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Roomba 960 Vs 980: An In-Depth Comparison Review - Which is Best?

Roomba Phone Cleaning App

There’s been a new addition to the Roomba 900 series family, the 960 - in many ways it’s iRobot’s second most advanced robotic vacuum.

It’s the second robot vacuum in their family to have the wi-fi enabled system, which is pretty cool, as it basically allows you to operate the roomba remotely (without control) so it can be pretty much anywhere in the house and you can instruct it what to do - but more on that later.

This comparison of the 960 and 980 - is going to answer the begging question, I’m sure you have - “to go for the 960 or 980”?

  1. Why? We’ll get onto that in detail in just a moment but those after the brief notes on comparing the two:

In short it depends on how many ‘carpeted floors you have’, if you need the extra virtual wall and whether you like the non-essentials on offer? To me, it actually makes sense to go with the Roomba 960. Why? We’ll get onto that in detail in just a moment but those after the brief notes on comparing the two:

- Roomba 960 Roomba 980
Wi-Fi Cleaning Yes Yes
Aeroforce 5 Times 10 Times
Carpet Boost No Yes
Cleaning Time 75 Minutes 120 Minutes
Self Charge & Go Yes Yes
Multi Room 1 Wall Halo 2 Wall Halo
Information from

So with the 960, you are getting essentially an awesome robot cleaner but are actually left with a bit more left over in the piggy bank. Why should those with carpets consider the 980, see just below…

Cleaning Performance

Both the 960 and 980 both make use of the 3 stage Aeroforce cleaning system just that the actual suction aspect is a little different. The 980 will offer a suction power of up to 10 times the air power of previous Roomba models, whereas the 960 is only at up to 5 times (similar to the cleaning power of the 860 and 880).

The actual difference between that in terms of visible cleaning, won’t be significant however - if you tested them side by side the actual result in negligible at least to the naked eye - which is credit to just how good this new Aerofoce cleaning system is. That is, at least until it comes to soft floors...

Where there is a significant difference is the “carpet boost feature”. It only actually comes with the 980 and not the 960 - that’s why if you’ve got a lot of carpet going in your house, personally I don’t so the 960 would just be fine.

See, carpets require a bit more extensive cleaning than a hard floor does as such the Roomba 980 will up its game to increase power and adjust to it - to ensure a better more designated clean to ensure that it really digs the brushes in to remove the dirt and debris on your floors - providing a “deeper clean”. So on carpets is where there will be a significant cleaning difference between the 960 and 980.

With this you will be alter to the cleaning mode as well: eco - running the vacuum at the lower power setting, performance mode - to the get the best cleaning performance and automatic where it will only hit the max boost mode on carpets, but is tame on hard floors (this is the mode by default).

Battery Life

Here, there is quite a significant difference too. Although both robot vacuums work on lithium ion batteries and offer the ‘entire floor cleaning’ whereby it makes use of the new iAdapt 2.0 navigation so it can keep better track of its location. The Roomba 960 can only last for 75 minutes, which is a huge 45 minutes difference when you compare it with the 980.

However, this is somewhat mitigated by the fact that Roomba have integrated a clever new feature where they not only automatically self dock but once they are charged up again they will go carry out the job until it’s complete. So all it really means is that the 960 will take a bit longer than the 980, if you have a large floor space.


As said, the two Roomba models have been integrated with the latest iNavigation technology but of course it still be way of cliffs (so won’t fall down stairs) and because it is designed with a slim line body it means they can get under sofas and beds and what not.

They also have a Dirt detect feature where it makes use of acoustic and optical sensors whereby they will sense particularly dirty patches and use ‘persistent pass’. Which is as the name suggests, the Roomba will repeatedly go over the same spot to provide a thorough clean.

There’s claims that the navigation is now smarter too for multiple rooms, but I’ve watched these things go and I still can’t make any sense of it but they are supposedly ‘seamless’ - well they get the job done but they don’t have as much formality as say the Neato robots do.

Where they do differ though is that the 980 comes with two dual model virtual wall barriers that will shield off areas (Halo area of 26 inches) and items you don’t want it to start cleaning without a physical presence. The Roomba 960 only comes with one - that said if you are desperate for it, you can get hold of them separately (if you require the extra).

Features & Aspects

Everything else is pretty much the same regarding the 960 and 980, the only significant variations are the above. Of course there are a couple of trivial differences too such as a slightly different design, the fact that the 980 weighs about .2 lbs more but the major aspects to be concerned with are the above.

Roomba have been very conscious with customers taking proper care over their vacuums and want to keep it basically to a minimum. They actually have designated colors for different sections of the vacuum that you need to clean. They also come with relatively large bin sizes so you aren’t constantly having to empty the bin (they come with indicators to let you know when it is getting full too).

Both models are capable of multi room cleaning, up to 3 rooms which is obviously a huge advantage over other typical robot vacuums that are on the cheaper end. Perfect with my 880 actually, because I only have three rooms down stairs and when it needs a bit of topping up - which is rarely - I just bring out the Dyson V8.

Unlike most robot vacuums that will find pretty much any cord and get stuck - these Roombas have been designed with anti tangle and escape mechanisms so it won’t eat up your TV and speaker cables. Usually, best to get them out of the way before hand first even still because they do still have a little trouble with them.

Are the extra features worth it?

Like I said to start with the big play as to whether you should go for the 980 over the 960 is the amount of carpet you have in your house? Yes, both perform on all surface types, just the 980 is so much better on carpet than the 960.

For me, I have all hard flooring in my house apart from one room, so in my case it is simple, the 960 is probably the better one to go for - because I don’t have many carpeted floors. Of course on the other hand if all the floors in your house are soft - then you are going to get much more joy out of the 980 than the 960.

Either way, let me know which iRobot Roomba model the 980 or 960 you choose to go for and why.