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PS5 DualSense drift problems attributed to multiple hardware shortcomings; software issues ruled out

DualSense drift is here to stay, unless Sony redesigns its latest controller. (Image source: Sony)
DualSense drift is here to stay, unless Sony redesigns its latest controller. (Image source: Sony)
iFixit has attributed DualSense drift to multiple hardware shortcomings with Sony's latest controller, ruling out software as a culprit. Apparently, little can be done to rectify the problem, short of Sony redesigning the DualSense.

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Last week, it emerged that a US law firm has begun investigating against Sony concerning issues with its DualSense controller. In short, some DualSense joysticks are drifting in-game, much like with the Nintendo Switch. Now, iFixit has provided the technical background to the problem and why it may worsen over time.

Unfortunately, the problem is hardware-based and not because of buggy software. iFixit has outlined four hardware problems that could cause joystick drift too, complicating the matter somewhat. One major source of drift is worn potentiometers, of which there are two per joystick. Over time, wear and tear leads to these parts misreading voltage, which translates to inaccurate movements on-screen.

Moreover, the spring within the joystick will wear, bringing with separate issues. The DualSense uses springs to return the joysticks to their neutral position, but irregular wear can result in a new neutral position forming. If that does happen, then the joystick may sit slightly off-centre, which would conflict with the potentiometers.

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Sony sources DualSense joysticks from Alps. (Image source: iFixit)
Sony sources DualSense joysticks from Alps. (Image source: iFixit)

Furthermore, the analog sticks can stretch over time, since Sony has made these from plastic. However, iFixit does not attribute these to the joysticks drifting. Instead, stretched analog sticks can reduce input accuracy and will make it more difficult to perform fine movements.

Finally, foreign particles, such as dust, can contaminate the joysticks, especially the potentiometers. Theoretically, you could clean these, but it will require some tools and fine movements to do so. Calibrating the DualSense will not help much if the sensors controlling movement inputs are dirty, though.

Overall, there is no simple fix for DualSense drift. In fact, the easiest resolution for Sony would be to replace faulty controllers and hope that those do not fail themselves. Otherwise, the company could redesign the DualSense with more reliable joystick hardware. We doubt that Sony will do this though, since it, Microsoft and Nintendo rely on the same supplier for joystick hardware.

Purchase the DualSense Wireless Controller on Amazon

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Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - Senior Tech Writer - 4146 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2018
Prior to writing and translating for Notebookcheck, I worked for various companies including Apple and Neowin. I have a BA in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds, which I have since converted to a Law Degree. Happy to chat on Twitter or Notebookchat.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 02 > PS5 DualSense drift problems attributed to multiple hardware shortcomings; software issues ruled out
Alex Alderson, 2021-02-19 (Update: 2021-02-19)