The name “Roomba” has almost become synonymous with robot vacuums — and iRobot’s automated house-cleaners are still the best in their class. With so many models to choose from, though — about a dozen, depending on how you keep count — it’s hard to know which Roomba is right for you. Looking at general best practices in choosing a robot vacuum and Roomba’s common properties can make it easier to figure out which one fits your space, needs and budget. Having been testing and writing about tech for more than a decade, I’ve used and played around with enough Roomba robot vacuums to understand their approach. For starters, let’s consider what a robot vacuum gives you and what features actually matter.
How to shop for a robot vacuum
No one knows your mess better than you, so consider what you want from your robovac as we run through what to consider when shopping for a robot vacuum.
Suction power and cleaning features
Obviously, a vacuum’s cleaning ability is its most important attribute. While some vacuums provide numerical measurements for their suction power, iRobot does not. Instead, it relies on vague terms like “5x the cleaning power.” Still, knowing how each model compares to the others can help you determine which one is right for your level of mess — alongside other cleaning features like brushless rollers or allergen filters.
Robot vacuum cleaning style
Affordable robot vacuums will clean in a more haphazard pattern, rolling across the floor and turning around whenever they bump into a wall. This works decently well and could check off all your boxes, but higher-end models equip built-in smarts that allow for a more methodical approach, even offering ways to let you clean specific rooms on command and learning to avoid certain areas.
iRobot doesn’t offer decibel ratings for each of its vacuums, but if you plan on being home when the vacuum is running, check out reviews to help you gauge whether noise will be a problem for a given model.
Smart home features
Other than smart cleaning cycles, some Roomba models allow you to monitor and control the vacuum from your phone. That way you can check its status on the road, start a cleaning with Amazon Alexa or another smart assistant as you’re leaving the house or get notifications when it’s stuck on your kid’s LEGO.
As the most popular robot vacuum brand, it’s generally easier to find replacement parts for Roomba vacuums, which allows you to keep it in good repair for longer.
Best Roomba robot vacuums
iRobot’s 600 series encompasses its basic models, with the Roomba 614 being the most affordable. It doesn’t route itself intelligently around your house, so it might not be ideal for super-large areas, but it should work well enough in average-sized rooms. Its dual-roller design is effective on multiple types of surfaces, too, and you can buy virtual barriers to keep it out of certain rooms.
The Roomba 675 is the exact same as the Roomba 614, with the addition of Wi-Fi features. You can start or stop cleaning jobs from your phone, or with your voice through Alexa and Google Assistant. It’ll also offer seasonal suggestions and allow you to run your Roomba on an automated schedule. The Roomba 675 is even more affordable when you buy it refurbished on Amazon, and its smart features are still just as well worth having.
The oddly-named e5 is similar to the 600 models listed above — it uses the same random navigation and smart features, though it’s designed for pet owners with its increased suction power, two brushless rollers — a design tweak that makes it more effective at cleaning hair without getting tangled — and an allergen filter.
Roomba’s i series encompasses their more advanced models. Instead of random navigation around your home, the i series can clean in neat, straight lines, which might be more effective in larger spaces — especially when combined with its increased suction (when compared to the e5). The i3 is a standalone vacuum, but the i3+ comes with a self-emptying dock — you don’t have to clean out the chamber as often.
The Roomba i7 adds to the i3’s functionality by using a camera to map your house, allowing you to tell it to clean a specific room or even a specific area of a room (like “under the couch”) as needed. Like the i3, an elevated a “plus” version equips that lower-touch self-emptying dock.
Roomba’s top-of-the-line model contains the most suction power of the entire lineup, along with a slightly different shape that allows it to get into corners more easily. It’s also designed with anti-allergen filters built in, making it great for pet owners. Like the i series, it’s available as a standalone vacuum or in a plus model with the self-emptying dock.
iRobot also has a new series of automated mops under the Braava name. Like a Roomba, a Braava mop will clean your floors for you, using a spray-and-wipe method that goes deeper than a simple vacuum. I haven’t had a chance to try any robot mops myself yet, but they’ve received some good reviews, despite being less popular than their vacuum cousins.
The more affordable Braava 380t offers basic mopping from a robot.
The top-end Braava m6 provides more adjustments, custom mapping and can even integrate with certain Roomba models so the two can clean in tandem.