Saturday, September 10, 2016

Shengshou Fangyuan review

Welcome back! The Gans Air review came just a week ago, and I plan on posting the Valk 3 review very soon - as in, sometime later today soon. While it's fun reviewing uber-high end cubes, I do want to give more segments of the market some coverage - so today, what I have for you is the new Shengshou Fangyuan.

There hasn't been much coverage of this cube, and I've only seen one or two full reviews. Hopefully that changes soon, since I believe this cube deserves a lot more attention.

Didn't mean to advertise. Whoops. This review was not paid for or in any other way influenced by SCS.

Background Info

The Fangyuan seems to be Shengshou's attempt to catch up to Moyu and Qiyi in terms of 3x3s. It draws a lot of design cues from recent cubes like the GTS and the Gans's, such as the squared corners and grooves on the corners.

Despite the sophisticated design, it's priced at only $9 from US stores, placing it right into the mid-ranged cube category, head to head with the Thunderclap. I'm very interested in seeing how it stacks up.

Now, to me Shengshou 3x3s have always been a few years behind the highest end cube available at their release, seemingly because Shengshou decided to shift their focus to other segments of the market. Because of that, the Fangyuan really came out of nowhere, which wasn't made any less surprising by the fact that there was no announcement or post on social media, it just kinda appeared on zcube.

Oh well. Even if Shengshou hasn't been known for making the best cubes, if the Fangyuan is good I'm not complaining.

Look and Feel

Moyu, is that you?

The cube looks and feels very much like a Moyu cube. It's shaped very similarly to recent Moyu cubes such as the Yuexiao, a trait it shares with the Valk, and even has completely identical stock shades. A welcome departure from the older Shengshou style: I adore squared corners and large stickers.

No logo, as per usual with Shengshou. I added the SCS logo myself.

It measures 56mm and weighs 88 grams, a bit on the heavy side, and feels very nice and solid in your hand. Not like a budget cube at all. Judging by the feel, if I didn't know the price, I would have guessed it's a high-end cube, which I suppose it is for Shengshou.

You can take a listen to the sound from this short clip I've uploaded. That video did highlight something interesting: there was quite a bit of squeaking from the cube out of the box, especially during fast algorithms like E-perms. It did go away after setup, though.


Factory tensions were a tad on the tight side. I evened them out to a good average then loosened each face a quarter turn - a half turn and the cube started losing corner cutting ability drastically.

After a few solves, I disassembled the cube and lubed the core with weight 5, of course being careful to remember my tensions. I then lubed the pieces with a moderate amount of weight 1, and have done approximately 450 solves of break in since.

I have seen several mention that the Fangyuan gets better with GTS springs. I may try it at some point, since I do have several spare GTS's, but at this point a spring swap would take too long and doesn't make for a valid review anyways.


Out of the box, the Fangyuan is a bit on the fast side. With setup, it did get quite a lot faster, almost as fast as my set up GTS's. It has a bit of a heavy turning feel - there's a lot of momentum in each turn, similar to the Xman Tornado or Thunderclap v2, probably due to its weight. I don't mind it nearly as much as I do with the Xman or the Thunderclap v2 and in fact rather like it, since despite its momentum it's still fast and not nearly as bumpy.

As for the turning feel, it's smooth and has a bit of a hard plastic feel, even after lube. I thought it was pretty similar to the feel of Shengshou Legend, just a bit softer and slower. It's a very stable cube and isn't very flexy, which leads to very few instability-related lockups.

Catching isn't a problem like it is with the Gans Air. Very few catches or lockups in general.

Corner cutting

Max corner cutting: ~51 degrees
Effective corner cutting: ~42 degrees
Max reverse cutting: ~37 degrees
Effective reverse cutting: ~35 degrees

Easily into high-end cube territory. It doesn't quite full cut like modern top-of-the-line speedcubes do, but it does come very close, being only 2 degrees off. Disappointingly, effective forward cutting, or my metric for how far a cube can cut without having to force through it with a lot of effort, is a bit low compared to the max cutting, but it's far more than enough for most people.

The Thunderclap, which is what I consider this cube's closest competitor, performs about the same, with a little bit more in effective forward and a little less in effective reverse. They're about level with each other overall here.

Anti-pop and anti-corner twist

As we'd expect popping is not an issue for this cube. I'd say it resists pops even better than the Thunderclap, which surprisingly did pop once on me throughout my months of using it.

Anti-corner twist comes out as a good this time, just missing excellent. The corners are squared and they do take a fair bit of force to twist by hand, unlike the pyraminx tips that are Thunderclap corners. (For the uninitiated that just means they're very easy to twist). Unfortunately, I do get twists during that one pesky G perm, so I can't give it full marks on anti-corner twist.


Not too hard to disassemble, as far as modern cubes go. Turn 45 degrees and twist an edge as usual.

So it does take after Moyu after all. I can already see some of the design choices are quite similar to Moyu's style.

In any case, it has a pretty simple internal design - wait, what are those centers?

Do you know what this reminds me of? The Mojue M3, which will apparently have similar center corner-flange-thingies.

I have to wonder what they do. I can see how the flange on the GTS helps with its reverse cutting, but by my logic these corner flanges could only hurt reverse cutting.

Oh well. I guess this is just another case where I'll have to assume Shengshou (and Mojue) knows what they're doing and I don't.

This edge piece is interesting. On the surface, it's just your standard speedcube edge, simple design, no ridges. What's interesting is that instead of going with your typical 2-piece construction of either two halves to facilitate stickerless or an internal piece and a cap as has been the case with recent Moyu (not sub-brand) cubes, Shengshou made a 3-piece edge. The two internal pieces are friction fit together, and a cap is snapped over them. (Yes, snapped, not friction fit. It's a snap-on cap.) I can't see the advantage in this. Maybe it's simply easier to produce for some reason.

Shengshou does appear to be gearing up to release a cube called the Pearl, which seems almost identical to this cube except that the edges are 2-piece and the corners are typical 3-piece, allowing for stickerless.

Another interesting design choice. It's not shown in this picture, but the corner stalk and foot is actually a separate piece from the corner's friction surfaces. They're also snapped in, and if you take off the cap you can release the stalk and foot from the rest of the corner piece.

Speaking of the cap, it's just a tad too loose for my liking. I doubt it will come off during solves, but I've had a few solves where a noticeable gap started forming between the cap and the corner.

That about wraps up the internals part of the review - simple mechanism, interesting implementation. Time for the conclusions.


Objective score: 8/10
It's an excellent cube, especially for the price. It doesn't catch or pop, doesn't corner twist often, and corner cuts very well for a cube of its class. I took off two points for what may seem like petty reasons: it's 2 degrees off from being able to full cut, and it did corner twist on that G perm. 

The reason I'm taking off points for seemingly such inconsequential things is somewhat outlined in my last blog post - since cubes do not have much I can score them on, I need to be pretty harsh on what I can score on. This is to make sure the best of the best don't get the same score as a second tier cube that happens to be very good. Even so, I consider 8/10 to be a very good score.

Subjective score: 9/10
I like it a lot. It joins the small rank of cubes whose feel I actually like rather than tolerate (Thunderclap v1 and Valk besides this cube), and I get good times on it. My only minor issue with it is that it's just a tad too slow for my liking, but while I would have liked for it to be faster I don't find myself noticing the speed often.

You should buy this cube if:
  • You like smooth, heavier turning cubes
  • You're looking for a first speedcube - it's cheap and has a nice and neutral feel, so chances are you'd like it
You should not buy this cube if:
  • You do not like anything I said in this review
  • You like stickerless - wait until the Pearl is released
The Fangyuan is a truly excellent cube for its price and could be the Thunderclap killer. It's more technically advanced than the Thunderclap and costs the same, so it could easily be the cube to take over the $8-$10 segment of the market, widely considered a sweet spot for price/performance. If only it could get a bit more exposure!

If you decide to get the Fangyuan, you can buy it from Speedcubeshop for $8.95. If you found my review helpful at all, please consider using my Speedcubeshop affiliate link to purchase it. It costs nothing extra to you and helps me out a lot in writing more reviews like this.

As always, thanks for reading! The Valk review will probably be later today, so check back soon! 


  1. Nice review! Thinking of getting it! Could you make a Fangshi Jieyun review?

    1. Yep, I'll be on that soon. I've had a lot of requests for it, but it's just that recently I've been trying to keep up with new releases. Now that they're more or less over (I'm not much into the new 5x5s),I have a lot more freedom to review older cubes.

    2. Yeah it's actually surprisingly good and has amazing reverse