Saturday, August 13, 2016

YJ Guanlong Square-1 "Squanlong" review

Hey everyone! I intended for this blog to me focused mainly on 3x3s, but due to popular request it looks like I'll be doing something different for the first (proper) review: the YJ Guanlong Square-1.

This is actually my first Square-1 and my second was the mess of the MF8 v3, so I don't have a proper baseline to compare it to. I have a Qiyi in the mail, and I'll be able to update this review once it comes in. In the meantime, here's a review from the perspective of a total newbie at Square-1s.

Background Info

This is YJ (not Moyu)'s first entry into the new and improved Square-1 market, aimed straight at the budget segment. It costs just $6 from US sellers and in fact may be the cheapest cube I've ever gotten shipped from the US. It inherits the name of the Guanlong 3x3, which was one of the first ultrabudget cubes with fairly high performance, and hopes to do the same thing.

However, if we all remember, the Qiyi Square-1 revolutionized the market last year with its fast turning and vastly improved corner cutting. Being a budget Square 1, a lot of us weren't sure where the YJ Square-1 was supposed to slot into the market - would it try to beat the Qiyi in its own game, or would it just be a budget offering for those who couldn't afford the Qiyi?

Look and Feel

The thing I hated most about the Guanlong 3x3 was its extremely low weight - it felt almost as if it was made of paper. Knowing that, I hoped that the Guanlong SQ1 would be better but didn't expect much.

Luckily, it outdid my expectations - it weighs a good 83 grams, versus the 67 of the Guanlong 3x3. It's about as heavy as a Weilong GTS. The weight does feel more distributed towards the core than the pieces, so it doesn't feel quite as solid as a similarly weighted 3x3, but that could be a characteristic with SQ1s in general (Will update when the Qiyi arrives).

Widened layers on the YJ SQ1 (right)

One of the big things that sets this SQ1 apart from others is the widened middle layer - rather than being thinner than other layers, on the Guanlong the middle layer is exactly the same width as the top and bottom layer. YJ claims this is so fingers fit on the middle layer better, and it does make it more comfortable to hold and turn than the MF8. It's 56mm, which is a standard size for 3x3s nowadays.

The stickers are a standard Moyu scheme with a slightly paler orange, and are applied as so: F=Orange, B=Red, U=Yellow, D=White, L=Green, R=Blue. It's very quiet so I can't comment much on the sound.


It's very fast on both layers as well as the slice. I have no idea if it's a characteristic common to the Qiyi, but when the layers are aligned properly I'm able to make a 270 degree turn with a single flick. I haven't lubed it at all, and taking it apart there's no factory lube either. The feel is silky smooth.

Honestly, I can't say much about it, it's a very simple feel. Fast and silky smooth.

Corner cutting

This was one of the main ways the Qiyi raised the bar last year, so the Guanlong SQ1 went into it with pretty high expectations already set. 

Forward cutting is excellent - on edges it cuts right up until the Florian cuts start to overlap again, and on corners it cuts to where the edge of the corner and the slice line up. The cutting action is odd in that it takes a long time before the layers snap into the cut, but once it does it's very snappy and is in fact one of the most satisfying corner cut feels I've ever felt.

Reverse cutting is less impressive. Even when the florian cuts are overlapping the cube doesn't necessarily reverse cut and more often than not locks up. By a rough measurement (it's hard to measure angles that small) you're only able to get roughly 2 degrees of reverse cutting, and in fact some angles that look like they should reverse cut judging by the florian holes actually forward cut.

Sideways cutting, or when the slice is misaligned and a layer wants to turn, achieves line to line, which in this case means the bottom layer's line touches the top layer's line. This is more than I expected from a budget SQ1. Reverse sideways cutting has the same issue as reverse normal cutting, but not quite to the same degree.

Anti-corner twist

Just kidding.


Oof. Not great at all.

I've seen this already mentioned in a few other reviews, but the Guanlong SQ1 loves popping. Sometimes even the smallest of lockups will pop an edge or two out. I don't turn fast (as a new squan solver, I try to me more precise than fast) but I end up getting a pop every two or three solves - not great for a competition average of 5.

Usually I'd give it the benefit of a doubt and say it could be my inexperience with SQ1s, but I've heard from many people that the Qiyi doesn't pop nearly as much. Gonna have to score against this one.


I don't know much about Square-1 internals, so I'll just leave these pictures up for you to judge.

Seems to be a rather simple internal design, unlike the crazy curves and excessive torpedoes of 3x3s nowadays. Maybe that's why it pops?

We'll see once we have a Qiyi to compare it to.


Objective score: 6.5/10
It's in most regards an excellent puzzle - it turns nicely and corner cuts pretty far. It's also thoughtful of YJ to widen the middle layer. Unfortunately, the popping is a major issue and could easily cause a DNF average if it were used in comp.

Subjective score: 8/10
I quite enjoy the silky smooth feel of the puzzle, and the corner cutting is some of the most satisfying I've ever felt. It's a great puzzle to play around with. The popping does bother me a bit, but I don't intend on using this in comp (Qiyi coming for that) and there's no real problem if it pops a bit too often at home.

Now, I've found the typical "Should you buy this cube" always results in an answer of "depends". So let's do something different:

You should buy this cube if:
  • You don't care much about Square-1 and only want an enjoyable cube to play around with
  • You can't afford the Qiyi
You should not buy this cube if:
  • You're serious about Square-1 and do it in comp
  • You can't stand popping

I think that about wraps it up for the first review on this blog. I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I did writing!