When it comes to solving the Rubik’s Cube, not all methods are created equal. Some solving methods are better for speed solving/move optimization while other methods are best for beginners and ease of learning. There are only a few different methods but they can be adjusted or combined in many different ways to come up with the method that works best for you.
Layer by Layer (beginner’s method)
This is one of the methods that most beginner Rubik’s Cube solvers learn first. It borrows most of its steps from the CFOP method (described next on our list). The steps of layer by layer are:
- Build the bottom cross
- Solve the first layer corners–thereby solving the whole first layer
- Solve the second layer edges
- Build the top layer cross
- Solve the top layer corners
This simplified list of steps requires the least amount of algorithms to memorize out of all the solving methods, which is why it is what most beginner cubers learn first. Once you learn the layer by layer method, the rest of the Rubik’s Cube solving methods are much easier to learn because they all share similar algorithms/steps.
CFOP or Fridrich Method
This is the method that most cubers of all skill levels use. CFOP is the abbreviation of the steps used to solve a Rubik’s Cube with this method:
- First 2 layers
- Orient the last layer (OLL)
- Permutate the last layer (PLL)
Like the beginner’s method, the cross is the first step with CFOP. The ‘first 2 layers’ step is different with CFOP because you are solving the first layer corners and the 2nd layer edges at the same time which adds more algorithms to the mix. However, this is ultimately a faster way of solving the first 2 layers once you have it down.
Orienting the last layer means turning all the pieces on the top layer so the top face is all the same color. Permuting the last layer is the final step that moves the top layer pieces so they are also in their correct place on top and not just facing the right way. For example, the top face will be all the same color after OLL is complete, but some of the top face corners might be in the wrong spot. PLL moves the corners/edges around the top layer to their correct position without messing up the rest of the cube.
There are many different algorithms one can learn to handle any case they see when completing the OLL and PLL steps. To be exact, there are 57 OLL algorithms and 21 PLL algorithms to memorize for this method. With practice and dedication, this solving method can drop a cuber’s times into record breaking territory.
This method focuses more on block building rather than layer by layer solving like the previous 2 methods. A lot of this method is intuitive if you already know the CFOP solving method. Once the 2 blocks are built, the solver uses only middle (M) slices and up (U) moves to solve the rest of the cube. Turning accuracy is very important with Roux because M slices can lock up the puzzle easily if the pieces aren’t lined up properly before turning. Like CFOP, this method is used by some of the fastest speed solvers.
The ZZ method is very similar to the others but it differs in the initial step which is edge orientation. You start out by orienting all the edges and then build blocks of pieces much like in the Roux method. Once you get to the last layer, the edges are already oriented so you can solve it with one algorithm. However, there are nearly 500 algorithms to memorize so very few people do so.
Most solvers will use the same algorithms they learned for CFOP in order to solve the last layer. This method is better utilized for Fewest Moves competitions rather than for speed. However, the concepts of such edge orientation can be valuable skills for any cuber.