screen is redrawn in another. If this continues for multiple frames, a noticeable vertical line will appear on the screen.
There are several ways to prevent or fix screen tearing.
- Lower the resolution of the video or game so that your GPU doesn't have to work as hard.
- Enable the "hardware acceleration" option in the affected application. For example, Google Chrome has a toggle for this setting. Enabling hardware acceleration can improve video playback within the web browser.
- Enable the "vertical sync" or "vsync" option. Some video games provide this option specifically to combat screen tearing. However, it may slow down the frame rate to match the refresh rate of your monitor.
- Enable "triple buffering" if the application allows it. This ensures the entire frame is passed to the final buffer before being sent to the display.
- Upgrade to a more powerful video card that can support the videos or games you play on your computer.
If you are a serious gamer, it might be helpful to buy a display specifically designed to prevent screen tearing. For example, some displays include G-Sync technology, which syncs the display output with an NVIDIA GPU.
Updated: December 5, 2018