Updated February 15 2022
When the Rubik’s Cube first came out in the early 1980s, it was far from the Rubik’s Cube puzzles we have today. The original cubes were cheaply made and were often a struggle to turn. This was perfectly fine for the time being. Speed solving was not yet established and people were more intrigued by the puzzle itself and not concerned with how fast one could solve it.
Since then, however, most people who are serious about cubing or trying to reduce their solve times, wouldn’t dare to attempt a solve on an actual Rubik’s Cube. (Although most cubers do have an original Rubik’s Cube for collection purposes). Instead, most cubers opt for a more modern type of puzzle known as a “speed cube”.
What Is A Speed Cube?
A speed cube is basically a Rubik’s Cube on steroids. Like the name suggests, it’s a puzzle that is optimized to turn as fast as possible while also being controllable. This is accomplished by using higher quality plastics and metals and even magnets! (More on that later). You typically won’t find a real speed cube at your local convenience store or department store. Those stores will likely have a puzzle that is advertised as a ‘speed cube’, but doesn’t actually perform very well. To find a real speed cube, shoppers will need to search online puzzle stores.
Looking for quality puzzles but not sure what to get? Puzzlcrate will send you new ones every month.
Who Makes Speed Cubes?
There are many different manufactures of speed cubes and more enter the scene each year. Some of the main manufactures include: GAN, MoYu, QiYi MoFangGe, DaYan, FangShi, YuXin, and more. Because of the puzzles created by these brands, the world record has dropped from 22.95 seconds in 1985 to 3.47 seconds as of November 2018. This insane record was set by Yusheng Du from China.
This large drop in solve times is mostly due to better technology and materials used in manufacturing. The plastics that are used now are a more durable and often softer type of plastic that reduces friction. The puzzle pieces themselves are designed with grooves to reduce friction. The puzzle’s core is made more flexible which allows for better corner cutting and fewer lockups. Special lubricants have also been introduced in the past few years to reduce friction even further.
One of the most recent technology to be introduced to speed cubing that has had a huge impact on solve times is adding magnets to the inside of the pieces. It has helped improve the solve experience so much that magnetized cubes are now the preferred puzzle of most speed cubers. This trend started when cubers began to disassemble puzzles and glue tiny magnets in each piece. It didn’t take long for manufacturers to catch on. Now, most of the top manufactures have released magnetized speed cubes.
How do magnets help?
Magnetizing the puzzle allows it to snap into place after making a turn. This is a huge advantage when you’re turning the puzzle multiple times per second. It keeps the puzzle in its cubic shape and reduces lockups even more. It does add a little weight to the puzzle, but most cubers don’t mind or even prefer the heavier feel.
With so many advancements in speed cubes, some might argue that we’re very close to reaching the fastest solve times humanly possible. We’ll just have to wait and see.