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How to Fix Screen Tearing on Windows 10 and in Games

Screen tearing is when multiple bits from multiple frames in a video all display at once on the screen. Instead of seeing a solid scene, you get these smaller parts of multiple frames all jumbled into one. This may be minimal where it just looks like two or three images cut and cropped and placed on top of each other, or it may be extreme to the point where you see an entire section show lines (vertical or horizontal).

What is screen tearing

Screen tearing is a visual defect but it doesn’t necessarily signal a problem with your hardware. In many cases, it may be a software problem that you can resolve on your own. That said, it isn’t always unrelated to hardware i.e., your GPU plays a role in it. For this article, we’re going to focus on users who have an Nvidia GPU.

Basic hardware check

Before you try to fix screen tearing on your Windows 10 system, make sure;

  • Your system is not experiencing power surges and everything is securely plugged in.
  • The cable connecting your system to your monitor is not damaged.
  • Your system is not overheating and is placed in a well-ventilated area.
  • Your monitor is not physically damaged.
  • Check if the screen tearing is general or if it only occurs when you play a specific game or video.

How to Fix Screen Tearing on Windows 10

Fixing Screen Tearing Issues on Windows 10

Screen tearing may occur on your desktop, when you’re watching a movie, or when you’re playing a game. Try the following fixes.

1. Run Video Playback troubleshooter

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to Update and Security>Troubleshoot.
  3. Click Additional Troubleshooters.
  4. Select the Video Playback troubleshooter.
  5. Apply any fixes it recommends and restart your system.

2. Check/Change screen resolution

The screen tearing may be occurring because you’re using the incorrect resolution. It may be set too high, or too low.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to System>Display.
  3. If you have a multi-monitor set up, select the monitor you’re experiencing screen tearing on.
  4. Open the Screen Resolution dropdown, and select the ‘Recommended’ setting. If it’s already set to ‘Recommended’, try going higher or lower, and check if the problem goes away.
  5. If you’ve enabled scaling, turn it off.

3. Change screen refresh rate

Screen tearing may also occur if the refresh rate of the screen is set too low, or too high.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to System>Display.
  3. Scroll down, and click on Additional Display Settings.
  4. Choose the display you’re experiencing tearing on.
  5. Click ‘Display adapter properties for Display’.
  6. A new window will open. Go to the Monitor tab.
  7. Open the Screen Refresh rate dropdown, and select a lower (or higher) rate.
  8. Click Apply and restart the system.

4. Update graphics driver

If your graphics driver is outdated, it may be responsible for the screen tearing.

  1. Open the Device Manager.
  2. Expand Display Adapters.
  3. Right-click your Nvidia GPU, and select Update driver.
  4. Install any and all updates that it recommends.
  5. Repeat for the on-board graphics card if you have one.

5. Turn off Game Mode

Game Mode is a Windows 10 feature that aims to improve gaming but it can often result in an inferior gaming experience, and it can cause screen tearing.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to Gaming>Game Mode.
  3. Turn the ‘Game Mode’ switch Off.

6. Disable fullscreen optimization

Fullscreen optimization is yet another feature that aims to give apps in fullscreen access to more system resources so that they run smoother. If you’re experiencing screen tearing in a particular app, disable full-screen optimization for it. We’re taking the example of VLC player but you can do this for any desktop app.

  1. Create a desktop shortcut for the app that you’re experiencing screen tearing in.
  2. Go to the shortcut, and right-click it. Select Properties.
  3. Go to the Compatibility tab.
  4. Check the ‘Disable fullscreen optimizations’ option.
  5. Click Apply.
  6. Open the app using the shortcut, and play media.

7. Reduce framerate

If you’re experiencing screen tearing in a game, try to reduce the framerate. Most games will have a built-in option to change the frame rate.

  1. Open the game you’re experiencing screen tearing in.
  2. Go to the game’s settings.
  3. Look for display or performance settings.
  4. Find the FPS control, and lower it.
  5. Apply the change and try playing your game.

Conclusion

Screen tearing, if constant, makes it impossible to use your system but unless your system is exceptionally old or you haven’t taken good care of it, the problem is easy to fix. With older systems, you may be looking at a hardware failure.

Make sure any media that you’re playing is running from a local disk and not from an external one if you’re on a very old system. If your hard drive is old, it may be slowing down to the point where data cannot be read from it at the rate it an app or game needs.

For old hardware, there isn’t much you can d,o but on newer systems the problem is solvable.

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