Comparing top Roborock and Roomba models
Roborock is frequently mentioned among the top-performing brands of robot vacuums. Based in China and backed by smartphone maker Xiaomi, Roborock makes quality products with high-end materials and finishes and advanced engineering for both hardware and software.
The BestReviews Testing Lab wanted to see how well Roborock robot vacuums match up against iRobot’s Roombas, the most well-known robot vacuums on the market. We tested five Roborock models and 10 Roomba models to evaluate how they compare in areas such as suction, navigation, features, performance and price.
After putting them through their paces, we’ve concluded that there are few rivals to the high-end Roborock S8 Pro Ultra, an all-in-one intelligent cleaning machine. However, if you want a simpler solution, a solid midrange Roomba like the Roomba i4 EVO can offer more bang for your buck.
iRobot vs. Roborock: What they do well
Roombas and Roborocks excel in some specific areas, as we confirmed during testing.
iRobot Roomba benefits
- Simplicity: In our testing with Roombas, we found them to be simple to set up and use, even the more advanced models.
- Longevity: Roombas are known for lasting longer than other robot vacuums. Lifespans of five years or more are common among Roombas, and we noted how easy it was to disassemble and reassemble a Roomba for cleaning and maintenance.
- Dirt pickup: In our tests, Roombas picked up as much or more dirt and debris than other robot vacuums despite having lower rated suction. This may be due to Roombas’ dual-roller system that few other robot vacuum models possess.
- Navigation: The Roborock models we tested all came with light detection and ranging (LiDAR) navigation, using lasers to measure distances and obstacles with impressive accuracy and navigating without bumping or going astray.
- Suction power: Roborock models feature high suction ratings as measured in pascals (Pa), the results of which we witnessed firsthand during our testing.
- Advanced technology: Roborock prides itself on engineering and design. In testing we couldn’t fail to notice not only Roborocks’ impressive features but also their polished execution.
What they could improve
Despite their usefulness, both Roombas and Roborocks have some weak spots they could improve.
iRobot Roomba drawbacks
- Price: For their features, Roombas are not known for being bargains, regularly costing more than comparable models from competitors.
- Suction: When comparing low-end, midrange and high-end robot vacuums, we noted that Roombas generally have less pure suction than other models we’ve tested.
- Navigation: The first Roombas introduced the bump-and-go movement that looks random and that most people associate with robot vacuums, a cleaning pattern that we didn’t enjoy watching during testing. Only some of its models use advanced navigation in the form of camera-based visual simultaneous localization and mapping (vSLAM).
- Price: Unless they’re on sale, Roborock robot vacuums don’t compete in the low end of the market. Their full retail prices reflect that they’re premium machines.
- Weight: Four of the five Roborocks we tested weighed 10 pounds. That’s on the heavy side for robot vacuums.
- Charging time: The Roborock models we tested took between three to five hours to charge their batteries back to full, longer than many other competitors including Roombas.
Top Roomba models
Roomba Combo J7+
Battery life: 128 minutes | Dimensions: 13.3″ L x 13.3” W x 3.4” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.4 L | Weight: 7.35 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Roomba Combo j7+ includes a mop, a feature that immediately earned it kudos from us during testing. It removed sticky residue and mopped up small spills without any trouble, and kept its mop pad well above carpeting thanks to its automatic arm. It also performed well as a vacuum, scoring high in our sugar, cereal, pet hair and cat litter tests.
Aside from mopping, another thing we appreciated about the Combo j7+ is its obstacle-avoidance feature. The j7 family uses vSLAM technology to map and navigate with cameras, and we liked the accuracy of its map and that you could create zones for it to avoid and zones for it to clean. iRobot claims the j7 family can see obstacles and avoid them in real time, and our tests confirmed this; the j7 changed direction whenever we placed even small objects in its path rather than run over them like other Roombas do.
The Combo j7+ has an automatic-disposal dock to take care of self-emptying. It also had the longest battery life of any of the Roombas we tested, at over two hours total.
Battery life: 107 minutes | Dimensions: 12.25” L x 12.25″ W x 3.5” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.5 L | Weight: 8.15 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Roomba s9+ is the most powerful Roomba model we tested. iRobot doesn’t issue suction ratings for its Roombas, but the s9+ and its variants have been estimated at around 2,400 to 2,600 Pa in power. That’s 40 times the suction of an entry-level Roomba.
In our testing, the s9+ aced all our particulate and pet care tests, both on carpet and hard flooring. We particularly liked how its flat front and D- or U-shaped chassis allowed it to clean effectively in corners and along edges, something that’s a challenge to most round robot vacuums. We also liked its vSLAM-based mapping and the ability to set Clean Zones, such as beneath the dining table, for targeted attention. While it can’t avoid small things, like wires or socks, in its path the way a j-series Roomba can, it still does a decent job detecting and moving around most objects (over 2.5 centimeters high) when Careful Drive mode is selected.
The Roomba s9+ comes with an auto-disposal dock that iRobot says lasts up to 60 days before needing to be emptied.
Other Roomba models
Roomba i4 EVO
Battery life: 94 minutes | Dimensions: 13.34” L x 13.26” W x 3.63” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.5 L | Weight: 7.44 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: No | Object avoidance: No | Scheduling: Yes
The Roomba i4 EVO is one of our favorite Roomba models, combining the simplicity and dependability of classic Roombas with enough smarts to make it a useful everyday cleaning assistant.
With 10 times the cleaning power of an entry-level Roomba, and dual textured rubber rollers to pick up and remove dirt and debris from all kinds of surfaces, the i4 EVO punched above its weight during testing, impressing us in carpet performance even on high-pile rugs that stymied competitors like Roborocks.
While depending only on a gyroscope and odometer, it mapped an 800-square-foot home accurately and could clean specific rooms in a specific order from its smartphone app. Wi-Fi capable, it was easy to control with Alexa or set up Siri Shortcuts. Maintenance and cleaning are easy on the i4 EVO, and its rollers never got tangled with hair during testing.
Top Roborock models
Roborock S8 Pro Ultra
Battery life: 80 minutes | Dimensions: 13.78” L x 13.9” W x 3.8” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.35 L | Weight: 10 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Roborock S8 Pro Ultra looks like something out of a space program, with a massive docking station and a powerful vacuum and mop unit in glossy white plastic. It powered its way through our testing, sucking up sugar, cereal, pet hair and cat litter from both medium-pile carpet and hard flooring with 6,000 Pa of suction power (which is more than double the power of the s9+, the most powerful Roomba) and two rubber rollers for extra dirt pickup.
The S8 Pro Ultra’s LiDAR navigation built an accurate floor map from 800 square feet of living space in less than 15 minutes, and it made its way from room to room as directly as if it knew exactly where it was going, which it clearly did.
The S8 Pro Ultra can combine vacuuming and mopping in a single job thanks to its floor sensors and mapping that remembers where carpet ends and hardwood or tile begins. When a job is done, it not only empties itself into its dock but also washes and dries its mopping pad by itself. All you need to do is throw out the dirty water and occasionally change the dock’s dust bag.
Roborock Q Revo
Battery life: 75 minutes | Dimensions: 13.78” L x 13.9” W x 3.8” H | Dust bin capacity: 0.35 L | Weight: 10 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Roborock Q Revo costs a third less than the S8 Pro Ultra, but it delivered similar results in our testing, with 5,500 Pa of suction, making short work of the particulates and debris we put in its path on both carpet and hardwood. It uses LiDAR mapping and navigation, which gave it pinpoint accuracy in every situation we threw at it.
Like the S8 Pro Ultra, it combines vacuuming and mopping into a single unit, and it has an auto-empty dock that also refills and cleans its mops. Unlike the S8 Pro, however, it uses two spinning circular mop pads instead of high-speed vibrations to get dirt and grime out of floors, something it did in our testing with great success. Quieter than the S8 and only slightly less powerful, the Roborock Q Revo was the best surprise of our Roborock testing.
Other Roborock models
Roborock S7 Max Ultra
Battery life: 105 minutes | Dimensions: 13.78” L x 13.9” W x 3.8” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.35 L | Weight: 10 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The S7 Max Ultra is a close match with the S8 Pro Ultra, with a hefty vacuum/mop combo robot in sleek matte black and a large matching docking station where the robot can empty itself and have its mop washed and dried. However, the S7 lacks the S8’s dual rollers, and it’s a shade less powerful at 5,500 Pa, making it equal to the Q Revo.
It did well in our tests, with the exception of pet hair on carpeting, where its single roller may have been at a disadvantage. However, it surpassed the S8 Pro Ultra in battery life, clocking over 100 minutes of cleaning compared to 80 for the higher-powered model. This longer battery life, combined with its excellent LiDAR mapping and automated mop washing and drying, make the S7 Max Ultra worth considering as an alternative to the S8 Pro if you want to save a few hundred dollars.
Battery life: 70 minutes | Dimensions: 13.78” L x 13.78” W x 3.78” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.4 L | Weight: 7.05 lb | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: No | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes
The Roborock Q5 is one of Roborock’s midrange models and is priced accordingly, offering plenty of bang for the buck. Unlike some competitors in its price range, the Q5 has excellent LiDAR navigation that lets it accurately map over 450 square feet of floor area in minutes, and it uses that map to proceed directly to rooms or cleaning zones.
It comes with 2,700 Pa of suction power, slightly more than even the Roomba s9+. It performed well during our testing, especially with pet hair and hardwood floors, although its medium-pile carpet performance was not as good as other Roborocks.
The Q5 doesn’t come with mopping or a self-emptying dock. It’s much lighter than more powerful Roborocks, which allows it to handle floor transitions like hardwood to carpet with more ease than its bigger siblings.
Roomba s9+ vs. Roborock S8 Pro Ultra
Taking a closer look at two of the top Roomba and Roborock models, we found that, although the Roomba s9+ edged out the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra in our testing, it still has many features that are superior to the Roomba s9+.
The Roborock S8 Pro Ultra’s impressive suction power of 6,000 Pa dwarfs the estimated 2,400 to 2,600 Pa of the Roomba s9+, and it scored high in our carpet and hardwood tests. However, the s9+ scored even better, especially on carpet, where we liked its outstanding corner cleaning thanks to its D-shaped body. The s9+ lasted longer, too, managing to run for 109 minutes during testing compared to the S8 Pro Ultra at 80 minutes. The s9+ fully recharged its battery from low in about an hour and 58 minutes, while the S8 Pro Ultra took nearly double the time at three hours and 56 minutes.
Both the S8 Pro Ultra and the s9+ use advanced navigation to make their way around a space, with the S8 Pro Ultra’s LiDAR edging out the s9+’s vSLAM technology for speed. Both seemed to do reasonably well at avoiding obstacles, with both offering a setting that makes them extra cautious around obstacles and furniture. Both navigated promptly and directly and supported zone cleaning and no-clean zones.
One way the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra definitively beats the Roomba s9+ is in mopping. The S8 is a capable mopper and can mop alone or combine vacuuming and mopping in one job, while the s9+ doesn’t have any mopping ability whatsoever. The Roborock dock, with its dual water tanks, ability to wash and dry its own mop pad and auto-empty feature, beats the self-empty-only feature of the Roomba dock.
Roborock vs. Roomba functionality
Roborock models we tested possess much higher suction power than Roombas. It’s not easy to get suction ratings in Pascals for Roombas, but the figures we can find top out at 2,500 for the Roomba s9+, the most powerful Roomba. The Roborock Q5, a midrange Roborock, starts at 2,700 Pa.
That said, we didn’t really see evidence of this suction disparity in our cleaning results. The Roomba s9+ scored higher than even the 6,000 Pa Roborock S8 Pro Ultra, while the Roomba i4 EVO, with much lower suction than the Roborock Q5, regularly picked up more dirt and debris judging by the amounts in their dustbins.
That said, the power of the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra was on full display during testing as it essentially inhaled all the granulated sugar and cereal we spilled on hardwood with almost no visible residue left over.
The high suction power of Roborocks does make them loud. All the Roborocks were noticeably loud during testing, sounding like blow dryers or tiny jet engines. They were hard to ignore, unlike the much quieter Roombas.
All the Roborock models we tested featured high-end LiDAR navigation, even the midrange Roborock Q5. By comparison, only the high-end j- and s-series Roombas have advanced navigation, in the form of vSLAM. Compared to non-vSLAM Roombas, like the Roomba i3, i4, and Roomba 600-series models we tested, the Roborocks mapped faster and more precisely and navigated from room to room more accurately.
The Roborocks also all featured some level of active obstacle avoidance, avoiding bumping into things or running into objects in their path, which the entry-level and midrange Roombas failed to do. The Roomba s9+ does have some obstacle avoidance but will still run into trouble on small items. The Roomba j7+ and Combo j7+, however, had the fastest and most accurate reaction time to obstacles of any size among the models we tested, including the Roborocks.
Only a few Roomba models include the ability to mop, the j7+ Combo and the Europe-only Combo i5, Combo i8 and Combo RT. iRobot prefers to keep mopping separate to their Braava line, and makes it possible to coordinate Roombas and Braavas when cleaning a space. Four of the five Roborock models we tested could also mop as well as vacuum. Like other robot vacuum makers, Roborock recommends only using its own branded cleaning solution for its mops.
Roborocks and Roombas with basic docks are very similar, but when it comes to automated docks, Roborock takes the cake. No Roomba dock combines self-emptying, mop filling, mop cleaning, and mop drying the way the docks of the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra, S7 Max Ultra and Q Revo do.
All the Roborock models and Roomba models we tested connect to Wi-Fi and can be controlled from smartphone apps. The Roborock app, like the Roborocks themselves, was a powerful and advanced app with a plethora of features, some of which were hard to find and not easy to discover during testing. By contrast, the iRobot Home app makes sure to guide the user step-by-step through common tasks, which can be helpful or bothersome, depending on your comfort level.
All Roombas come with two rollers. This dual-roller system seems to contribute to the high cleaning performance of Roombas considering their relatively low suction power. Some Roombas, such as the Roomba 692 and 694, have a bristle brush roller and a rubber beater roller. Others, like the Roomba i4, Combo j7+ and s9+, have two flexible rubber rollers with textured surfaces for gripping dirt and debris.
Among Roborocks, only the S8 family such as the S8 and S8 Pro Ultra come with two rollers. These rollers have a spiral fin design unlike those of Roombas.
A Roborock with built-in mopping ability and a self-emptying, automated mop-cleaning dock, such as the top-of-the-line Roborock S8 Pro Ultra or the surprisingly powerful Roborock Q Revo, is an ideal solution for tech-savvy people who want a robot to do everything. However, people who are not comfortable with advanced technology or a learning curve might be better off with a more basic Roomba, such as the Roomba i4 EVO.
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Jmar Gambol writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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