GuoGuan XingHen 2x2 review
Welcome back! The new photo setup was running into some issues with super washed out pictures from my camera, so I solved the problem in typical Karl fashion: I got a new camera. The set isn't 100% done yet, but in the interest of getting a new review out, I'm going to start writing anyways!
Here today I have the GuoGuan XingHen, an anticipated 2x2 and one of the first since the release of the YuXin White back in August of 2016.
Overview and Background Info
The 2x2 market, similar to the 4x4 market mere months ago, has remained stagnant for years. While new 2x2s were being released every year, for the longest time the old plastic Dayan Zhanchi 2x2 reigned supreme - which presented a bit of an issue, since they were no longer made.
We saw that in 2016 a few specific 2x2s finally started being regarded as on the level of or very close to the Dayan 2x2 in performance and feel. The WeiPo started this trend, followed by the alarmingly cheap YueHun. A few months down the line, the YuXin White made an appearance with somewhat lackluster performance but a unique smooth, soft feel.
The GuoGuan XingHen is the latest in the new wave of 2x2s, hoping to finally overtake the Dayan. It's been teased for a while and even demonstrated a few times, but it has finally arrived on the market. Let's see how well it stacks up.
Look and Feel
I'll be entirely honest: to me, pretty much every 2x2 looks and feels the same. They're all 50mm, all have a huge Florian hole cut out from the center, all have an unsightly screw head in that hole. With the sole exception of the 54g YuXin White, even their weights are similar; this particular one weighs 63g.
What may be more different is the sound. The XingHen makes a moderately loud, low sound that just sounds blocky. Fits quite well with its feel, as we'll get into soon.
Sticker shades are standard MoYu, as we'd expect. No stickerless for this cube.
Loosened tensions slightly and lubed with just a dab of weight 2. Nothing special. Since then I've done about 600 solves and the feel hasn't changed much, so I think I can say it's broken in.
This cube comes fairly slow, though a bit faster than the YuXin White, but it sped up a good deal immediately after lubing. It's at a good speed to remain controllable to everyone while not sacrificing turning speed.
The actual feel of the cube is very nice: each turn feels silky smooth and glides on the glossy plastic. This is quite in contrast with the YuXin's unique smoothness, which I can only really describe as swishy smooth. It feels great to turn and feels high end, unlike the YueHun, which despite its excellent performance, feels cheap and crunchy at times.
However, the turning isn't perfect. During high speed or flowy fingertricks each layer feels quite blocky, and you can distinctly feel each piece colliding with the next after each turn. To many this isn't an issue, but personally I've noticed a small number of lockups stemming from that, and I've heard others complain of the same.
I have to say it's a bit relieving having to only test for a single corner cutting angle and a single reverse cutting angle after getting used to trying 8 different ones on big cubes.
Forward corner cutting on this cube reaches up to about 47 degrees. This is one of the best I've ever seen, narrowly beating the YueHun and beating out the WeiPo and the White by a fair margin. The Dayan, whether OP or NP, would just pop if I tried this same corner cut.
Reverse corner cutting just clears its Florian holes, which I measured at approximately 36 degrees. Again, one of the best results I've seen, actually beating out the YueHun and matching the WeiPo this time. Apparently a properly set up Dayan 2x2 is the best reverse cutter in the world (or so say a lot of Dayan users, at least) but I haven't been able to set any of mine up to that level.
Anti-pop and anti-corner twist
Neither will be issues, luckily. Corners can be twisted with force, but it won't happen unintentionally in a solve. I haven't been able to even disassemble this cube without unscrewing a center.
Let's look at the alignment mechanism first.
The WeiPo, MoYu's last 2x2, used an odd alignment mechanism where the centers were interlocking plates around a corner. It performed well but proved a pain to reassemble. Luckily, it seems GuoGuan has decided to use a more traditional alignment mechanism with slotted centers and finned edges.
Many venerable past 2x2s have used this mechanism, including the legendary Dayan 2x2 and the Yuehun. While it's nice to see MoYu playing around with new mechanisms, a return to what we know works is appreciated.
The edges, with the alignment edge on the left and the standard one on the right. You can see the fins that interlock with the centers on the alignment edge. Interestingly, the edge is torpedoed, which apparently is not a very common trait nowadays; the only other modern 2x2 (excluding Dayan 2x2) I have that is torpedoed is the YuXin White.
Corner piece. Not much special about it, it's just another standard 2x2 corner piece with a flat base and a long corner stalk.
For value, we have to look at two things: how much the cube costs itself, and how much its closest competitors cost. So where does the XingHen stand?
It retails at $11.95. That's pretty standard flagship 2x2 pricing, so it's entirely reasonable.
Thinking about its competitors is a more interesting story. The older MoYu WeiPo seems to be its closest competitor in terms of price, but it doesn't corner cut quite as well and is actually a dollar more. The YueHun is its closest competitor in terms of performance, and is quite a lot cheaper - a full $6 less. However, it also has a cheap plasticky feel and crunchy turning, which is not as desirable to many as the XingHen's silky smooth high quality feel. To not compromise on both fronts the XingHen is the best option.
Because of that, I'll say it's a good value - not excellent, but nothing to complain about.
Objective score: 10/10
Best 2x2 I have ever handled in objective aspects. It has a pretty universally enjoyable turning feel and solid build quality, and I can't score on the blockiness since it's highly subjective. Corner cutting is among the best I have ever seen on a 2x2, and it doesn't pop or corner twist easily. There's not much else I can score a 2x2 on, honestly.
Subjective score: 9/10
I enjoy almost everything about this cube. I like the speed and turning feel, and particularly like how solid and high end it feels.
However, the blockiness comes up here. I've had it come across as a distinct bother in some of my solves, particularly ones with more turns but faster fingertricks. Undershooting just a bit can result in a bit more feedback on the reverse cut than I'm used to, leading to a lockup. Again, this is highly subjective, and to some I've actually heard is a positive thing.
It's of note that no 2x2 has earned a subjective 10/10 for me yet. The XingHen holds the highest score, actually.
So overall? It's a great 2x2 and an excellent first entry from GuoGuan. It may not have a feel universally suited for everyone, but it comes pretty close. Adding onto that is its value, which, being not overly expensive, makes it a great choice for both novice and serious speedsolver alike.
GuoGuan XingHen 2x2 ($11.95)
(Credit to Mason (/u/WeilongCong_) for the expertly drawn picture of the XingHen)
- Karl Zhao