Roomba 790 vs 880 – Bristled brush vs Extractors, Who Wins?

When it comes to robot vacuums very few brands can match the iRobot in terms of the performance to price ratio.

On paper the Roomba may have primitive features like using a random cleaning pattern and infrared sensors.

But in terms of real world practicality the Roomba simply works though not perfect. That’s why it is one of the bestselling robot cleaners we have right now.

Perhaps only the Neato can keep up with it in terms of price and performance.

Even the Dyson 360 eye with all its high-tech innovation and cleaning performance costs a fortune. and it won’t clean under your bed. This is something that any robot cleaner should be able to do.

Today, let’s talk compare the Roomba 790 and the 880.

The former is the most feature-rich in the Roomba 700 series. While the 880 represents iRobot’s departure from the bristled brush design and transitioned to rubber “extractors” that lessened the need for maintenance on the brush roll.

Let’s look at these robots side by side and see how they differ aesthetically.

Top view

Roomba 790 vs 880


Bottom view

Bottom View

Both the 790 and the 880 have the same user control layout (on top). Biggest difference would be the color.

Roomba 790 has a predominantly light blue finish in the middle with a gray other ring (these are the bumpers).

Take note that the 790 is basically the same machine as the 770 and 780 the only difference is the accessories included in the package.

The 880 uses a combination dark gray and charcoal finish which is less prone to getting dirty (at least aesthetically).

Both these machines have the same dimension – diameter and height so these robots will be able to clean underneath beds with a clearance of at least 3.8 inches.

Another similarity is underneath the hood so to speak. Both of these autonomous cleaners use the same vacuum motor and have HEPA filtration.

Also the navigation system of both of these use are the same – a random cleaning pattern.

Roomba Long Exposure Pattern

Roomba only upgraded their navigation system in the 980 that uses a pattern similar to the Neato Botvac.

This means a more predictable pattern that has better efficiency. I’ve already compared the 880 and the 980 in this article so make sure to check that out.

So is the $20 difference worth it? That’s what we’re going to find out in this next section.

Bristled brush vs extractors

When you turn both the robots upside down, you’ll see the biggest difference between these two robots – the motorized brush.

The Roomba 790 uses a similar style brush that other Roomba robots use ever since they started manufacturing robot vacuums that combines a bristle and squeegee type brush.

The combination of these two has been very effective. It is a big reason why the Roomba has been one of the bestselling robot cleaners for over 2 decades already.

The bristles pick up a lot of dust bunnies and hair (both human and pet). While the squeegee brush pick up dust and other fine debris.

But here’s the problem. This requires constant cleaning to remove wrapped up hair and dust bunnies that takes time to clean.

Depending on how often you use your robot vacuum, you may have to spend 10 to 15 minutes cleaning the brush roll every week.

Here’s a detailed instruction on how to empty the bin and clean the brushes…

In an effort to save consumers time from constantly cleaning the bristled brushes, iRobot has moved away from the bristle brush and developed a newer system that does not use any bristles or squeegee.

They call it the AeroForce Cleaning System that Roomba says will provide 50% better cleaning performance.

At the heart of this is what they call the tangle-free extractors.

This is made up of two counter-rotating beater bars that supposedly are maintenance-free…

Well not quite…

Roomba 880 Extractors Roomba 880

You have someone living with you at home who has long hair, you may encounter the same thing and you’ll have to do your due diligence and clean those extractors to maintain performance. But the great thing about these extractors is that you don’t need to clean it as much as the 700 series.

Larger dirt bin (and HEPA filter) for the 880

Another upgrade in the 880 would be the larger dirt bin.

According to, it has a bin that is 60% larger compared to the 700 series. And if you look at the side by side photo of the bottom section you’ll see a substantial difference in terms of bin size.

The larger bin also allowed iRobot to equip the 880 with a larger HEPA filter. This means better filtration and less change of allergens from coming back out of the exhaust.

It also means less interruptions just to empty the bin – great for the consumer.

Is the newer 880 quieter?

Despite the claims of iRobot that the 880 has better noise reduction consumers say otherwise. This robot will roughly produce the same decibels as the older 700 series.

A stronger motor

Another upgrade would be the vacuum motor that iRobot says has 5 times more suction power that also means better performance overall.

Though the exact figures aren’t specified but based on video reviews in terms of pickup performance the 880 scored better.

Here’s what Erica Griffin says…

Obviously you will not let the Roomba clean a mess like that but for in-between clean ups it will be an invaluable tool to have to keep dust and sand from piling up.

If you have pets, this vacuum also does a good job in picking up pet hair.

Other Roomba Comparisons

Roomba has a bunch of models in their product line. Find out how each one contrasts with the other plus also comparisons with other brands like the Neato.

Comparing Roomba to other brands.

Product specifications

Roomba Model
Roomba790 table
Roomba880 compare tablle
Read Full Review
Read Full Review
Brush system
Bristle brush/squeegee combo
Brush-less extractors
Cleaning system
AeroVac Series II
Hepa filtration
Dirt detection
Series II w/Persistent Pass Cleaning
Series II w/Persistent Pass Cleaning
Scheduled cleaning
Full bin indicator
3 Virtual Wall Lighthouses

Extra Brush Set

Extra Filter Set

Round Brush Cleaning Tool

Flat Brush Cleaning Tool
1 iRobot XLife Battery

Charging base

A/C adapter

IR Remote (AA-batteries included)

2 virtual lighthouses (needs 2 C batteries that are not included)

1 extra hepa filter

1 integrated home base
Remote control
Wireless Command Center
IR Remote
1 year on robot

6 months for the battery
1 year on robot

6 months for the battery


Right now, you won’t be able to buy a brand new Roomba 880 because the Roomba 890 has taken its place. The latter is cheaper if you buy it in Amazon at less than $500!

What’s the difference between the Roomba 880 and 890? The latter now has WiFi connectivity and is compatible with Alexa. Hands down, it’s a better value in my opinion.

Roomba 790 is more expensive than the 890 because it’s being sold by third party seller.

To Wrap Up

If you ask me a year ago, I would not pick the Roomba 790 over the 880 because of the price difference. But with the 890 available right now for less than $500 it’s a no-brainer option because it’s got WiFi, a smartphone app and Alexa compatibility.

You will get the same navigation as in the 700 series Roombas so expect the same random pattern that will be less efficient than a Neato vacuum. But the great thing about the Roomba 890 is that it comes with a Virtual Lighthouse so it is capable of cleaning multiple rooms.

The 790 is also a good product but if you’re considering it, I’d suggest you get the less expensive 770 or 780. Both will give you the same cleaning performance for at least $70 less.

It does not have the Wireless Command Center but you don’t really need that. The remote included in cheaper variants is enough.

The IR control found both in the 790 and 780 will be more than enough.

Both the 780 and 790 comes with 2 and 3 Virtual Lighthouses respectively which means you will be able to clean up to 2 rooms with the 780 and up to 3 rooms with the 790. You can buy additional lighthouses for around $40

Additional virtual lighthouses can be purchased for around $50 in Amazon.

The 770 only comes with a virtual wall so multi-room cleaning is not possible unless you buy the virtual lighthouse.

Recommended Reading

About the author: Garrick, the visionary behind Cordless Vacuum Guide, brings over a decade of hands-on expertise in cordless vacuum testing to his insightful reviews showcased on this platform. Beyond his passion for empowering consumers with informed choices, he cherishes precious moments with his family, exploring global cuisines and exploring different horizons with his beloved wife and son. Follow him on Youtube, Tiktok, Facebook, and Instagram.

  • Peggy Murphy

    I hate the new roomba. The bristles wer a million times better. The worst part is they dont even sell the bristles for the 800 model. The new air force whatever cant clean glass either. That was the best thing about the bristles. Drop a glass and with the bristles you didnt have to worry about stepping in glass later. The new ones break immediately. Small glass cuts right through them. Buy an earlier version.

  • Billy F

    The 700 Series or any series with brushes WORK BETTER the extractors do not clean nearly as well,ive had both and hands down the older brush design CLEANS BETTER