DS4Windows Not Detected via Bluetooth Connection

This page is dedicated for issues regarding connecting, reconnecting or maintaining Bluetooth connection with the DS4 controller

If your controller connects and stays connected as normal but is not detected by DS4Windows then refer to the controller detection issues page

Common DS4 Bluetooth Solutions

Using a good quality, dedicated USB BT Adapter

  • Integrated BT adapters are usually bad
  • Most problems are caused by a bad bluetooth connection
  • Though most controllers will work with a 2.1 BT adapter, more modern ones usually have better signal quality
    • A (at least) 4.0 BT adapter is recommended

Re-pairing it to Windows using the correct method

There are 2 ways a controller can be paired to Windows:

  • The controller makes the connection request to Windows (incorrect method)
  • Controller is set in its special pairing mode and then the user manually makes Windows connect to it (correct method)

If the controller has been connected in the wrong method it will 100% not work even though it appears on Windows as if it has been properly added. If in doubt, make Windows remove the controller from its Device list and re-pair it again using the correct method. Check the following section on how to propperly connect a controller to the PC.

How to properly remove and re-pair a Controller

Pair a controller to Windows

  1. Verify if the controller is not already on Windows’ Paired Devices list. If it is, remove it as per the next section
  2. Follow the instructions in the dedicated Connecting your controllers to the PC page

Remove a paired controller from Windows

Windows can't find the controller when adding via Bluetooth & Other Devices

  • MAKE SURE YOUR DEVICE IS IN PAIRING MODE!
  • For most controllers a 2.1 Bluetooth adapter is required
  • Windows will not detect the device if it already is on its paired devices list, requiruing it to be removed from there beforehand
  • If the controller has been previously connected to the PC but does not appear on the list anymore, check if it still exists on Windows’ Devices and Printers
  • Sometimes Windows takes an awful long time to detect DS4v1 controllers

Controller connects and stays connected but Windows / DS4Windows does not recognize it

  • Re-pair the controller to Windows using the correct method explained in one of the topics above just to be sure
  • If you’re using a controller from your gaming console (PS3, PS4, PS5, Switch) make sure it has not accidentally connected to it/turned it on. It is recommended to fully turn off/unplug it when first attempting to pair the controller to the PC
  • If this is not the case, check the dedicated controller detection issues page

Controller does not reconnect after system reboot, sleep or shutdown cycle

  • If using a USB BT adapter it may be a compatibility issue between the adapter and the USB port being used. Test the adapter in other USB ports (un-pair the controller before moving the adapter)
    • Sometimes this issue is caused by BT adapters that were were made for 2.0 USB ports being used in 3.0 ones
  • It’s possible that your BT adapter model is just not fully compatible. Test with a different adapter
  • Possible issues with BT adapter driver. Even if your BT adapter appears to work, check if there isn’t a specific manufacter’s driver that is required for it to properly function

Controller connects and works but sometimes randomly disconnects or stop responding

  • Generally causes by a bad Bluetooth signal stability. Refer to the Input delay on Bluetooth page for more related info
  • Possible faulty controller or dying controller battery
  • Check DS4Windows’ log for error messages
  • Verify if the issue does not occur when DS4Windows or Steam are not running
    • Keep in mind that using some controllers (DS4, DualSense) with DS4W or Steam makes them transfer more data, thus making them more prone to lose connection if your BT adapter is not up to the task

Cannot connect more than 1 controller or connection is lost

  • Caused by a bad quality BT adapter or high signal interference
  • BT adapter can’t mantain the necessary data rate
  • Refer to the Input delay on Bluetooth page for more related info

Windows using integrated BT adapter instead of the external/USB adapter

The integrated BT adapter must be disable on Windows’ Device Manager:

  • Press Win+X on the keyboard and select Device Manager on the appearing selection window
  • Locate the integrated BT adapter under the Bluetooth section and disable it
  • Replug the dedicated adapter or try disabling and enabling it again

Loss of WiFi or Bluetooth signal if controller is connected

  • If using an integrated card that double as both the Bluetooth and Wifi adapter then it’s possible that its signal quality is so bad that one is interfering with the other. The solution would be to use a dedicated, good quality USB BT adapter
  • Even if using independent BT and Wifi Adapters, if the signal quality of one of them is bad then it’s quite easy for severely interferece between them to occur anyway
  • Make sure other devices’ (laptops, smart TVs, smartphones) WiFi and Bluetooth signals are not generating radio interference near the PC
  • When DS4Windows starts communicating with controllers the amount the data being traded vastly increases and may serve as an explanation if this issue does not occur when the controller is connected but DS4Windows is not running
  • Refer to the Input delay on Bluetooth page for more related info

Controller sometimes tries to reconnect to other nearby PC

Both PCs’ Bluetooth adapters probably have the exact same MAC Address, so the controller can’t differentiate between them and tries to connect to the first one that responds.

Latency/input delay issues on Bluetooth

A connection latency is how much time it takes for one system to communicate to another. In DS4Windows case, we refer to the time it takes for the system/DS4Windows to communicate with the controller. A high latency means a high input delay in games, meaning the time it takes for your character to respond to the controller commands.

A high but stable input delay will make the users’ character feel slow to respond, while a low input delay with high delay spikes may make the user prone to errors because of unexpected slow respond times.

It’s often considered that a really bad high latency is one where the input delay is above 20ms, though the ideal is to keep it bellow 10ms.

Usual controller latency

The following table can be used as reference for comparison on what input delay to expect with a supported controller and a good Bluetooth adapter:

ControllerUsual input delayMinimum input delayNotes
DualShock 35ms5msConnected through BthPS3 + DsHidMini (DS4Windows Mode)
DualShock 44ms – DS4W Default settings1,5ms – polling rate set to maximumv1 and v2 don’t have major latency differences
DualSense3ms1ms 
Switch Pro controllers16ms16ms16ms is the lowest latency the official controller can achieve
Joy-cons16ms?16ms? 

Monitoring input delay

  • You can check the current input delay by hovering your mouse above the controllers name on the Controllers tab (check the image above)
  • If the controller’s latency goes over 10ms then it will appear on the Log
  • If you have a DualShock 3, DualShock 4 or DualSense you can enable the Flash Lighbar at High latency option in the Settings tab, which will make the lightbar flash in a red color when latency spikes are detected.

Input delay issues

In case you are having issues with input delay, keep something in mind: DS4Windows itself is probably not the cause of whatever high input latency/latency spikes that you may have! 98% chance of the issue being elsewhere.

Controllers do not communicate directly with DS4Windows via some driver, they connect to the default Windows’ Bluetooth Stack and DS4Windows just receives and sends data to it through the channels given by Windows.

If you are having latency issues then installing/uninstalling drivers won’t fix them unless they are directly related to your dongle’s driver. For this reason, messing with DS4Windows’ related drivers will probably be a waste of time.

Latency issues always boils down to:

  • Low quality Bluetooth adapters (most integrated ones)
  • High radio interference near the adapter
  • Too many devices connected to the adapter
  • Not using the correct/updated BT adapter’s driver

Causes of high or unstable latency

Bluetooth and WiFi interference

Both use the same frequency. Although they should auto adjust to prevent interference, sometimes it just happens. Check if your area isn’t overloaded with different 2.4Ghz WiFi networks and Bluetooth devices. Also, if one of the signals is too weak then it’s quite easy for the other to heavily interfere.

Integrated or bad Bluetooth adapters

It’s quite common for integrated BT adapters to suck for one of the following reasons:

  • They are inside the laptop’s shell or inside a case that act as an obstacle to the signal
  • The Bluetooth adapter also is the WiFi adapter and they are both interfering at each other
  • They are just being overrall bad. Integrated BT adapters generally have short range and can’t maintain the minimum data rate necessary when connecting more than 1 controller. Good integrated adapters are the exception, not the norm

Though the minimum BT specification required for most modern controllers is the 2.1 specs, more modern adapters should have better signal stability.

Multiple connected controllers

Each connected controller means more data that is being transferred through the Bluetooth adapter. If you have a bad adapter or high radio interference near it it may not be able to maintain the required data rate between the system and controllers, causing high latency or even connection loss. Not much can be done besides trying to lower the interference or replacing the adater with a better one.

A good quality adapter can easily maintain a stable, low latency connection with 4 controllers or even more.

DS4Windows causing controller to increase data transfer rate

DS4 and DualSense controllers can communicate in 2 different modes:

  • PC friendly mode: only basic button/axes information is sent by the controller to the PC
  • Native PS mode: controller sends its full set of information, including motion sensors data, status, touchpad states etc

When first connected to Windows, these controllers communicate in PC friendly mode and their data transfer rate is low. When picked by DS4Windows (or Steam for that matter), a request is sent for them to change into Native PS mode, which increases the volume and the frequency of data being sent.

Not only that, DS4Windows also sends data back to the controller related to the rumble, lightbar, triggers (DualSense only) etc.

When these changes occur, if the Bluetooth adapter can’t keep up with the required data rate then the user may suffer with high input delay or even connection loss. So if your never had latency problems when using your DS4/DualSense in games as a generic controller but then start having issues when trying to use DS4Windows or Steam this may be the cause.

Potential fixes to latency issues

Test with WiFi fully disabled

By disabling the WiFi signal you have one less source of radio interference so you can then verify your BT adapter performance in a environment with less signal noise. Keep wifi enabled devices far from the PC too.

Set Windows' Power Plan to High Performance

  • Set the power saving plan of the PC to “High Performance” (usually the default in Win10 is balanced)
  • On Windows’ Device Manager locate your Bluetooth Dongle -> Enter its properties -> Check if there is a tab called Power Management and disable the turn off this device to save power (untick the option)

Use a dedicated BT adapter

A dedicated, good quality BT USB Adapter should offer better performance than an integrated one. Because its antenna is located outside of the laptop/desktop’s shell, it also suffers less from signal loss caused by physical obstacles.

When using a USB adapter in a PC that also has a integrated one the latter must be disabled in Windows’ Device Manager in order for the USB BT adapter one to be used, since Windows can only keep one dongle active.

Moving the adapter to another USB port

Moving the dongle to a better located USB port may offer a better quality signal. Also, USB ports (specially 3.0 and above) can be a source of radio noise. Test the dongle in different ports to verify which offer you a better signal.

Connect USB BT adapter through a USB extension cable

A laptop/desktop’s shell is a source of radio noise, specially if it’s ungrounded or near high powered, high data transfer ports like USB 3.0 and above. This noise may worsen your BT’s adapter performance.

Connecting your BT adapter through an active cable extension, so it stays located at some distance from the computers shell (not necessarily nearer to the controller), is known to be useful in these cases.

Decrease the BT polling rate on profile settings

On Profile Editor -> Other tab it’s possible to set the BT Poll Rate used for DS4 and DualSense controllers on Bluetooth. If you are having latency issues, specially with multiple controllers connected, try setting this value to 10ms or more. For most games, a controller input delay is only noticeable above 16ms.

Disable output data to the controller

Your adapter may not be up to the task to both receive and send data to the controller. In this case, you can set a profile with the Enable output data to DS4 option disabled. Keep in mind that disabling this option will also disable Rumble and Lightbar control.

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