MoFang JiaoShi MF5S 5x5x5 review
MoYu's been adding a lot of subbrands lately, but as of now the only one that seems to be trying to come out with a full lineup is MoFang JiaoShi, or Cubing Classroom. As we remember from our budget 3x3x3 roundup, MoFang JiaoShi's first attempt at a 3x3x3 was a strong refresh of the venerable GuanLong and stacked up well to current competitors on the market, even if it didn't definitively beat them. So how good is their attempt at a 5x5? Let's find out.
The 5x5x5 market has expanded pretty heavily lately with the release of two very strong flagships, the MoYu WeiChuang and the QiYi WuShuang. As flagships, they're priced as such, retailing at $23 and $24, out of the reach of some cubers. Earlier this year YJ tried releasing a budget 5x5x5, the YuChuang at $12, but many people believe it was significantly inferior to the higher end 5x5x5s on the scene. This was completely unlike the 4x4x4 market, where the $8 GuanSu was often compared to the $27 AoSu.
Now with the introduction of a new budget brand, MoYu decided it was high time to release a new budget 5x5x5 contender. Enter the MF5S. It's squarely a budget 5x5x5 selling at $11, less than the price of a high-end 3x3x3. It includes a lot of signature high-end features, such as the widened outer layers and Florian holes for the 3x3x3 stage, and it's available in black, white, and stickerless, with an option to suit every cuber. Could this be the budget 5x5 we've been waiting for?
Look and Feel
Rather high-end, actually. It has all of the hallmarks of high-end 5x5x5 design, including larger Florian holes on the outer layers and a widened outer layer. It's built quite solidly, maybe not as solid as the WuShuang but in my opinion more sturdy than the YuXin 5x5x5, and weighs a hefty 170 grams.
But then again, budget big cubes often have a tendency to feel more expensive than they are. Just look at the GuanSu.
It's available in black, white, and stickerless. The stickered versions use the typical MoYu scheme, which is fluorescent orange, green, and yellow, standard white and red, and light blue. The stickerless version comes with MoYu's standard bright stickerless shades.
My cube was just a tad tight out of the box and turned a tad too fast, as well as having spring noise that could wake me up from sleep. I took out the screws, lubed them and the springs, and screwed them back in until they were a bit looser than before. I then lubed both the inner and outer layers with Weight 3 to slow them down, and have done about 150 solves since.
I don't do much 5x5 either :P
This cube actually turns a lot like a YuXin 5x5. It's similarly fast, and has a smooth and swishy feel with a hint of the same bumpiness in the YuXin. The outer layers are noticeably faster and smoother than the inner layers, which have a sandier and slower feel. The faster outer layers could give more control during the 3x3 stage. Thumbs up to MFJS!
Compared to the YuXin, this 5x5x5 is more stable, though nowhere near as stable as the WuShuang. It's a good balance between stability and speed, and could suit a lot of people quite well.
This is the first aspect where its budget position begins to show, but only a little.
Forward corner cutting on the outer layers reliably cuts up to and including one cubie. Any further and it cuts sometimes, and other times it puts the cube into a minor lockup state.
This isn't actually because the front of cube shifts. It's because one of the center pieces on the back of the cube wants to move with the outer layer, and locks up the back face.
Reverse cuts on the outer layers extend a bit past half a cubie, just like standard high-end 5x5x5s. Not bad.
Corner cutting on the inner layers can reach close to one full cubie, but not all the way there. If you try to cut one cubie or more, you get a lockup. I found that the YuXin actually cut less on the inner layers, but that might just be how I have mine set up.
Anti-pop and lockups
Here's where we see the real compromises being made.
The current flagship 5x5x5s are all virtually pop-proof, depending on tensions of course. From a combination of deep cut ridges, torpedoes, and generally pretty complex geometry, it's difficult to even disassemble them, let alone pop them.
This one? Well, turn a layer 45 degrees, pop a finger in, and pry outwards, and you get this.
The entire tredge as well as two center pieces pop out with virtually no effort.
That being said, it's important to note that despite being so easy to disassemble, I have never experienced a pop. The thing is, that entire tredge is solidly linked to each other, so to pop it in the manner I described the entire tredge would have to pop out. There aren't many situations when that could happen.
What about lockups? Well, as I mentioned before, trying to corner cut more than it is capable will result in one. Most of them are pretty minor, similar to the ones we got on the WuShuang, but especially when you try to corner cut the inner layers lockups such as this one may happen.
This does take a lot more effort to fix, and requires you to press a few pieces back into place on both sides.
The worst one I've encountered, however, was this.
I don't know how this one happened, I don't know if it will ever happen again. For all I know it could be a fluke that happens on every 5x5. All I know is that it took forever to fix and actually required me to remove the orange center and put it back in the orange face.
Honestly though, this was a lot better in terms of lockups than I expected out of a budget 5x5x5. It puts up a good fight with the YuXin, and that one costs quite a bit more.
Ah, right, we already switched to white. Might as well continue the trend.
Rather than the typical single lip of 5x5x5s, here we have 2 concentric lips. I wonder what the inner one does.
Besides that, the design looks very simple, a parallel to the simple design of the budget 3x3x3s.
Again, rather simple geometry compared to the flagship 5x5x5s. We can see two different radii of the locking feet on two different levels, which fits the two concentric flanges.
The edge is not torpedoed, and terminates in a triangle similar to the old Rubik's 3x3x3 mechanism. That's probably contributing heavily to how easy it is to pull out a tredge, as well as the simplicity of the mechanism overall.
Do you know what this design reminds me of? The DaYan LunHui 3x3x3, which had piece design looking like this.
There are also two different levels of locking feet, though the edge is torpedoed.
Anyways, as a whole we can clearly see that the mechanism of the MF5S has been simplified to reduce costs. This isn't a bad thing - it does bring the cost down and make it more accessible to everyone, and does so in a way that doesn't sacrifice much performance and reliability.
Objective score: 8/10
Remember, I take my objective score directly compared to the flagships of the market and without any regard to price. This 5x5x5 comes quite close to them, with just slightly weakened corner cutting and a few lockups that wouldn't happen as often on more expensive cubes. Popping seemed like it might have been an issue but it actually wasn't, because the way that it could pop basically would never happen during a solve.
Subjective score: 8/10
And a subjective score to match. The gripes I have personally with this cube are just its lockups because of my rough turning, and the fact that it isn't quite as stable as I'd like. Besides that, however, I actually really like this cube. It's fast and smooth to turn, and quite controllable during the 3x3 stage because of its slower inner layers. I'd easily use this cube as a main if it didn't lock up as much as it does (which isn't much to begin with).
Not bad for $11, eh?
And that's really what it comes back to. This cube costs $11, which is far cheaper than the popular 5x5x5s on the market right now. Even the YuXin 5x5x5, which is a cube that some no longer consider a flagship, costs $5 more. Yet, for the price you're getting near flagship performance and a feel not unlike the YuXin, which was and still is loved by many.
In the end, this cube is an excellent value and could cater very well to cubers on a budget as well as beginners. Hey, isn't that the mission of MFJS as a whole? If they continue this streak of good cubes at affordable prices, MFJS could become quite the strong contender in the budget cube market.
MoFang JiaoShi MF5S 5x5x5 ($10.95)
- Karl Zhao