iRobot’s Roombas were the first household robot vacuums. For more than 20 years, Roombas have maintained a reputation for durability and brand reliability. Meanwhile, Roborock robot vacuums have been frequently cited as being among the top in their class and boast advanced features and engineering.
BestReviews thoroughly examined the performance of both the Roomba s9+ and the Roborock S7 Max Ultra in our Testing Lab. Based on our findings, we believe the Roborock S7 Max Ultra is the more versatile robot cleaner, but the Roomba s9+ vacuums much better.
The Roborock S7 Max Ultra and the Roomba s9+ are both high-end vacuums. Their specs reflect their similarities and differences as high-performance robotic vacuums with smart-mapping technology and self-emptying docks.
Battery life: 105 minutes | Dimensions: 13.78” L x 13.9” W x 3.8” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.35 L | Weight: 10 lb | Navigation software: PreciSense LiDAR Navigation | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes | Selective room cleaning: Yes | Warranty: 1 year
The Roborock S7 Max Ultra occupies a slot near the top of the Roborock lineup. It’s more than an inch wider and slightly taller than the Roomba s9+ and weighs 10 pounds. It comes with a large docking station that not only empties its dustbin automatically, but also holds water for mopping and mop cleaning, which it does automatically.
The S7 Max Ultra’s internal dustbin is 350 milliliters in capacity, a little smaller than the one in the Roomba s9+. It boasts light detection and ranging (LiDAR) lasers for precise mapping and accurate navigation, as well as object avoidance, specific room cleaning and no-go zones.
Battery life: 107 minutes | Dimensions: 12.25” L x 12.25" W x 3.5” H | Dustbin capacity: 0.5 L | Weight: 8.15 lb | Navigation software: iAdapt 3.0 with visual localization | Mapping: Yes | Self-emptying: Yes | Object avoidance: Yes | Scheduling: Yes | Selective room cleaning: Yes | Warranty: 1 year
The Roomba s9+ has the most powerful suction in the Roomba line. At just over a foot wide, it’s smaller than most other Roombas and definitely smaller than the Roborock S7 Max Ultra, although it outweighs other Roombas at slightly over eight pounds.
The Roomba s9+ uses visual simultaneous localization and mapping (vSLAM) to map and navigate. A top-mounted camera lets it identify landmarks and obstacles while it works, and when put in Careful Drive mode, will steer around objects in its path as long as they’re large enough for it to detect. Like the Roborock, the Roomba s9+ is a self-emptying model with an automated dirt-disposal dock. Unlike the S7 Max Ultra, the s9+ doesn’t mop.
Read more: iRobot Roomba s9+
Roomba s9+ setup was straightforward during our testing. Both the robot itself and its dock came fully assembled. All we needed to do was plug the power cord into the dock, then into an AC outlet and place the Roomba s9+ on the dock.
Pairing it with its app and connecting it to Wi-Fi was also relatively easy. The app requested a QR code, but we didn’t have one, so we searched manually and found the s9+. We held down the “Spot” and “Home” buttons to put the s9+ into pairing mode, and the rest of the process happened automatically, taking only about five minutes.
Setting up the Roborock S7 Max Ultra was a bit more complicated. The large dock had its two water tanks already installed and a dust bag already in its trash compartment, but we needed to remove tape and attach the robot’s landing pad onto the dock’s foot before plugging in its power cord.
To pair the S7 Max Ultra to its app and Wi-Fi, we needed to access its dustbin, which is beneath a flip-up lid that can’t be opened while the robot is docked. We needed to remove the robot from its dock to complete the process. This involved scanning a QR code under the lid and holding down the spot-clean and dock buttons, similar to the Roomba. Once this was done, the process itself took less than 30 seconds.
The Roomba s9+ received outstanding scores from us on both carpet and hardwood in our testing. On carpet, it removed all the cat litter, cereal, salt and pet hair we put in its way, both in open areas and in corners. Corner cleaning is the Achilles’ heel of many robot vacuums, but the Roomba s9+ aced the challenge. Its performance on hardwood was almost as impressive, with only a few isolated particles visibly left behind in the salt and litter tests, and all the pet hair removed in both cases.
The Roborock S7 Max Ultra did well with spilled sugar on both carpet and hardwood, but it left behind a significant amount of faux fur on carpet, and also scattered or failed to lift 10% to 20% of breakfast cereal from carpet and hardwood. It was effective in getting spilled sugar from beneath a chair on carpet, aided by its cleaning pattern that emphasizes edges. It also did better than other circular robot vacuums in our corner and edge tests, but not as well as the Roomba s9+.
According to Roborock, the S7 Max Ultra has 5,500 Pa (pascals) of suction power. iRobot doesn’t issue pascal values, but the Roomba s9+ has been estimated between 2,400 Pa and 2,600 Pa.
The Roborock S7 Max Ultra is bigger than the Roomba s9+ and weighs about two pounds more. Our test model was matte black in color, which tended to show light-colored debris like sugar and cat litter from our tests. The Roomba s9+ was also a dark black or gray plastic with metallic bronze accents.
Like all Roombas, the s9+ uses two rollers to pick up dirt. This may be a reason why Roombas often outperform cleaning expectations based on their suction alone. The Roomba s9+’s rollers are located near its front edge and stretch to within an inch of its total width, giving it a closer and wider cleaning path than most other robot vacuums. The S7 Max Ultra has a single rubber brushroll to agitate dirt.
Both models use rubber rollers rather than bristle brushes, with the Roborock roller having slender spiral fins while the Roomba uses flexible textured surfaces.
Atop the Roborock S7 Max Ultra is a small turret, which emits its LiDAR lasers. By comparison, the Roomba s9+ embeds its vSLAM camera into a recess on its top surface.
The Roborock S7 Max Ultra’s navigational abilities were stellar during testing. Its lasers mapped 465 square feet of floor space out of an 800 square foot area in less than 10 minutes, precisely capturing furniture, obstacles and surfaces, and indicating hazards like loose shoes or cables. The S7 Max Ultra could proceed to a specified room or cleaning zone directly without any deviation or hesitation. It didn’t bump into a wall once.
The Roomba s9+’s vSLAM camera was no slouch, however. It mapped our test room accurately, including its odd nooks and crannies, and correctly remembered the location of objects and furniture for specific cleaning jobs.
Both the s9+ and the S7 Max Ultra offer obstacle avoidance. In our testing, the s9+ rolled right over a book we placed in its path, but bumped into a dog toy and maneuvered around it. The S7 Max Ultra could detect obstacles as long as they were at least 4 inches tall and it was given enough time to notice them. Both models bumped into us when we stepped in front of them, but swiveled away afterward
Both the Roomba s9+ and the Roborock S7 Max Ultra have a setting that makes them extra careful not to touch anything that’s large enough for them to detect, but deactivating it allows both to get closer to edges along walls and furniture. When comparing surface transitions, the S7 Max Ultra had trouble moving up from hardwood to carpet, and it refused to move up from carpet to a high-pile rug. The s9+ had little to no trouble with these transitions.
The Roborock S7 Max Ultra has a built-in mop with a removable pad that can be dampened or cleaned by its dock automatically. In our tests, we found it good for keeping hard floors clean and free of grime and spills, especially in the kitchen. The mop lifts about 5 millimeters above carpet and auto-detects carpet so it can vacuum and mop in the same job. Mopping is a feature the Roomba s9+ simply doesn’t have.
The iRobot Home app is a cleanly designed smartphone app for controlling Roombas including the s9+. We found its user interface to be easy to understand and extremely helpful, although this sometimes made it a little difficult to discover all the options available.
We also had a hard time finding all the options of the Roborock app, but in this case, it was because the app had so many functions and options, and a somewhat denser, more intimidating interface.
Both apps are available for iOS and Android, and both help Roombas or Roborocks connect to Alexa, Google Home and Siri Shortcuts.
Both the Roborock S7 Max Ultra and the Roomba s9+ have a Child Lock safety feature. This prevents small children or pets from activating either robot accidentally or without a parent or guardian present.
The Roborock S7 Max Ultra has a 5,200 mAH (milliampere hour) battery, while the Roomba s9+’s battery is measured at 3,300 mAH. In our tests, the S7 Max Ultra’s battery lasted 105 minutes before it returned to its dock to recharge, while the s9+ cleaned for 107 minutes. Battery life depends on the amount of dirt and other factors as well, and the S7 Max Ultra also mopped during its tests as well as vacuumed.
The S7 Max Ultra took a long time to recharge, needing over two hours to go from 19% to 80%. In two hours, the s9+ fully charged to 100%.
The Roborock S7 Max Ultra’s RockDock Ultra dock is a large dock that measures almost 20 inches wide and over 16 inches high. It takes up a lot of space compared to the Roomba s9+’s s Series Clean Base, which is 11 inches wide but 19 inches tall.
The iRobot s Series Clean Base is auto-empty only. It can hold up to 60 days’ worth of dirt, according to iRobot. It uses a disposable, sealable bag to capture dirt.
The Roborock RockDock Ultra also uses a disposable, sealable bag, but its claim to fame is its mopping support. It holds two water tanks, one for clean water, one for used water. The used water comes from its ability to wash and dry the Roborock S7 Plus Ultra’s mopping pad all by itself. This capability felt like a luxury during testing and nothing the Roomba s9+ could compete with.
When it comes to cleaning these robotic vacuums, there are several key factors to consider. Neither the Roomba s9+ nor the Roborock S7 Max Ultra should often need to be emptied by hand. Auto-empty occurs every time they dock, although you can prevent this on the S7 Max Ultra via its app. Emptying the docks is just a matter of lifting their lids and sliding out the disposable bags by their plastic seals.
Both the Roomba s9+ and the Roborock S7 Max Ultra have dustbins that lift out the top. In the S7 Max Ultra, the dustbin is hidden beneath a lid that also hides its Wi-Fi indicator and reset button. Both dustbins are washable and come with high-performance pleated filters to prevent dust from escaping.
The rollers on both robot vacuums are designed to be accessible and easy to lift out of their mounts for cleaning. We didn't find any hair wrapping around either model’s rollers, indicating that their tangle-resistant designs work as intended.
The Roomba s9+, which comes with a dock for self-emptying, costs $1,000, the most expensive model in the Roomba lineup. Considering it lacks mopping, this price might seem high. A bundle that includes the s9+ and an iRobot Braava mopping robot costs $1,500.
The Roborock S7 Max Ultra costs $1,300, the second-highest price among Roborocks. For this amount, you get a combination vacuum and mopping robot and a dock that washes and dries the mop pad for you.
It’s undeniable that the Roborock S7 Max Ultra has the Roomba s9+ beat in features, and it is rated as having about twice the suction power of the Roomba. Our testing, however, had the Roomba s9+ as the superior cleaner.
Still, it’s not as if the Roborock was a poor performer. If you’re willing to pay the high costs of these two robot vacuums, we think you’ll find the Roborock S7 Max Ultra a more complete and feature-rich cleaning assistant, while the Roomba s9+ is the better vacuum.
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Jmar Gambol writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.