Roomba vs. Roborock

Roomba vs. Roborock

After completing all the Roborock reviews, I can now proceed with this monster article comparing Roborock and Roomba – two of the more prominent brands in the robot vacuum niche.

This article is a few years in the making because of the sheer number of models coming out in the past year, especially from the side of Roborock.

iRobot was recently purchased by Amazon, so I’m curious about their direction. We got a glimpse of it when they released an updated version of the J7+ with the added functionality of a mop.

It’s a new release, so I haven’t reviewed it yet, so I cannot comment on it.

But for now, we’ll focus on the similarities and differences between these brands – a bird’s eye view.

I’ve uploaded a detailed video on Youtube if you prefer a video version.

Entry-Level Roomba Options

Roomba 675 vs 694

iRobot has trimmed down its offerings considerably, most notably in the entry-level variants. Gone are the E-series robots (though it’s still available on Amazon) that use a gyroscope and are replaced by the I-series.

However, the 600-series options remain – currently, they offer the Roomba 692 and 694. These robots are iRobot’s most basic options with random navigation, meaning they will pinball around – not very efficient. I’d only recommend this inside tiny homes to clean one room at a time.

The only I-series that fall in the “budget” or entry-level category are the variants without the self-emptying base station.

Consumers will have several options – the Roomba I2 and I3 – all are (basically) the same robot using a gyroscope-based navigation system, so it moves in “neat” rows (or straight back-and-forth lines).

The differences are primarily cosmetic and accessory inclusions out of the box, so if you’re interested, get the cheapest option available.

You’ll also notice a Roomba I4, the same product as the I3 (only with a larger capacity battery), but it’s only available with the base station.

There are a bunch of “N/As” in the list below – this means I haven’t tested the products but placed them there for your reference.

Please note that the 900-series (960 and 980) are also discontinued but still available on Amazon.

The Roomba 981 is the variant available on Amazon and one of the two high airflow options (aside from the S9) in the iRobot lineup with excellent deep cleaning performance.

Roomba 692

Roomba 694 Review
  • Airflow: N/A
  • Deep cleaning: N/A
  • Auto empty: No
  • Navigation: IR sensors, random
  • Brush roll: old-style counter-rotating brushes
  • Map saving: No
  • Number of maps: None
  • Containment: Optional [virtual wall device]
  • Selective room cleaning: No
  • Recharge & Resume: No
  • Dustbin capacity: 600ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 1800 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 90 mins
  • Noise: N/A

Roomba 694

Roomba 694 Review
  • Airflow: 7.27 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 80.2%
  • Auto empty: No
  • Navigation: IR sensors, random
  • Brush roll: old-style counter-rotating brushes
  • Map saving: No
  • Number of maps: None
  • Containment: Optional [virtual wall device]
  • Selective room cleaning: No
  • Recharge & Resume: No
  • Dustbin capacity: 600ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 1800 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 90 mins
  • Noise: 65.6 dB

Roomba E5 [Discontinued by iRobot]

Roomba E5
  • Airflow: 6.98 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 89.66%
  • Auto empty: No
  • Navigation: IR sensors, random
  • Brush roll: upgraded counter-rotating extractors
  • Map saving: No
  • Number of maps: None
  • Containment: Optional [virtual wall device]
  • Selective room cleaning: No
  • Recharge & Resume: No
  • Dustbin capacity: 600ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 1800 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 90 mins
  • Noise: 65.6 dB

Roomba 980 (or 981) [Discontinued by iRobot]

Roomba E5
  • Airflow: 19.74 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 91.9%
  • Auto empty: No
  • Navigation: VSLAM (Camera + SLAM), Neat Rows
  • Brush roll: counter-rotating extractors
  • Map saving: No
  • Number of maps: None
  • Containment: Optional [virtual wall device]
  • Selective room cleaning: No
  • Recharge & Resume: No
  • Dustbin capacity: 600ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 3300 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 120 mins
  • Noise: 74.2 dB

Roomba I2 [w/o Auto-Empty Base Station]

Roomba I2
  • Airflow: N/A
  • Deep cleaning: N/A
  • Auto empty: No
  • Navigation: Gyroscope + Optical Sensor
  • Brush roll: upgraded counter-rotating extractors
  • Map saving: No
  • Number of maps: None
  • Containment: Optional [virtual wall device]
  • Selective room cleaning: No
  • Recharge & Resume: No
  • Dustbin capacity: 450ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 1800 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 75 mins
  • Noise: N/A

Roomba I3 [w/o Auto-Empty Base Station]

Roomba I3
  • Airflow: 7.27 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 84.7%
  • Auto empty: No
  • Navigation: Gyroscope + Optical Sensor
  • Brush roll: upgraded counter-rotating extractors
  • Map saving: No
  • Number of maps: None
  • Containment: Optional [virtual wall device]
  • Selective room cleaning: No
  • Recharge & Resume: No
  • Dustbin capacity: 450ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 1800 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 75 mins
  • Noise: 64.9 dB

Mid-Level Roomba Options

Roomba I3 vs I6 vs S9 auto empty

Next on the Roomba totem pole are the mid-level options, and nearly all the options here have self-emptying base stations.

The prices for these robots will vary depending on the season. There will be huge discounts if its sale season, like Prime Day or Black Friday, so keep an eye on those occasions.

Several models in this category are the I3+, I6+, I7+, and J7 (without the base station).

The I6 and I7 are (basically) the same robots with cosmetic and attachment variances, like the I2, I4, and I4 models.

I’m not sure why iRobot added all these options, but these are the same robots under the hood – get the cheapest option.

All options here are considered “smart” navigating options, meaning they’ll move in straight back-and-forth lines (iRobot calls these neat rows).

However, the I3+ isn’t a “true” intelligent robot vacuum since it doesn’t have VSLAM but uses a gyroscope, so it cannot save maps.

It does, however, have recharge and resume, enabling it to clean larger homes with minimal supervision.

Roomba I3+

Roomba I3
  • Airflow: 7.27 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 84.7%
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.5-liters
  • Navigation: gyroscope, neat rows
  • Brush roll: upgraded counter-rotating extractors
  • Map saving: No
  • Number of maps: None
  • Containment: Optional [virtual wall device]
  • Selective room cleaning: No
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 400ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 1800 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 75 mins
  • Noise: 64.9 dB

Roomba I4+

Roomba I4+
  • Airflow: N/A
  • Deep cleaning: N/A
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.5-liters
  • Navigation: gyroscope, neat rows
  • Brush roll: upgraded counter-rotating extractors
  • Map saving: No
  • Number of maps: None
  • Containment: Optional [virtual wall device]
  • Selective room cleaning: No
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 400ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 2210 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 110 mins
  • Noise: N/A

Roomba I6+

  • Airflow: 8.2 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 82.5%
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.5-liters
  • Navigation: VSLAM (camera + SLAM), neat rows
  • Brush roll: upgraded counter-rotating extractors
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 10
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 400ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 1800 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 75 mins
  • Noise: 64.9 dB

Roomba I7+

Roomba I7+
  • Airflow: N/A
  • Deep cleaning: N/A
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.5-liters
  • Navigation: VSLAM (camera + SLAM), neat rows
  • Brush roll: upgraded counter-rotating extractors
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 10
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 400ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 1800 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 75 mins
  • Noise: N/A

Roomba J7 [no auto-empty base station]

Roomba J7
  • Airflow: N/A
  • Deep cleaning: N/A
  • Auto empty: No
  • Bag capacity: No
  • Navigation: VSLAM (camera + SLAM), neat rows
  • Brush roll: upgraded counter-rotating extractors
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 10
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 400ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 2210 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 90 mins
  • Noise: N/A

Premium Roomba Options

Roomba S9 and J7

iRobot’s premium-level robots are limited to two primary models – the S9 and the J7 series. A new J7 option will be released soon with a hybrid functionality.

Finally, iRobot has decided to join the bandwagon and offer a machine that does both tasks, like most of their competitors like Roborock, Ecovacs, Dreame Tech, and many more.

The J7 series is their first with, in my opinion, the best obstacle-evading ability of all the AI robot vacuums I’ve tested.

It’s the only one with a guarantee that if it touches dry pet feces, you could return it and get a new one for FREE!

I’ve tested the J7 extensively, and its algorithm is smart enough not to get too close, unlike other brands that get too close and rub against pet feces.

The Roomba S9+ is iRobot’s best vacuuming option, boasting the highest airflow and the best-in-class deep cleaning performance.

It’s also the most expensive option, and even after the J7 release, it still is the most costly.

Roomba J7+

Roomba J7+
  • Airflow: 7.27 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 85.7%
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.5-liters
  • Navigation: VSLAM + Front Camera, Neat Rows
  • Brush roll: upgraded counter-rotating extractors
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 10
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 400ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 2210 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 90 mins
  • Noise: 63 dB

Roomba S9+

  • Airflow: 25 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 93%
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.5-liters
  • Navigation: VSLAM + Camera, Neat Rows
  • Brush roll: upgraded counter-rotating extractors
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 10
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 500ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 3600 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 75 mins
  • Noise: 74.1 dB

Entry-Level Roborock Options

Roborock E4 top view

Like iRobot, Roborock trimmed down its entry-level product offerings, discontinuing the E2 and E3, but retaining newer options like the E4 and E5.

One reason Roborock could decrease the prices for these models is the use of gyroscopes instead of LIDAR – the same technology found in Roomba.

So these robots move like intelligent robot vacuums without the benefits of map saving and in-app containment.

Nonetheless, one plus for gyroscope-based robots is the recharge and resume feature, meaning it’ll resume cleaning after recharging if it doesn’t finish the cleaning cycle previously.

There are two E4 sub-variants – one with a mopping pad and another without a pad. Both are the same robots, except for the mopping attachment.

A newer option is the E5 which Roborock says has 500 Pa more suction (2500 vs. 2000 Pa), but that’s it.

If you follow my Youtube channel, I’d always say that the Pascal metric is overrated because some options (yes, Roborock included) with high Pa ratings have lower airflow figures.

That’s the case with the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra I recently reviewed.

Roborock E4

Roborock E4
  • Airflow: 21.51 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 85.7%
  • Auto empty: N/A
  • Bag capacity: None
  • Navigation: Inertial Navigation (gyroscope), Straight Back-and-Forth lines
  • Brush roll: Combo Brush
  • Map saving: No
  • Number of maps: N/A
  • Containment: None
  • Selective room cleaning: No
  • Recharge & Resume: No
  • Dustbin capacity: 640ml
  • Dustbin capacity: 180ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 200 mins
  • Noise: 64.4 dB

Roborock E5

Roborock E5
  • Airflow: N/A
  • Deep cleaning: N/A
  • Auto empty: N/A
  • Bag capacity: None
  • Navigation: Inertial Navigation (gyroscope), Straight Back-and-Forth lines
  • Brush roll: Combo Brush
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: N/A
  • Containment: None
  • Selective room cleaning: No
  • Recharge & Resume: No
  • Dustbin capacity: 640ml
  • Dustbin capacity: 180ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 200 mins
  • Noise: N/A

Mid-Priced Roborock Options

Roborock’s mid-range line offers (perhaps) the most diverse options of any brand, including iRobot.

You could draw a line between the older models (S-series) and the newer options (Q-series).

The older variants – the S4 Max, S5 Max, and S6 MaxV use the same design framework with varying levels of functionality, with the S4 Max being the most basic.

The S5 Max is one of Roborock’s most popular options with its vacuuming and mopping performance and the first with an electronic water tank. The S6 MaxV took this functionality to the next level by adding obstacle avoidance.

Roborock’s new batch of models adds more diversity to an already diverse lineup. The Q5 and Q7 are the latest additions with a self-emptying feature previously absent.

Several sub-variants exist for these models, with and without the base station. The Q5 with and without the base station still falls within the mid-level bracket, while only the Q7 or Q7 Max falls within the range.

There are several differences between the Q5 and Q7, one of which is the brush roll, with the Q7 having the upgraded bristle-less roller and the Q5 using the older combo brush.

Another is the water tank with the Q7 utilizing the hybrid dustbin and electronic water tank that offers more water disbursal control.

The last option for the Roborock mid-level options is the Roborock S7 (without the base station).

It’s Roborock’s first variant with a self-emptying base station, and the non-plus version’s price has fallen into a mid-level category.

Roborock S4 Max

Roborock S4 Max
  • Airflow: 22.26 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 80.2%
  • Auto empty: No
  • Bag capacity: No
  • Navigation: LIDAR (Laser Sensor) + SLAM, Straight Back-and-Forth lines
  • Brush roll: Combo Brush
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 4
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 460ml
  • Dustbin capacity: N/A
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 180 mins
  • Noise: 64.4 dB

Roborock S5 Max

Roborock S5 Max
  • Airflow: 17.74 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 84.75%
  • Auto empty: No
  • Bag capacity: No
  • Navigation: LIDAR (Laser Sensor) + SLAM, Straight Back-and-Forth lines
  • Brush roll: Combo Brush
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 4
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 460ml
  • Dustbin capacity: N/A
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 180 mins
  • Noise: 62.4 Db

Roborock S6 MaxV

Roborock S6 MaxV
  • Airflow: 15.68 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 77.65%
  • Auto empty: No
  • Bag capacity: No
  • Navigation: LIDAR (Laser Sensor) + SLAM + Front Camera, Straight Back-and-Forth lines
  • Brush roll: Combo Brush
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 4
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 460ml
  • Dustbin capacity: N/A
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 180 mins
  • Noise: 65 Db

Roborock S7

Roborock S7
  • Airflow: 13.91 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 78.85%
  • Auto empty: No
  • Bag capacity: No
  • Navigation: LIDAR (Laser Sensor) + SLAM, Straight Back-and-Forth lines
  • Brush roll: Upgraded Bristle-Less Brush
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 4
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 460ml
  • Dustbin capacity: 300ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 180 mins
  • Noise: 65 Db

Roborock Q5

Roborock Q5
  • Airflow: N/A
  • Deep cleaning: N/A
  • Auto empty: No
  • Bag capacity: No
  • Navigation: LIDAR (Laser Sensor) + SLAM, Straight Back-and-Forth lines
  • Brush roll: Combo Brush
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 4
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 470ml
  • Dustbin capacity: N/A
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 180 mins
  • Noise: N/A

Roborock Q7+

Roborock Q7+
  • Airflow: N/A
  • Deep cleaning: N/A
  • Auto empty: No
  • Bag capacity: No
  • Navigation: LIDAR (Laser Sensor) + SLAM, Straight Back-and-Forth lines
  • Brush roll: Upgraded Bristle-less Brush
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 4
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 750ml
  • Dustbin capacity: 180ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 180 mins
  • Noise: N/A

Roborock Q5+

  • Airflow: 16.75 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 75.7%
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.5-liters
  • Navigation: LIDAR (Laser Sensor) + SLAM, Straight Back-and-Forth lines
  • Brush roll: Combo Brush
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 4
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 470ml
  • Dustbin capacity: N/A
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 180 mins
  • Noise: 66.2 dB

Premium Roborock Options

Lastly is the premium level Roborock options. Notice I mentioned premium because these models are priced above four figures (most of them, at least).

Heading the list is the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra – Roborock’s flagship with all its latest technology bundled into it.

It’s their only option with the self-emptying and pad-washing feature, upsizing its base station to gigantic proportions.

Roborock Q7 Max+ vs. S7 MaxV Ultra base station

Combining these features makes the S7 MaxV Ultra a genuinely autonomous robot vacuum and mop, capable of doing both tasks with minimal intervention.

This model has the same robot as the other S7 MaxV options, namely the S7 MaxV Plus and non-plus (without the base station).

The S7 MaxV Plus utilizes the same twin-barrel dustbin as the S7+ but with a front-facing camera and ReactiveAI 2.0 algorithm, enabling it to avoid obstacles better.

Roborock S7 dock open

It’s the cheaper version of the Ultra series since it uses the older twin-barrel base station of the previous generation S7.

All S7 (with and without the MaxV) utilize the VibraRise feature that has the vibrating mopping pad and pad lifting feature, so the pad raises when it detects carpet.

The Roborock S7+ and the Q7 Max are the least expensive options, with the latter having fewer features (no VibraRise) but with the redesigned single-tower base station.

Roborock Q7 Max+

  • Airflow: 15.68 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 69.63%
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.5-liters
  • Navigation: LIDAR (Laser Sensor) + SLAM, Straight Back-and-Forth lines
  • Brush roll: Upgraded Bristle-less Brush
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 4
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 470ml
  • Dustbin capacity: 300ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 180 mins
  • Noise: 74.8 dB

Roborock S7+

Roborock S7+
  • Airflow: 13.91 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 78.85%
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 3-Liters
  • Navigation: LIDAR (Laser Sensor) + SLAM, Straight Back-and-Forth lines
  • Brush roll: Upgraded Bristle-less Brush
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 4
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 420ml
  • Dustbin capacity: 300ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 180 mins
  • Noise: 69.8 dB

Roborock S7 MaxV Plus

Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra
  • Airflow: N/A
  • Deep cleaning: N/A
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 3-Liters
  • Navigation: LIDAR (Laser Sensor) + SLAM, Straight Back-and-Forth lines
  • Brush roll: Upgraded Bristle-less Brush
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 4
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 420ml
  • Dustbin capacity: 300ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 180 mins
  • Noise: N/A

Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra

  • Airflow: 13.39 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 77.95%
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.4-Liters
  • Navigation: LIDAR (Laser Sensor) + SLAM + Front Camera, Straight Back-and-Forth lines
  • Brush roll: Upgraded Bristle-less Brush
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 4
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 400ml
  • Dustbin capacity: 200ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 180 mins
  • Noise: 72.9 dB

Similarities Between Roomba and Roborock

Next, we’ll look at the similarities between these brands, starting with the algorithm.

1. Smart Robot Vacuum Options

Roomba and Roborock manufacture some of the best-performing smart robot vacuums available in the market, which wasn’t the case for iRobot a few years back.

The influx of brands has forced iRobot (yes, that includes Roborock) to develop an intelligent robot vacuum capable of tracking its location and offering efficient navigation.

iRobot first introduced this technology with the Roomba 980 and, from there onwards, further enhanced its algorithm, culminating with the J7’s obstacle avoidance technology.

Both will move in straight back-and-forth lines, with Roborock being the more efficient option thanks to a better algorithm.

The most efficient Roborock option is the Q7 Max+, finishing the two-pass run in 16:29 minutes.

The most efficient Roomba option is (surprisingly) the Roomba I3+ at 22:43 minutes.

2. Mapping Run

The next similarity is the mapping run, where the robot goes into an exploratory mode with the motor shut off. Still, one variance is that iRobot products must go through every nook and cranny, whereas Roborock does not.

Why? Because of the primary navigation sensor – Roborock relies on LIDAR, and Roomba uses a camera-based system.

Roborock S7 MaxV vs Q5 quick mapping

Roborock’s top-mounted laser sensors rapidly fire signals in a 360-degree pattern, and the algorithm uses it to draw the perimeter walls on the map without the robot having to go to the edges.

Most iRobot products use a top-mounted camera (except the Roomba J7+), and the 360-scanning function isn’t possible, so Roomba products need to go through every nook and cranny.

Roomba S9 mapping run

This feature is more of a necessity for Roomba since their products use a lower-capacity lithium-ion battery that doesn’t run as long.

Having a dedicated mode to create maps with the vacuum motor off helps a great deal.

3. Self-Emptying

Roomba J7 vs Roborock S7

Another similarity is the self-emptying feature, which iRobot pioneered when they unveiled the Roomba I7+.

Roborock followed suit with the S7+ – its first with an auto-empty base station.

The S7 base station has two barrels – one for the primary filter and a second for the bag and dustbin.

Yes, the S7+ has two bagged and bagless versions available in select markets.

Both use a ramp-style dock where the robot sits, which is a better design than vertical ports that rely heavily on proper alignment to function.

One variance is the port placement. iRobot’s port is smaller and connects to a dedicated slot underneath the dustbin.

Roomba J7 auto empty dock

Roborock’s port is bigger and connects to the robot’s primary brush roll, so there’s more room to suck out debris.

It was a necessity for Roborock since most of their products have a mop behind the brush roll.

Roborock S7 MaxV pad attached

4. Bagged System

Roborock Q5 vs. S7 MaxV Ultra bagged base station

All Roomba and most Roborock options used a bagged system in their base stations with varying capacities.

How to Empty Roomba J7

Bagged systems are excellent because it keeps things tidy, and disposal is straightforward – pull out the bag and throw it in a trash bin.

No mess, no exposure to allergens.

However, you’ll need to replace the bags, which can add up over time, but that’s the only drawback.

5. Obstacle Avoidance

Roomba J7 avoiding poop

Roomba and Roborock offer variants with obstacle avoidance systems, namely the Roborock S6 MaxV, S7 MaxV Plus, S7 MaxV Ultra, and Roomba J7 series.

Roborock S7 MaxV ReactiveAI 2.0

These options utilize a combination of a front-facing camera, LED, and lasers (only Roborock uses lasers to augment the twin-camera system).

So far, the king of obstacle-avoiding robots is the Roomba J7+. I have not tested specific variants like the Ecovacs X1 Omni, so take this with a grain of salt.

6. Map Saving

Roborock vs. Roomba map saving

Both brands offer a map-saving feature with the option to save multiple levels. This feature is available in all the SLAM and VSLAM options of Roomba and Roborock, respectively.

Roomba has the advantage here because it can save up to 10 map levels versus Roborock’s 4, but, honestly, 10 is overkill, and a majority will live inside a one or two-story home.

Differences between Roomba and Roborock

Next, we’ll go to the meat of this article, which is the differences between Roborock and Roomba, and there are plenty.

1. Navigation

While both brands offer intelligent navigational features, the specifications vary significantly between these brands.

iRobot relies heavily on a camera sensor to track and remember “landmarks,” while Roborock uses a laser distance sensor (or LIDAR).

One plus with a camera-based option is the flatter top, which can go underneath lower clearance furniture, versus a laser robot with a prominent protrusion.

Roomba J7 under sofa

The J7 had no issues going underneath a sofa with a 3.5-inch clearance.

Roborock S7 MaxV underneath furniture

That’s not the case with Roborock because of the protrusion from the LIDAR cover; it can’t get underneath this sofa.

Overall, LIDAR sensors are more precise with location tracking, helping Roborock products traverse around tight quarters (generally) better than any Roomba intelligent robot vacuum.

It’s one factor why it was more efficient during the coverage runs.

Another advantage of LIDAR is the faster mapping run (already discussed earlier) since it fires signals in a 360-pattern.

Also, the laser sensor doesn’t rely on light. You can run it in pitch-dark conditions without any issues, which isn’t the case with a camera-based robot since it needs light to function.

2. Live Map [Roborock only]

Roborock was the first brand I tested with a live map. Back then, their products weren’t called Roborock; they were still under the Xiaomi wing called the Xiaomi robot vacuum.

Before Roborock, the robot vacuum space was much different, with fewer options and two brands – iRobot and Neato dominating the space.

None of these brands have a live map then, and its status quo until now.

The live map enables consumers to see the robot’s location in real-time. With Roborock, it also shows areas it has cleaned through the grid lines.

3. Hybrid Function (Mostly Roborock only)

Roborock S7 with mop bracket

Most Roborock options have a vacuum and mop function (or hybrid), which adds to their versatility in cleaning hard floors.

iRobot products don’t have this feature until the Roomba Combo J7 sub-model with a retractable mopping pad.

Roomba Combo J7

Photo courtesy of iRobot – they call it the “most advanced robot vacuum and mop.”

It’s Roomba’s first hybrid product with a mopping and vacuuming function based on the J7+ robot.

I have not tested this product, so I cannot comment on its mopping function, but it looks interesting.

4. Brush Design

Roomba J7 vs Roborock S7 underneath

From its conception, all Roomba products utilize counter-rotating brushes that have undergone several enhancements.

Entry-level variants like the 600 series use an older style bristle and blade combo, which are excellent at debris pick up, even on carpets.

Roomba 675 counter rotating brushes

However, one issue with these brushes is hair wrap and lots of it, especially on the bristled roller.

Roomba 675 hair wrap test

iRobot then upgraded to a bristle-less system, starting with the Roomba 980.

Roomba 980 rollers out

It provides the same excellent pickup as the older bristled version, but with few hair tangle issues.

Further enhancements were made with the later models like the I, S, and J series with deeper grooves on the rollers.

Roomba J7 and S9 extractor comparison

The S9, in particular, had a different front roller with mostly fins.

Roomba S9 extractors close up

It’s no coincidence that the S9 is the best-in-class vacuuming robot vacuum available (based on my tests).

Older Roborock variants use a single combo brush, standard in most robot vacuums, combining rubber blades and bristles in one roller.

Roborock main brush roll

Then came the Roborock S7, where Roborock introduced the bristle-less brush with fins spiraling around the roller.

Roborock S7 brush

Honestly, there isn’t much variance with the debris pickup with these brushes, but one advantage of the bristle-less options is it’s easier to clean hair tangles.

It also better resists hair tangles better than their bristled counterparts.

However, these brushes aren’t tangle-proof, and hair will wrap around them.

Roborock S7 hair wrapped around the brush

There’s no coincidence that models with bristle-less rollers pick up more hair (in most tests) than those with bristled brushes.

Another plus for these bristle-less brushes is they’re easier to clean since hair strands won’t tangle with bristles – a huge time saver for pet owners.

5. Side Brush Design

Roomba S9 vs Roborock S5 Max side brush comparison

While the first two Roborock products (the second being the S5) used a traditional three-pronged side brush with bristled tips.

This changed when Roborock launched the S5 Max, introducing a new side brush design with bristled tips, and it’s been that way ever since.

Roborock S5 Max side brush close up shot

I like the five-pronged, all-rubber side brush because it offers better durability and performance.

Another benefit is it easier to clean versus a bristled tip.

iRobot’s side brush has remained the same from the early 600-series to the latest I and J-series robots.

Roomba 694 vs I3 side brush comparison

There’s some variance with the Roomba J7+, which has the all-black side brush, but the design is similar to older variants like the 694 and I3.

Roomba J7 side brush close up

However, the S9’s side brush is different from the other options because it was necessary with the square front.

Roomba S9 side brush top view

Instead of three, it’s got five shorter prongs.

The S9+ was the best of all Roomba options at edge cleaning because of the high airflow and square face, enabling it to reach the edges.

App Differences

Roomba and Roborock have their smartphone apps unlocking all the robot’s features. Both rely on WIFI for pairing the robot and app, but the features vary extensively.

Overall, the Roborock app receives more frequent updates versus the iRobot home app, with significant upgrades in the latest roll-outs like the 3D map and mapping run.

I’ll enumerate some of these variances in the section below, at least the most significant features.

1. Live Map [Roborock only]

Roborock Q7 Max vs. S7 MaxV Ultra live map

As I’ve said earlier, Roborock was the first to incorporate a live map into their app (at least from the brands I’ve tested).

Before them, nobody had this feature, even big brands like iRobot and Neato.

The live map shows the robot’s location in real time as it vacuums with grid lines indicating areas it has cleaned.

It’s a handy tool if you want to monitor the status of the vacuuming run.

2. Keep Out Zones [iRobot only]

Roomba S9 keep out zones

Keep out zone is iRobot’s version of a no-go zone or an area off limits to a robot.

Consumers can draw square or rectangular lines on areas they don’t want the robot to venture into and cause issues.

Unfortunately, iRobot does not have a feature for blocking diagonal areas.

3. Invisible Wall [Roborock only]

Roborock Q7 Max invisible wall

As its name implies, an invisible wall acts like a barrier (or wall), blocking the robot from going past it.

iRobot also has an invisible wall feature, but it’s a physical device that fires an IR signal, blocking the robot.

Roomba 690 virtual wall

This device costs money and needs AA batteries to function, while Roborock’s invisible wall is an in-app feature, so it’s easier to deploy.

Consumers can set multiple “invisible walls” around the map to block the robot from select areas, and the app is accurate at this task.

4. Clean Zones [iRobot only]

Roomba S9 clean zones

The clean zone is an inverse of the keep-out zone, acting as designated clean areas on the map.

It has a similar function as the spot cleaning function of Roborock, but the difference with Roomba’s version is you can save these areas, so there’s no need to draw them again on the map.

5. 3D Map [Roborock only]

Roborock S7 MaxV vs Q5 3D map

When Roborock launched the S7 MaxV Ultra a few months back, they also introduced another feature that since has been grandfathered to older Roborock models – the 3D Map.

As its name implies, the 3D map shows the map from a three-dimensional perspective. There’s no practical benefit other than aesthetics since you can view it from different angles.

Consumers can add furniture to the map, but again these are for reference since these also can’t block the robot’s path.

Roborock add furniture feature

6. Mapping Run [Both]

Both offer a mapping run where the robot’s motor is shut off for the sole purpose of map creation. The difference is that Roborock’s run is faster since it takes advantage of LIDAR’s 360-scanning ability, while Roomba needs to go through every nook and cranny.

7. Obstacle Areas [iRobot only]

Roomba J7 obstacle database

This feature is only available in the J7 series since it’s the only model with a front-facing camera.

It has the technology to detect obstacles and pinpoint their location on the map, then draw the corresponding keep-out zones for these objects depending on your preference.

8. Remove Viewing [Roborock only]

Roborock S7 MaxV remote viewing

This feature is available in the S7 MaxV series [Ultra and Plus], enabling consumers to use the robot as a CCTV camera and look at what’s happening inside their home in real time (from the robot’s vantage point).

It doesn’t have iRobot’s feature of setting up keep-out zones, but it provides a live view absent from iRobot.

Navigation Comparison

iRobot products will vary with their navigation depending on the price. The entry-level 600 and E-series robots are the most basic options with IR-based navigation where it pinballs in randomly.

It’s smart enough to cover most of the area but inefficient.

The I2, I3, and I4 series are next in line, which relies primarily on a gyroscope and optical sensor. These variants aren’t “smart” navigating robots per se but move like one in a straight back-and-forth pattern.

Next in the totem pole are the smart robot vacuum options – the I, S, and J series with VSLAM and the features with it (containment, selective, room cleaning, and map saving).

Roborock ditched the random navigating robot in their line-up, the C10, and replaced it with the E-series (E4 and E5).

These options use gyroscopes like the I2, I3, and I4 triumvirate but at a lower price because they don’t have a self-emptying feature.

Higher-end options from the S-series (S4 Max, S5 Max, S6 MaxV) to the S7 and S7 MaxV series all use LIDAR and SLAM.

These robots have a similar navigating pattern, starting their run and cleaning the edges before moving toward the middle portions.

Roborock Q7 Max vs. S7 MaxV Ultra live map

Cleaning Comparison

Next, we’ll look at how these robots compare with their cleaning performance. First, we’ll look at the overall scores from the models I’ve tested.

Roomba Results

Roomba ModelOverallHard Floors (Surface Test)Sand on Hard FloorCarpet (Surface Test)Deep Cleaning
67593.58%96.15%94.1%99%85.1%
69094.25%97.55%96.4%97.92%85.16%
69492.53%96.3%96.8%96.85%80.2%
E596.17%99%98.7297.3%89.66%
96093.92%96.15%96.87%97.06%85.6%
98097.65%99.35%100%99.35%91.9%
I3+92.39%95.3%95.5%96.22%84.7%
I6+93.97%97.57%98.26%97.55%82.5%
J7+94.45%96.65%98.46%96.92%85.75%
S9+97.93%99.5%100%99.25%93%

You’ll notice in the table above the variances between the early generation, random navigating Roombas, options with the upgraded extractors, and the high-airflow options.

There isn’t much difference between the 600 series options with the overall percentages – only minimal variance.

Options with the upgraded extractors performed slightly better in deep cleaning tests.

High-airflow options, the Roomba 980 and S9, separate themselves from the pack since these options have the best airflow, thus, picked up more sand in the deep cleaning experiment.

Roborock Results

Roborock ModelOverallHard Floors (Surface Test)Sand on Hard FloorCarpet (Surface Test)Deep Cleaning
E491.05%99.8%99.4%97%69.83%
S4 Max94.45%99.7%98%99.9%80.2%
S5 Max94.68%100%99.31%99.8%84.75%
S6 MaxV93.9%99.75%99.7%98.5%77.65%
S7+94.31%99.7%99.8%98.9%78.85%
Q5+93.26%99.95%99.9%97.5%75.7%
Q7 Max+91.98%99.9%99.8%98.3%69.63%
S7 MaxV Ultra94.11%99.95%99.6%98.97%77.95%

Unlike Roomba products with performance gaps between their entry and higher-end options, Roborock products are consistent with their cleaning performance, at least with surface debris.

All Roborock options average between the mid to high 90s in surface debris experiments.

There are variations in the deep cleaning performance, as the S5 Max had the highest average, but that could be because of the sand I used during the testing phase.

When I tested the S5 Max, I used sand with rougher grade sand, unlike the fine stuff I use now, which could be the culprit for the 5 – 7% gap.

Which Brand is Better on Hard Floors?

Hands down, it’s the Roborock, factoring in navigation and efficiency.

The Roomba S9+ may have higher averages and better efficiency per pass, but it wasn’t as efficient and had some trouble navigating through the tight gaps around chair legs because of its D-shaped frame.

All Roborock products picked up in the mid to high 90s in hard floor cleaning, including the sand of hard floor test.

Add the mopping feature, and it’s a landslide.

Which Brand is Better on Carpet?

The Roomba products I tested have a higher average in deep cleaning tests (86.3% vs. 77%) and have the two top scores – the Roomba S9 (93%) and 980 (91.9%), which isn’t surprising since these two also have the highest airflow.

Furthermore, all Roomba options picked up above 80%, while none of the Roborock options got over 90% – the highest was the S5 Max at 84.75%.

Most Roborock models range between the mid to the high 70s, which separates Roomba from other brands, regardless of its not-so-efficient navigation.

Hair Wrap Comparison

Next, we’ll quickly look at how these robots did cleaning hair. I’ll enumerate the options I tested on five and seven-inch strands.

First, we’ll look at the results of Roomba products.

Roomba Model
5-inch
7-inch
675
0%
0%
690
0%
0%
694
51%
32%
E5
40%
30%
960
1%
1%
980
100%
90%
I3+
58%
40%
I6+
100%
54%
S9+
81%
82%
J7+
49%
30%

Again, it’s not surprising that the Roomba S9+ and 980 are the best-performing robots of the bunch, thanks to their high airflow.

The I6+ was the next best option, picking up 100% and 54% at five and seven-inch strands, respectively.

I don’t recommend 600-series options for cleaning hair since strands will wrap on the brush.

Next, we’ll look at the results for Roborock.

Roborock Model
5-inch
7-inch
E4
N/A
N/A
S4 Max
80%
80%
S5 Max
95%
48%
S6 MaxV
94%
80%
S7+
75%
44%
Q5+
72%
34%
Q7 Max+
90%
47%
S7 MaxV Ultra
100%
63%

Roborock products picked up more hair on average versus Roomba products.

None of the options weren’t a zero during the tests, meaning it picked up at least 75% in five-inch strands, whereas the 675 and 690 barely picked up anything.

Several variants, namely the S6 MaxV, S7 MaxV Ultra, and S4 Max, got at least 80% in both experiments.

Run Time Comparison

Here’s a comparison between the Roomba products.

Roomba ModelBattery CapacityRun Time
Roomba J7+221090 mins.
Roomba S93600 mAh75 mins.
Roomba I61800 mAh75 mins.
Roomba 9803600 mAh120 mins.
Roomba 9601800 mAh75 mins.
Roomba I3+1800 mAh75 mins.
Roomba E51800 mAh75 mins.
Roomba 6901800 mAh90 mins.
Roomba 6751800 mAh90 mins.
Roomba 6141800 mAh90 mins.

And the comparison between Roborock options.

Roomba ModelBattery CapacityRun Time
Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra5200 mAh180 mins.
Roborock S7 MaxV Plus5200 mAh180 mins.
Roborock Q7 Max+5200 mAh180 mins.
Roborock Q5+5200 mAh180 mins.
Roborock S7+5200 mAh180 mins.
Roborock S6 MaxV5200 mAh180 mins.
Roborock S5 Max5200 mAh180 mins.
Roborock S4 Max5200 mAh180 mins.
Roomba E55200 mAh200 mins.
Roomba E45200 mAh200 mins.

Roborock products use the same 5200 mAh lithium-ion battery across the board with the same 180-minute run time outside the E-series and a 200-minute run time for the E-series.

Roomba batteries aren’t as good. Even if iRobot uses a lithium-ion battery, it drains quickly if you unplug it.

The Roomba 980 has the longest claimed run time at 120 minutes, thanks to the 3600 mAh battery and the slightly lower airflow versus the S9+.

Other options range between 75 and 90 minutes, which is subpar for a robot vacuum and something I don’t recommend inside large homes even with recharge-and-resume.

Where can I purchase these Robots?

All Roomba and Roborock robot vacuums are available in online stores like Amazon. Check the links below for the latest pricing information.

Disclaimer: I’ll earn a commission when you purchase through any of the links above, but at no extra cost to you, so it’s a win-win for both of us.

Which Brand is Better, Roomba or Roborock?

Roborock has made a lot of ground since its founding in the mid-2010s. Their products have improved so much that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them over iRobot, especially on hard floors.

Its combination of efficiency, cleaning performance, versatility, and app features is a rarity, and this brand is even better than iRobot in these aspects.

One advantage iRobot has over Roborock is cleaning embedded sand on mid-pile carpet thanks to the counter-rotating extractors.

None of the other manufacturers have this feature because it’s patented.

But outside that aspect, Roborock checks the other boxes: efficiency, run time, mopping, surface cleaning, etc.

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