The Best Roomba Vacuums

In our Best Robot Vacuums review, we pitted robovacs from a range of top manufacturers against each other and found that iRobot’s Roombas swept the competition. This review dives deep into the iRobot world to understand the company’s first-in-class technology. We tested seven of iRobot's most promising models for cleaning power, navigation, and the ability to tackle common obstacles. In the end, it was clear that more money doesn’t always buy better results.

The 2 Best Roomba Vacuums

The Best
High-Tech Roomba
iRobot Roomba 960
Roomba 960
Trustworthy enough to run home alone and silent enough to run at night
Pros
Advanced navigation
Upgraded vacuum
WiFi-enabled
Cons
Expensive

Why we chose it

Advanced navigation

The Roomba 960 was the only model that made it through our snake pit of cords without getting any caught in its extractors. And while it did get momentarily lodged on the rug tassels, it promptly reversed and spat them back out. The more-expensive 980 model, on the other hand, flipped the rug over and proceeded to climb on top.

We saw similar results during the height test. The 960 did its fair share of bonking against the shelf — bonking seems to be a pretty unavoidable robot vacuum trait. But compared to other high-powered models, the 960’s contact with furniture is gentle. It even stopped itself short a few times when it sensed the shelf nearby.

Upgraded vacuum

Both 900-series Roombas boast a hefty upgrade in suction. Though the company says air watt stats are proprietary, it reports the 900s have a 5x increase in air power over the 600 series. The 960 and 980 are more than up to the challenge of thick, dense carpeting and a complex floor plan. And even though the 980 comes with a feature called “Carpet Boost,” which automatically intensifies suction as needed, our testing suggests you should save the money and go with the less expensive 960.

WiFi-enabled

If you’re looking for a robot vacuum that lets you clean your home from anywhere, the Roomba 960 is perfect. With the iRobot Home App, you can schedule cleanings ahead of time, or simply press “clean” and it’ll get started right away. With the Roomba 960, you can even customize how it cleans with options like a one pass and “final edge clean.” Plus, you can view where your Roomba cleaned using the “View Clean Map.”

Points to consider

Expensive

If you don’t need all the bells and whistles of a WiFi-enabled robot vacuum, then it might be worth passing on the Roomba 960 for the less expensive 614 model. Though not the priciest Roomba, the 960 still costs around $700, which is a lot of money for a vacuum. However, if you have a flexible budget and can spend that kind of money, the Roomba 960 offers superior cleaning capabilities — especially for homes with pets. Its voice-activated control and recharge and resume technology make it a great addition to any smart home.

The Best
Basic Roomba
iRobot Roomba 614
Roomba 614
Surprisingly powerful, refreshingly simple
Pros
Impressive vacuuming
Simple design
Cons
Can’t schedule cleanings

Why we chose it

Impressive vacuuming

A great basic bot sticks to its primary function: vacuuming. We expected these Roombas would accomplish that essential task fairly well, and that our test results would show which among them did it best. Instead, the Roomba 614 ended up cleaning better than several of the high-end models. It sucked up an incredible 5.8 oz. of baking soda and Cheerios (part of a complete Roomba breakfast), beating out models that cost three times as much.

Simple design

Having experienced the iRobot home app’s notifications, diagrams, and cleaning logs, we think there is something to be said for remaining disconnected. The Roomba 614 offers the cleaning power iRobot vacuums are known for, but keeps features simple. This no-frills model is best for those who don’t want to control their vacuum through an app, or get a notification every time Roomba aborts a cleaning mission. All you have to do is press a button and your Roomba is off to work.

Points to consider

Can’t schedule cleanings

Unlike the Roomba 960, the 614 model has no way of letting you schedule daily cleanings. This can be a bit annoying if you’re forgetful, or want to leave for work before Roomba starts vacuuming. That said, the 614 doesn’t lack in cleaning capabilities — its solid navigation skills coupled with a truly powerful suction make it an excellent vacuum. The only extra step is simply pushing the “clean” button to get the Roomba started, which isn’t a dealbreaker. If you’re willing to pay a little extra for this scheduled cleanings, the Roomba 650 (another basic, no-WiFi model) earned similar marks in our performance tests.

How to Find the Right Roomba for You

Research WiFi-enabled Roombas

Smart technology is quickly proving to be less of a novelty and a more standard addition in many homes. Choosing a high-tech bot is a step toward a smart home future. WiFi-enabled Roombas pair easily with smart speakers and let you schedule cleanings via voice commands. You can also control it from anywhere using the iRobot Home app, making it easy to start your Roomba even if you’re at work. Before purchasing your robot vacuum, look into a WiFi-enabled Roomba and decide if the extra technology best suits your cleaning needs.

Buy from an authorized dealer

When we started our search for the best Roomba by comparing all models readily available. As it turned out, there were a lot — we found 26 different models online, but some of those are discontinued; others are store exclusives; and a few are international models. Any of the above means that they are only available to U.S. consumers via third-party sellers.

When we talked to iRobot, we were advised to buy only from the company or from authorized retailers. These purchasing routes ensure warranty coverage. Amazon is one of iRobot’s authorized retailers, but be alert to third-party sellers within that space, as well. Make sure that the product description says “ships from and sold by Amazon.com.”

Consider your priorities

The great thing about iRobot’s Roomba vacuums is that there’s something for everyone. Depending on your priorities, the best Roomba may be one that boasts top-of-the-line features and controls, or one that offers solid cleaning power while going easy on technology. Don’t choose a Roomba based on fancy features you may never use. Dig into each model’s specific features, consider what type of cleaner you are, and what kind of vacuuming you need on a daily basis.

Roomba FAQ

What's the difference between each Roomba series?

There are three series currently in production — 600, 800, and 900. The different models within each series (for instance, the 614, 650, and 690) share similar levels of power and controllability, all of which get upgraded in subsequent series.

600 Series

First-generation iAdapt and Aerovac technology means basic dirt-detection skills and typical brushes: the kind with bristles that do a fair job at scraping up debris but are super prone to becoming ensnared in hair. While their navigation style is random, 600 models display iRobot’s patented cleaning algorithms that enable the device to cover an entire room (given enough time) by first locating perimeters and then bouncing between obstacles.

800 Series

iAdapt 2.0 allows Roombas to navigate multiple rooms and track down dirt wherever it hides, using both optical and acoustic sensors. Extractors (textured rubber brushes) knead the floor to lift debris, but avoid getting caught in coils of hair. The extractors alone make the 800 series a big step up from the 600, as they eliminate a lot of human maintenance time.

900 Series

Exclusive to the 900 series, recharge-and-resume technology helps expand upon the multi-room navigation capabilities of the 800s: Making a pit stop to recharge before heading back out means a 900-series Roomba can clean an entire level of your home with the single push of a button. In the 980 model, “Carpet Boost” automatically increases air wattage when it senses thicker-pile flooring.

How does Roomba learn your home’s layout?

The most recent generation of Roombas have mapping capabilities that draw a working diagram of your home, and that information will soon be highly valuable as the market develops intuitive, automated home devices. There has been a fair amount of controversy surrounding the mapping feature on the WiFi-enabled Roombas. At first blush, this mapping technology just seems useful: Thanks to optical and aural sensors, bots perceive furniture, walls, and other obstacles and devise a map to help them navigate. But people started bringing up privacy concerns as soon as iRobot representatives shared news of this technology in early 2017.

iRobot insists there’s no cause for concern: Map memory gets wiped after each run. But smart home technology is still in its infancy, so we’ve only just begun to understand how that kind of information can be used. Still, iRobot says it will always make the choice to share or not to share a consumer prerogative.

What’s the difference between Li-ion and NiMH batteries?

All contemporary Roombas utilize high-power lithium-ion batteries, which are known for being lightweight and long-lived. The 650 is the exception: Its NiMH battery weighs in slightly heavier than li-ion, takes a little longer to charge, and can lose charge just sitting still — a dormant NiMH battery loses 50% of its charge in a month. The only reason 650 still uses nickel-metal hydride batteries is because iRobot hasn’t updated its design.

The Best Roomba Vacuums: Summed Up

iRobot Roomba 960
iRobot Roomba 614
The best
High-tech Roomba
Basic Roomba
Price
$699.00
$299.99
WiFi-enabled
Carpet boost
Recharges itself
Scheduling
Run time
Up to 120 minutes
60 minutes

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