Earning one of the top scores of the entire group, the Roborock S5 is by far the most competent at navigating its way through confined spaces and in cluttered homes. This robot never really needed became stuck to the point of needing assistance in our tests. It also has an impressive set of remote control and smart connect abilities. However, we weren't terribly impressed with the cleaning abilities of this product, finding them to be quite mediocre on both hard and soft floors. Despite that, this Roborock's awesome navigation abilities and exceptional home coverage propelled this robot to the top of the group and earned it an Editors' Choice award.
Roborock S5 Review
Pros: Amazing at navigating, covers all of your home, solid smart connect ability
Cons: So-so carpet cleaning skills, below average at cleaning hard floors, poor at picking up pet hair
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Roborock delivered one of the best performances of the entire group, tying with the Neato Botvac Connected and the Neato Botvac D7. While this robot ran circles around the pair of Neato models in terms of navigating around your furniture and cleaning the more confined spaces of your home, it is definitely inferior to both the Connected and the D7 in terms of cleaning power. If you care more about having a robot that you can just set and forget, then the Roborock is for you. If you usually have heavier messes or a much more open layout, then it might be worth considering one of the Neato models.
To really rank and score these robots and see which ones are deserving of our awards, we bought all the most promising vacuums on the market today and tested them against each other in a comprehensive series of side-by-side evaluations. We grouped these tests into six weighted categories — Navigation, Carpet Cleaning, Hard Floor Cleaning, Home Coverage, Pet Hair, and Smart Connect — with the results of the Roborock compared against the other top 'bots described below.
Accounting for the largest component of the overall score at 30%, our Navigation metric is by far the most important metric of our testing process. We scored each robot on how well it navigated a room full of — fake — furniture, how well it docked, and handled the transition between light and dark flooring, as well as how low of furniture each robot could drive under. The Roborock completely dominated this category, earning a perfect score of 10 out of 10 for its fantastic performance.
To see how each robot did at navigating around furniture, we set up a small room with a bunch of simulated furniture, then set the robot to clean the room, deducting points if the robot became stuck or if it became trapped endlessly or for an unnecessarily long time in the same spot.
The Roborock dominated this test, failing to get stuck in any of our trials and flitting in and out of the narrowest and most confined areas of our testing setup with ease. This robot also had the uncanny ability of immediately finding its way out from underneath furniture the moment it finished cleaning.
This robot also had absolutely no issue at all finding its way back to the dock, regardless of if it was sent home when it was in the same room as its docking station or if it was in a different room.
This robot continued its stellar performance in our last two tests, driving under low furniture with ease and traversing high-contrast flooring without the edge detectors triggering any false-positives.
Differing from the previous metric, this set of tests evaluated how much of your home each robot actually cleaned, compared to how well it navigated it, and accounts for 20% of the overall score for each product. In addition to looking at how much of our furnished room each robot successfully cleaned, we also compared the spot clean functions on each robot, as well as their skills at cleaning multiple rooms and the effectiveness of the barrier system — if there is one — for each robot. The Roborock again led the group in this metric, earning an 8 out of 10 for its superb showing.
This robot cleaned the entirety of our furnished room, never shying away from the more confined spots, like under the legs of our fake dining room table and chairs, always venturing in to clean them. The Roborock would essentially clean everywhere it could physically fit, compared to being too fearful to venture into the more cramped spaces like other models.
This robot easily cleans multiple rooms of your home and will happily pause cleaning to return home, recharge, and automatically resume cleaning if necessary in the process. The Roborock also has one of the most effective spot cleaning processes that we have seen. For a normal spot clean, it covers about a square about 30 sq. ft. in area, doing a decent job cleaning.
However, the Roborock also affords you the opportunity to initiate the spot clean through its mobile app. You can select up to 5 zones in the cleaning map of your home and the number of passes, ranging from 1-3, you would like the robot to complete and can send it on its way remotely. This is probably the best spot cleaning function we have seen to date from any of these products and is the perfect way to have the robot quickly and conveniently clean areas of your home that are perpetually dirty.
Unfortunately, this robot doesn't include any sort of barrier to prevent it from cleaning unwanted areas. You can purchase the roll of magnetic tape separately, but this isn't our favorite method of cordoning off an area to keep it from being cleaned, finding the virtual wall or app-based methods to be much more convenient.
Moving on to how well each robot cleaned, we started off by ranking and scoring their performance at picking up the mess from soft floors, testing out each robot on both low-pile and medium-pile carpet. The performance of the Roborock dropped considerably, earning a 5 out of 10 for its average performance in this metric, which is worth 15% of the overall score — a bit of a drop from its dominance in the previous two metrics.
First, we ran each robot in our robot pen to see how well it cleaned along the edges of a room and in the corners. The Roborock finished its cleaning pass of the pen quite quickly and actually cleaned quite close to the walls — for a circular robot. It did get a little hung up in the corners, leaving small wedges that measured up to 5" in diameter.
Next, we tested out how the Roborock did at collecting fine particles, using flour as our test mess. This robot didn't do particularly well, delivering a rather below-average performance. It left a decent amount of flour behind on the low-pile carpet. We didn't test on the medium-pile carpet, as that task would exceed the capabilities of almost all of these products and isn't really what they are designed for.
This model redeemed itself when we moved on to the medium-sized debris, easily collecting practically all of the rice from the low-pile carpet, leaving only two grains behind, and tying with a few other vacuums for the top performance in this test. It did a little worse with the fluffier carpet, leaving a little over half a teaspoon of rice behind, dropping it to a tie for third place overall.
The Roborock followed a similar trend for our other medium-sized debris test: oat collection. It again gave one of the best showings we have seen on the low-pile carpet, with only a single oat eluding it. However, it did absolutely abysmal on the fluffier carpet, leaving a ton of oats and oat particles behind, giving one of the worst performance of the bunch.
For our final test, we tested the Roborock with some larger objects to pick up: mini-wheats. It didn't do particularly well with this assessment, with the odds of it successfully collecting the cereal pieces being very hit or miss, on both types of soft flooring. It got about half of the pieces we laid out on the flat carpet and about a third on the fluffier carpet.
Hard Surface Cleaning
Next, we repeated the identical set of tests on a section of hard floor to see how well each robot performed off of the carpet. This set of tests is also responsible for 15% of the total score for each product, with the Roborock delivering a slightly below average performance and earning a 4 out of 10 for its efforts.
This robot started off with an alright performance in our edge cleaning tests, leaving about a 4" wide strip of leftover debris along the edges of the robot testing pen. It struggled a little more in the corners, leaving a slightly wider wedge of material remaining.
There was also a bit of residual debris trapped in the undercarriage of the robot and around the main extractor. Performance dropped considerably in our next challenge, where we tasked the Roborock to clean a section of hardwood laminate floor. This vacuum delivered one of the worst showings out of any products that we have seen, leaving tons of residual flour behind and spending most of its time squeegeeing it around, rather than actually cleaning it. It lacked the cleaning power to extract any flour that had fallen between the boards as well.
This robot did quite a bit better at collecting rice, leaving hardly any residual mess behind, but its performance dropped again when tasked with collecting oats or mini-wheats.
This robot didn't really fling the oats about, it simply just didn't really pick them up, even when driving right over them. It also lacks the clearance to drive over larger objects, like mini-wheats, pushing them around instead.
For this test, responsible for 10% of the overall total, we scored each robot on how effective it is at cleaning up after your furry friends, both on flat and fluffier carpet. We used hair from a local groomer, then scored each vacuum on the percentage of hair collected. The Roborock delivered a poor performance, earning it a 2 out of 10 for its disappointing results.
This product did better on the fluffier, medium-pile carpet, but still only collected about 13% of the total hair. It got about 7% on the low-pile carpet, making the Roborock a bad bet if you are primarily concerned with cleaning up pet hair.
For the final aspect of our test, we evaluated the more and more prevalent smart home aspects of these products. This set of tests account for the remaining 10% of the total score, with the Roborock finishing out with a solid performance, earning a 7 out of 10 — one of the better scores.
This robot features a companion mobile app that lets you adjust the suction, track accessory life, manually drive the robot around, and view a cleaning map of your home.
We found the WiFi connection to be quite reliable, but it was a little difficult to get this device set up as an Alexa skill. It also is not currently compatible with Google Home or Apple Home smart ecosystems. You can also configure a schedule on the app, as well as initiate a spot clean or send the robot home on either the app or on the robot itself.
While this robot is excellent at navigating your home and decent at cleaning, it still is a bit pricey if you are shopping on a budget.
While the Roborock isn't the best in terms of raw cleaning power and performs very poorly at picking up pet hair, it is by far the best of these products at navigating throughout your home and is a perfect choice if you have a more cluttered home or more confined spaces, but only have light messes for the robot to clean up.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer