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Roomba 960 Review

Derek HalesBy Derek Hales
Updated August 6, 2018

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In the market for a new robot vacuum? Well then I’m sure you’ve heard of the popular brand, iRobot Roomba. Roomba makes a multitude of robot vacuums, but for this review we will be taking a look at their Roomba 960 model. This is one of Roomba’s higher end robot vacuums, so it’s time to find out if the higher price point is really worth it.

Continue reading below to discover if the Roomba 960 is the best robot vacuum for you.

Roomba 960 robot vacuum review

%

  • Design 96%
  • Performance 93%
  • Quality 93%
  • Usability 93%
  • Value 91%

Pros

  • The camera on-board this vacuum does a great job of mapping out your home
  • The Roomba 960 performs well on all indoor surfaces

Cons

  • The Roomba 960 struggles with ultra fine debris (ie, sugar) on carpets
  • This vacuum has a higher price tag than most robot vacuums

Roomba 960 robot vacuum

The Bottom Line

The Roomba 960 is a high-tech robot vacuum designed to make vacuuming your home a hands-free chore. The cleaning technology and underlying software combines to create one of the most advanced robot vacuums available today. The Roomba 960 is a great choice if you want top-tier performance.

Design

Identical to all other iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaners, the 960 is built in a circular shape. A small handle is built into the top of the unit in addition to an onboard camera and the mode control buttons. While most of the Roomba’s offer more of a basic look, the 960, as well as the Roomba 980, both offer a more advanced look, featuring their onboard camera and smaller, more aesthetically pleasing handle.

The color scheme of the iRobot Roomba 960 is somewhat of a classic Roomba look, combining black and silver with more of a matte finish.

A bumper ring runs along the top half of the perimeter of the unit, allowing the vacuum to run into objects and absorb the force created between the object and the vacuum, without taking damage.

  1. Cleaning buttons
  2. Camera
  3. Handle
  4. Bumper ring

Image of the labeled components on the Roomba 960

How It Cleans

This Roomba vacuum, much like all of the other Roomba models (see our full list of Roomba reviews), cleans using a three-stage process; loosen, lift, and suck. The combination of the spinning brush, debris extractors, and strong suction helps this vacuum to drive around and tackle messes.

On top of the Roomba 960 is a digital camera, which helps to map out the direction at which the vacuum should drive. In addition to the camera is a plethora of sensors all along the perimeter of the unit. This duo of features allows this robot vacuum to keep track of its location, in addition to mapping out your home for more timely cleaning sessions.

The sensors built into the vacuum cleaner also work to detect dirt and debris, therefore creating a more efficient path for the Roomba 960 to travel in. All things considered, this Roomba has a more advanced cleaning method through its navigation and powerful suction compared to most other robot vacuums we’ve tested.

  1. Spinning brush
  2. Front wheel
  3. Debris extractors
  4. Dust bin

A birds eye view of the bottom of the Roomba 960

Size & Dimensions

The size and weight of the Roomba 960 is about average, with regard to robot vacuums. This specific Roomba model has a diameter of 13.8” and a height of 3.6”. Additionally, this unit weighs 8.6 pounds. The weight is heavy enough to handle object falling on it, but not so heavy that it is an inconvenience to pick up and move.

Roomba 960 robot vacuum Size & Dimensions

Accessories & Parts

The Roomba 960 includes the following parts and accessories:

  • Charging base
  • Filter
  • Virtual wall
  • Spinning brush
  1. Charging base
  2. Spinning brush
  3. Virtual wall
  4. Filter

Accessories included with the Roomba960

Cleaning Tests

The following vacuum cleaner tests are designed to show how the Roomba 960 performs on different surfaces, picking up a variety of debris types. We test on three different floor types, including hardwood floors, low pile carpet, and high pile carpet. For each floor type we test the vacuum cleaner against:

  • Rice – 3 ounces
  • Dry Cereal – 1 ounce
  • Kitty Litter – 3 ounces
  • Sugar – 3 ounces

Each of the aforementioned debris types was spread across our testing lane. The base surface of our testing lane is an engineered hardwood floor. For our carpet tests, we slide in a low pile and high pile carpet insert on top of the hardwood floor.

Cleaning test debris types

Testing Debris – From left to right: Rice (3 oz.), Kitty Litter (3 oz), Cereal (1 oz), Sugar (3 oz)

Our vacuum cleaning process strives to be as consistent, fair, and true to real world use as possible. Our tests utilize the following procedure:

  1. Measure the weight of the testing debris and the weight of the empty vacuum debris container.
  2. Spread the respective debris type evenly across the central portion of the testing lane.
  3. Run the vacuum cleaner over the testing lane.
  4. Measure the weight of the now filled container and take notes on the cleaning performance.

Hardwood Floor

The Roomba 960 had no issues whatsoever with our hardwood floor tests. Each debris types was cleaned up, in five minutes or less, at a level of 100%. This is the most impressive cleaning we have seen from a robot vacuum thus far.

  • Hardwood – Rice 100%
  • Hardwood – Cereal 100%
  • Hardwood – Kitty Litter 100%
  • Hardwood – Sugar 100%

Roomba 960 robot vacuum hardwood cleaning test

Low Pile Carpet

The Roomba 960 crushed 3 out of the 4 tests on low pile carpet, cleaning up 100% of rice, cereal, and kitty litter. However, it did struggle on sugar, only cleaning 52% of the test debris. The fineness of the sugar particles seemed to be more difficult for the Roomba to pick up.

  • Low Carpet – Rice 100%
  • Low Carpet – Cereal 100%
  • Low Carpet – Kitty Litter 100%
  • Low Carpet – Sugar 52%

Roomba 960 robot vacuum low carpet cleaning test

High Pile Carpet

Similar to the low pile carpet tests, the Roomba 960 was able to successfully clean up the rice, kitty litter, and cereal at levels of 100%. On the other hand, sugar was only 49% cleaned up. Therefore, over half of the debris was remaining in the carpet.

After giving the Roomba another chance t lift the remaining 51% of sugar, it was able to grab 21% more, leading to a final score of 70% after two cleaning sessions. Just like on the low pile carpet, the sugar seemed to clog before entering the dust bin.

  • High Carpet – Rice 100%
  • High Carpet – Cereal 100%
  • High Carpet – Kitty Litter 100%
  • High Carpet – Sugar 49%

Roomba 960 robot vacuum high carpet cleaning test

Usability

Using the Roomba 960 robot vacuum is quite simple. Of course, before you can use the vacuum, you have to set it up. This process requires removing the vacuum from its packaging and placing it on the charger. There is no assembly required to setup this Roomba vacuum cleaner.

Once the vacuum has charged up, it can be ran a few different ways; the iRobot app or the buttons located on the unit. Regardless of the method you choose, there should little to no issues getting the vacuum to run properly.

The iRobot Roomba app allows you to manually clean, schedule cleanings, monitor prior cleanings, and more.

iRobot Roomba App

The app is an impressive feature, as you have the ability to never leave your couch and click clean on your phone, tablet, or other iRobot app connected device.The app will even relay back the path at which it took to clean your home, in addition to the time it took to do so. You can send the Roomba 960 into spot cleaning mode, auto clean mode, and even send it back to its charging base all within the app.

When using the unit versus the app, not much changes, except for you have to press a button on the vacuum itself. Aside from that, there is not much more that goes into operating this Roomba vacuum.

Both methods also allow you to set cleaning schedules so that the Roomba 960 vacuum knows when to take off and clean your home.

Close up shot of the camera onboard the Roomba 960

Roomba 960 uses a camera and sensors to clean efficiently

Angled view of the top of the Roomba 960 camera and cleaning buttons

Maneuverability

The Roomba 960 does a great job when it comes to maneuverability. The circular design allows it to turn 360° at any given moment, the speed is faster than a good number of other robot vacuums we have tested, the low profile, and the mapping / dirt detection features create a vacuum that can maneuver around and under a wide variety of obstacles.

Being able to rotate in a full 360° manner means this Roomba can tightly wrap itself around a chair leg, for example, when cleaning. Most other vacuum cleaners will require a few passes through the area to ensure a proper level of cleanliness, whereas the Roomba 960 can drive around this obstacle and grab the dirt and debris in one pass.

Weight

8.6 pounds

Width

13.8″

Height

3.6″

Turning

360°

Speed is not something we usually pay close attention too, but I must say I was impressed with the Roomba 960’s ability to drive around and locate dirt and debris so quickly.

A lower profile also plays a large role in maneuverability. At only 3.6″ tall, this Roomba robot vacuum is able to drive under most furniture and clean areas that larger vacuums could not reach.

Finally, the mapping and dirt detection features both help the 960 to memorize a specific pattern or locate debris and determine the quickest path to eliminate it. This combination, in addition to all of these other characteristics, makes the Roomba 960 a highly maneuverable robot vacuum cleaner.

Maintenance

The following table indicates the frequency at which you will likely want to replace the various parts and components of the vacuum. The following replacement frequencies are what the manufacturer recommends. However, your individual experiences may vary.

The replacement cost and buy links below are based on the least expensive replacement part we could find.

Accessory / PartReplacement FrequencyReplacement Cost
HEPA filter2 monthsCheck Price
Spinning brush6 monthsCheck Price
Front wheel12 monthsCheck Price
Debris Extractor12-24 monthsCheck Price
Battery18-36 monthsCheck Price

Maintenance is key with robot vacuums. When looking at the Roomba 960, you will want to be sure you’re keeping a close eye on the dust bin, filter, spinning brush, and debris extractors. The table above lists the frequencies at which you should replace each of these parts.

On average you can expect to pay around $35 per year in replacement maintenance parts for the Roomba 960.

Paying close attention to each of these main areas will help to ensure your Roomba 960 is performing at its best. The more you ignore these parts, the worse the cleaning performance is likely going to be.

Noise

All vacuum cleaner reviews on Modern Castle are put through our standard noise test. For this test, we use a sound meter to measure noise in terms of decibel level approximately 3′ away from the vacuum.

Roomba 960 noise levels - 65 decibels at 3' away

Roomba 960 noise levels – 65 decibels at 3′ away

Battery

All robot vacuum reviews on Modern Castle are put through a standard assessment of battery size, run time, life, and replacement cost.

BatteryDetails
Size2,600 mAh
Charging Time2-3 hours
Run Time75 minutes
Replacement CostCheck Price

The battery is the most important piece of the Roomba 960 vacuum. If you do not have a battery, this unit does not run. Therefore, it is key to pay attention to your Roomba’s battery life and determine when you need a knew one. Going hand-in-hand with that is knowing where to locate a replacement battery.

Although Roomba does sell a replacement battery, there are several other generic brands that are cheaper and sometimes even bigger than the manufacturers product. Third party sellers typically have a wide variety a wide variety of options available, including the battery we listed in the table above.

Value

Value is an important topic and definitely one worth mentioning. When comparing the cleaning performance and overall quality of the Roomba 960 to its price point, it does offer a pretty good value. For the price, I would have liked to see a slightly better cleaning performance when it came to sugar on our low and high pile carpets.

That said, all of the other cleaning tests were truly exceptional. The vacuum can be ran a few times over the same space and will do a fine job of removing any excess debris.

The warranty and return period are the same as all other Roomba vacuums. iRobot offers a one-year warranty and there is a 30-day return policy when purchased through Amazon.

iRobot does seem to care a lot about their customers, as I have personally had positive experiences with them in the past. Therefore, I would expect nothing less of them when purchasing one of its top performers in its robot vacuum line.

Specifications

Below is a complete list of important specifications and features included on the Roomba 960:

Specifications 
TypeRobot
ManufactureriRobot
ModelRoomba 960
Length (inches)13.8
Width (inches)13.8
Height (inches)3.6
Weight (pounds)8.6
Floor TypeAll (indoor)
Battery2,600 mAh
Dust Bin Capacity0.3 L
CordlessYes
BaglessYes
Returns30 days via Amazon. Varies by retailer
Warranty1-Year limited
PriceCheck Price

Who Should Buy the Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum?

The Roomba 960 is a high quality robot vacuum built to take the hassle out of vacuum cleaning. After putting this Roomba through a series of tests, it became evident that this specific iRobot vacuum utilizes a more advanced cleaning technology than most other Roomba models.

I would recommend the Roomba 960 if you’re looking for the following features in a robot vacuum.

  • Want a robot vacuum with more advanced cleaning – The Roomba 960 uses some of the most advanced cleaning technology we have seen to date. This unit utilizes the three stage cleaning process that all Roomba’s do, but this model also includes an on-board camera and more advanced suction power.
  • Don’t mind the higher price tag – This is not an inexpensive unit. You will want to be sure this vacuum is the best choice for you before committing to it.
  • Want to be able to control the vacuum with an app – This Roomba comes equipped with wifi, so users can control the vacuum through the iRobot app. If you’re looking for an effortless vacuum cleaner, this could certainly be the right choice.

For more information on the Roomba 960 visit Amazon.com.

Last Updated - August 6, 2018

The following logs all major updates and changes made to this page.

  • August 6, 2018 – Updated the review score as part of our site-wide 1.0 scoring overhaul. Score decreased from 95% to 93%
Top Tier Features, Slightly Pricey
  • 96%
    Design - 96%
  • 93%
    Performance - 93%
  • 93%
    Quality - 93%
  • 93%
    Usability - 93%
  • 91%
    Value - 91%
93%

Summary

The Roomba 960 is a robot vacuum packed with advanced top-tier features. It includes memory mapping, dirt detection, advanced suction, smartphone control, and more. It’s a pricey vacuum, but it does include all of the extra bells and whistles. For those who want top tier robot vacuum performance and are okay paying a little more this is an excellent choice.

Derek Hales

Derek Hales

Editor-in-Chief

Derek Hales is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of ModernCastle.com. He is a passionate perfectionist when it comes to testing and reviewing products for the home. When he is not testing new products, Derek enjoys golf, tennis, and PC gaming. Derek lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife, Samantha, son, and poodle, Tibbers.