Best Robot Vacuum of 2021
|Price||$900 List||$800 List|
$799.00 at Amazon
$269.99 at Amazon
$499.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Great at picking up pet hair, cleaning carpets, doesn’t miss spots||Great home coverage, excellent navigation, automatically empties its dust bin||Great navigation, low price||Fantastic at cleaning hard and soft floors, packed with smart features||Amazing at navigating, covers all of your home, solid smart connect ability|
|Cons||Exceptionally expensive||Expensive, struggles with pet hair||Could be better with pet hair, so-so cleaning performance||Pricey, struggles at navigating in confined places, little rough on furniture||So-so carpet cleaning skills, below average at cleaning hard floors, poor at picking up pet hair|
|Bottom Line||If you want a top-notch robot vacuum that can handle pet hair with ease, then this is the vacuum for you||Offering excellent home coverage and navigations skills, the i7+ did very well across the board -- except when it came to pet hair||If you are searching for a solid, low-cost automatic floor cleaner, then we think it’s hard to go wrong with this vacuum||While this robot struggled cleaning around the tighter spaces in your home, the cleaning power of the D7 can’t be beat||While this robot handles complicated room layouts with ease and practically never needs assistance, it might take two passes to get your home acceptable clean|
|Rating Categories||iRobot Roomba s9||Roomba i7+ with...||Roborock E4||Neato Botvac D7...||Roborock S5|
|Home Coverage (20%)|
|Carpet Cleaning (15%)|
|Hard Surface Cleaning (15%)|
|Pet Hair (10%)|
|Smart Connect (10%)|
|Specs||iRobot Roomba s9||Roomba i7+ with...||Roborock E4||Neato Botvac D7...||Roborock S5|
Clean base holds 30 bins worth
|Dimensions||12.4" x 12.2" x 3.6"||13.34" diameter
Charging base: 12.2" W x 15.1" D x 19" H
|12.5" x 13.2" x 3.9"||13.9" diameter
|Measured Weight||9.2 lbs||7.4 lbs||6.6 lbs||7.9 lbs||7.8 lbs|
|Warranty||1 year limited||1 year limited||1 year limited||Robot - 1 year limited
Battery - 6 month limited
|1 year limited|
|Recharge & Resume||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Charge time||2-3 hours||2-3 hours||Up to 4 hours||2-3 hours||Up to 4 hours|
|Multi-Room Navigation (Cleaning)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Barrier Type||Virtual (not included)||Virtual (comes with 1)
Room by room cleaning (in App)
|Physical (magnetic strip, not included)||No Go Lines (in App) and Physical (magnetic strip included)||Physical (magnetic strip, not included)|
|Filter Replacement Cost||3 for $40||3 for $25||Washable
2 for $33
|Standard 4 for $20
High Pre 2 for $20
Ultra 2 for $30
|Washable, comes with 2|
|Brush Width||9 5/8"||6 3/4"||6 1/2"||10 3/4"||6 1/2"|
Best of the Best for Most People
iRobot Roomba i7+ with Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal
If you are looking for an all-around high-performing robot vacuum, you won't go wrong with the Roomba i7+ with Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal. This robot thoroughly impressed us. Its navigational skills reigned supreme, and it cleaned even the most cluttered areas with relative ease while seldom requiring intervention to free it from a tricky corner. It also did a great job cleaning up all sorts of messes on low and high pile carpet and hard floors alike. This little robot is full of smart features, allowing you to direct it remotely and integrate it into your existing smart home system. The automatic dirt disposal base makes it even more convenient by allowing up to 30 cleaning passes or so before you need to clean out the dustbin.
One noticeable drawback is that this robot vacuum did a poor job in our pet hair test. We spread out pet hair on both low-pile and medium-pile carpet, but it barely collected any of the hair on either surface. The vast majority of the hair collected got tangled up in the extractor head rather than making it into the collection bin. Regardless, this is still one of our favorite robot vacuums, and it would make a great addition to any pet-free household.
Read Review: Roomba i7+ with Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal
Best All-Around Vacuum
Neato Botvac D7 Connected
The Botvac D7 Connected is the Neato line's newest flagship model, and it delivered an overall fantastic performance, especially in our cleaning tests. This smart vacuum creates maps of your home after it cleans, allowing you to track its progress and draw virtual walls to delineate areas in which you don't want the robot to venture. It does an excellent job of cleaning most types of messes on both hard and soft floors and even does well at collecting pet hair.
The Neato D7 still has its flaws, however. In our navigation tests, it couldn't easily escape from some of the more cramped areas. It was also a little less gentle on furniture than other models, especially when backing up. If this becomes a problem, the app does have a "gentle navigation" mode, but we didn't notice a huge difference in gentleness when engaged. The D7's top-tier performance also comes at a higher price and is one of the more expensive models. Still, to date, it is one of our all-time favorite robot vacuums we have tested, and we would highly recommend it.
Read Review: Neato Botvac D7 Connected
Best Navigational Abilities
With a similar overall performance as the D7, the Roborock S5 set itself apart by being the group's best navigator. This robot quickly maneuvered in and out of the most confined areas around various furniture types, never once getting stuck or needing any intervention to be freed in our tests. It covers the most significant percentage of your home compared to all the other products we tested, never omitting an area if it could physically fit there. It also has an impressive set of smart features.
However, the Roborock doesn't come close to matching the cleaning abilities of the Neato Botvac D7, struggling to pick up caked-on messes and pet hair. While it isn't our top pick for cleaning power, this robot excels at making its way through a cramped and cluttered home, boldly cleaning where other robots fear to tread.
Read Review: Roborock S5
Best Bang for the Buck
Neato Botvac D4 Connected
If the high-end robots' prices don't work for your budget, then the Neato Botvac D4 Connected is a worthy contender. It's our favorite model in its price range and is comparable in performance to some of the overall top robots in certain scenarios. This vacuum navigates obstacles exceptionally well and does a good job cleaning most of your home. It picked up all sorts of messes from both carpets and hard floors. It even did an excellent job of collecting pet hair while boasting a respectable number of smart features and functions and retailing at a budget-friendly price compared to the premium products.
However, the Neato D4 does encounter some difficulties when trying to clean confined or cluttered areas. It can end up skipping some spots entirely if it detects too many obstacles. Also, it's not incredibly gentle when driving around your furniture. It repeatedly backed into our test course items or jostled them as it tried to find a suitable route. This won't cause any more damage than some light scrapes and scuffs, but it might be something to consider if you have antique or particularly delicate furniture items in your home. This robot also fell behind when it came to matching the top models' cleaning performance, especially on hard floors. However, the D4 is our top recommended option if you want one of the best 'bots around but are still looking to save some cash.
Read Review: Neato Botvac D4 Connected
Best on a Tight Budget
If you are shopping on a tight budget for a robot vacuum that can actually get the job done, then we highly recommend the Roborock E4. While this vacuum is just a bit more expensive than many of the simple, one-room random cleaning robots, this bargain vacuum is one of the best navigators that we have seen to date, allowing it to effectively clean your entire home. This robot systematically maps your home to clean multiple rooms and seldom got trapped by furniture in our tests. It also can connect to your existing smart home so you can monitor its cleaning progress remotely.
However, while this vacuum has solid cleaning performance, it definitely isn't the best for heavy-duty messes, particularly floundering with pet hair on soft floors. It's a great option if you are searching for a budget automated solution to stretch the time between cleaning with a traditional vacuum but might not be the best choice if you are looking to supplant a conventional canister or upright vacuum entirely.
Read Review: Roborock E4
Best for Pet Hair
iRobot Roomba s9
The Roomba s9 earned one of our top overall scores and is the best of our test lineup when it comes to picking up pet hair. It also performed exceptionally at cleaning up all sorts of different messes from both hard and soft floors. It has a decent set of smart features and will usually cover the vast majority of the accessible floor area when it completes a cleaning cycle. Another feature you can purchase is a separate automated dirt disposal base, similar to the i7+. This adds the convenience of only having to empty the base every 30 or so cleaning passes. However, this adds an extra cost to an already pricey product.
The s9 can get a little tripped up in rooms with a lot of furniture, especially its first time cleaning a room. It, unfortunately, doesn't come close to matching the finesse of other high-end models. We don't recommend the s9 to everyone because it borders on being exceedingly expensive, especially since (in our opinion) it still isn't good enough to replace a traditional vacuum. It's a fantastic option if you can swing the cost and need to pick up tons of dog hair, but we think most people will be happy with some of the other vacuums that scored only a little bit lower and cost significantly less.
Read Review: iRobot Roomba s9
Why You Should Trust Us
We have spent over five years testing and comparing robot vacuums, ranking and scoring all the best 'bots' performances, and updating our review as new models are released. We bought all of the robots in this review at retail prices to remain independent and objective. Our review team is composed of Austin Palmer and David Wise . They both have extensive experience with consumer electronics, having tested and reviewed hundreds of different tech and smart home products here at GearLab.
We spent close to 250 hours testing these robots side-by-side, even going so far as to make simulated furniture in our test room to directly compare each robot's home coverage with long exposure photography. We spread out controlled amounts of messes on different surfaces for our cleaning tests, then scored each robot on how much it picked up. We obtained pet hair donated from a local groomer to spread out on our test carpet for our pet hair collection tests. Finally, we also rated the network connection's reliability by seeing how many times we had to reset it throughout our testing period and compared how easy and intuitive each robot vacuum's remote interface is.
Related: How We Tested Robot Vacuums
Analysis and Test Results
We divide these tests into six metrics — Navigation, Home Coverage, Carpet Cleaning, Hard Surface Cleaning, Pet Hair, and Smart Connect — each weighted based on their overall significance to robot vacuum performance. Additionally, we consider each product's price and how that connects to its performance for shopping on a tighter budget and looking for better value options.
Related: Buying Advice for Robot Vacuums
To land one of today's top-notch robot vacuums, you are going to have to spend some money. If you are shopping on a budget, our top recommendation is the Botvac D4 Connected by Neato. It offers the best value without sacrificing too much performance, doing a great job at navigating floors and cleaning up most messes, all while retailing for considerably less than the most expensive models. The Roborock E4 is another great option if you are shopping on a budget, offering premium features found on top-tier models — like systematic mapping and smart home integration — at a significantly reduced price. These two options are still a bit more expensive than the one-room random cleaning robots, but these simple robots are really limited to only cleaning a single room. If you want to have the best of the best, you can expect to pay a decent amount. That trade-off being that these premium robots will do a much better job of cleaning and become stuck much less frequently.
Our most important testing metric, navigation, constitutes 30% of the overall score for each product. After all, what good is a robot vacuum if it can't even find its way to the mess in the first place? The majority of each product's score for this metric is based on how it performed in our furniture navigation challenge. For this test, we set up a course full of furniture — a dining room table, four chairs, coffee table, sofa, a lamp, and a comfy armchair — to see how well each robot cleaned and maneuvered around them. We primarily focused on the robot's ability to navigate the room without assistance, instead of how much of the room it cleaned. (Our next metric covers overall cleaning effectiveness.) Robots lost points for overly erratic behaviors, such as repeatedly cleaning under a table for the bulk of the time.
We also awarded points based on each robot's success in finding its docking station from the same or a different room and how it handled high-contrast flooring (whether or not we got a false reading from the edge detection sensor).
Earning the top score overall and delivering the best performance that we have seen to date, the Roborock S5 and the Roborock E4 both thoroughly impressed us with their nearly flawless performance in these tests. This pair of robots seem to have an almost identical path-planning algorithm and sensor arrays, with both performing virtually the same in our tests. These robots easily navigated around all of our test furniture without getting stuck in each test trial.
This model was able to delicately maneuver in and out of the tightest spaces in our test furniture layout. Other robots were less gentle on the furniture and backed into some of it quite aggressively, whereas the Roborock E5 would very carefully negotiate tight spots without crashing into things. The Roborock E4 also delicately wends its way through even very cluttered sections of furniture, traveling wherever it can physically fit.
Both of these robots also handle docking exceptionally well. They are quick and accurate at finding their dock when both the robot and the dock are in the same room. These robots also delivered some of the best performances we've seen at locating and returning home to the dock when it is in a different room — a much more difficult test that stumped a handful of robots. Neither had issues with high-contrast flooring, with the edge detection sensors never triggering a false-positive.
Following the pair of Roborocks, the Roomba i7+ and the Roomba i3+ are the next best in terms of navigation performance. This pair handled our testing room full of furniture very well, never getting fully stuck or being overly rough with any of the items. It took longer to find an escape route in some of the more cramped areas, where the Roborock S4 or E4 could immediately identify an exit route.
However, the i7+ and the i3+ were also utterly unaffected by high-contrast areas in our test, cleaning the dark rug on the light carpet without issue. It can also easily find its way home to its dock when commanded to return, regardless of whether or not it is in the same or a different room.
The Roomba s9 also didn't have any issues docking, almost always finding its base immediately. It didn't have any problems driving over high-contrast floors, either, unlike the 960. The edge detection sensor never gave us a false reading throughout our testing, only registering an edge or a drop when there actually was one.
Unfortunately, the s9 can struggle a bit when negotiating its way around furniture. Its first run in our test course was disappointing, but its performance improved quite a bit after starting over after a training run. It handled tight areas quite well but would occasionally crash into obstacles head-on — similar to the Neato robots. It also had a hard time finding a way out around the tightly spaced chairs in our simulated dinette set.
The Botvac D7 Connected and the Botvac D4 Connected by Neato are systematic cleaners. This duo's performance was disappointing in our furniture navigation challenge, as they all required some intervention to complete their cleaning cycles. These both choked up around the simulated dining room table and chairs, becoming entrapped in the tight spots. These were also surprisingly rough with furniture, even pushing some of the items around as they struggled to free themselves. This pair did redeem itself in the other two tests in this metric, however, with both models heading straight for the dock when directed to return home. They were also unaffected by the transition between light and dark floors.
The Ecovacs Deebot N79S was sporadic at cleaning our entire room during testing. It can avoid immediate obstacles but doesn't make a map of its overall cleaning path. Surprisingly, it's quite adept at not getting stuck, though it may take quite a long time to locate a straightforward way to free itself from tight spaces. However, we didn't find it great at navigating back to its dock, especially when coming from another room.
The Eufy RoboVac 11S Slim is another robot that delivered some so-so results in our navigation tests. Then, finishing at the back of the group, was the Samsung POWERbot R7070. This robot suffered quite a bit in our furniture test, avoiding most of the problem areas right from the start. Despite that, it still managed to get stuck to the point of requiring assistance, and the one time it did venture under the table, it got trapped in a seemingly endless loop.
It also refused to cross the transition between light and dark carpet, fearing that it was the edge of a step or other drop off, but it was fast when navigating back to its charging base when given the command.
Following our Navigation metric, Home Coverage covers the next most important set of tests, accounting for 20% of each vacuum's overall score. Rather than just seeing how well each bot could navigate autonomously, we also evaluated how much floor area each robot could clean. We tested the size and ease of use of each robot's spot cleaning functions, as well as their abilities at cleaning multiple rooms and recharging if necessary. In our furniture test, we also considered the overall space each robot cleaned and its ability to use barriers to create a no-go zone. This is a beneficial function in areas where the robot is likely to become trapped or suck up something it shouldn't, such as around a shoe rack or pet food bowls.
The Roborock S5 took the lead again in this metric, joined by the Roomba i7+, Roomba 13+, the Roborock E4and Roomba s9. The Roborock S5 and the E4 repeatedly cleaned every last spot around the furniture in our test, never avoiding a location because it was too cluttered and only failing to clean areas where it was physically impossible for the robot to fit. Additionally, this model handles multi-room cleaning very well, quickly and systematically finding its way between rooms. The Roborock E4 and S5 will also stop cleaning, return to their base to charge, and resume cleaning automatically when ready.
Unfortunately, neither of the Roborock vacuums include any no-go zone barriers, requiring you to purchase them separately. They use magnetic strips as a way to signify different areas as no-go zones. These strips are useful once installed, but they can be challenging to place securely and discreetly. Finally, we evaluated the spot clean function of each robot. The Roborock S5 does a mediocre job when you activate it from the robot directly, simply doing a single pass over an area of about five and a half square feet. In contrast, however, it is excellent when using the companion app on a mobile phone.
The app allows you to create up to five cleaning zones of any size in any room that the robot has mapped. The robot will travel to each of the zones and clean them with the prescribed number of passes, ranging from one to three. The Roborock S5 didn't pick up as much debris in a single pass as the other products did; therefore, it is quite useful to program it to complete multiple passes.
The Roborock E4 has a much smaller spot cleaning area, only covering an area just shy of 13 square feet. It also lacks the smarter spot cleaning abilities of the Roborock S5.
The i7+, the i3+, and the s9 performed almost identically in our home coverage tests, even though we thought the i7+ had a slight edge in our previous navigation tests. These robots do a fantastic job of cleaning multiple rooms, systematically moving from one place to the next, and creating a map of your home while doing so. They monitor their battery levels while cleaning and will pause their cleaning cycle to dock and recharge if they are about to run out of power. Then, once the battery is recharged, they will automatically resume cleaning where they left off. The i7+ and i3+ will even empty their dirt disposal bin into the automatic base, saving you from having to empty it daily.
Both the s9, i3+, and i7+ will do their best to clean any confined area they will physically fit into, though the s9 and the i3+ had a bit less finesse than the i7+ in our tests. The i7+ includes a single programmable virtual barrier system for areas you don't want it to clean, such as around shoes or a pet's food and water bowls. The s9 and the i3+ don't include any barrier system but are compatible with the same one as the i7+; you just have to purchase it separately. Additionally, both the s9 and the i7+ let you create virtual barriers and no-go zones in the app once they have mapped your home, which is more convenient than a physical barrier or virtual wall with a base station. However, the i3+ lacks this ability.
We were very impressed with the spot cleaning function on both the i7+ and the s9, which is comparable to the Roborock S5. While the spot clean initiated using the button on either Roomba is mediocre, sending the robot to clean a circular area about four feet across, the spot clean initiated from the mobile app is much more capable. You can send these robots to clean specific rooms once they have created a map of your home.
The i3+ has a reduced spot cleaning ability, only spiraling in and out over an area that measures about 12 square feet.
Next, the Neato Botvac D7 and the D4 both scored well. Each of these robots is highly capable of cleaning multiple rooms, systematically cleaning each one before moving on to the next one. These robots will also return to their docking station to charge if their battery becomes depleted in the middle of the cleaning cycle, automatically resuming once they have recharged sufficiently.
The Neato D7 and D4 tend to struggle a bit more in confined areas, getting jammed up and failing to clean them. The 960 would happily venture where the Neato's would not.
However, we did like the barrier methods on the Neato D7 and D4 the best. Both Neato robots rely on a physical, magnetic strip to signify no-go zones but also provide the ability to set virtual barriers in the mobile app. These can take some time to configure, requiring you to run a unique cleaning cycle and follow a series of prompts, but they are quite useful in practice.
The Botvac D7 and D4 usually clean a square section that measures roughly 49 square feet with their spot cleaning modes. However, both of these robots can be set to clean a much larger area with their mobile apps, boosting the coverage to almost 170 square feet. Unfortunately, you still can't program them to perform multiple passes.
The Samsung POWERbot R7070 came next, delivering the worst performance out of any of the systematic cleaning robots in this metric. This robot somehow seems to avoid cluttered areas. It can become easily trapped if it ventures into them, resulting in many areas not being cleaned while others are cleaned relentlessly. This robot also utilizes magnetic strips as barriers, without any option to set up virtual ones in the app. We also weren't enamored with the spot clean feature on this product. While it did clean a comparable area to the Botvac D4, it left a decent amount of debris behind.
However, this robot does handle cleaning multiple rooms quite well as long as they're relatively clutter-free. It also can pause cleaning to recharge and automatically resume, like the other top products.
Finishing out the back of the group, both the Eufy RoboVac 11S and the Deebot N79S scored somewhat poorly. Both cleaned randomly in our tests, meaning it missed quite a few spots unless left to clean for an exceptionally long time — orders of magnitude more than the systematic cleaning robots. They can't automatically recharge and resume cleaning if the battery gets too low while in use and have a fairly small spot clean area.
After all of our tests assessing how well each robot moves throughout a home, we moved on to scoring how proficient each robot is at cleaning floors, starting with carpet. We tested on both low-pile and medium-pile carpets, using flour, rice, oats, and mini-wheat cereal as our sample messes. Additionally, we also scored how closely each robot could clean against a room's walls and edges. This metric accounts for 15% of the overall score for each vacuum.
The Botvac D7 and the Roomba s9 both tied for the top spot with their superb performance at cleaning carpets. The D7 started with an excellent showing in our edge cleaning tests, cleaning within an inch of the walls, but leaving a bit more leftover mess in the corners with a small wedge of the remaining debris, about an inch and a half from the wall at its widest point.
Next, we tested out how well the D7 did at sucking up flour. We only did this test on the low-pile carpet, as expecting any of these products to collect flour from fluffier carpet is a tall order — a task much more suitable for a more powerful stick or upright vacuum. This robot picked up most of the flour, showing a clear distinction between the areas it cleaned and the ones it didn't.
The D7 delivered a phenomenal performance in collecting rice on flat and fluffier carpets, collecting the vast majority of the grains. The results were the same when it came to picking up oats. For the final test of this metric, the mini-wheat collection, the D7 faltered slightly. It usually got most of the mini-wheats, but there was always at least one that jammed up the machine or just got pushed around endlessly.
The s9 did even better than the Neato D7 at cleaning the edges of our robot test pen, only leaving a border of uncollected coffee grounds that measured about half an inch across. The side brush doesn't do all that much at getting into the carpet piles, and it takes a little bit of time to right itself coming out of a corner. However, overall it does an awe-inspiring job at cleaning close to walls.
The s9 also did better than the D7 at cleaning flour from the low-pile carpet, leaving only trace amounts behind. However, the D7 did slightly better at collecting rice and oats. The s9 performed similarly to the D7 at picking up rice from the flatter carpet but left quite a bit behind on the moderate-pile. The s9 also didn't pick up as many oats from the low-pile carpet as the D7, leaving behind a handful of whole oats and a noticeable amount of crumbs. The s9 did get just a few more oats than the D7 did on the fluffier carpet.
Just behind the top performers, the iRobot Roomba i7+, the Roomba i3+, and the Botvac D4 Connected came next in terms of carpet cleaning prowess. The D4 began with a fantastic performance in our edge cleaning test, matching the D7. The Roomba i7+ and the i3+ both struggled slightly more, leaving a strip of residual debris about three and a half inches wide around the edges of our test pen.
Their circular design also meant that it left quite a bit more debris in the corners, with the uncleaned area measuring about five inches across at the widest point. Neither of these robots could match the D7 performance when it came to cleaning up a floury mess, with the D4 leaving a noticeable amount of flour behind and the i7+ and i3+ leaving significantly more behind.
Both the D4 and the i7+ redeemed themselves in the rice and oat cleanup test, delivering excellent performances on both flat and fluffy carpet — although the i7+ did leave a tiny bit more leftover rice behind than we would have liked on the medium-pile. These both finished this metric with above-average showings at sucking up mini-wheats, with the D4 missing a few and the i7+ leaving only fragments behind. The i3+ matched the performance of the i7+ when it came to cleaning up oats but left a bit more rice behind.
The Samsung POWERbot R7070 followed with its reliable cleaning performance. Starting with our edge test, the R7070 is the best vacuum we've seen for cleaning the corners of a room. This robot left a strip of leftover debris less than an inch wide and cleaned right into the corner, leaving virtually no residual mess.
The POWERbot R7070 delivered another reliable performance in our flour cleaning assessment but falling short of the Neato D7. The R7070 did well in our rice test, collecting almost all of the flat carpet debris and only missing a tiny bit on the fluffier carpet. However, the 7070 fell flat in this test, doing very poorly on both the low-pile and medium-pile carpet. This robot pretty much did the worst of the entire group, leaving behind a lot of oats. The POWERbot R7070 also didn't fare quite as well in our mini-wheat test, usually leaving one or two behind, regardless of whether it was on the flat or fluffy carpet.
The Roborock S5 and the Roborock E4 came next, both delivering average results when it comes to cleaning carpets. They both had a lackluster edge and corner cleaning performance, leaving behind plenty of mess — quite a fall from grace for this robot after their top-tier unmatched performance in the prior two metrics. The Roborock S5 again disappointed in our flour collection test, leaving behind a noticeable amount of leftover flour, with the E4 doing just a bit better.
The Roborock S5 did redeem itself in our rice collection test, doing a great job at getting the bulk of the rice, but slid back to average performance in our oat collection test, leaving a bit more debris behind on both flat and fluffier carpets. It finished this metric with a mediocre performance at picking up larger items, missing a handful of the mini-wheats we placed on the floor. The Roborock E4 did a little worse in the rice test but outmatched the S5 when it came to the oats. It did about the same for the mini-wheats.
The Eufy RoboVac 11S Slim and the Deebot N79S again finished at the back of the group. These both left fairly large strips of uncleaned floor along the edges and in the corners of the robot pen. This pair also left fairly significant amounts of mess behind in all of our other tests, particularly with the fluffier carpet.
Hard Surface Cleaning
The Hard Surface Cleaning metric accounts for 15% of the total score for each robot vacuum. We repeated the same tests as above, though this time using a section of hardwood laminate floor. Cleaning hard floors is much easier for these products than cleaning carpets, meaning that many of them scored quite a bit better.
The Neato D7 and the Samsung POWERbot earned high scores with their stellar performances on hard surfaces. These robots both did about the same in our edge test on hard floors as they did in the carpeted version, with the Neato robot leaving a little bit in each corner and the Samsung capturing practically everything, performing the best of the entire group.
The POWERbot continued its dominance in our flour collection test, collecting virtually all of the flour we laid out and outperforming all of the vacuums in the entire group. The D7 was above average, leaving some flour on the surface and failing to collect any flour that had fallen in the cracks between the boards.
Both of these models did an excellent job of collecting rice and oats, though the Samsung did leave behind three leftover oats. The Samsung robot does an abysmal job at collecting mini-wheats, pushing them around indefinitely. The D7 fared quite a bit better but still only collected slightly less than half of the mini-wheats.
Following the top-scoring pair are the iRobot Roomba s9, the Roomba i7+, and the i3+. The s9 did much better than the i7+ and the i3+ at cleaning along the edges of a room. However, it couldn't quite compare to the Samsung R7070, leaving behind a strip of flour about a half-inch across.
The s9 also did an excellent job of sucking up flour off of the hard floor, only leaving the finest residue behind. Unfortunately, it only did a mediocre job at sucking up the oats and rice. It captured the bulk of the mess without any issue, but the brush rollers can throw some debris around when it hits a large pile of rice or oats. The rice or oats usually get thrown into the area the robot is about to clean, but it periodically throws some to the side and fails to collect them.
The s9 did manage to collect most of the mini-wheats cereal we spread out. It has plenty of clearance to roll over the cereal but wouldn't always suck it up into the collection bin.
The i7+ did an outstanding job of cleaning up flour, getting most of it on the surface, but failing to really clean into the cracks between floorboards and tracking a little bit of flour around with its wheels. The i3+ even managed to surpass this, leaving practically no flour behind.
The i7+ and the i3+ both did an excellent job in the next two tests, collecting all of the rice and oats with ease — outperforming the s9. Regrettably, they both failed to collect any mini-wheats, earning a low score for that final test.
The Neato D4 Connected followed, getting off to a strong start in our edge cleaning test, but didn't do quite as well as the D7 since it lacks a rotating side brush. It also didn't do well at collecting flour, leaving behind a visible residue across the surface and failing to get any of the flour that fell between the cracks. However, it rebounded when collecting rice and oats, leaving behind only trace amounts of each. Unfortunately, it also struggled with mini-wheats, failing to collect a single one.
The Roborock E4 did about average when it came to cleaning hard floors. It did quite well in the corners and edge tests and collected just about all of the rice and oats. However, it left a significant amount of flour behind and failed to reliably collect the mini-wheats.
Finishing last in the group, the Ecovacs Deebot, the Eufy RoboVac 11S Slim, and the Roborock S5 delivered a rather unsatisfactory performance when cleaning hard floors. The Roborock S5 did better than the Deebot in our edge cleaning test, doing a reasonably good job overall and leaving a strip of leftover mess about three and a half to four inches across.
The Ecovacs and the RoboVac 11S Slim left slightly wider strips of leftover mess. None of these vacuums did very well in our flour cleaning test, but all of them improved for the rice collection. The Roborock S5 captured almost all the rice, only leaving a few grains behind. The Ecovacs and the Robovac 11S both got most of the rice but flung a bit more around than the Roborock.
For our final evaluation of cleaning performance, we evaluated how well each vacuum picked up pet hair. This metric is responsible for 10% of the overall score, with some robots handling our tests far better than others.
We used pet hair kindly donated by a local groomer, then spread a measured amount out on both low-pile and medium-pile carpet. We scored each vacuum on the percentage of hair collected and how much hair ended up in the collection bin rather than tangled up in the brush under the machine. Picking up pet hair is somewhat tricky for these robots and is a task better suited for a more powerful upright or stick vacuum.
The Roomba s9 is the best performing robot vacuum we have seen so far when it comes to picking up pet hair. This vacuum collected a whopping 53% of the hair we spread out on the medium-pile carpet and 50% of the hair from the low-pile carpet. Even better, little to none of this hair got tangled around the extractor head, with virtually all of it making its way to the collection bin.
The Samsung POWERbot, Neato D7, and the Neato D4 come next with their reasonable efforts. These three robot vacuums collected around 25-35% of the hair we spread out on the low-pile carpet and between 45-65% of the hair from the medium-pile carpet.
The remaining robot vacuums all scored very poorly, with the i7+, the Ecovacs, the Roomba i3+, the Roborock S4, the E5, and the RoboVac Slim 11S collecting less than half of the hair that the top vacuums collected — an overall unsatisfactory performance.
We focused our final metric on the integrated smart internet-connected features found on almost all of the robots in this review. This metric makes up 10% of the overall weighted scores. We considered the number of different smart home systems each robot could interact with and how functional and user-friendly the companion mobile app is. We also checked if the network connection between our home WiFi and the robot was reliable throughout our testing period.
The Roborock S5, the E4, the Neato D7, the D4, the Roomba s9, the Roomba i7+, and the Roomba i3+ all were top performers in this metric. The Roomba robots performed very well in our WiFi reliability test. We never had to reset the network or restart the app to establish a connection throughout our testing period. The Roborocks did a little worse, as we occasionally had to quit the mobile app and restart it before the robots would appear as connected. The Neato D7 was very problematic, requiring multiple resets, and struggled to reliably connect, though, notably, we didn't suffer any network issues with the D4.
However, the Neato D7 and the D4 have the most functional app of the entire group, allowing you to adjust the suction power, view a cleaning map, set maintenance reminders, control the robot, and draw virtual barriers. This feature is unique to these products and is exceptionally convenient, giving them a slight edge over the Roborock and the Roomba apps.
The mobile apps for the other three robots are quite functional. You can manually drive the Roborock S5 around, adjust the suction levels, and view a cleaning map of your home. The functionality of the Roborock E4 is slightly reduced but still impressive.
The companion mobile app for the Roomba robots also allows you to view a cleaning map of your home and track the life of various accessories on the robot, so you know when you should replace them. Additionally, you can command the i7+ and the s9 to clean specific rooms once they have mapped your home.
It is straightforward to set a schedule on all of these robots through the app, though you can't set it on the robots themselves. However, you can send the robot home or start a spot clean on the robot itself. The D7, the D4, the Roomba s9, the i3+, and the i7+ have more flexibility when it comes to interacting with smart home ecosystems like Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT. The Roborock E4 can also work with Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT.
Following this top group is the Ecovacs Deebot, which was very reliable when connecting to WiFi. The Ecovacs app is quite lacking, though you can manually control the robot through the app or its remote. The Ecovacs will only work with Alexa, and it is effortless to set up a schedule on its mobile app or its handheld remote.
Next is Samsung POWERbot R7070. Connecting to it over WiFi wasn't very reliable, requiring multiple resets through a process of deleting the robot from the app and reconnecting it. It can work with Alexa, Google Home, and IFTTT and offers average functionality, allowing you to adjust the suction and set maintenance reminders. This robot has both remote and onboard controls, and you can set the schedule from both the app or the remote. The Eufy RoboVac 11S doesn't have a mobile app or any smart capabilities, with your only option to control it is the dedicated remote or the buttons on the robot itself.
Hopefully, this has helped you decide which robot vacuum is the best fit for your needs and your budget, regardless if you are looking for the absolute best of the best when it comes to these automated assistants or if you are shopping on a tighter budget.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise