Hello everyone, I’m Angela. Welcome to my blog post! TheCubicle has graciously given me the opportunity to write about products and events, so I'll be blogging frequently here. I hope you guys enjoy my content.
tl;dr, for your convenience:
- The ShengShou Mr. M 3x3 was magnetic and economical, but had few extremely unconventional design features that make it awkward to recommend to beginners. The Yuxin Kylin V2 M fills in the gap nicely, and is a wonderful magnetic 3x3 speedcube for $10.
- The ShengShou Mr. M 4x4 is also great. It's only $11.99!
- The ShengShou Mr. M 5x5 is okay, but for $3 more, you can get a Yuxin Little Magic 5x5 M, an impressive puzzle with many traits that overlap with nicer, competitive 5x5s.
The subject of the best economy cube is an extremely frequently discussed topic. Some puzzles like 3x3s have very well developed economy markets while a few don’t. Most of the cubes we discuss here fill gaps in rather underdeveloped economy cube markets, which makes these new releases very exciting.
I’m often in a position to recommend puzzles to beginners. When it comes to these cubes, I strongly believe that design should mostly conform to the concept: “form follows function”. In the speedcubing context, I believe that the purpose of an economy puzzle is to help beginners familiarize. After the beginner becomes familiar with solving a puzzle, he or she should be able to transition easily to other more performance-oriented models. Accordingly, I believe an economy puzzle should provide all the essentials while minimizing distracting features and other attributes that are uncomfortably unconventional. I also consider decent performance with little to no setup important, as beginners are less likely to lube their puzzles.
To illustrate, the ShengShou Mr. M 3x3 is a classic case of a confusing product that sends mixed signals. Its make sharply contravenes the “form follows function” concept. It’s a budget magnetic 3x3 for $10 with a strange combination of features including strong, snappy magnets, a faster-than-necessary natural speed, and a textured exterior. While the cube is functional, the strange design choices make it arguably one of the goofiest, most unconventional 3x3s I’ve seen. It’s as if a person deliberately dressed up in a cocktail dress but also donned a sideways baseball cap, or a classy suit jacket awkwardly paired with athletic shorts. Of course, like many things in cube design, there is no easily findable documentation out there that explains why the designer chose these features.
In all candor, the strange design features of the Mr. M 3x3 make it uncomfortable for me to recommend the puzzle. There is a slight fear that a beginner who picks up this puzzle as a first cube will have an awkward time transitioning to better speedcubes in the future because they developed their practices on a strong, unnecessarily fast magnetic cube with a bumpy texture. There’s something really weird about recommending a puzzle to a beginner that’s so far from the rest of the stuff out there.
While I cannot completely recommend the ShengShou Mr. M as a first 3x3, there is one economy 3x3 that I can wholeheartedly recommend (in part because it conforms more closely to the “form follows function” principle). This cube is the Yuxin Kylin V2 M, which also retails for $10. While the tiles do stick out as a bit unconventional (at least they’re not bumpy in texture), the rest of the cube closely resembles the body of a competitive speedcube. The magnetic strength is reasonable, some corner cutting is appreciable, and the cube has fantastic structural integrity. Unlike the Mr. M 3x3, it genuinely feels like the Kylin V2 M was built to be an introductory cube -- a solid, no-nonsense puzzle and a great stepping stone to faster, better, more flexible speedcubes.
I really like the idea that economy cubes should contain basic features that closely resemble competitive speedcubes. After all, it generally makes the cubing better and competitive speedcubes slightly more relatable down the line. Incidentally, having economy cubes resemble competitive speedcubers also theoretically puts pressure on manufacturers to produce cheaper, higher quality flagships as a means to distinguish their better puzzles.
The following three cubes I’m about to discuss follow the trend of economy puzzles having similar properties to flagships, with one exception that I will clearly flag. Let’s discuss each one separately starting with the ShengShou Mr. M 4x4, then the Mr. M 5x5, and then the Little Magic 5x5 M.
I’ve personally always had a hard time recommending economy 4x4s to people because most of them leave quite a few things to be desired. Whether it’s catching, lack of corner cutting, or clunky movement, many budget 4x4s have problems that make them painfully obvious why they’re cheap. Thankfully, the ShengShou Mr. M 4x4 addresses a lot of these concerns. This unobtrusive-looking cube has evenly proportioned pieces, turns reasonably well without setup, is faintly magnetic, and has enough corner cutting to give your turning some freedom. Both inner and outer layers turn well, and the cube has no obvious shortcomings. Essentially, there is very little that stops me from recommending this cube. It’s the cheapest commercially available magnetic 4x4 that you can buy at $11.99, and I consider it a fantastic choice for people interested in getting into the 4x4 event.
The ShengShou Mr. M 5x5 is the second cube on our list. Like its 4x4 counterpart, the $13.99 Mr. M 5x5 is the cheapest magnetic 5x5 you can buy at a store. The puzzle moves reasonably well and checks off most boxes, so it’s relatively solid. However, I do feel ShengShou made a very questionable design choice by making the outer layer small. This is a rather traditional design concept that’s largely been discarded by modern designers (these days, designers and consumers alike prefer enlarged outer layers). The smaller outer layers of the Mr. M 5x5 make the puzzle harder to grip, which makes any 3x3 you run into more difficult than it should be. If you want a cheap 5x5 that performs reasonably well, the Mr. M 5x5 is a decent choice. However, if you are open to spending $3 more, the Yuxin Little Magic 5x5 M is a much better option.
The Yuxin Little Magic 5x5 M is a fantastic economy 5x5 that comes very close to being an actual competitive speedcube. Unlike the previously mentioned Mr. M 5x5, the Little Magic 5x5 M is proportioned more intelligently, with wider outer layers for better handling. Each layer turns smoothly with little interruption while the magnetic strength is excellently executed. The corner cutting is nice, and as always, the puzzle performs reasonably well with little to no setup. One thing to note about this puzzle is it only comes in stickerless. Out of all the puzzles mentioned in this article, the Little Magic 5x5 M is the most likely to be used in a competitive environment. This puzzle is fantastic, and we expect it to be very popular.
All of these puzzles move pretty well and go beyond satisfying most requirements cubers have for 4x4s and 5x5s in the economy price range. I’m very happy that these were released. The Yuxin Kylin V2 M, Mr. M 4x4, and Yuxin Little Magic M deserve special attention, as they are pretty great for cheaper puzzles.
If you’re a beginner, we highly recommend these puzzles. If you’re not a beginner but you’re in a position to recommend puzzles, we highly recommend that you recommend these.
Thank you for reading!
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- Tags: 3x3, 4x4, 5x5, Angela Buchanan, Economy, Magnetic, Product reviews, Recommendations, ShengShou, Yuxin