The Gan 356 Air UM is basically exactly the same with the 356 Air except for one thing which is magnets. The “M” in the UM stands for magnets which are integrated within the pieces of the speed cube. Gan is the first company to manufacture a 3×3 speed cube with magnets within the pieces.
Nothing has changed with the Gan 356 Air packaging, it still has that super hard to close transparent plastic case and similar to the ultimate it has the GES springs with both “G” and “E” series included. It also does have the carrying/cleaning pouch and has a card with a serial number to show off to your friends. Although the card does have “UM” instead of just the “Ultimate” and another little difference is that it has magnets inside the pieces – no biggie.
The 356 Air Ultimate is already expensive and the added magnets inside makes it even more expensive. The Gan 356 Air UM is probably the most expensive 3×3 speed cube that you can find on the market today. It costs as much or even more than good 7×7 speed cubes and just a little bit more than a gen4 stackmat.
Out of the box
The 356 Air UM out of the box didn’t make it really look very well. The first thing I noticed of course were the magnets. This is something that jumped at me right away and honestly it felt kind of weird. The second thing I noticed was how slow turns were and how hard and gummy the layers felt, this was not good. On a brighter note, despite it being a slow speed, I can really notice that the magnets are there to give it much control. Out of the box it almost feels broken in already while in other speed cubes you really feel when a speed cube is brand new.
Adjusting tensions and lubrication
Similar to other Gan 356 speed cubes the 356 Air UM was a pain to find perfect tensions through adjustments. With the “G” and “E” series GES springs it is very good that you get a whole lot of options when it comes to tensions but this comes at the expense of having to adjust and swap springs multiple times.
The purple GES spring is the loosest/softest springs and the red is the stiffest. I didn’t know what I was thinking when I swapped to the red because it was just horrible. I checked back on the 356 Air and I was using the white springs, so I thought since there were the magnets I should use a little looser/softer spring, so I tried on the yellow springs. The yellow springs were horrible and it still felt too tight so I just went straight back to the purple springs which I just loosened a little bit.
Lubing was a little weird on the 356 UM because I was think that it felt kind of tight a light and fast lube would be suitable, so naturally I tried the Calvin’s Lube. The Calvin’s lube did it’s job although it became too fast since I get a lot of catching and overshooting. So in the end I used the Gan lube which did wonders for it. It’s a little bit thicker than the Calvin’s lube which gave it much needed control but still makes it faster then it was out of the box.
The whole process of adjusting and lubing the Gan 356 Air UM was a pain because I basically just ended up with the same setup out of the box with just some Gan lube and a little loosening of tensions. I’m all for giving the speed cuber tons of adjustments and options but a speed cube that is perfect out of the box is really awesome too.
I can definitely say this isn’t a fast and light turning speed cube, so this makes it a smooth turning speed cube. If you just ignore the bumpy feeling of the magnets you can notice the smoothness in the layer turns on the 356 Air UM. I do get a lot of control from the layer turns which I think comes from the magnets. I don’t fear overshooting or misalignment because the magnets correct these small misalignments although it does come at a cost. The Air UM does take some effort to turn the layers. If the magnets were removed I could still probably say that it does take some effort to turn, so with the magnets it even gets worse.
Overall the turning of the speed cube is very dramatic. I really notice the bumpiness that the magnets make and I actually feel like the speed cube is vibrating during faster turning. This is quite distracting at first although I did get used to it. Something very unique about the Gan 356 Air UM is that when I am turning very fast the feeling of the magnets disappears, which gives me some feeling of speed. When I start slowing down again this is where I feel the bumpiness of the magnets which gives me control.
Corner cutting on the Gan 356 Air UM is excellent most of the time. It’s ability to cut corners is superior because I don’t really notice anything different happening at all during corner cuts. Corner cuts do make a loud click sound although because of the dramatic turning of the Air UM it is almost masked and unnoticeable. This excellent corner cutting happens probably 8-9 out of 10 solves but there are occasions where there is a really loud clicking which is produced by the corners. On even rarer occasions the UM feels just super loose and unstable that during corner cutting there is so many catching and sometimes just locks up.
Catching and Lockups
There is a lot of catching happening with the Gan 356 Air UM. I am a fast and rough solver so speed cubes tend to catch a lot when I’m solving although it seems the catching is a result of the puzzle design. I did mention that this speed cube has excellent corner cutting although only 8-9 out of 10 times. So, this 1 out of 10 you will see catching that will cause a major disrupt in your flow. The Gan during these times feels very loose and unstable this is where the big problem of catching roots from.
There are certain times too that I completely miss a layer turn or layers get stuck which exclusively due to the magnets integrated within the cubes. The magnets seem to be a little strong so, compared to the normal pressure needed to turn layers, it takes significantly a lot more effort to break layers from the magnets. This problem results in me missing layer turns during algorithms, because my finger might not have gotten a good grip on the layer to turn plus the added resistance to turn layers means I have to put a little bit more concentration and effort during my algorithms.
I will just say that my times on the Gan 356 Air UM are pretty. I usually average around mid12 seconds to high 11 seconds for averages of 12 but with the Gan 356 Air UM I’ve had 5 sub 12 averages of 12 which I’ve never done while testing speed cube. Single solves are looking pretty fast too since I’ve had two sub 10 single solves in a row, which has never happened to me ever. It’s pretty hard for me to break my personal best single solve but I got a 8.86 second solve with this speed cube.
The one thing that I can say is that my times are not consistent. When times are fast they are fast, but when times are slow they are very slow. Yeah I do get fast times and averages here’s the thing, I don’t find this speed cube enjoyable to solve. I really hate the bumpiness and the vibrating feeling the magnets give and it just takes too much effort to turn the layers. It’s not enjoyable but I wouldn’t say it’s terrible simply because still do get fast times.
The Gan 356 Air UM has good turning but it’s not up there with the likes of the Valk and Yan3. I really don’t like the bumpiness and the vibrating feeling caused by the magnets. Turning is also on the slow slide with much effort to turn layers. The magnets do a very good job with giving you control and adding some stability to the speed cube. I do feel that the magnets are a little too strong but I do like the feeling I get during turns where the magnets are almost helping you complete a turn. I’m not sure if that’s psychological but I think the magnets help me turn faster.
Corner cutting is excellent most of the time but on the occasions that it decides to be completely horrible, it will let you know by giving you loads of catching which may disrupt your whole flow. The UM has a puzzle design where it is quite loose and unstable so the magnets really do their job to cover this problem. There are times where the magnets just don’t do their jobs well and you will really feel this looseness and instability, which will result in more catching.
At this point it’s clear that turning is alright, catching is just barely above bad and corner cutting is great but still can do better, with those being said it doesn’t look good for the Gan 356 Air UM. With all this laid out it’s no surprise that I find it not enjoyable to solve with this speed cube.
Looking at the actual solves, despite me getting the occasional really fast single times I would really rather get consistent fast times. I’m not saying that the Gan 356 Air UM is a bad speed cube, I actually think that it’s quite good. There are some qualities that are really good which some speed cubers will really love. I haven’t made this speed cube my main but I do personally know some speed cubers who have and clearly their style of speedcubing and turning is different from mine.
I highly suggest you try a friends Gan 356 Air UM if you are considering buying one since the heavy price tag will really hurt you if the UM doesn’t compliment your speed cubing style.