The Roomba 960 Vs Roomba 980; Which One is Best?

The Roomba 960 and 980 are the latest models in the Roomba Series and the most sought after Roombas in the market currently. Even though many review websites and robotic vacuum enthusiasts dismiss the duo on the basis of price, their offering is superb. These two vacs come with the best in class features that make them among the best robotic vacuum cleaners in the market.

roomba 960 vs 980 compare

Overview of the Roomba 960 and 980

The Roomba 900 Series boasts a compact and low profile design backed up by the AeroForce cleaning system to guarantee comprehensive cleaning. Under its hood lies the magnificent iAdapt 2.0 Navigation System that ensures precise movement and most importantly, methodical cleaning. In terms of connectivity, there’s Wi-Fi which gives you the power to do more from wherever you are.

However, in as much as the Roomba 960 may sound very similar to the Roomba 980, they are two different vacs. This difference can be best understood by looking at the Roomba 980 as an upgrade of the Roomba 960. This means that the Roomba 980 has a few extras that make it superior to the Roomba 960.

In this article, we are going to compare these two vacuum cleaners. We are going to see what makes them similar and still try to clearly understand their difference also. Bearing in mind that before writing this review we have compared them in real time, we are going to give you our honest opinion about how they rank.


The Roomba 960 and Roomba 980 share a lot of features and this has been the reason why most customers confuse between the two. Here are several aspects in which the Roomba 960 is similar to the Roomba 980.

roomba 960 vs 980 Similarities

Design and Aesthetics

The first thing we noticed on opening the box is their designs. Both the Roomba 960 and 980 have a simple, compact and low profile design.

Both the 980 and 960 stand at approximately 3-inches high. This means that they can easily maneuver under most furniture, beds, kickstands and other household fittings. What amazed us, in particular, is the swiftness under beds and sofas.

The front interface is very simple and easy to use. There’s one large ‘CLEAN’ button with two others beside it on each side. This is replicated in both models.

In terms of design and aesthetics, there is no clear winner. We give the honors to both vacs bearing in mind they offer the same thing.

Floor Priority

One thing we have liked about iRobot Roombas is their floor priority. The company knows very well that it caters to a very large market so it is necessary that they make sure their vacs can clean almost any floor.

We tested the Roomba 960 on hardwood, tile, linoleum and thin carpet and the results were quite impressive. The 960 adjusted very well to all these floor types and cleaned all the dirt without any trouble. The only problem we found is when cleaning carpets and rugs. It didn’t perform exceptionally well.

However, with the Roomba 980, performance on carpets and rugs was unsurpassed. This is because besides the Roomba 980 having an elaborate cleaning system, it still comes with Carpet Boost mode that is specially engineered for carpets. We will talk about this later on in this article. Besides performing well on carpets, its performance is also commendable in all the other common floor types.

When it comes to floor priority, we find the Roomba 980 to be the best because it works best on carpets, an area where the Roomba 960 performed dismally.

AeroForce 3-Stage Cleaning System

Just like in all the Roombas, the AeroForce 3-Stage Cleaning System dominates the Roomba 960 and 980. This cleaning system has proved to be very efficient and effective and is often regarded as the reason for the success of the Roomba in the market of vacuum cleaners. It actually offers 50% more cleaning than in ordinary vacuum cleaners from other brands.

Like mentioned above, AeroForce is a 3-stage cleaning system. In the first stage, the elaborate brush system sweeps dirt and debris on wall edges and corners. Then, the Dual Counter-Rotating brushes sweep the dirt and debris off your floor ready for suctioning. In the final stage, the dirt is suctioned and dumped in the bin. It is worthy to mention that when in normal mode, the 960 and 980 produce up to 5x the air power in average vacs. This system uses AeroForce® High-Efficiency Filters to ensure even the smallest debris are filtered.

There’s also the unique sides brush that ensures no dirt is left behind in the path of the vacuum cleaner. The dirt bin is quite spacious and has an indicator to notify homeowners whenever it is full so that it can be emptied.
When it comes to cleaning, we put the Roomba 980 on top because it has several extras that come in handy in complementing the cleaning system


Typically, the Roomba is known to be fond of using its patented iAdapt Navigation system. This system is known for its precision and accuracy that guarantees entire level cleaning. However, unlike previous models, the Roomba 960 and 980 boast the new iAdapt 2.0 that is more advanced technologically.

Both the Roomba 960 and 980 have the iAdapt 2.0 with Visual Localization for better and more precise navigation. This system uses a range of sensors to map out your house for methodical cleaning. Besides, it also has local visualization cameras that give live feeds on its location and most importantly, guides it from hitting new obstacles. There are also Cliff sensors that prevent the vacuum cleaners from falling off the stairs.
When it comes to navigation, we give the Roomba 980 the nod as it impressed us with its precision during our tests.

Docking & Recharging

When it comes to docking and recharging, your guess is just right. The Roomba 960 and 980 come with self-recharge and resume capabilities for autonomous working.

In the event that the Roomba’s battery goes down, it automatically locates the Home Base® docking station. Here, it recharges before going back to continue from where it left from. This makes the Roomba 960 and 980 very autonomous robots that can manage themselves without being prompted by the homeowner.

One thing we noticed about the two vacuum cleaners is that the 960 somehow had trouble in finding the Charging Base. This was not always the case and so we concluded that the problem would be because of some bug now that they both have the same navigation system.

For this reason, the Roomba 980 proved to us that it was the best.


Scheduling is a pretty common feature that is in most vacuum cleaners out there. This feature allows homeowners dictate the times which they want their houses cleaned.

Both the Roomba 960 and 980 can be scheduled to clean at specific times. You can actually schedule it for 7 consecutive days. We tried this feature and it worked smoothly for the 3 days we set both vacs.

This is another area where it is hard to call the winner as their performance was equal and quite appealing.


Like mentioned in many of our reviews, the latest models of the Roomba are very rich in connectivity, the Roomba 960 and 980 is no exception. Connectivity should be a great consideration when purchasing robotic vacuum cleaners as it gives homeowners the convenience they deserve.

First and foremost, the Roomba 960 and 960 have inbuilt Wi-Fi connectivity. This implies that the cleaner can communicate with other devices via Wi-Fi. Perhaps the most used device is the Smartphone. You can easily and conveniently connect with your Roomba via the iRobot Home App. Here, you can operate the vac, schedule it and receive Push notifications among many other functions.

Besides this, the Roomba 900 Series is compatible with voice-activated control. Recently, with the advancements in technology, most home robots can be controlled with the homeowner’s voice in what is known as voice-activated control. The Roomba 960 and 980 can be controlled using Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. This gives these two vacs great mileage over their competition.

Again, when it comes to connectivity, it is very hard to call because they offer the same service.

Cleaning Modes

Different vacuum cleaners come with different cleaning modes. These cleaning modes are specially designed to suit a range of cleaning needs. Both the Roomba 960 and 980, just like many other vacuum cleaners, have multiple cleaning modes. These are Auto, Edge, Spot and Schedule modes.

The Auto clean is for general cleaning and is activated using the big CLEAN button on the front interface of the vacuum cleaner. Edge mode comes in handy when cleaning wall edges and corners while Spot is for cleaning stained areas or places where dirt is concentrated. On the other hand, Schedule mode allows you to program the vac so that it can autonomously start cleaning at the specific set times.

Here, both the Roomba 960 and 980 offer the same cleaning. However, we will still rate the Roomba 980 higher because of its high cleaning performance in Auto and Spot Clean modes.


Now that we have seen the features that make the Roomba 960 similar to the 980, it’s high time we also discuss what sets them apart. Here, you will find that the Roomba 980 comes with several extras that boost its performance when compared to the Roomba 960. Here is what makes the Roomba 980 superior to the Roomba 960.

Roomba 960 vs 980 Differences

Carpet Boost Mode

Carpet Boost is among the unique features that the Roomba 980 has and the 960 lacks. Just like the name suggests, this mode boosts the cleaning of carpets and rugs.

Carpet Boost Roomba 980

Here, the Roomba 980 brings on board a new and more powerful Gen 2 motor. In Carpet Boost mode this motor can generate 10x the air power in normal mode. As a result, the vacuum gets more suction power which is necessary for ensuring the deepest parts of your carpets and rugs are thoroughly cleaned. This is among the reasons why the 980 is superior to the 960 both in terms of performance and price.
Here, the 980 beats the Roomba 960 hands down.

Pet Hair Cleaning

If you love pets, then pet hair must be your main worry. Even though iRobot suggests that all of its vacuum cleaners are ideal for pet hair cleaning, this is not true. They may be able to clean pet hair and fur but can’t guarantee a comprehensive clean.

While the Roomba 960 can clean pet hair averagely, the Roomba 980 is the real deal for pet owners. First, it has AeroForce® High-Efficiency Filters that guarantee the capture of pet hair, 99% of allergens, pollen, and other particles. Second, it has the ability to handle hair with a lot of ease. The brushless extractors prevent tangling and jamming of hair which is a major issue when cleaning pet hair.
Here again, the Roomba 980 beats the Roomba 960.

Battery Life

Battery life is a contentious issue when shopping for robotic vacuum cleaners and this is why we can’t miss it in the comparison of the Roomba 960 Vs. Roomba 980. Here, we will look at the battery type, charging time and most importantly, run time.

The Roomba 960 and 980, unlike older models, use the new lithium-ion technology. Even though both vacuum cleaners adopt the renowned iRobot® XLife™ Extended Life Battery, they have different charging times and run time.
The Roomba 960 can run for an average of 75 minutes and takes less than 3 hours to get fully charged.

On the other hand, the Roomba 980 has an impressive run time of 120 minutes thus making it ideal for cleaning large floors. The only shortcoming is that it takes longer to charge.

Here, the Roomba 960 wins it when it comes to charging time but on run time, the Roomba 980 takes it all!

Virtual Walls

This is not a major difference in terms of functionality but with regards to the accessories provided. Virtual Wall is a boundary marking technology that uses sensors to mark boundaries where homeowners don’t want the Roomba to go to.

Even though both the Roomba 960 and 980 have Virtual Walls, the former comes with only one while the latter comes with two Virtual Walls.

What We Liked in the Roomba 960?

  • 1. Wi-Fi and Voice-Activated Control – The Roomba 960 beats many other vacs in its price range with these two features
  • 2. Less Charging Time – The Roomba 960 takes lesser time to recharge compared to the 3 hours plus it takes the 980 to charge.
  • 3. Boundary Marking – You can use the provided Virtual Wall to restrict the Roomba
  • 4. Excellent Cleaning Performance – Even though it doesn’t work very well on carpets, AeroForce Cleaning System still offers more
  • 5. Extra Filter and Sides Brush – Bearing in mind that you should frequently replace the aforementioned parts, iRobot included an extra filter and brush for your first replacement.

What We Didn’t Like in the Roomba 960?

  • 1. Short Run Time – 75 minutes is very short for such an expensive vacuum cleaner
  • 2. 1 Virtual Wall – The Roomba 960 comes with a single Virtual Wall

What We Liked in the Roomba 980?

  • 1. Carpet Boost Mode – This mode guarantees deep carpet cleaning
  • 2. Pet Hair Cleaning – The Roomba 980 has been engineered to offer detailed pet hair cleaning
  • 3. Longer Run Time – The Roomba 980 can run for a straight 2 hours which is very impressive
  • 4. Two Virtual Walls Kits – The Roomba 980 comes with 2 Virtual Walls kits unlike the Roomba 960 that has only one

What We Didn’t Like in the Roomba 980?

  • 1. Pricey – The Roomba 980 is quite expensive compared to other brands with almost the same features
  • 2. Longer Charging Time – The long charging hours may slow down cleaning
  • 3. Noisy – When in operation, the Roomba 980 emits a lot of noise especially in Carpet Boos mode

Roomba 960 or 980; Which One Should You Buy?

If you are on a budget, I would recommend the Roomba 960 because it retails at around $200 lesser than the Roomba 980. It offers exceptional cleaning and comes with most of the features that are in the Roomba 980.
However, if you have carpet floors and pets, then, don’t gamble with the 960, buy the Roomba 980 to get value for your money. Even though the Roomba 960 is a great vac, it is not suitable for carpets and pet hair cleaning. For this reason, we highly recommend the Roomba 980 over the 960.

Wrap Up

As we have seen, the Roomba 960 and 980 are very great robotic vacuum cleaners. Even though they may be quite expensive, they are worth every coin. They come with the latest navigation system and are rich in connectivity. Regarding their cleaning performance, the Roomba 960 and 980 are splendid. If you are looking for reliability, they buy the Roomba 960 or 980 and you won’t regret it!
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The Roomba 960 Vs Roomba 980; Which One is Best?
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