screen tearing with vsync on: Causes and Fixes

I was playing a game and noticed my screen tearing. I turned on the vsync option, but it didn’t seem to fix the problem. What’s going on? Vsync is designed to synchronize your device with your monitor so that one frame is displayed at a time for each display refresh cycle.

Screen Tearing With Vsync On: Causes And Fixes

What are main causes of screen tearing with vsync on?

There are two main causes of screen tearing with vsync on:

Frames per second (FPS) lower than the monitor’s refresh rate

The monitor is only capable of displaying a limited number of frames each second (usually 60, but can range from 50 to 100+). When the game’s FPS falls bellow this mark, it will begin to currently load a frame while another is still being shown; then it waits until the next monitor refresh cycle before loading that next frame, resulting in something like this . This happens because Windows doesn’t allow for fine control over when Vsync starts – it’s either always enabled or always disabled.

Not setting VSYNC=ON in your game/game launcher settings

Many games lack this option and, by default, will only enable VSYNC if your framerate is high enough. This basically ignores vsync at all when the game’s FPS is high, but starts it up again as soon as FPS drops bellow 60. Either way – enabling via graphics control panel or in-game options – you’re going to experience screen tearing (when Refresh Rate and FPS mismatch).

-If your hardware doesn’t meet the minimum system requirements of the game

-Your PC’s graphics card is unable to maintain a high enough frame rate -This can be caused by other programs running in the background, or other processes that are using up too much CPU time.

What is screen tearing?

Screen tearing is when part of one frame is shown on the screen at the same time another part of another frame is being shown.

The result in both cases can be parts of two different frames being visible, which causes a “tear” in the image.  It is especially noticeable in fast-paced games where there are quick or sudden movements in the game play.

What is vsync?

Vsync (vertical synchronization) is designed to synchronize your device with your monitor so that one frame is displayed at a time for each display refresh cycle.

What uses more resources, vsync on or off?

Turning V-Sync ON requires additional processing power. This may result in slower performance if your PC’s hardware does not meet the minimum system requirements of the game. If you wish to improve performance, disable V-Sync or adjust other graphic options which can affect how frequently new frames are drawn onto the screen. A good option might be limiting the framerate using the “Limit Maximum Frames Per Second” setting found in newer versions of GeForce Experience and AMD Gaming Evolved.

Is tearing bad? 

Tearing is a normal part of the PC gaming experience.  NVIDIA and AMD have worked on technologies to reduce screen tearing, but have yet to create one that works for all scenarios.

Which GPU vendor offers the best technology to eliminate tearing?

Tearing can be reduced by enabling VSync (if it’s not already enabled), but this also limits your game’s frame rate to half or one third of what you’d get without Vsync (if you’re lucky). The only relatively good solution at this time is NVIDIA G-SYNC . This requires an NVIDIA Kepler 600 series graphics card or newer, plus a G-Sync compatible monitor. If your hardware isn’t up to snuff, Apple Macintosh computers suffer from similar issues when running Windows games via Boot Camp.

How to fix screen tearing with vsync on ?

1) You can try to configure Vsync in your game’s graphics options. NVIDIA recommend you limit the maximum prerendered frames to 1 , which will prevent “Tearing” at the cost of not getting full framerate benefits if your PC only manages to maintain only 30 FPS.

2) Set a higher refresh rate than is actually supported by your monitor – this is possible with some TVs, if they support a high enough resolution .

3) Use a G-Sync compatible monitor and turn ON G-Sync (which dynamically adjusts refresh rates for each frame). If you have an ROG Swift PG278Q or any upcoming 144Hz IPS panel, then read on! While it isn’t officially supported right now, we’ve found that you can use G-Sync with our ROG Swift (PG278Q) monitor. To do this, simply set your desktop resolution to 3840×2160 (4K UHD resolution), enable Vertical Sync for the game and set it to EXTENDED – VSYNC ON . The game should be running at 4K 60Hz 10b (3840×2160 @ 60Hz w/8 bits per color channel).

Side effects of using vsync on:

  • You will get less FPS in some games
  • Screen tearing will be eliminated, but you can still get input lag if the game only renders at 30 FPS (see explanation above)
  • The higher your resolution, the more GPU power you’ll need to maintain reasonably high frame rates.

AMD Gaming Evolved VSync option does not provide any tearing related benefits. Basically it is exactly like enabling Vsync via NVIDIA Control Panel or in game options: It locks maximum FPS to monitor’s refresh rate and limits it via software. If your PC hardware fails to maintain a minimum required framerate level – either lower screen resolution and/or reduce graphics settings within the game itself. G-Sync and FreeSync do not suffer from this problem at all, as they dynamically match frame rates between GPU and monitor.

Pros and cons of using vsync on:

Pros of using vsync on:

  • No input lag – VSync OFF has about 1 frame of input lag (1/60sec = 16.6ms).
  • The benefits of lower framerate (reduced motion blur, smoother movements, etc.)

Cons of using vsync on:

  • Screen tearing is eliminated but you may still experience “tearing” due to FPS not matching refresh rate or having crazy high FPS and crazy low monitor’s refresh rate.
  • You will get less FPS in some games, which can be a problem if your hardware doesn’t meet the minimum requirements for that game.

Why would I not want to use vsync on?

  • When your FPS falls bellow monitor’s refresh rate, you will experience screen tearing. This happens because Windows doesn’t allow for fine control over when Vsync starts it’s either always enabled or always disabled.
  • Depending on how the game looks and performs, you may notice that gameplay feels less smooth with Vsync on. Slower PCs will experience this more often.
  • If your FPS falls bellow monitor’s refresh rate, there is still input lag even if VSync is enabled via NVIDIA Control Panel or in game options. This happens because it takes time to scan out the frame from GPU buffer to display – unless your PC hardware manages to maintain minimum required framerates, Vsync cannot switch itself off and remove screen tearing.

How to turn off vsync in nvidia control panel for games that don’t have a built-in option for turning off screen tearing?

There are 2 ways of doing so temporary or permanent.

Temporary: Go to nvidia control panel, select the game and click “disable vsync” button. Alternatively you can do it via NVIDIA Inspector (you will need to download this small tool first), here is how it looks like:

You can create a custom profile for your game or edit whatever game’s profile already exists if there are more games listed on the left pane.

Permanent:

Create a file named “vblank_mode”, without quotes,

with notepad and save it as .cfg in the same folder where the game executable resides.

For example, I’ve created one for Battlefield 4, located at “C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Games\Battlefield 4\__Installer\vcredist” folder: You need to create it for EVERY game where you want to turn off vsync.

If the file is not detected, Vsync will be ON and applied globally (for all games) as usual – this also applies if you use NVIDIA Inspector or global profile settings in Nvidia control panel.