Which Roomba should you buy?

iRobot Roomba i3 robot vacuum cleaning underneath a piece of furniture
iRobot Roomba i3 robot vacuum cleaning underneath a piece of furniture (Image credit: iRobot)

Which Roomba should you buy?

Best answer: For most people, the Roomba i3 is the best choice. It's $100 more than the base Roomba 694 model, but it includes ten times the suction power, advanced row cleaning, recharge and resuming capabilities, and voice controls. Plus, with an optional self-empty base, the i3 gets even better, matching higher-end Roombas for less.

Let the robot get it

The Roomba name is synonymous with the best robot vacuums, thanks to iRobot being one of the first companies to hit the robotic vacuum cleaner market. It isn't just about being first, though, as the Roomba line has consistently provided excellent cleaning capabilities, intelligent navigation systems, and convenient controls for years.

With the ability to intelligently detect objects and fixtures within your home and innovative self-emptying systems in some models, the Roomba line can successfully clean an entire house without having to lift a finger. While competition like the Roborock S5 Max and the Kyvol Cybovac S31 are quickly catching up in features, the Roomba line still offers a greater whole-home cleaning ecosystem through integration with mopping robots and a better overall smart experience.

The same, but different

iRobot Roomba i7 row navigation system

iRobot Roomba i7 row navigation system (Image credit: iRobot)

There a quite a few models to choose from, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed with the options, especially when the prices can begin to push towards a thousand dollars. Currently, iRobot offers five Roomba models, the 694, e5, i3, i7, and the i9+. While you may think that the top-of-the-line most expensive model is the best for most, if you are debating which Roomba you should buy for your home, you may be pleasantly surprised by how feature-packed some of the cheaper options are.

At the beginning of its lineup, the Roomba 694, e5, and the i3 do most of the same things, but they each do it differently. For example, the $300 Roomba 694 and the $350 e5 use a reactive cleaning pattern that changes the navigation route based on the home's objects. However, the $400 i3 Series uses a set row cleaning pattern that ensures that all your home areas are cleaned and makes it easier to determine its progress within the home. Suction power and available brushes also change as you go up in models. The e5 sports five times the suction over the 694, and the i3 has ten times the base model power along with a tangle-free brush.

iRobot Roomba i9+ on self-empty base

iRobot Roomba i9+ on self-empty base (Image credit: iRobot)

The mid-range Roomba, the i7, has more intelligent navigation capabilities over the entry-level models, but it is significantly more expensive as it starts at $600. A smarter navigation system allows the vacuum to map your home enabling the ability to clean specific rooms on-demand and keep-out zones, which are handy. Still, for smaller homes, they may not be worth the added expense. Also, despite the price increase, the i7 doesn't gain any additional suction power over the i3.

The top of the line Roomba i9+ offers a premium experience with the inclusion of a self-empty base and deeper cleaning. The self-empty base makes managing your vacuum a breeze since you don't have to worry about emptying the bin on the robot after every run, and it can hold up to 60 days worth of dirt and debris. The i9+ also features 40 — yes, 40 times the suction power over the 694, specialized corner cleaning with its unique square-edge design, and deeper carpet cleaning.

The best for most

iRobot Roomba i3 in use on a hardwood floor

iRobot Roomba i3 in use on a hardwood floor (Image credit: iRobot)

With its combination of powerful suction, row cleaning pattern, voice controls, and affordable price, the i3 gets our pick as the best Roomba for most. The i3's covers most household needs with suction power that is second only to the highest-end i9+ model, and it is also excellent for pet owners with a tangle-free brush and high-efficiency filters.

Even though it doesn't include the self-empty base at the $400 price point, you can always add it later. Since it is optional, you can save money upfront while you get a feel for how the vacuum performs and how much of an inconvenience emptying the bin is.

Jason Cockerham