PS5 DualSense Teardown Suggests That Analog Sticks in Modern Controllers Only Last 417 Hours

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The analog sticks in popular controllers such as the PlayStation 5’s DualSense will likely begin failing and exhibiting signs of drift after a mere 417 hours of usage. This is according to an investigation by the iFixit team, who performed a teardown of the DualSense and confirmed that the engineering behind its joystick modules and quality of hardware left much to be desired. More specifically, the DualSense leverages a generic, off-the-shelf type of potentiometer with a relatively reserved operating life of 2,000,000 cycles that’s also used in the DualShock 4, Nintendo Switch Pro, and Xbox One/Xbox One Elite controllers.

“One of our teardown engineers measured their own Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) controller interactions for back-of-the-envelope joystick life math,” iFixit explained. “Averaging ten different 30-second intervals, they made roughly 100 full potentiometer rotations per minute.”

“If you play a less stick-intensive game than a first-person shooter, rotating 80 times per minute, you’ll hit 2,000,000 rotations in 25,000 minutes, or 417 hours—that’s just 209 days, playing 2 hours per day. At a more kinetic 120 rotations per minute, that’s 139 days at 2 hours per day. So Alps’ own rating for accurate joystick measurements is, in one gamer’s hypothetical experience, 4-7 months—and that’s with a very non-pandemic 2-hour cap on your game time.”

The iFixit team suggests that one way around the drifting issue would be to go back to the drawing board with a modular design that allows users to easily replace a controller’s analog sticks, as they are almost certain to degrade or fail at some point. Companies could also make a better effort at seeking out more reliable joystick hardware, but that’s unlikely to happen due their focus on profits.

Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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