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DualSense teardown reveals causes of drift, estimates 400+ hour life

That's about 7 months of Call of Duty Warzone.

A new DualSense teardown video by iFixit has revealed common causes of joystick drift, at the same time estimating the controller will last around 400 hours before needing repair or replacement.

It’s not only the DualSense that’s under the microscope as the channel revealed that it, the Xbox One, DualShock 4 and Xbox Elite controllers all use the same ALPS joystick parts.

While ALPS itself says the joysticks — a combination of potentiometers that sense movement, the joystick itself and a bunch of soldering to a motherboard — are prone to wear and tear and are difficult to repair when affected.

“It’s bizarre to us that console makers don’t consider joysticks to be consumable parts and design them to be easily replaced,” iFixit declared. “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.”

As for how long the joysticks will last? While ALPS says the potentiometers will last roughly 2,000,000 cycles, the click-in action of a joystick is only estimated to last 500,000. iFixit used those figures to calculate actual game time in hours.

“Translating those numbers into just how long your joystick will last depends greatly on the type and intensity of games that you play,” iFixit concluded, “but some back-of-the-napkin math based on some of our co-workers’ Call of Duty gameplay gave us a shockingly low number. The components in these sticks could easily exceed their operating life in just over 400 hours of game time.”

A gamer playing around 2 hours a day will hit that mark at around 7 months.

iFixit details how you can try to fix a controller with drift — by either cleaning the potentiometers or outright replacing them (with a bunch of soldering) — but concedes that a bunch of us will just have to buy a new controller altogether.

You can check out iFixit’s amazingly detailed video below.


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Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.