Beginning with the Linux 3.8 kernel (yes, 3.8) paired with a brand new xf86-video-intel DDX driver, the last troubling issue that caused tearing on Sandy Bridge graphics and newer will hopefully be eliminated.
Chris Wilson released the xf86-video-intel 2.20.12 driver this weekend (he also released the 2.20.11 driver on the same-day too, but that was plagued by an immediate UXA problem). With this driver using secure batch buffers when available, finally the driver can hopefully performance updates to the scan-out while being synchronized to the refresh rate for Sandy/Ivy Bridge graphics card. With the synchronized scan-out working, this will hopefully eliminate tearing problems.
On the downside, however, this tearing elimination with legacy vsync through secure batches comes at "quite a power cost" as the GPU needs to be kept out of its power-savings mode.
The xf86-video-intel 2.20.12 driver release announcement can be read on the mailing list.