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High refresh rate = Less tearing?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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May 19, 2014 6:30:40 AM

Hi guys, I'm looking to buy a new monitor for gaming.

I'm using a generic brand 19 inch 1280x1024 LCD monitor connected with VGA. It's almost square, so watching films is horrible on it (huge black bars)

Also, there's a lot of screen tearing in both videos and games.

Here's my specs:

CPU: Intel i5-4670k
GPU: Radeon HD7850 1GB
RAM: Corsair 8GB 1600MHZ
MOBO: Gigabyte GA-Z87-HD3
HDD: Seagate SV35.5 1TB ST1000VX000
PSU: OCZ StealthXStream 600W

I usually get good frame rates on high settings but tearing really makes it less enjoyable.

I know Nvidia G-sync solves that problem for good but I want to stick with my Radeon gpu for now.

Do 120 or 144hz monitors have less tearing?
May 19, 2014 6:37:15 AM

Tearing isn't solved by higher/lower refresh rates, rather it's a mismatch between the refresh rate and when frames are being drawn. A higher refresh rate could actually make the problem worse. Essentially the Video card is in the middle of rendering a frame when the monitor displays it resulting in only say half of the frame being displayed instead of the whole thing. The only real solution is a sync between the video card and the monitor, either V-synce, G-Sync, or even Freesync. From what you mention it sounds like your settings are too high and the GPU isn't able to keep up, a monitor with a higher refresh rate isn't going to fix your problem.
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May 19, 2014 6:47:17 AM

Well... yes and no.

A 120hz monitor will still tear as much as a 60hz monitor, but the tears will last 50% as long, so you shouldn't notice the tearing as much. In that regard, 120hz will appear to tear less.

Screen tearing will always happen to some extent without vsync, freesync, or gsync. Right now gsync isn't supported by many monitors and freesync is limited to laptop screens (or was last time I checked). That leaves mostly vsync at the moment, and that can cause input lag if you don't set it up properly.
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May 19, 2014 7:00:54 AM

Both of those explanations are completely wrong... Higher refresh rates on the screen will help the tearing aspect. This is why 120 or 144Hz monitors are preferred by extreme gamers. Screen tearing occurs when the graphics card is pumping out more frames per screen refresh cycle (ie: you're getting over 60 FPS on a monitor that runs at 60Hz.) A 1280x1024 monitor is pretty low in pixel count, and the 7850 is powerful enough to run over 60 FPS for most games, which is why you're getting the screen tearing.

To be clear, a higher refresh rate makes screen tearing much LESS of a problem, not more. Screen tearing does not happen when you're getting under 60 FPS with a 60Hz screen. Not sure where any of these explanations are coming from.

If I were you, I would crank up the graphics qualities, specifically AA, if you want to help the tearing issue.
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May 19, 2014 7:01:56 AM

v-sync creates inputlag no matter what btw. same as freesync adaptivesync.
tearing is better on high hz monitors, and movies should not show tearing at all, you could just add more fps to you movies, there exist software to do that, i use svp, no stuttering 24fps crap movies ever again.
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May 19, 2014 7:19:23 AM

Rationale said:
Well... yes and no.

A 120hz monitor will still tear as much as a 60hz monitor, but the tears will last 50% as long, so you shouldn't notice the tearing as much. In that regard, 120hz will appear to tear less.

Screen tearing will always happen to some extent without vsync, freesync, or gsync. Right now gsync isn't supported by many monitors and freesync is limited to laptop screens (or was last time I checked). That leaves mostly vsync at the moment, and that can cause input lag if you don't set it up properly.


This is the only correct answer given.

Tearing happens anytime a new frame is sent out while the monitor is not in vertical blanking mode, which is almost every frame created when v-sync/g-sync is not active. It does not matter what your refresh rate is, when that new frame is sent to an unsynced monitor, it causes a tear. If the monitor updates again, before a new frame is sent, that tear is removed.

Ignoring the few times that frames get sent during vertical blanking mode, which is rare, every new frame causes a tear without G-sync/V-sync, and no more. Higher refresh rates update the image more often, allowing the tears to be removed more often, so they are less noticeable.

Lower FPS than your refresh rate just means that the monitor will have some refreshes without a tear on it, but there will be tearing regardless.

Having FPS near an even multiple/divisible of your refresh rate will make the tear move slowly on the screen, making it more visible. That means on a 120hz monitor, 30, 40 and 60 FPS will have more visible tearing than other FPS rates.
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May 19, 2014 7:44:23 AM

The tearing he is experiencing is because of the card sending more frames than the monitor refreshes. A higher Hz monitor would remove (for the most part/noticeably) the tearing. As would getting the average FPS rate under the 60Hz refresh rate.
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May 19, 2014 7:57:47 AM

HiTechObsessed said:
The tearing he is experiencing is because of the card sending more frames than the monitor refreshes. A higher Hz monitor would remove (for the most part/noticeably) the tearing. As would getting the average FPS rate under the 60Hz refresh rate.


Having lower FPS than your refresh rate does not remove tearing. You get a tear for every frame created, regardless of your refresh rate. Higher refresh rates just allow the screen to have fewer or remove existing tears sooner. Lowering your FPS isn't generally the solution you look for and doesn't even remove tearing, it just lessens it by exactly how many FPS you lose.

An interesting calculation can tell you how much tearing you get per refresh; FPS/hz. 120 FPS on a 60hz screen gives you an average of 2 tears per refresh. 60 FPS on a 60hz screen will give you 1 tear per refresh and 40 FPS on a 60hz screen gives you a tear on 2 of 3 refreshes.

So higher refresh rates does lessen how much tearing you see, but it doesn't remove, or even almost remove.

The biggest issue with tearing comes when you have FPS near a divisible or multiple of your refresh rate. 60 FPS on a 60hz screen it horribly noticeable. 60 FPS on a 120hz screen is almost as bad, 60 FPS on a 144hz screen is not very noticeable. That is because when your FPS divide evenly into your refresh rate, or it exactly twice or 3 times higher, that line will not move, or slowly move, making it easy to spot.
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May 19, 2014 8:06:07 AM

bystander said:

This is the only correct answer given.

Tearing happens anytime a new frame is sent out while the monitor is not in vertical blanking mode, which is almost every frame created when v-sync/g-sync is not active. It does not matter what your refresh rate is, when that new frame is sent to an unsynced monitor, it causes a tear. If the monitor updates again, before a new frame is sent, that tear is removed.

Ignoring the few times that frames get sent during vertical blanking mode, which is rare, every new frame causes a tear without G-sync/V-sync, and no more. Higher refresh rates update the image more often, allowing the tears to be removed more often, so they are less noticeable.

Lower FPS than your refresh rate just means that the monitor will have some refreshes without a tear on it, but there will be tearing regardless.

Having FPS near an even multiple/divisible of your refresh rate will make the tear move slowly on the screen, making it more visible. That means on a 120hz monitor, 30, 40 and 60 FPS will have more visible tearing than other FPS rates.


Actually this isn't entirely correct. Frames aren't allowed to be sent to the display device outside of frame transmission time, it can play havoc with the displays sync hardware. Tearing can be just as bad running at a high refresh rate as a low refresh rate, as for it being less noticeable that's a matter of perception. I've seen where replacing a display with one of twice the refresh rate caused two tears vs one at the old refresh rate. I found two small tears more annoying than one large one but that's a matter of personal opinion.

Decent video hardware/software will try to sync a complete frame with your video signal so that if your running at 60 fps and the signal is 60 Hz the frames will be synced and you won't get a tear, there are different ways of doing this. The problem occurs when hardware can't keep up and only half a frame (third, quarter, or some other portion) is being written to the buffer overwriting part of the previous frame, you get portions of multiple frames at the same time. This can happen if you're rendering frames too quickly without a buffer but it's much rarer (though just as annoying). *sync works by maintaining a full frame in the buffer until the next one is ready to go, which is why it causes lag. The reason older versions of AMD's drivers had tearing issues is that they were ignoring syncing and causing all sorts of funny issues. All of this depends on the Software, GPU, and display hardware working in concert.
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May 19, 2014 8:08:49 AM

HiTechObsessed said:
The tearing he is experiencing is because of the card sending more frames than the monitor refreshes. A higher Hz monitor would remove (for the most part/noticeably) the tearing. As would getting the average FPS rate under the 60Hz refresh rate.


Tearing can occur whenever the video card is rendering frames at a different rate than the display refresh rate. Faster/slower doesn't matter, it's the != that matters. Given his setup, (very similar to one I had) I seriously doubt it's running at 60+ FPS on high settings.

<edit>
I would also use a digital connection (DVI, HDMI) instead of VGA, running a digital display over a VGA connection doesn't give the best results. Though depending on the age of the display it may be the only connection it has.
</edit>
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May 19, 2014 8:13:59 AM

ddpruitt said:
bystander said:

This is the only correct answer given.

Tearing happens anytime a new frame is sent out while the monitor is not in vertical blanking mode, which is almost every frame created when v-sync/g-sync is not active. It does not matter what your refresh rate is, when that new frame is sent to an unsynced monitor, it causes a tear. If the monitor updates again, before a new frame is sent, that tear is removed.

Ignoring the few times that frames get sent during vertical blanking mode, which is rare, every new frame causes a tear without G-sync/V-sync, and no more. Higher refresh rates update the image more often, allowing the tears to be removed more often, so they are less noticeable.

Lower FPS than your refresh rate just means that the monitor will have some refreshes without a tear on it, but there will be tearing regardless.

Having FPS near an even multiple/divisible of your refresh rate will make the tear move slowly on the screen, making it more visible. That means on a 120hz monitor, 30, 40 and 60 FPS will have more visible tearing than other FPS rates.


Actually this isn't entirely correct. Frames aren't allowed to be sent to the display device outside of frame transmission time, it can play havoc with the displays sync hardware. Tearing can be just as bad running at a high refresh rate as a low refresh rate, as for it being less noticeable that's a matter of perception. I've seen where replacing a display with one of twice the refresh rate caused two tears vs one at the old refresh rate. I found two small tears more annoying than one large one but that's a matter of personal opinion.

Decent video hardware/software will try to sync a complete frame with your video signal so that if your running at 60 fps and the signal is 60 Hz the frames will be synced and you won't get a tear, there are different ways of doing this. The problem occurs when hardware can't keep up and only half a frame (third, quarter, or some other portion) is being written to the buffer overwriting part of the previous frame, you get portions of multiple frames at the same time. This can happen if you're rendering frames too quickly without a buffer but it's much rarer (though just as annoying). *sync works by maintaining a full frame in the buffer until the next one is ready to go, which is why it causes lag. The reason older versions of AMD's drivers had tearing issues is that they were ignoring syncing and causing all sorts of funny issues. All of this depends on the Software, GPU, and display hardware working in concert.

Video playback may follow the rules you are talking about, games do not. I'm not familiar with video software, so I'll not confirm or deny what you say applying to that, but games do not have any mechanism besides G-sync or V-sync to synchronize output.

When a frame is ready, it is sent to the monitor. If the monitor is updating the screen, the image it was using is changed midway through causing a tear. Higher refresh rates do lessen it, because it removes tears faster. You still get the same amount of tearing, because a tear happens whenever the video card sends a new frame, regardless of your refresh rate, but the higher refresh rate will update that torn image sooner. 120hz removes them twice as fast as 60hz monitors.

That is a mathematical fact. Higher refresh rates either remove the tears sooner, or shows fewer tears per refresh, depending on how many FPS you have. You get your FPS divide by your refresh rate in tears per refresh, minus a few that land during vertical blanking mode.
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May 19, 2014 8:21:55 AM

He's running on a 1280x1024 monitor, which is 762,000 less pixels, meaning 37% less processing power necessary to run. Depending on the game, the 7850 is absolutely capable of 60+ FPS at that resolution pretty easily.

And yes, all that may be technically true about tearing and refresh rates, but from experience, running around 80-90 FPS on a 60Hz screen gives crazy tearing for me, whereas running the same game at 50-60 gives no (noticeable) tearing. Tearing has always been solved by having my average FPS at or a little lower than 60. Though in a lot of games I just turn VSync on, as I don't play 'professionally', so the every now and then couple-of-ms delay doesn't bother me.
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May 19, 2014 8:25:46 AM

I'd like to clarify the discussion about FPS. I play at settings that are as high as possible and aim for 45-60 fps but less demanding games run at 60+ fps at maxed settings. Obviously I will get less FPS in 1080p resolution, but I will aim for 40-60 fps (sometimes as low as 30 for occasional demanding moments) and tune the settings accordingly.
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May 19, 2014 8:29:28 AM

Even though there technically is tearing in small amounts on a 120hz+ monitor, it is not visible. I am a hardcore FPS gamer, and I can confidently say you will not be bothered by any sort of screen tearing while using a 120hz+ monitor. CS:GO, BF4, you name it, you can't see the tearing. It's as simple as that. I have a keen eye for spotting ghosting, tearing, and input lag and none of them are noticeable.
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May 19, 2014 8:34:20 AM

aragis said:
I'd like to clarify the discussion about FPS. I play at settings that are as high as possible and aim for 45-60 fps but less demanding games run at 60+ fps at maxed settings. Obviously I will get less FPS in 1080p resolution, but I will aim for 40-60 fps (sometimes as low as 30 for occasional demanding moments) and tune the settings accordingly.


Well have you tried turning on VSync? And do you have the latest AMD drivers installed?

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May 19, 2014 8:41:29 AM

Since you are looking for a new monitor, do not focus on the refresh rate of the monitor.

Look first at the size and aspect ratio of what you want to see. You are probably are looking at a 1080P(1920 x 1080)
monitor. If you have the space, look at 24", perhaps larger. Performance at 1080P does not differ from 19" to 27"
Your new monitor will probably attach via a digital interface which offers better image quality.

As to the refresh rate, most monitors will do 60hz. That is probably fine for most games. In fact some games deliberately limit output to 60 fps. Setting vsync on will usually make for smoother gameplay. Try and see how you like it.

A monitor will last you for a long time. Bust your budget to buy a great one.
If you have the budget, consider a 2560 x 1440 27" monitor. The increased width of view may make your games more enjoyable. I think your 7850 can do a decent job at that resolution. At higher pixel densities, you may not need AA which puts a heavy load on your graphics card.

On a budget, look at the Korean monitors like QNIX and crossover, they get good reviews:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA4JH...

You can even have them shipped directly from Korea if you buy on ebay for less.




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May 19, 2014 10:02:01 AM

HiTechObsessed said:
aragis said:
I'd like to clarify the discussion about FPS. I play at settings that are as high as possible and aim for 45-60 fps but less demanding games run at 60+ fps at maxed settings. Obviously I will get less FPS in 1080p resolution, but I will aim for 40-60 fps (sometimes as low as 30 for occasional demanding moments) and tune the settings accordingly.


Well have you tried turning on VSync? And do you have the latest AMD drivers installed?



Yep, latest drivers. I use v-sync unless it creates unbearable input lag.
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May 19, 2014 10:16:01 AM

geofelt said:
Since you are looking for a new monitor, do not focus on the refresh rate of the monitor.

Look first at the size and aspect ratio of what you want to see. You are probably are looking at a 1080P(1920 x 1080)
monitor. If you have the space, look at 24", perhaps larger. Performance at 1080P does not differ from 19" to 27"
Your new monitor will probably attach via a digital interface which offers better image quality.

As to the refresh rate, most monitors will do 60hz. That is probably fine for most games. In fact some games deliberately limit output to 60 fps. Setting vsync on will usually make for smoother gameplay. Try and see how you like it.

A monitor will last you for a long time. Bust your budget to buy a great one.
If you have the budget, consider a 2560 x 1440 27" monitor. The increased width of view may make your games more enjoyable. I think your 7850 can do a decent job at that resolution. At higher pixel densities, you may not need AA which puts a heavy load on your graphics card.

On a budget, look at the Korean monitors like QNIX and crossover, they get good reviews:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA4JH...

You can even have them shipped directly from Korea if you buy on ebay for less.






I'll buy a 23-24 inch 1080p monitor with at least two digital ports.

TBH, if I had the budget to get a 27 inch 1440p monitor, I'd rather use that money to get a G-sync monitor, trade my card for a GTX760 or 770 and solve the problem completely.

Thanks for all the answers, I'm somewhat confused now, but I decided not to look for 120 hz unless I find a good bargain.

I'll upgrade to a g-sync set up when/if they get more common and cheap. (And perhaps AMD will release its counterpart of g-sync in the near-future)
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