DualSense Teardown Shows Drifting Issues Should Have Been Expected
The DualSense uses a joystick module that is also found on a number of other controllers, including the DualShock 4.
Sony's problems with the PS5's DualSense controller may be harder to solve than we thought. With a class-action lawsuit recently filed against Sony over issues with DualSense controllers' drifting analog sticks, the company could be looking at ways it can improve the design. Unfortunately, the problem doesn't look like it has an easy fix.
In a new video from iFixit, the site looks into the reasons why the problem is becoming more prevalent, and it found the DualSense is using "off the shelf" joystick modules that have been prone to drifting in the past. The same module is used by a lot of other controllers, too, including the Nintendo Switch Pro controller and the Xbox Elite controller, the latter of which has seen drifting issues of its own.
The joysticks aren't easy to remove for quick replacement, either. On the DualSense, haptic motor wires are soldered to the board, and these must be removed before you can do anything else. Once that's done, 14 different solder points must be melted to get off the joystick module at all. Aside from the wiring for the haptics, none of the issues seem to be tied to the new triggers, which utilize their own motors to add variable resistance. Of course, the system has only been out for a few months, so it's possible that could change.
Getting into the module reveals potentiometers that can be worn down over time, which can lead to inconsistencies, plastics that can grind and cause dust buildup, and a spring inside can stretch and no longer go completely back to center--giving your controller a new neutral point that could lead to your character walking to one side when you aren't using the stick at all. What's more? these parts are rated as having a lifespan that could cause them to fail in just a few hundred hours of playtime, depending on the game in question.
If your controllers aren't under warranty and you don't want to fix the problem yourself, your only real option right now is to buy a new controller. With modern controllers being pretty expensive, however, that's not an ideal solution.