360 game visual tearing on new TV- is it the game, the TV or something else?
February 6, 2012 9:33 PM   Subscribe

I got a new LCD TV, and it's 1080p and 120 Hz (previous was 1080i and 60 Hz). It generally looks great, but playing some Xbox 360 games, there's a noticeable amount of tearing I never saw on my old TV. Is this the game, the console, some setting, the TV itself or something else entirely?

The game in question is the newest Assassin's Creed and I never saw any tearing playing it my old TV. For reference, the TV is this 40" Philips LCD.

Generally it looks great (significantly so, I wasn't expected to really seen a ton of improvement over my old TV, but I was shocked), but the tearing quite sucks. I'm primarily a PC gaming person though, so TV visual weirdness is largely out of my league. Is this just because the engine can't always push enough pixels at 1080p?

I haven't tried a lot of games, so maybe it's just an issue with AC ... ? Any insights (and things I can possibly do to ameliorate this) would be much appreciated!
posted by Nelsormensch to Technology (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't think it's just you or your TV, I do suspect it's a game performance issue.

Sites mentioning the tearing issue: 1 2 3
posted by empyrean at 9:44 PM on February 6, 2012

Best answer: Your TV may have a 'game mode' which will turn off any post processing of the picture.
posted by wongcorgi at 9:49 PM on February 6, 2012

Try some other games. With some, it's the engine and their use of vsync.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:55 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, turn off all post processing settings on your TV. Those are terrible.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:56 PM on February 6, 2012

It's the games - more specifically, the xbox360 GPU makes it difficult to buffer 1080p (you have to do magic, which in turn kills your rendering performance). If you switch the res of the xbox down to 720p, and the tearing goes away, then that's the reason. if it doens't, then it's something else of course :)
posted by jaymzjulian at 10:42 PM on February 6, 2012

The "tearing" issue is a major issue for me, and the reason I have not bought an LCD tv in the last 3-4 years - I've been waiting for them to finally fix this once and for all.

This is usually pretty obvious if you go to a TV shop, with about 20-30 panels all displaying the same scene, and you just wait until you get a slow panning scene. About half of the panels will display some juddering / tearing.

The store people usually just explain it away as some panels being optimized for stills and some being optimized for movement. What really shocked me was how some of the top end panels (latest Sony Bravia 3D TVs) had unacceptable levels of tearing while on the other hand some cheap no-name brands from China did not.

The only thing I can suggest is to go into your TV settings / look into your manual and turn off as much postprocessing as you can - anything that manipulates the sharpness, interpolation, etc, just play with the settings and see if you can get it to look better.

FWIW my housemate had a TV with this problem before and I could never solve it - the same movie would play perfectly butter smooth on my computer LCD monitor, but when I ran a HDMI cable across to the TV it juddered / tore so badly it was unwatchable.
posted by xdvesper at 11:40 PM on February 6, 2012

Juddering and tearing are not at all the same thing. I've never heard of a TV adding tearing to anything.

Explain exactly what you are seeing to ensure that it really is "tearing" and not something else.
posted by The Lamplighter at 11:59 PM on February 6, 2012

It could be two issues. The first is that XBOX and PS3 games have far less vertical lines than 1080 - I believe Halo 3 used 640 vertical lines, and upscaled. This would produce nasty visual artifcats. The second issue is that if a game isn't performing well, developers may disable the 'vertical sync', which is the signal the TV uses to let the game know that it's ready for more visual data. If they ignore this signal, they'll improve their frame rate, at the expense of incurring major tearing.
posted by Yowser at 3:43 AM on February 7, 2012

Best answer: Be sure you've got the latest software update:
Software history: Software version Problems fixed
> Distorted video on analog channels
> Picture Quality settings upgraded
> Wireless connection lost when the set is turned on and off repeatedly
> Picture blinks when the set is first turned on
> Set re-boots during initial setup
> Netflix service is updated from v1.6 to v3.0
> Network error when Netflix is connecting
> No audio or audio lipsync with some signals
> Power button does not work while the set is AutoProgramming.
> Remote Control passthrough does not work when the connecting device is connected to HDMI4
PHL-0AB_311_0 > Internet connectivity test added
PHL-0AB_313_0 > YouTube added (Limited functionality and search)

Also try turning off DNM
(Page 22 of the Users Manual)
• [Digital Natural Motion] uses frame interpolation to make the video appear
smooth which causes a video lag of about 200 milliseconds. If you are using the TV
for gaming or as a PC monitor DNM will introduce lag. If your gaming system has a
lag adjustment feature for your game controller, use it to negate the lag or else turn off DNM for any application where lag is an issue. If your prefer to use DNM while watching movies on your Home Theater PC (HTPC) and are using an external
Audio Receiver for sound output, set a 200 millisecond delay on your audio output
for A/V sync. You will not experience A/V sync issues for anything other than
gaming or HTPC applications since the TV has internal A/V sync functionality.
posted by at at 4:21 AM on February 7, 2012

To determine whether it's the TV or the game, you'll have to get some other source of 1080p and plug it into the TV and see if it tears.
posted by gjc at 6:13 AM on February 7, 2012

Is the Xbox hooked up via HDMI, or it it an older Xbox using composite cables?
posted by smitt at 8:30 AM on February 7, 2012

You can set the xbox to auto detect source material and resolution, FYI. Or you can on my old xbox at least.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:44 AM on February 7, 2012

via HDMI, I mean.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:44 AM on February 7, 2012

@xdvesper: Buy a plasma TV
posted by wongcorgi at 9:39 AM on February 7, 2012

Best answer: My guess is the Xbox not keeping up. Tearing is usually a symptom of the game not using vertical sync. Developers turn off vsync to get faster framerates. Xbox games are about 50/50 as to whether they vsync or not (in my experience). A game may have vsync with doing 720p and not when doing 1080p.

A very few Xbox games let you choose whether to enable vsync or not. Saints Row: The Third is one game, you may want to try it out for testing. (Also that game is awesome.) Here's some testing with Saints Row 3 on Xbox.
posted by Nelson at 11:46 AM on February 7, 2012

Best answer: My guess is that it's the game. I noticed tearing pretty frequently in AC Revelations, even though it didn't seem to be a problem with the earlier games in the series. That was on a DLP screen at 720p, to boot.
posted by Uncle Ira at 2:54 PM on February 7, 2012

Response by poster: It seems the major contributor was the Digital Natural Motion setting. Turning that off dramatically reduced the amount of tearing. There's still a bit every once in a while, but it's nowhere near as bad. I guess that was the ticket. Thanks!
posted by Nelsormensch at 10:49 PM on February 7, 2012

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