PS5 DualSense controller teardown reveals factors behind drift issues

midian182

Posts: 6,782   +61
Staff member
A hot potato: Sony's PS5 DualSense drift problems could become more widespread than first feared. A new teardown on the controller examines what's causing the issue, which can appear after just "417 hours" of use.

iFixit, best known for its teardowns of the latest smartphones, took apart a PS5 DualSense to discover what's been causing the drift problems that have led to a class-action lawsuit against Sony. It says the controller uses "off-the-shelf joystick hardware with a long history of predictable, preventable issues."

A company called Alps manufactures the DualSense's joystick modules, which are also found in controllers such as the PS4's DualShock 4, the Xbox One and Xbox Elite controller, and the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. It's worth noting that iFixit says Alps "probably aren't the villain of this story."

Alps' website states that the potentiometer—a three-terminal resistor with a sliding or rotating contact that forms an adjustable voltage divider—used in the PS5 DualSense has an operative life of two million cycles, while its clicking mechanism lasts 500,000 cycles. This is due to it wearing out from repeated use and the spring that centers the joystick stretching into a different shape.

Two million cycles may sound like plenty, but that means controllers using these components "could easily exceed their operating life in just over 400 hours of game time." Analyzing a typical Call of Duty: Warzone game, iFixit estimates that you'll get around 417 hours of gameplay; that's around four to seven months if you cap your playtime at 2 hours per day.

In addition to the sensors wearing away and springs deforming, drift can also be the result of the materials in the joystick stretching. Contaminants working their way inside the casing is another cause.

Dualsense Drift from r/PS5

iFixit says that these components are used because of a "wilful cost-saving calculation on the consoles makers' part."

"After this research, it's bizarre to us that console makers don't consider joysticks to be consumable parts and design them to be easily replaced. No device rated for a finite number of actions, especially one that lives next to so much contamination and takes so much abuse, can maintain perfect performance forever," said iFixit

iFixit has offered some potential solutions for those experiencing drift, including removing the potentiometers' housing and cleaning or replacing the wipers. More technical users can even attempt soldiering. Whether longer-lasting components end up being used in controllers might depend on the outcome of the numerous class actions console makers are facing.

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dangh

Posts: 228   +293
I actually like triggers feedback, it really add to immersion, but still require some fine tuning by games developers.
As the drifting issue, I guess it will be same as in ds4, or xbox controller. And while I never had this issue I believe we should have modular construction to allow easy fixing. Mechanical parts will always break no matter how expensive they are. But by allowing easy replacement we would reduce a lot of unnecessary waste.
 

Thretosix

Posts: 84   +97
SONY keeps trying innovative gimmicks, but they tend not to last.

Sixaxis motion sensing is dead since PS3 and the force feedback triggers, while a great idea, aren't going to hold up.
Sixaxis was annoying. The new force feedback is pretty cool and can be useful. May take dualsense 2 to get it right. My main concern would be battery usage, without being able to slap in alkaline batteries. You either need multiple controllers, play it while connected with a wire, or limit your game time.
 

cuerdc

Posts: 216   +66
Analog failures been a problem for a longtime, these should be a modular component which can be swapped to replace or vary in design.