It's a cube for accurate cubers who want something very fast and mired by construction issues reminiscent of its predecessor
When the Guhong 4 came out a couple of years ago, people were very excited. Here was a newer version of a beloved classic, that looked sharp, felt snappy and was great for many CFOP solvers. Then people realised that the cube had fatal flaws in its design and would break too easily for comfort. And people who preferred their magnets softer or liked to not get their fingers cut by sharp plastic were left wanting.
Now a new cube has come, that rounded some of the rough edges of its predecessor, blended the names of the Guhong and the Zhanchi Pro, and at under 20$ is a good contender for mid-range cubes. Until, that is, we take into account the fatal flaws in its design that make it break too easily for comfort. This time at least, it doesn’t seem like it will get destroyed by just solving it. Instead, the design of its spring compression is such that if you turn the wrong way you risk breaking the center piece and making your cube unusable. The cube manual stresses in red text that the piece cannot be turned clockwise, hoping that the average cuber born after 2008 has seen enough clocks tho know what direction that is (hint: it’s the one without the ‘ in cube notation).
But let’s pretend that no-one will render their cube useless with 1 literal wrong turn after 10 minutes of taking it out of the box. Let’s also forget that the centre caps pop off regularly when solving (this has been reported only on the 56mm and 55mm versions of the cube so far *UPDATE, actually happens on the 54mm too T_T*), the cube itself, depending on setup, feels way-too-much to quite fast, and is about as forgiving as your loving wife when you make the error of mentioning your past dalliances. The magnets feel fine and the auto-align picks up relatively early but sometimes lets you overshoot to the point that you lock up, corner-cutting when you’re using a reasonable compression (4-5) is shoddy at best. If you’re an accurate and fast cuber this might actually work really well for you, but most people will either be turned off from it, or in the case of new cubers, will love the speed but not understand why their times are so bad on this cube.
On the topic of novices: it has by now become a meme that Dayan likes to put a ridiculous amount of lube in its cubes, but whilst usually funny, here it is detrimental to the experience that new cubers will have with this cube. Out of the box it comes with the loosest spring compression (more on this later), literally sweating lube and utterly impossible to control. If you’re a parent gifting this to your child their first reaction will be “what the heck have I got spreading on my hands” and the second will be “how do I control this thing?”. For the sake of all those murdered baby silicons, Dayan, learn half measures.
And speaking of half measures, whilst the latest cube to come out of the Dayan engineering shack had multiple nuts and bolts that needed to be swapped individually by hand to change travel distance (rather than, say, using a screw, or an adjustable position), the Guhong Pro simply doesn’t let you change it. In the vein of the MGC EVO, you only get to change spring compression, which the English version of the manual tries and fails to convince us is “center distance”. It isn’t: it’s a spring compression wheel that works like every other compression wheel since people started putting them into cubes. If you’re wondering why it’s bad to only be able to change springs compression and not travel distance, it’s like having a car that can only turns left; it can work if you are a Nascar racer, but it might be a problem in most other circumstances. Having the possibility of tightening the screws slightly would make the first 2 compression settings (out of 5) actually meaningful, instead of something that you need to advise anyone to change as soon as possible.
The look and plastic is pretty ok. Fortunately between when they developed their marketing campaign (sporting a “Matte Appearance: Excellent tactile feel with no scratches!” tagline) and when the cube actually came out, somebody had a moment of lucidity and decided to switch to shiny plastic, which grips perfectly well (even though the build quality is meh at best, with moulding seams, uneven bumps etc make the specular reflections look less than great). The feel overall, however is not of cheap plastic, and the cube sits solidly in the hand. Once you’ve wiped off all the excess lube and washed your hands multiple times, that is.
Now, after having poured incendiary gel on the poor souls of the Dayan workshop for the better part of 6 paragraphs, I have to give a honest and deserved tip of my hat to the product managers who decided to adopt the “multiple versions of the same cube” concept in the smartest way I have seen so far. Instead of giving you progressively more stripped down versions of your cube, they actually propose variations that are meaningful : Big, Medium, Small cubes that let you choose the one that fits your hands the best. The difference between 54mm and 56mm is pretty relevant, and lets you account for the important differences in hand size between people, especially the younger cubs and the older geese among us. Letting us pick one that works for us is pretty damn smart. Moyu and XMD, take notes and learn when it’s worth learning.
(Note, I’m not as partial to the choice of maglev vs springs, as they tend to not make a lot of difference, and as I only have the maglev version I cannot pretend I know exactly the effect on the cube, but I suspect that the springed version would be better.)
Overall, this is a cube where even after several hundreds of solves I am still averaging more than 1 sec slower than my typical average, and this both in CFOP and Roux. I’m not the target audience though (I’m neither a quick nor an accurate turner), but in every single solve I find myself getting small lockups or loss of cube-shape that make me lose that bit of time.
Should you buy it?
If you like Dayan cubes and you are accurate enough, this might be the best one to come out since the Zhanchi pro and its very broad range of good settings allowed to cover a wide spectrum of cubing styles. But the center caps pops, the risk of breaking this thing with a single wrong turn, the lack of customisation and the overall instability makes me recommend this only to dedicated collectors. (And if you want to support Dayan, get a Tengyun v1 or a Zanchi Pro, in that order.). But with all of that said, if you have or receive one, you'll realise it's not a bad cube: it's fast, and if you are attentive it lets you get fast results.