Why Your PS5 DualSense Controller Is Drifting, According To iFixit

Why Your PS5 DualSense Controller Is Drifting, According To iFixit
Image: Sony

DualSense controller drift has become a major issue for PS5 owners, with many taking to social media to describe breakdowns and catastrophic drift causing games to be unplayable. For some users, this issue popped up in the first week of owning a PS5. Reports have continued at such a pace that the first lawsuit against Sony for alleged negligence in developing the controller has already been filed in the United States.

While the outcome of this lawsuit will be unclear for many months, we do know a bit more about DualSense drift thanks to the folks over at iFixit. In a new video, the team explains the hardware backing the controller and how it contributes to drift.

“The DualSense uses off-the-shelf Joystick hardware with a long history of predictable and preventable issues,” iFixit explains. In a controller breakdown, it identifies the traditional ALPS Joystick hardware backing the controller as a problem and highlights wear and tear on the potentiometer as a key culprit for causing drift.

A controller potentiometer in this context is used to regulate voltage, and is at the mercy of joystick movement. The more controllers are moved, the more the potentiometer is worn down. In some cases, casual use can cause imperfections in the potentiometer that impact the accuracy of movement in the long term. This can also be caused by a stretched inner spring, which can trick the potentiometer into recentering movement based on thumb position.

iFixit further mentions contaminants like plastic dust, chips or other substances could breach the outside container and cause havoc on the potentiometer readings.

There’s also the other matter: that the life cycle of the joystick itself isn’t impressive.

According to the ALPS specifications highlighted by iFixit, the operating life cycle of the joysticks used in the PS5 DualSense is 2,000,000 cycles, with the ‘push’ function clocking in at 500,000 cycles. This translates differently based on what kind of games you play and how intense they are.

Based on rough calculations from iFixit, if players regularly engage with shooter or multiplayer-style games like Call of Duty, DualSense controller life could be as little as 400 hours.

How to fix a broken PS5 controller

Screenshot: iFixit / YouTube

In the video, iFixit details several methods of fixing a controller, some of which involve heavy duty soldering that should only be taken on by a professional.

The first fix involves prying off the potentiometer and cleaning or rotating the wiper. The second involves attempting to recalibrate the joystick using software, but most consoles don’t offer this option. For a more in-depth breakdown, iFixt recommends the following videos:

It’s important to note many of these solutions will void your warranty. They should only be undertaken if you are experienced at fixing tech, or confident you can complete the job successfully without harming yourself.

You can check out the full video below:

While you may not be game enough to tackle the repairs yourself, the knowledge that you’re not alone is always nice.

If you’re having trouble with your PS5 DualSense controller, your first port of call should always be your direct console retailer. Failing that, you can contact Sony Support to work out a fix.

Comments

  • Just purchased a new one this weekend and gonna return the old one for a replacement.
    Seriously, the improved version can not come soon enough, at least the rubber sheath PS4 nonsense was little more than an annoyance.

  • Sticking buttons are more of an issue for me. Started with Square sticking on Thursday, and now Triangle and Circle are doing it. Frustrating.

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