I was facing the problem for last couple of years but I thought it was related to AMD Radeon HD 6450 video card and its driver. The Catalyst driver provides an option to use VSync but then video playing stopped being smooth. I have even found comments in the Internet blaming AMD/ATI video cards in general of causing video tearing under Linux. Probably they are all wrong. Those comments suggested to switch to Nvidia.
So I switched to Nvidia GeForce GT 720 video card, installed its latest driver and… the video tearing was still happening. So I started digging about the problem without bias related to type of video card or video driver and… found out that under Linux Mint switching from MATE Desktop Environment to Cinnamon Desktop Environment may help. I’ve immediately installed it… AND IT HELPED!
What’s most beautiful in Linux is that I can have both: MATE and Cinnamon, selecting one when logging in. MATE is for lower resource usage and Cinnamon for perfect video playing (and probably as general video-related problem solver).
PS. Last time I’ve found this workaround for video tearing under Linux Mint MATE Edition: http://www.howtoeverything.net/linux/issues/finally-no-more-tearing-anywhere-mate-desktop-and-compiz I didn’t try it and it looks more complicated and kind of limited.
PS.2. It looks that Linux Mint 17.3 MATE Edition finally tried to address the issue of video tearing: http://www.linuxmint.com/rel_rosa_mate_whatsnew.php (search for “screen-tearing”). However it failed. After upgrade to Linux Mint 17.3 MATE the video tearing problem is still present. Hey, MATE team – stop claiming you’ve solved it!