A new PlayStation 5 DualSense teardown revealed possible causes for controller drift.
The iFixit YouTube video below looks inside DualSense to find out what caused the deviation some users reported.
According to iFixit, DualSense, as well as DualShock 4, Xbox One and Xbox One Elite controllers all use out-of-the-box joystick hardware with a long history of predictable, preventable issues.
iFixit’s research has found that the components in these sticks can easily exceed their lifespan in just over 400 hours of playtime.
But what causes the drift in the first place? It seems to be related to the wear of potentiometers. Potentiometers are a three-terminal resistor with a floating or rotating contact (rotating in the case of DualSense) that creates an adjustable voltage divider to measure your position. In most modern game controllers these are found under the hood.
There are other possible causes of drifting. As you move your joystick, the spring-loaded, self-centering mechanism can stretch slightly, creating a new neutral point. This stretched spring can trick potentiometers into thinking even when your thumb is not on the bar.
And finally, pollutants can cause drift. Over time, plastic dust can accumulate in the mechanism from components that are grinded together.
iFixit ends up calling console controller manufacturers to make it easy to replace joysticks.