PS5 DualSense Drift Explained and How to Prevent It on Your Controller

PS5 may be one of the most difficult items to find right now, but even those lucky enough to own one are dealing with their own unique issues.

Its post-launch shortcomings range from rest mode bugs to complete GPU failures, but one flaw that's garnered lots of attention recently is the so-called "DualSense drift" phenomenon.

Just like Nintendo's Joy-Con drift before it, it would appear some of Sony's new analog sticks have a tendency to improperly register movements, causing inputs to register as pressed long after the user has stopped tilting the lever. The topic hit its peak earlier this week when IGN was first to report that Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLP had filed a class action lawsuit against Sony in hopes of reaching some kind of resolution for impacted gamers.

ps5 dualsense drift explained controller
PS5's DualSense controller is amazing, but it apparently has a drift problem. Below, we detail what causes DualSense drift and explain how to prevent it. Sony Interactive Entertainment

Even though a cursory glance around the internet suggests DualSense drift isn't nearly as pervasive as Joy-Con drift, likely due to differences in the design of the controllers, a new video from iFixit on YouTube offers what seems like a plausible explanation for the problem on PS5 and any other mass-market console remote. And now that we seemingly understand the root of the cause, there may be a few methods to prevent it.

What Causes DualSense Drift and Other Controller Drift Issues?

To sum up iFixit's video, the clip reveals that most major controllers—from PS5's DualSense to the PS4's DualShock 4, various Xbox controllers and even the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller—all use the RKJXV joystick from a company called Alps Alpine. Like all joysticks, this one features a potentiometer that gauges the stick's position as it follows a semi-circular motion. There's also a spring that resets the stick back to its center state when the player releases the tension. The source video suggests these two parts are inside the stick itself and could be the main culprit for any console controller drift.

The first way the potentiometer or spring can falter is through use in gameplay. And as it turns out, the sticks inside your DualSense controller aren't built to last too many sessions. The official RKJXV fact sheet suggests an operating life of 2 million cycles in motion and 500,000 cycles pressing the L3 and R3 stick buttons. From iFixit's analysis, this amounts to around 400 hours of casual gameplay. Considering it's not uncommon for a single triple-A title to be 100 hours in length, one can see how it might be easy to hit that threshold quite quickly. Once that point is passed, that's when drift might set in. Either the potentiometer gets worn down or the spring stretches to a point where its center value becomes incorrect. In either case, your character or cursor keeps moving when it shouldn't.

Beyond basic use, another potential drift cause is environmental. Controllers are high-impact items that are handled roughly by nature. If dust particles, food or other crumbs find their way into the sticks, your potentiometer is likely to register incorrect readings. In other words, the parts inside the DualSense controller aren't built for the kind of beating it's about to take, both in terms of gameplay use and in everyday life.

How to Prevent DualSense Drift

The actual fixes for DualSense drift are likely well outside the realm of most casual users, so the best option is to start taking steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. Limiting your actual play time is counterintuitive, but it can still help to be mindful of other factors. For example, clean the outside of your controllers frequently so particles don't get inside. Keep them off the floor, out of couch cushions, and away from pets.

These suggestions may sound like common sense, but just about every gamer is guilty of tossing controllers around with the kind of reckless abandon that apparently doesn't suit the parts inside. Hardware makers should probably use more resilient stock sticks and allow gamers to easily replace them, but that's not the reality we're living in. Those who currently have drift can try getting a replacement DualSense via warranty or using individual in-game settings options to tweak sensitivity to overcome its negative effect. With all this in mind, you might have to get used to babying your DualSense.

Have you noticed DualSense drift on your controller? Were you able to fix it? Tell us in the comments section!