5x5, for some, can be categorized as the entry into big cubes, as it closely resembles the procedure required to solve other puzzles like the 6x6 and the 7x7. In other words, if we know how to solve a 5x5, it is most likely that we will be able to solve 6x6 and 7x7 (or any other bigger cube like 8x8, 9x9) the same way we solve the 5x5. Most advanced speedcubers either follow one of the following methods to solve a 5x5: Redux, Yau and Yau5. We will look extensively into two of these methods, Redux and Yau, and see which one might be a better way to solve the 5x5. A word of caution, in this article I will be talking about Yau only, and not Yau5.
The Redux method:
The Redux method is by far the most popular way to solve a 5x5. Redux is a misnomer for Reduction, which means reducing the complex configuration of 5x5 into a more simpler configuration, a 3x3. The breakdown of this method is as follows: We make the centres for all the sides, this will be followed by pairing up all the edges, and now the cube is basically a 3x3 which can be solved the same way. Due to its simplicity and ease of understanding, it might require less practice compared to Yau. Also, it is most preferred by many Cubers as the best method to start off as a beginner. Hence, anyone who started with a 5x5 is most likely to know the Redux method as well.
The Yau method:
The Yau is basically a Redux method, but with a different order of sequence. We start off by solving 2 centres (preferably white/ yellow for non-colour neutral cubers), then we make the first 3 cross edges. This will be followed by solving the remaining 4 centres, after which we solve for the remaining 9 edge pieces. As seen from the above series of steps, it is basically a reduction(Redux) of making a 5x5 into a 3x3 but with a different order compared to the standard Redux method. It is precise because of this re-ordered arrangement that Yau is considered a better method for 5x5 by a significant number of speedcubers.
Main Key Differences between Yau and Redux:
Yau in 4x4 is a bit different from Yau in 5x5. This is the main reason there aren’t as many 5x5 Yau solvers as there are 4x4 Yau solvers. The main difference, at least for some people, is efficiency. The rearranged order of solving in 5x5 Yau is less efficient for a few people, as for each center and edge, there requires a higher number of moves, compared to 4x4 Yau. When you take the example for 5x5 Redux, the efficiency is not a topic of discussion as there is no rearrangement involved. .On the contrary, Yau has its advantages.
The biggest advantage that Yau has in 5x5 is its effectiveness during edge pairing. For many people, this is the make or break between Yau and Redux. It is way easier and faster to do edge pairing in 5x5 using Yau than using Redux, as there is no need to look at the bottom face since it is already edge-paired. Another advantage that Yau has over Redux is the no-pause to direct transition to F2L from edge pairing, whereas in Redux, there will most likely be a pause to figure out the cross after the edge pairing.
To conclude, both the above methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to the speedcuber to figure out where he lacks during his solve in 5x5, and choose the most suitable method. Personally, I’m more or less equally fast with both Redux and Yau (but more often than not get occasional really good solutions with Yau). But I do prefer Yau over Redux, because of my preference for a more pause-less solution.
I struggle with the edge pairing in Redux, whereas in Yau it is a bit easier. I have compared only Yau and Redux, as there are the 2 methods that I personally use, and can vouch for, but in retrospect, there are many other methods out there that you can look into and see if it suits your solving paradigm.