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The 3 Best Speed Cubes of 2023 (And Why the Rubik’s Cube Isn’t One)

Jun 04, 2023

The 3x3 twist puzzle has been a pop culture icon since Ernő Rubik released his famous cube in the 1970s. The basics of play haven't changed in the intervening decades, but as competitive cubing (commonly referred to as speed cubing) has become more popular, the cubes themselves have evolved to support faster solving. Layers have gotten easier to twist, magnets and springs have been added to keep the whirlwind under control, and inner cores have been redesigned to let you start moving one side before the previous one slips into place.

Being able to tune a cube to suit your play style can make all the difference.

Our top pick is very affordable, but paying more gets you smoother, more-customizable action.

This is a good thing—it refers to how easy it is for a cube to twist even when its layers are misaligned.

Some cubes come with Bluetooth connectivity and sensors to track your solve in an app. Most people don't need this, but if you want it, we have a pick for you.

After speaking to experts and spending extensive time researching and solving 14 different cubes, I’ve learned that the MoYu RS3M Maglev is the best option for those getting into speed cubing thanks to its combination of adjustability, quality, and price. It's a great choice if you just want a fidget toy to pass the time, too.

This highly adjustable and smooth-twisting cube performed better than most of the other models we tested. It's a great starting point for novice cubers and has the chops to keep up with more-experienced speed solvers.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $14.

The MoYu RS3M Maglev is great for beginners who want to explore the world of speed cubing, whether their goal is to compete against others or simply find a quality, affordable fidget toy. But despite this model's low price, it has just as many adjustability options as a lot of more expensive cubes, so it doesn't hold back experienced players. The MoYu cube doesn't rely on cheap springs that can stretch or wear out over time; it uses long-lasting magnets instead. And it feels as good to twist as some cubes that are more than double its price.


Most puzzlers don't need a Bluetooth-connected cube, but if you want one that can track solve times, the GAN 356 i Carry provides an acceptable app experience and has a reasonable price.

Smart cubes are a niche subset of cube puzzles: You can think of them as the Pelotons of cube solving, making a homebound activity more social by allowing you to race other cubers online. If you want a cube that can track your solve-time progress, allow you to compete with others in real time, and offer some tutorials to help you get better, the GAN 356 i Carry is the best option. In part that's because it's a well-made cube overall, but it's also the most affordable smart cube we tested. Its adjustment capability is comparable to what you get from many regular cube puzzles, and it has a slightly more satisfying clicky feel than our top pick (albeit slightly weaker corner magnets). The CubeStation app it connects to has some translation issues and offers little utility outside of its social aspects and timer, but it performs well enough to be attractive for cubers who want to play against friends who are far away.

The best overall performer in our testing, the GAN 11 M Pro is a pleasure to use. We loved its smooth feel, ample adjustments, and satisfyingly snappy core and corner magnets. Its relatively high price makes it best for those who are committed to speed cubing.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $60.

The GAN 11 M Pro was easily the most impressive cube we tested. If you don't love its silky smooth out-of-the-box feel, it has tons of adjustments for dialing in your personal preferences. On top of the basic tension adjustment you get with our top pick, you can use sliders to tweak corner magnet strength. Some magnets are even user-replaceable if you want more or less tension than the adjustments allow. Despite the 11 M Pro's high cost, it doesn't have any smart features like the GAN 356 i Carry; what you’re paying for here is an exceptional mechanical action that you can fine-tune to your exact preferences.

You’ve probably noticed by now that the Rubik's Cube—the one that started it all—isn't one of our picks. Like many relics of decades past, it's been eclipsed by these newer, more evolved models. You can read more below about the performance issues that led us to dismiss it, but let's put it this way: Buying an original Rubik's Cube for speed cubing is like buying a 1974 Corvette to go racing at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans. Retro may be cool, but it's not fast.

This highly adjustable and smooth-twisting cube performed better than most of the other models we tested. It's a great starting point for novice cubers and has the chops to keep up with more-experienced speed solvers.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $14.

Most puzzlers don't need a Bluetooth-connected cube, but if you want one that can track solve times, the GAN 356 i Carry provides an acceptable app experience and has a reasonable price.

The best overall performer in our testing, the GAN 11 M Pro is a pleasure to use. We loved its smooth feel, ample adjustments, and satisfyingly snappy core and corner magnets. Its relatively high price makes it best for those who are committed to speed cubing.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $60.

Speed cubes take what was great about the original Rubik's Cube—the joy of solving a beautifully tactile, brightly colored brainteaser—and make the experience smoother, faster, and even more satisfying. Everyone from fidget spinner enthusiasts to those looking to make their way in the world of competitive speed cubing (more on that below) can get something out of our picks.

Following its rise to cultural prominence in the late ’70s and early ’80s, cubing has transformed from a mostly solo hobby into a surprisingly popular sport, leading to the founding of the World Cube Association in 2004. The WCA organizes major speed-cubing competitions around the world, and at the time of publication has over 170,000 registered competitors in its 3x3 event alone. The events, which feature competitors racing to solve various Rubik's-style puzzles as quickly as possible, have also grown to encompass even more-difficult categories like blindfolded and one-handed solves.

Competitive cubing's focus on speed has led to the development of new cubes that improve upon Ernő Rubik's original, allowing for smoother, faster solving. The core around which all the faces rotate has become smaller, allowing the pieces to slide past each other more easily. The springs or magnets that provide tension for the most popular cubes today are more finely tuned, and most cubes allow users to adjust the spring or magnet tension to their liking (or replace these components outright). Magnets have been added to the corners as well to make the sides easier to control when spinning quickly.

But this new generation of cubes isn't only for speedsters. The improvements that made these cubes twisting tornadoes of plastic in the hands of elite speed cubers are also great quality-of-life improvements for casual players. The velvety turning and unbelievably satisfying clacking sound of a layer snapping into place means that these cubes are simply better fidget toys than the original Rubik's Cube. And on a basic, lizard-brain level, learning how to solve a cube—even when it takes hours instead of seconds—just feels good.

To help navigate the twists and turns of the speed-cubing world, I read about cubes online and pored over cuber subreddits like r/Cubers and r/Rubiks_Cubes. In the course of my research, I learned that a few things differentiate the best cubes from the also-rans.

Taking these factors into consideration, I compiled a list of 14 3x3 cubes to test. (A 3x3 puzzle has three rows and three columns on each of its six faces. People who want a different challenge can try the 2x2, 4x4, and even larger cubes, but 3x3 cubes are the de facto standard.)

With my list in hand, I spoke to Lauren Clement, a volunteer senior member of the WCA communications team, and Phil Yu, a competitive speed cuber and founder and CEO of TheCubicle, an online store that sells many types and brands of twist puzzles. These experts gave me further insight into what makes a great cube. (Yu has been a paid consultant for a variety of manufacturers on cube design—including GAN, which makes our also-great and upgrade picks—but did not work on any of the models we picked. Yu said he does not have any specific financial interest in any of the cubes Wirecutter recommends.)

To avoid adding too many variables and to level the playing field, I ordered all of the cubes un-lubricated and without UV coatings where possible. (Some cheaper cubes come factory lubed.) Both lubrication and coatings are available as options from specialty shops like TheCubicle or SpeedCubeShop and can add to the cost of a cube. Coatings are mostly there to make the cube feel better in your hand, and lubricants depend on preferences (if you prioritize ease of application, how long it’ll last without reapplication, or how slick you want it to feel).

After I learned the layer-by-layer solving method (via Robbie Gonzalez's great tutorial on Wired) I spent an hour with each cube I tested. The one exception was the Rubik's Connected, which arrived with a dead battery and was never able to charge; luckily, it was similar enough to the GoCube X that I felt comfortable dismissing it quickly. When testing each cube, I shuffled it and then solved it to break it in a bit and get a feel for how it spun. I also tried all of the available adjustment tools to see if any were particularly difficult or easy to use and if they significantly changed the feel or speed of my solves.

This highly adjustable and smooth-twisting cube performed better than most of the other models we tested. It's a great starting point for novice cubers and has the chops to keep up with more-experienced speed solvers.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $14.

Whether you’re just getting started in speed cubing or simply want a satisfying fidget toy, the MoYu RS3M Maglev is the best place to start. Its mix of affordability, adjustability, and high-quality construction make it ideal for beginners, but it's also a cube you can grow with as you improve your solve times and learn different solving methods.

This MoYu cube provides tension with repelling magnets instead of springs—cube manufacturers call this maglev technology. The action feels pleasingly light right out of the box without being uncontrollable, and although the adjustment system is a little difficult to use at first, it allows for a good amount of customization. The corner magnets do a decent job of keeping the cube square, and it has moderate corner-cutting ability when the layers aren't fully aligned (though if the layer is at a true 45-degree angle, it catches).

MoYu came up in my discussion with Phil Yu, who identified the previous iteration of this cube, the MoYu RS3M 2020, as a major influence in cube design. "You can adjust the spring tension and the compression, and the combination of features just makes it super usable for people at every skill level," he told me. "Beginners can use this thing, and there are even pros that average 6 seconds [per solve] who still use this." The RS3M Maglev offers further refinement of the qualities that made Yu such a fan, resulting in an even snappier and smoother cube.

In my testing, I found the RS3M Maglev a bit easier to manipulate and more enjoyable than the RS3M 2020 cube. Its performance was generally comparable to—if not slightly better than—cubes that cost double its price, such as the GAN 356 XS.

Weighing in at 90 grams (or a little over 3 ounces), the MoYu RS3M Maglev is a bit heavier than more-expensive cubes; our upgrade pick, for instance, is a mere 62 grams (a little more than 2 ounces). But unless you’re approaching record-solving times or find yourself fatiguing easily while you’re practicing, you likely won't notice the slight extra weight.

The MoYu RS3M Maglev is also one of the louder cubes I tried, measuring around 71 decibels—roughly the level of a dishwasher. For comparison, our upgrade pick registered 58 decibels, slightly louder than a refrigerator. Still, a bit of extra noise is a fair trade-off for getting a solid cube at such a low price.

Most puzzlers don't need a Bluetooth-connected cube, but if you want one that can track solve times, the GAN 356 i Carry provides an acceptable app experience and has a reasonable price.

Most people don't need the features of a connected cube, but if you want a puzzle that connects with an app to time your solves, help teach you different solving methods, and allow you to race friends with similar cubes in real time, the GAN 356 i Carry is the best option. It also feels the most like a good "dumb" cube of all of the smart cubes we tested, with a bit of adjustability, good corner cutting, and a similarly satisfying turn feel.

Whether you’ll get value out of a connected cube depends on how you plan on using it, so first, let's talk about the downsides. Smart cubes aren't allowed at WCA events, so they aren't great for competition training. For the most part, they aren't as adjustable as their non-connected counterparts, and they tend to be heavier and more expensive than otherwise similar cubes without smart features, as well. But depending on your needs, they may make up for these shortcomings with their connectivity: If you want to automatically time your solves, get basic tutorials, or compete online with your friends, these smart cubes can help.

The GAN 356 i Carry provides the best combination of price and performance of the five smart cubes I tested. Using it feels remarkably similar to playing with the non-smart GAN 356 XS, despite it being slightly heavier. Like its non-internet-connected cousin, it delivers exceptional corner cutting, and while the magnets are a bit weak for my taste (and annoyingly nonadjustable), they’re still about on par with our top pick from MoYu.

The GAN 356 i Carry is powered by a disposable watch battery, which cuts out the hassle of trying to keep it charged up. GAN says each battery should be good for 280 hours; in my experience replacing it is relatively pain free, though it does require you to disassemble a side and open the battery compartment with a screwdriver.

The app, CubeStation (available for iOS and Android), is the weakest link for this cube. It does an okay job of sensing and recording the moves you make with the cube and does useful things like walking you through long shuffles and keeping track of different stats over the course of a solve, but the user interface is hard to navigate and parts of the app are either poorly translated or not translated at all (during testing, the entire video tutorial section was in Chinese, despite the language being set to English for the rest of the app). But it does effectively allow you to compete with other cubers from around the world—either your friends who you can add in the app or strangers the app can pair you against—in real time or time-trial competitions, which can be useful if you have cuber friends who you don't get to see all the time.

Some third-party apps like Cubeast (a browser application that connects with smart cubes) can serve many of the same functions, but these services are a bit more of a hassle to set up because connecting the cubes to your computer is slightly trickier than using the apps on your phone. And of course, you don't necessarily need a smart cube to race your friends, even remotely: you can always use a stopwatch, online timer, or even a physical mat timer to compare times.

The best overall performer in our testing, the GAN 11 M Pro is a pleasure to use. We loved its smooth feel, ample adjustments, and satisfyingly snappy core and corner magnets. Its relatively high price makes it best for those who are committed to speed cubing.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $60.

If you’ve been cubing for a while and want to step up to a more premium-feeling cube, or if you just want to splurge a little to get a cube that feels nicer to use and hold and is more mechanically impressive, the GAN 11 M Pro was the absolute best cube we tested. It's incredibly smooth, was quieter than every cube we tested except for the much more expensive GAN 13 Maglev, and the magnets in the corners and core result in a cube that's easy to spin but doesn't overshoot too often. The corner cutting is remarkable, too—it was nearly impossible to get the cube to lock up in my testing, a trait shared only by the GAN 13 Maglev.

In addition to more-common adjustable tension in the center pieces, the GAN 11 M Pro features corner sliders (unique to GAN's high-end cubes) that allow you to choose between three magnetic strength settings. Its adjustments are a breeze to use, providing more options and an easier way to change them than our top pick. You even have the option to replace the whole suite of core magnets with stronger alternatives. This degree of customization may seem intimidating at first, but it's pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it.

The GAN 11 M Pro is also quiet, hovering around 58 decibels in our testing (about as loud as a refrigerator)—much quieter than the 71 decibels of our main pick (comparable to a dishwasher)—which means it's a good cube to use in public without having to worry about bothering those around you.

The original Rubik's Cube is a classic, and if you want a toy that can evoke a certain kind of nostalgia, it's a great object to have on a shelf. But like shag carpets, waterbeds, and many other pop culture icons from the 70s, it has begun to show its age.

The chunky, stiff plastic of the original isn't exactly pleasant to hold, and the layers slide past each other like sandpaper over an old wooden table, in contrast to the feeling of well-oiled gears you get from our picks. This friction leads to a loud, clunky, and slow solve as you wrestle with the physical foibles of the plastic.

Rubik gave the world a wonderful brainteaser when he invented his cube. Its layers have plagued students and scientists alike, prompting studies of its mathematical and mechanical properties. (In pre-internet times, dozens of books were published purporting to teach anyone how to solve the rotating enigma.) But thanks to decades of innovation driven by competitors looking to eke out as much speed as possible, the newer cubes we recommend are simply easier and more pleasant to use.

The GAN 13 Maglev is the brand's most up-to-date flagship cube, and it's a legitimately great speed cube. It has incredibly smooth action, uses a similar adjustment system to our upgrade pick, the GAN 11 M Pro, and makes very little noise during a solve. But in our opinion, its improvements over the 11 M Pro aren't enough to justify its much higher price.

The GAN 356 XS is the "dumb" version of our also-great pick, and it performs similarly well. The adjustment system is comparable to that of the GAN 11 M Pro, but the cube connections are a bit looser and it doesn't snap flush quite as easily or consistently.

The GAN i3 is the most recent smart cube by GAN, and it does feel like a slight improvement over our also-great pick from GAN. But it's almost twice as expensive and suffers from all the same smart-cube-related issues. The addition of a gyroscope means that it can track motion more accurately, but that feature isn't worth the extra money.

A different take on smart cubes, the GoCube Edge is a bulbous, marshmallow-like cube with some fancy lights and a much more polished app than that of the GAN 356 i Carry. The included solving tutorials are well done, easy to follow, and narrated by Phil Yu, who I talked to for this guide. Like the GAN i3, the cube includes gyroscopes, and my testing with the app showed that it does keep a very accurate track of the position the cube is in. But the social aspect only works if your friends also have GoCubes, and since the cube is so physically different than most others, it's not a particularly useful way to practice and increase your speed for competition purposes. In addition, I found the mini games to be odd and not particularly fun to play.

GoCube's other entry in the smart-cube category, the GoCube X, seems almost identical to the Rubik's Connected cube. Its plastic feels cheap, and the layer movement is stiff and unpleasant compared with the competition. After our testing, GoCube removed the X model from its online store, leading us to believe it has been discontinued.

MoYu's budget cube, the RS3M 2020, is on par with or better than many cubes that are twice the price. It has a robust adjustment system that lets you change the feel to your liking, though in my experience the action felt good right out of the box. That said, I found myself wishing the magnets were a bit stronger. The corner cutting also lags behind many of the more expensive cubes, and the RS3M Maglev felt better to twist. Even with these caveats, the RS3M 2020 is still a fantastic cube, but it's worth paying a few bucks more for the improvements that the newer Maglev version offers.

The MoYu WeiLong GTS2 M is a loose and quick cube that takes a lot of what our top pick does well and adds improved corner cutting and a slightly quieter sound. But it's hard to justify the significant added cost for such marginal improvements.

QiYi is a brand that makes many budget-friendly cubes (in addition to other geometric puzzles), and its QiYi MS is a cheap and easy intro to cubing. It's a quick cube that plays smoothly out of the box, but the corner magnets didn't work nearly as well as MoYu's.

Rubik's Connected cube is essentially the classic toy puzzle but with some smart-cube capabilities. It's very difficult to turn compared with more-modern speed cubes, and it doesn't have any of the newer features, either—stuff like magnets, corner-cutting ability, and adjustability. The cube's app is not as useful as GoCube's, and its battery is so weak that if it drops to zero, it won't take a new charge, effectively turning your $50 smart cube into a $50 dumb cube (and a subpar one, at that). The Rubik's Connected that I tested arrived in such a state, and I was never able to get it to charge; according to a number of Amazon reviews, this is not an uncommon problem. To its credit, GoCube (who handled our order) responded quickly to our support request and seemed willing to make it right, but you have better, cheaper options for a cube like this.

The X-Man Tornado V3 M Flagship is a bit stiff out of the box, but it uses a neat adjustment mechanism that doesn't require any tools and still gives a wide range of settings to help you fine-tune your cube to your liking. But the corner cutting and action of the GAN and MoYu cubes was better than the X-Man cube in testing.

This article was edited by Ben Keough and Erica Ogg.

James Austin

James Austin is an associate staff writer currently covering games and hobbies, but he's also worked on just about everything Wirecutter covers—from board games to umbrellas—and after being here for a few years he has gained approximate knowledge of many things. In his free time he enjoys taking photos, running D&D, and volunteering for a youth robotics competition.

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Adjustability: Price: Corner cutting: Sound: Software: