What is screen tearing? | Trusted Reviews

Screen tearing is the enemy of most PC gamers.

Not only do they destroy the beautiful environments that game developers come up with, but they can also be a huge hindrance to any competitive online matches that require sharp reflexes and a sharper screen.

To learn more about screen tearing, how to detect it and how you can prevent it, keep reading.

What is screen tearing?

We’ve all probably experienced screen tearing in one way or another. It happens when your game’s frame rate (which is produced by your GPU) and your monitor’s refresh rate don’t sync up, causing horizontal or vertical splits to occur in one or more places across the screen.

This often happens in video games, although it can also happen on any other device where the screen refresh rate and actual frame rate do not match.

This usually happens when the GPU struggles to keep up with the monitor’s high refresh rate. If the game frame rate drops suddenly, the GPU can send an incomplete frame. So instead of displaying a full frame on the screen, it will display an incomplete frame on top of the old frame, resulting in a mismatched image that looks like it’s ripping.

Not only can it look ugly, but it can also break the immersive experience of playing a video game.

How can I prevent screen tearing?

Fortunately, there are a couple of ways you can prevent screen tearing from occurring while playing.

Variable refresh rate or VRR can be used to eliminate screen tearing. You can check out our explainer article on VRR for a more in-depth look at the technology, but in short, VRR allows your monitor to change the refresh rate dynamically in order to stay in sync with the game’s refresh rate.

To use this technique, you will need to make sure that your TV or monitor supports VRR. There are different types of VRR technology, including FreeSync and G-Sync. The former is software from AMD, while the latter is from Nvidia. Click the links before going through the full details of each technology, as there are slight differences, and you’ll want to make sure you get the right graphics card.

Do game consoles support VRR?

Sony recently introduced VRR to the PS5 console, so it can now be turned off and on in Settings.

Xbox Series X and Series S also support VRR, making it easier for console gamers to experience their favorite games without screen tearing. You won’t be able to use VRR on older consoles including the Nintendo Switch, but since these are locked to a frame rate of 60fps, you’re not likely to experience any screen tearing issues.

Lots of gaming monitors support VRR, although you’ll need to check the specifications of any monitors you’re interested in. We recommend checking out VRR if you’re looking for a game, and especially if you’re going to play high-octane games like Call of Duty: Vanguard or Battlefield 2042 since screen tearing can greatly interfere with online matches.

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