Don't have time to clean floors? A robot vacuum is your answer. We've bought and tested over 40 models since 2016. In this update, we test the top 12 you can buy today. We ran each vacuum through a series of tests, broken down into subsets of even more extensive and specific challenges, to see how effectively they cleaned a room, navigated obstacles, avoided objects and barriers, and picked up dirt, dust, and debris. Read on as we break down which vacuums clean effectively and are hassle-free and which aren't worth the cost.
While a robot vacuum can be very helpful in keeping your home tidy, we have found they are rarely a complete replacement for other vacuum products. These tend to lack the cleaning power of a traditional vacuum cleaner. We have found a top-ranked stick vacuum is often a better option for spot cleaning as they offer great precision around furniture and are fast to deploy and put away. Stick vacuums are still our favorite option for stairs. A top-notch handheld vacuum does better at cleaning corners and quickly taking care of small messes. And while it is tempting to think a robot vacuum could keep your garage or workshop tidy, we prefer using a cordless wet dry vacuum, which is also our preferred car vacuum style. To read more about the advantages and limitations of incorporating a robot vacuum into your home, see our Buying Advice. As technology evolves, so do our little robot friends, and they are quickly becoming more and more helpful in keeping our homes tidy.
Editor's Note: This product review was updated on November 22, 2022, with two new robot vacuums added to our test suite — the Narwal T10 and Eufy RoboVac X8 Hybrid.
The Eufy RoboVac X8 Hybrid is an excellent vacuum for its price tag, offering undeniable value among other robot vacuums available with an effective pairing of vacuum and mop cleaning power. This vac did well in a majority of our tests. Additionally, it's among the most intelligent models we tested. It offers a truly useful set of software-based features such as superb virtual barriers and no-go zones, multi-room tracking, and multi-floor map saves.
Although it is quite effective on hard surfaces, it doesn't do well with pet hair on carpet. Furthermore, it does not come with poo-avoidance, and it lacks a disposal and refill tower. Despite these shortcomings, we found little to gripe about throughout our testing regiment. The X8 Hybrid is one of the best all-around robots you can buy, especially if your home is filled with hard flooring surfaces (and it won't break the bank).
If you're looking for a suitable performer that's even more affordable, the Roborock E4 should be on your radar. The E4 is especially effective at picking up your pet's fur and hair, surprisingly our top performer in this metric even among the expensive top-tier models. It admittedly performs slightly above average on hardwood floors and carpet, but ultimately gets the job done by thoroughly navigating each nook and cranny of your home with generous coverage.
The E4 is fairly limited in other arenas though, specifically anything to do on the software side of things. This unit does not include virtual barriers, multi-room mapping, or map displays. Its adequate navigation system does not effectively recognize or avoid your pet's accidents either. It also comes with just a simple charging dock, in contrast to a tower system for collecting debris. That said, you cannot beat this price for a product that will help keep your home clean.
We nerded out over the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra! We loved this model so much that we affectionately named it "Ventura" for its advantageous nature. The MaxV Ultra is probably the most intelligent robot we've tested, and in many ways, this device is a cut above all other models, leading the way for what a modern robot vacuum should be. It is an excellent navigator, starting with its quick mapping system, which evolves with use. It can work around furniture and make intelligent choices about the most efficient routes while negotiating all obstacles. It also has incredible object detection and recognition and can identify pet poop and avoid it. After identifying pet waste, this device seems to build confidence over time to approach and clean more closely without ever making a mess. This model's intelligence is a cut above others, including dynamic recognition of objects like a foot or shoe, which it will include in a map, and later remove in real-time when the object is moved. A self-cleaning mop and water reservoir also sets this model apart from others.
Beyond all the specific accolades, the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra is a capable vacuum, but it isn't without its shortcomings. First, for a robot with incredible poo avoidance, it's almost ironic that it does a poor job of cleaning pet hair. It also offers only average hard surface cleaning and edging performance. However, all-in-all, it's an incredible robot vacuum and one of the most interesting our team has tested.
If you are a pet owner interested in a little extra help keeping your home cleaner for longer between more thorough house cleanings, then look no further than the iRobot Roomba j7+. It is one of the few models that will do both a great job of vacuuming pet hair and recognizing and avoiding pet poop. It is also a fairly decent vacuum overall that offers convenience and good carpet and hard floor cleaning.
We found that the iRobot Roomba j7+ has room for improvement in a few areas where it only exhibited average performance. It could certainly be a smarter navigator, cover areas more efficiently, respect virtual barriers better, and do a better job spot cleaning. However, it is a competent device, capable of cleaning and a great helper for pet owners.
We have done hundreds of individual tests to evaluate the 25 robot vacuums we have tested since 2016. Our detailed tests show that all robot vacuums are not the same. To help find the perfect vacuum for your home, we bought each model ourselves and then performed a battery of 30 individual tests on each model. We ranked and scored all the best 'bots' performances and updated our review as new models were released. This comprehensive testing puts GearLab in a unique spot to help you find the perfect robot vacuum for your needs and budget.
Both have clocked many hours, and together bring a combination of industrial technology, heavy machinery knowledge, critical problem solving, and tech analysis skills to our test designs and testing operations. They also bring expertise from extensive experience evaluating the performance of a wide variety of consumer products, having tested and reviewed over 600 different tech and smart home products here at GearLab over what is fast approaching a decade.
To provide fair and scientific evaluations and analysis, we spent close to 250 hours testing these robots side-by-side. We made simulated furniture in our test room to directly compare each robot's home coverage and utilized long-exposure photography. We spread out controlled amounts of messes on different surfaces for our cleaning tests, then scored each robot on how much each one picked up. We obtained pet hair donated from a local groomer to spread out on our test carpet for our pet hair collection tests. We evaluated and measured navigational intelligence through obstacle avoidance, such as simulated pet poo (poo-avoidance), and observed navigational behaviors during cleaning, docking, and operating around furniture. Finally, we also rated each model based on convenience features and functions, including dust removal systems, maintenance tracking, and suction power adjustment, to name a few.
We divide these tests into six metrics — Navigation, Home Coverage, Carpet Cleaning, Hard Surface Cleaning, Pet Hair, and Convenience — 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.
Robot vacuums are challenged and evaluated across the six metrics below:
The most intelligent robot vacuums on the market today are a little spendy — like the expensive but most intelligent model we tested, the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra, which sets the bar high for other models. However, if you are shopping on a budget, our top recommendation, the Eufy RoboVac X8 Hybrid, is an intelligent and capable vacuum. It offers the best value without sacrificing too much performance, doing a great job navigating floors and cleaning up most messes (especially on hard surfaces with it's additional mopping feature), all while retailing for considerably less than the most expensive models. We believe the best value is the Roborock E4, which is a good choice specifically for homes with shedding pets.
Typically, we look at a product and expect a fairly significant trade-off for being affordable. However, short of a poor ability to avoid pet poop and the lack of a dust removal system, we can confidently say that the X8 does not force you to trade off all that much if you are looking for a great deal. You're giving up more with the E4, especially with smart features, but its price point can't be beat.
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 navigate its way to a mess? 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, chairs, coffee table, sofa, lamp, and a comfy armchair — to see how well each robot cleaned and maneuvered around these objects. We primarily focused on the robot's ability to navigate the room without assistance, instead of how much of the room it cleaned.
Navigation is also about identifying obstacles and handling them appropriately on that journey. We challenged robots with different sizes of simulated pet poop and learned which ones were able to recognize pet waste as an obstacle to avoid, if they had to make unpleasant contact with poop to avoid it, and which ones unintelligently treated pet waste as a cleaning challenge by completely running over and smearing our fake feces everywhere.
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 changing surfaces. Through exhaustive testing, we identified some clear leaders and losers.
The most intelligent navigator that we tested was by far the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra, followed by the Narwal T10, the Samsung Jet Bot AI+, and the very pet poo and pet hair friendly iRobot Roomba j7+ also scored well.
While many models can return to their docking station without issues, many robots struggle to navigate furniture efficiently and without collisions. Many also lack the important navigational intelligence to avoid pet poop. To quote the words of a wise, albeit completely fictional person, "do or do not, there is no try". This should be the programmed approach to poo-avoidance as most robots completely fail to recognize and avoid poop, more often making a larger, more disgusting mess than accurately detecting and avoiding it. In general, these models would have done better to avoid a mess if uncertain about the obstacle than try to clean it.
Only a few models successfully avoided simulated pet waste in our poo-avoidance test. They were the iRobot Roomba j7+, the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra, and the Samsung Jet Bot AI+.
Although most models are sophisticated enough to navigate furniture and obstacles, even with the occasional soft tap on furniture, some models we tested were very harsh on furniture. In our tests, some models poorly and erratically navigated rooms and rammed obstacles along the way. You'll want to avoid the Eufy RoboVac 11S, iRobot Roomba 675, and Robot Roomba i3+ EVO altogether if you have expensive furniture or heirlooms that you would like to keep unscathed.
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 to clean from room to room and recharge if necessary. Our team also created a controlled environment to test performance along edges. In our furniture test, we considered the overall space each robot cleaned, the ability to create barriers or no-go zones, and each robot's ability to respect those barriers. This is beneficial 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.
After completing our tests, we had two clear performers in our home coverage test metric, the Eufy RoboVac X8 Hybrid, and the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra. They combine excellent multiroom travel and cleaning, spot cleaning, edging, and virtual barrier effectiveness to outshine the competition.
Two models followed close behind our leaders of this test metric. The first of these great performers was the Samsung Jet Bot AI+and the iRobot Roomba s9+, which was great other than its spotty room coverage at times, and it's tendency to leave way too large of a safety margin around virtual barriers.
A few models, like the iRobot Roomba i3+ EVO, Neato D10 Intelligent, and iRobot Roomba j7+ fell into the middle of the pack, with the i3+ and Neato performing just above average, and the j7+ performing just below-average. However, a couple of models really missed the mark in our home coverage tests.
After all of our tests assessing how well each robot moves throughout a home, we scored how proficient each robot is at cleaning floors, starting with carpets. We tested on both low-pile and high-pile carpets, using flour, rice, oats, and mini-wheat cereal as our sample messes. This metric accounts for 15% of the overall score for each vacuum.
When it comes to carpet cleaning, the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra is above and beyond the best carpet cleaner we tested, followed closely by the iRobot Roomba s9+, which only struggled cleaning flour. What was a surprise to our team was the carpet cleaning performance from the iRobot Roomba 675, proving that it is a diligent cleaner despite being relatively unintelligent and doing poorly in our previous two test metrics.
We also saw average or above-average performances from the iRobot Roomba j7+, Roborock E4, Eufy RoboVac X8 Hybrid, and Shark AI with the first three models providing more balanced performances, often only doing a substandard job of just one of our challenges.
The j7+ offered some of the best performance behind the clear leaders of carpet cleaning, only struggling with oatmeal a bit, and left debris behind.
While the E4 did slightly better at picking up cereal but had a much weaker flour cleaning performance.
Sometimes we test products and our team experiences an anomaly, like some really irregular performances across challenges.
The only strange exception in the case of carpet cleaning worth mentioning is the Shark AI which exhibited the most extreme performance within the metric, doing an exceptional job of cleaning rice and oatmeal, but a heinous job of cleaning cereal and flour. So if you are a baker or eat a lot of breakfast cereal, the AI is probably a poor choice, but if you love making rice or only start the day with oatmeal, the AI may be a great option for you!
The Eufy RoboVac 11S, iRobot Roomba i3+ EVO, and the Samsung Jet Bot AI+ all did a poor job cleaning carpets, with each exhibiting average performance on no more than one challenge and dismal performances across the rest.
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 many performed quite a bit better.
The Samsung Jet Bot AI+ is the hard surface cleaning leader in our robot vacuum test group. While it struggled to clean breakfast cereal from our hard surfaces, it did an incredible job cleaning rice, oatmeal, and flour.
Two models trailed the performance of the AI+. They were the Eufy RoboVac X8 Hybrid and the Narwal T10. The X8 and T10 are both mopping models, and the AI+ has an optional mopping accessory attachment. The T10 is not especially advanced in any other metric we tested, but if you need a beautiful, mop-centric model, you could do worse. The iRobot Roomba s9+ deserves a mention as well, as it did particularly well with granular debris, represented by rice and oatmeal in our testing. But it faltered on cereal (like many robot vacuums do, due to low clearance) and flour.
Cereal on hard surfaces is generally very difficult for our robot vacuums, with many of them completely unable to handle the task. The Neato D10 Intelligent was capable of thoroughly cleaning cereal but was rather unexceptional in every other hard surface challenge.
Like many robots, the iRobot Roomba i3+ EVOsimply could not pick up cereal but, unlike others, did not grind the cereal into a bigger mess.
Flour is also a difficult task for many of the models we tested. With the iRobot Roomba j7+ performing the best on flour, followed closely by the iRobot Roomba 675, Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra, and Samsung Jet Bot AI+, but most others exhibited average to fair performance.
The Eufy RoboVac 11S proved it was capable of cleaning rice and oatmeal while unable to clean cereal and flour, and the Roborock E4 offered nearly identical performance.
The Neato D10 Intelligent and Shark AI finished at the rear of the pack, with dismal performances overall.
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 tricky for these robots and is better suited for a more powerful upright or stick vacuum.
Our pet hair tests resulted in some surprising upsets. One of the most affordable vacuums, the Roborock E4, had some of the best results in the lineup.
We also saw great performances from the iRobot Roomba j7+, iRobot Roomba i3+ EVO, and Eufy RoboVac 11S.
The pet hair tests expose a pretty common flaw in the robot vacuum market. Although, daily use of a robot vacuum will likely prevent pet hair buildup in your carpets.
We evaluated features and functions that improve convenience for the final 10% of the total score. Our team considered the docking station features that increase convenience, such as a dirt disposal system, capacity, and tower size. We also scored each model based on the presence of app features and functions and how robust those features are. We independently rated 13 different features and functions, including remote control features, spot cleaning effectiveness and robustness, suction power adjustments, maintenance tracking, and repeat functions.
After our extensive testing, we identified some incredible models, like the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra and Samsung Jet Bot AI+ followed by a concentration of similarly convenient models.
The Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra lead the next competitor for its three-liter bagged dirt collection system and a mop and reservoir. It also can create no-go zones and invisible walls, specifies whether a mess needs a mop or vacuum, has a wide range of adjustable suction power, remote control via the app, incredible accessory life tracking, and quick mapping. This robot can do everything short of putting a man on the moon.
The rest brought up the rear, lacking things like dust collection systems, and lacked many of the features that are somewhat standard across many models in one form or another. These devices lacked typical remote controls, either physical or via an app, spot cleaning functions, adjustable suction power, and some form of accessory life or maintenance tracking.
Worth mentioning is that the Eufy RoboVac 11S, which includes a physical remote and is one of the few models that doesn't operate entirely through an app. So if you prefer a robot vacuum that you don't need to connect to your smartphone, this model might be an option worth considering.
Hopefully, this review has helped you decide which robot vacuum is the best fit for your needs and budget, regardless of whether you are looking for the absolute best of the best when it comes to these automated assistants, or you're shopping on a tighter budget.
Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Jessica Riconscente
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