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Screen tearing

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Screen tearing is a visual distortion or artifact that occurs in video display, particularly when viewing fast-moving content. It is a type of visual glitch or anomaly that creates a disjointed or "torn" appearance on the screen. This phenomenon is most common during video playback or 3D games where the content drastically changes in short amounts of time. The term 'tearing' arises because the display appears as though it has been 'torn' in two or more parts that no longer connect properly.

Screen tearing primarily occurs when the video feed sent to the device isn't in sync with the display's refresh rate. Modern screens often have a fixed frame rate, and if the incoming video feed doesn't match this rate, the screen can't display everything at once. Therefore, it tries to display two or more frames simultaneously, resulting in a 'tear'.

A contributing factor for screen tearing includes the performance of the hardware of a computer or a console. If the hardware is not capable of maintaining the pace with the frame rate of a video or a game, screen tearing can occur. This can often be observed when taxing games are played on underpowered systems. For example, a computer having a 60Hz monitor playing a game at 75 frames per second may experience screen tearing.

One common solution to this problem is the use of 'Vertical Sync' or 'VSync'. VSync is an option that can be turned on in many games and some video playback software. It forces the program to wait for the monitor to complete its current refresh cycle before trying to feed it a new frame, thus eliminating split or torn frames.

However, VSync isn't always the perfect solution as it can cause its problems like input lag or "judder" if the hardware isn't capable of maintaining the set frame rate. This is where newer technologies such as FreeSync by AMD or G-Sync by NVIDIA come in. These technologies dynamically match the display's refresh rate with the video source's frame rate, achieving a smoother experience without the downsides of VSync.

In conclusion, screen tearing is a common issue in video displays, especially in gaming or high-definition video playback. It is caused by the misalignment of the video source's frame rate and the display's refresh rate, leading to visually unpleasant and disjointed images. Various solutions exist, ranging from VSync to innovative technologies like FreeSync or G-Sync, each with its benefits and limitations.