How to Fix Screen Tearing

Screen tearing is where the display hardware shows information/data from multiple frames in a single screen draw. This usually occurs when the video which is fed into the system is not in sync with the display’s refresh rate. During gameplay, this might become extremely annoying and may cause the player to lose the capability of playing.

There are several ‘workarounds’ for this issue in making your condition better. Some of these might fix the problem completely but that isn’t guaranteed. Start with the first one and work your way down accordingly.

However, before proceeding, it should be noted that the screen tearing will not get fixed if the frame rates are out of sync because of the hardware specifications of the monitor. Here, you have to diagnose and replace the monitor accordingly (like a G-Sync monitor).

1. Changing Resolution and Refresh Rate 

The first and foremost reason why the screen tearing actually occurs is the refresh rate of the monitor or incorrect resolution. This might not completely solve the problem in most cases but makes it bearable enough so you can actually work. Take a look below.

  1. Press Windows + S to launch the search application. Type “resolution” in the dialogue box and open the application which comes forth.

  1. Once in Settings, browse down to the end of the page and select “Advanced display settings”.

  1. Another window will come up consisting of all the details of your display. Select the option Display adapter properties for Display 1.
  1. Now your hardware properties will pop up. Click on “List All Modes” present in the tab “Adapter”.

  1. You will see a list of different resolutions present on the screen. Change them according to your hardware specifications and after press “OK” each time, check if they make a difference.

  1. Restart your computer after you have successfully changed the settings and see if the screen tearing still occurs.

 2. Enabling / Disabling NVIDIA VSync

VSync is NVIDIA’s answer to screen tearing issues and rate stuttering. The screen tearing, as explained before, occurs when the frame rates are higher than the system can handle. Vsync counters this issue with the controller the frame rates automatically without your interference. Now either you can try disabling the feature or enabling it. See what works in your case.

Note: There were also cases where setting the VSync to Adaptive solves the problem.

  1. Right-click anywhere on your Desktop and select NVIDIA Control Panel.
  2. Navigate to 3D Settings > Manage 3D settings. Now click on the Global Settings tab present at the right side of the screen and click on Vertical Sync.
  3. Now you can turn it either on or off according to your case.

  1. Save changes and exit. Now check if the problem is solved.

For AMD users, there an option of Wait for Vertical Refresh. Change the option to Always on.

3. Disabling ‘Game-mode’ and Full-screen optimizations

Windows announced and released several features in its latest update. One of the ‘noticeable’ features included the ‘Game mode’. This mode helps users optimize their system and play any game more smoothly. The operating system detects the program as a game and tries to deliver maximum performance to its processing.

Furthermore, this mode also allows you to record your gameplay or stream across devices. It also enables you to take screenshots with a single button. Numerous players reported that this option caused their game to crash and was the reason why they were getting the ‘tearing’. We can disable this and see if this helps our case.

  1. Press Windows + S, type “settings” in the dialogue box, and open the application.
  2. Once in the settings, click on the Gaming.
  3. Click on the Game bar present at the left side of the navigation bar and turn the option “Record game clips, screenshots, and broadcast using Game bar” off. Now select Broadcasting and turn the option “Record audio when I broadcast” off.

  1. Restart your computer completely and try launching your game again. Now check if this solves the screen tearing issue.

If the error persists, you can try disabling the full-screen optimization of the game you are launching. This makes the situation better in some cases.

  1. Right-click on the game and select Properties.
  2. Click on Compatibility and check the option Disable fullscreen optimizations.

  1. Press Apply to save changes and exit. Restart your computer and try launching the game. Check if the problem is solved.

If you are using Steam as your game client and experiencing the issue there, you can also try settings the launch options “-windowed -noborder”.

4. Checking Graphics Drivers

If all the above methods don’t work, we can try either updating your graphics to the latest build or downgrade them if the problem started to appear after a graphics update. There are numerous cases where not using the latest drivers causes the issue because the game you are playing is also optimized for running with the latest one.

  1. Boot your computer into safe mode, press Windows + R, type “devmgmt.msc” in the dialogue box, and press Enter. Navigate to the device manager, locate NVIDIA hardware, right-click it, and select Uninstall device. Now reboot your computer.

  1. In most cases, the default drivers will be installed against the hardware. If not, right-click on any empty space and select “Scan for hardware changes”.

Now check if the error message still persists. If it still does, follow the steps listed below.

  1. Now there are two options. Either you can search online for the latest driver available for your hardware from the manufacturer’s official website. (and install manually) or you can let Windows install the latest version itself (search for updates automatically).

First, you should try updating the hardware automatically. Right-click on your hardware and select “Update driver”. Select the first option “Search automatically for updated driver software”. Choose the second option if you are updating manually and select “Browse for driver” and navigate to the location where you downloaded.

  1. Restart your computer after installing the drivers and see if the screen tearing stopped.

5. Turning Off Frame Limit

Numerous games and applications make use of the Frame Limit feature in their options. Through this module, the program can limit the maximum number of frames it will output to your monitor. This is a very handy feature to use if you have low specifications hardware but it is known to cause screen tearing in a lot of cases.

Hence, in this solution, navigate to whatever game you are playing or whichever application you are using and turn the Frame Limit off. The steps may differ from game to game. After making the changes, don’t forget to restart your computer before checking again.

6. Disabling Smooth Scrolling

Smooth scrolling is a feature in Windows that enables you to scroll more ‘smoothly’; adjust the graphics output in such a way that the screen doesn’t look rough when scrolling. This is a pretty nifty feature and the majority of Windows 10 users have the option enabled on their system.

Check smooth scrolling list boxes option
Turn on smooth scrolling list boxes

However, there have several instances where the smooth scrolling feature reversed its role and instead caused tearings on the screen. This seems to be a glitch that can be removed if we Disable Smooth Scrolling on your computer. Make sure to restart your computer after the changes before testing your screen again.

7. Using High-Performance Power Plan

This issue can also occur if you are not providing enough power to the game and your game is not being prioritized for rendering through your GPU. If that’s the case, you can easily resolve this issue by using a better and more performance-oriented power plan such as “High Performance” or “Ultimate High Performance”. If you are using a Laptop we don’t recommend you to do these settings as it will affect your Thermals and battery usage but if you want the best FPS and Performance out of your game you can go ahead and do this on your laptop as well. Follow these steps below:-

  1. Press and hold the Windows key and press the R key to open the Run program.
  2. Type “powercfg.cpl” then press enter.

    Opening Power Options
  3. Once you press enter you should have a Power Options window pop up on your Windows.
  4. Now click on the “Show Additional Plans” option then select “High Performance”.

    Selecting the High-Performance Power Plan
  5. Restart your computer and check to see if the problem still persists.

8. Using Another Browser

If you are experiencing screen tearing if you are doing any activity in a browser, it is recommended that you switch to another one and see if the problem is with your browser or with the system overall. There are numerous instances where only a specific browser causes the screen to tear because either it is outdated or its internal settings don’t support the architecture of your computer.

This way, you will be able to narrow down the possible causes of the problem and fix it accordingly.

Bonus Tips:

In addition to the above-mentioned solutions, you can also try the following steps according to your case:

  • Enabling Windows Aero Theme
  • Setting appearance to ‘Best under 3D-settings‘.
  • Varying the output FPS of the game you are playing
  • Playing around with OpenSync and G-Sync on your computer.

Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.
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How to Fix Screen Tearing

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