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PS5 DualSense teardown estimates '417 hour life', reveals causes of drift

Have you suffered from PlayStation 5 DualSense controller drift? A new teardown may have revealed why it keeps happening.

A new video from iFixit – a veteran channel that's been taking tech apart and examining how it works for years – shows a PlayStation 5 DualSense teardown that unearths why the new pad may be doomed to drift issues.

iFixit claims that PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox controllers have "a long history of predictable, preventable issues" thanks to stock joystick hardware in their pads.

As per the video below, the DualShock 4, the Xbox One, and Xbox One Elite controllers "could easily exceed their operating life in just over 400 hours of game time".

As any dedicated gamer will tell you, that's not an awfully long time at all for a pad that'll set you back $69.99 / £59.99.

iFixit dives into an information sheet from the manufacturer of the joystick parts – a company called ALPS – that notes the expected lifetime performance of a joystick would last roughly 2,000,000 cycles, with the 'click' of the joystick capable of lasting only 500,000 cycles.

This is because the potentiometer (a three-terminal resistor with a sliding or rotating contact that allows the joystick to move freely) wears out with repeated use, and because the spring-loaded mechanism that centers the joystick begins to stretch and deform with consistent use.

By the iFixit analysis of a standard Call of Duty: Warzone game, that means you'll get about 417 hours of gameplay out of the sticks before the performance starts to degrade.

As VGC points out, "if a PS5 player used their console for two hours a day, they would technically exceed their controller’s operation life expectation within 7 months."

So what can you do if your pad starts showing the tell-tale signs of drift? Check out the video embedded above – it gives clear and precise instructions about how to repair your pad and keep it in working order.

“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," concludes iFixit. “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.”

There are class-action lawsuits in progress in various countries around the world against both Sony and Nintendo regarding the 'important, serious and hidden defects' that underlie controller drift issues.

Our own Alex Donaldson also notes that the pad's battery life isn't really what you'd expect from a modern-day bit of kit, either – despite the controller being one of the best he's ever used.

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About the Author
Dom Peppiatt avatar

Dom Peppiatt


Dom is a veteran video games critic with 11 years' experience in the games industry. A published author and consultant that has written for NME, Red Bull, Samsung, Xsolla, Daily Star, GamesRadar, Tech Radar, and many more. They also have a column about games and music at The Guardian.