PS4 Controller Input Lag: Optimize Your Gaming Performance
Updated: December 14,2022
We've all been there. You're playing your favorite game, and things are going smoothly for the first few minutes. But then, all of a sudden, your character starts lagging behind the controller input. You feel something is off, but you can't quite put your finger on it. So, what's happening?
What you’re dealing with is a case of input lag. In this blog post, we'll take a look at what causes PS4 controller input lag and, more importantly, how to fix it! So, keep reading to learn more.
What Is Input Lag?
Any seasoned gamer knows that controller lag can be the difference between victory and defeat. But what exactly is input lag?
In short, it's the delay that occurs between a button being pressed on your controller and the game responding to the input. This can be caused by several factors, including controller type, console type, and even the TV or monitor you're using.
In general, controller lag is most noticeable in fast-paced games such as first-person shooters and fighting games, where even a split-second delay can decide the outcome of a match. However, it can also be a problem in slower-paced games like RPGs, where timing might be crucial for executing certain attacks.
There are several things you can do to reduce input lag, such as using a wired controller or playing on a dedicated gaming console. But at the end of the day, it's up to the developers to make sure their games are responsive enough to handle even the slightest bit of controller lag.
The Causes of PS4 Controller Input Lag
Sony has ensured that its DualShock 4 controllers can withstand even the most intense gaming sessions. However, certain issues can still arise. No gadget is made perfect, so even your PS4 controller might be experiencing input lag.
There are a few different factors that can contribute to this issue, so we'll quickly go over each of them and explain how they usually manifest.
Overloaded wireless connections are the most common reason for DualShock 4 input lag. Since the controller is using a wireless connection - Bluetooth, to be more specific - having too many similar devices around can lead to a decrease in connection quality and, thus, noticeable lag.
The controller's connection to the PS4 console can become unstable or even break completely. For example, when you don't use your PS4 for extended periods, the console may lose sync with the controller.
If you're playing online or through Remote Play, network latency is the most common culprit behind the lag. Just like Bluetooth, your local Wi-Fi can become overloaded, causing a poor quality connection to your PlayStation console.
Speaking of the console, your PS4 has an operating system just like any other computer. Any issues with that OS can lead to controller lag on the PS4, too.
In some cases, even your display can lead to delayed reaction times. A TV or monitor with a high response time isn't ideal for gaming. Fortunately, nowadays, there are TVs with gaming modes and monitors with response times as low as one millisecond. But, more on that later on.
Finally, it can be a case of wear and tear. While the DualShock 4 is more durable than any previous PlayStation controller, it's not built to last forever. The plastic and rubber parts do wear down, as do the switches underneath the face buttons.
This can cause delayed button inputs and, therefore, laggy gameplay. Even just getting dust buildup inside the controller has caused issues for many PlayStation gamers.
Testing the DualShock 4 Controller for Input Lag
For any serious gamer, every millisecond counts. That's why it's important to make sure your controller has as little input lag as possible. Luckily, testing for input lag is pretty easy. All you need is a stopwatch and a PlayStation 4 console.
First, power on your PS4 and launch any game. Ideally, you want to test in a game with the cleanest, mostly linear animations. Any first-person shooter or action game would suffice.
The test itself is simple - press the L2 button to aim down the sights and start the stopwatch. As soon as your character in the game acts, stop the stopwatch. The time on the stopwatch tells you your input lag. Ideally, you want this number to be as low as possible. Anything below 50 milliseconds is considered good.
How To Fix Input Lag on a PlayStation Controller
Even if it seems like an unsolvable problem at first, input lag is quite easy to fix. In this section, we will go over several solutions for any possible lag issues.
Clean Up the Controller
Let’s start with the controller itself and the easiest fix possible. When you’ve had your DualShock 4 for a while, the chances are that it has gathered dust and skin particles over time. After all, there are many creases on this controller, allowing buildup to block analog sticks and the buttons.
Using a cotton swab and some rubbing alcohol, go over all the buttons. However, we don’t recommend disassembling the controller as re-assembly is incredibly difficult.
Connect the Controller via USB
As we’ve mentioned before, one of the causes of the PlayStation 4 controller input lag can be its wireless connection. While it is a nice feature to have, especially if you like to sit far away from the screen, the wireless technology still has its quirks, even on the latest PlayStation and Xbox controllers.
To mitigate any potential connection delay, you can just hook up the controller to your PS4 console via a USB cable. It also means you won’t have to worry about battery life.
Reset the Controller
In rare cases, when the PS4 controller loses sync with the console, you’ll have to reset its connection. Get a paperclip or a toothpick and use it to push the little button located near the left trigger. Keep the button pressed for a few seconds. Then, plug the controller back into the USB port, sync it by pressing the PS Home button, and check whether the PS4 controller is lagging again.
Rebuild the PS4’s Database
Sometimes, the console itself is what’s causing the input lag. If you notice your PS4 running slower than usual, or the controls drifting and lagging, you can try rebuilding its database. You’ll need to reboot the PlayStation 4 into Safe Mode, which will give you access to troubleshooting tools. This menu includes the Rebuild Database option. Select it, and then let the console do its thing.
Switch to an Ethernet Connection
The PS4 has two ways to connect to the Internet - either through Wi-Fi or via Ethernet cable. We all prefer to keep our devices in wireless mode, but for any serious online gaming, it’s always best to use a wired connection, especially if you notice any lag.
Check Your Other Wireless Devices
Lag on a PS4 controller can happen if there are too many devices around using similar wireless connections. Bluetooth is usually pretty stable, but having too many Bluetooth devices on at the same time can cause issues and “confuse” them.
Fortunately, you can easily test and mitigate this. Simply turn off any Bluetooth devices that you aren’t using and check if your controller’s input delay improves.
Adjust Your Television
Ultimately, the cause of your input delay might not even be the PlayStation 4 system at all. It could be the display you’re using with the console.
Most modern TVs have several picture modes you can switch between. For gaming, you’ll want to find the Game Mode on your television to fix your lagging PS4 controller. By turning the mode on, your TV will disable its various image processing features, thus reducing the time it takes to refresh the image. You might lose some image details, but you might also lose the lag.
Input lag has been the bane of gamers ever since wireless controllers became mainstream, but as you can see, there are ways to reduce the lag or eliminate it entirely. Hopefully, some of the tricks we explained here today should solve your problems.
Unfortunately, sometimes the issue is more severe, and you’ll just need to fix or replace the faulty device. The DualShock 4 might be one of the best controllers to use on PC and consoles, but it’s not perfect. Taking good care of it will prolong its life and let you enjoy your favorite games for many years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
The input lag can be fixed by cleaning the controller, connecting it via cable, resetting, or outright switching to a brand new controller. Additionally, enable the gaming mode on your TV and use a wired internet connection on your console for the best performance.
In most cases, the easy solution is to simply switch to a wired connection. Sometimes, the issue lies in the controller’s electronics, and you might need to repair or replace it.
Your console needs proper ventilation, at least 50 GB of free space on its hard drive, and it works best through Ethernet. You can also try rebuilding its database for improved loading times.
On the PS4, controller input lag is almost nonexistent. According to official data, it takes just four milliseconds for the console to register and process any inputs from the controller. Of course, this is just the raw input. There are other factors, like how the games themselves process this data and your TV’s refresh rate. Most people don’t notice it, but if you’re planning to play games professionally, you might want to look into faster displays for optimal performance.
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A true tech and gaming savant, Ivan has been fascinated by the digital world since the early days of gaming on antiques such as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore’s beloved Amiga. Whether you’re interested in the latest PC and console gaming news, antivirus software, or smartphone reviews, or simply want to learn about the newest geeky gadgets around, we at KT have you covered, and Ivan’s likely the one we’ll ask.