The best robotic vacuums at 3 price points

Robot vacuums used to only exist in the pages of science fiction. Now, they’ve become an everyday appliance that can help you stay on top of your housekeeping.

The best robot vacuums are versatile, too. They can keep bare floors like hardwood and tile, plus area rugs and carpets, spick and span. And some have powerful suction that even rivals that of handheld vacuums. As cool as they are, though, robot vacs can set you back more than a traditional vacuum: Some higher-end models cost as much as four figures.

We spent over 120 hours torture-testing a group of 18 robotic vacuums, evaluating them for suction power, their ability to perform on carpets, hardwood floor and other hard flooring types, targeted spot cleaning and performance during each cleaning cycle; here are three models that wowed us more than the rest.

Best of the best: iRobot Roomba S9 Plus

$1,100

If someone gave you a blank check and told you to buy the best robot vacuum, this would be the robot vac to get. Roomba vacuums are extremely popular, and this is our pick for the best Roomba of them all. That said, the iRobot Roomba S9 Plus has a whopping four-figure price tag (though sometimes it’s discounted). For that staggering amount of money, this vacuum delivers powerful suction and superb dirt and dust removal.

The Roomba S9 Plus removed an average 71% of sand from our medium-pile carpet while vacuuming, which is the best result we’ve seen on this specific test. It also cleaned up more dog hair, pet dander and allergens than any other vacuum in this test group. The S9 Plus can navigate and map multiple rooms and floors while avoiding “keep-out zones” you can designate. The app also lets you use Alexa or Google Assistant commands to tell it to begin cleaning a room. You can link the S9 Plus to your home Wi-Fi, as well.

The robot zipped through our test room in a short average time of 25 minutes, too. Best of all is the Roomba S9 Plus’ CleanBase docking station. The dock both charges the robot’s battery and empties its dustbin automatically.

Best midrange model: Roborock S7

$650

<p>The Roborock S7. </p>

Roborock/TNS

The Roborock S7. 

With a competitive price, plus rock-solid performance and intelligent navigation, the Roborock S7 is our new favorite midrange robot vacuum.

It demonstrated about the same power to remove sand from hardwood floors (92.8%) as the Roomba S9 Plus (93%) and Neato D7 (95%), our previous midrange robot vacuum pick.

However, unlike the Neato D7, the Roborock S7 was much more effective at pulling sand away from both medium-pile (50.4%) and low-pile carpets (64.2%). The Neato D7 managed 36% and 47% on those tests respectively.

The Roborock couldn’t match the Roomba S9 Plus’ impressive ability to clean up pet hair, but it fared better than most. The S7 wiped hardwood floors completely free of hair and left only a few stray tufts on carpeting.

Another feature that sets this robot mop vacuum apart is its advanced mopping capability. Just fill the machine’s reservoir with water, then attach the included mopping pad, and the S7 will mop the floor on command.

Best budget model: Eufy RoboVac 25C

$150

<p>The Eufy RoboVac 25C.</p>

Eufy/TNS

The Eufy RoboVac 25C.

You might not expect sufficient cleaning power from a budget robot vacuum, but that’s precisely what the Anker Eufy RoboVac 25C delivers.

Its suction-power ranking to scour sand from hardwood floors (78.9%) wasn’t too far below that of the Roborock S7. The Eufy RoboVac 25C’s sand performance across low-pile (53.5%) and medium-pile (52.2%) carpets was decent, as well.

This robot also wasn’t too bad at dealing with pet hair. It pulled all but one tuft from our hardwood test floor. Alas, multiple small tufts of hair remained after vacuuming low-pile carpeting, and medium-pile carpets proved to be the most challenging for the Eufy. Many more and larger clumps of hair stayed behind after the vacuum traveled over this surface.

One area where Anker cut down on costs is the RoboVac’s navigation system. The machine bumps around the floor like a slow-motion ping-pong ball, changing direction when it encounters an object or obstacle.

As a result, it took a lengthy 91 minutes to finish its cleaning cycle in our test room.

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