4x4: How To Get Faster
4x4 advanced techniques are mostly intuitive, with very few algorithms.
Once you're quite good at 4x4, it should take about four times as long as 3x3. For example, if you average 15 seconds on 3x3, you can average 1 minute on 4x4.
If you want to be good at 4x4, you should learn all of these. They are listed below in order of importance.
The Reduction Method (or beginner method) is commonly used on 5x5+ and solves the centers, edges, then 3x3 stage.
The Yau Method does some parts differently:
- Solve 2 opposite centers
- Solve 3 cross edges
- Solve the last 4 centers
- Finish the cross
- Solve the remaining 8 edges
- 3x3 stage (with cross already completed)
The Yau Method is faster because no pieces are in the D layer during edge pairing, meaning you can use 3-2-3 edge pairing, avoid many cube rotations, and make look ahead significantly easier.
General 4x4 Speedsolving Tips
This is an overview of what you should know as well as other general tips.
The important advanced techniques will be further explored in the videos below.
3-2-3 Edge Pairing
Multiple edges can be paired at once on 4x4, but you have to learn how to deal with a few special cases as well.
- Do a slice move and line up 3 edges, then undo the slice move to pair them
- Pair up the rest of the edges using cycles
L2E (last 2 edges) algorithms exist to some extent for all big cubes. They are not super important, but they do make you faster. On 4x4 there are only 4 algorithms, shown at the end of the video (and in the video description).
First 3 Cross Edges
Cross edges are difficult to find and pair efficiently without a lot of practice.
In this video I go over examples to help you with efficiency.
Half Centers is an optional technique for centers that should not be used every solve.
Why use half centers:
- Often multiple half centers will already exist, so the initial step is very fast
- The cube is reduced to <Rw, R, U> which avoids dealing with the partial cross
- Look ahead is very easy (explained in the video)
When not to use half centers:
- The initial setup can take too long if no half centers are made already
- Often you can spot all 4 pieces of 1 color, making 1 center faster to start with
Half centers are not absolutely necessary to learn, but many people prefer to use it in many cases because it can often be faster. Some people exclusively use half centers on 4x4, but there is little evidence to suggest that half centers is always better. Think of it as another option compared to solving centers 1 by 1. If you really like half centers, you can even use it most of the time.
OLL Parity Tricks
Sometimes when you get OLL parity, you can set up into an OLL skip. Other times, you can just predict what the OLL will be to reduce a pause.
As a general guideline, it's better to do OLL parity + OLL algorithm rather than an OLL skip trick, if they take about the same amount of time. This is because recognizing OLL parity can be done during the last F2L slot, leading straight into OLL parity. However, recognizing an OLL skip case is more difficult. So OLL skip cases should only be used when they are truly much faster.
PLL Parity Tricks
PLL Parity can be done in a few ways, and one of those ways tends to result in a better PLL + parity combination. For example, avoiding G perms and forcing good PLLs will make your last layer faster.
- For solved corners, force U Perm if possible
- For adjacent corners, avoid F/G perms
- For diagonal corners, force Y Perm if possible
There some things you can do to further help with your efficiency:
- Influence the 2nd center during first center
- Preserve cross edges during F2C if convenient
- Influence other centers during L4C
- Remember F2L edge locations during edge pairing
Each of these will only help you improve by a little bit, but doing them all will help a lot. Big cubes (4x4+) are rather simple for efficiency compared to 3x3. The most important thing is turning slow enough to keep looking ahead, but also at a decently fast rate to have fast solves. Especially during steps that are heavy on look ahead (all the edge pairing steps), you should turn slightly slower to reduce pausing.