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Roomba s9 vs 960 (2021): How Much Better Is The Latest Roomba?

The Roomba s9 is the most advanced robot vacuum in the market, only superseded by the s9+ which mostly just adds an automatic dirt disposal system. Until recently, the Roomba 960 was one of the best high-end choices for a robot vacuum, but with the i and s Roomba series, it’s quickly becoming more of a mid-range model. Let’s examine all of the new features that iRobot added to the latest Roomba and see how far robot vacuum technology has jumped.

Roomba s9 vs 960 Comparison Chart

ModelRoomba s9Roomba 960

Weight8.15 pounds8.6 pounds
NavigationvSLAM Advanced NavigationvSLAM Advanced Navigation
Imprint Smart MappingYesNo
Imprint Link TechnologyYesNo
Suction40x Suction5x Suction
PerfectEdge TechnologyYesNo
Carpet BoostYesNo
Recharge & ResumeYesYes
Full Bin IndicatorYesYes
Automatic Dirt DisposalCompatibleNo
Virtual Wall IncludedNoYes


It looks like there’s a brand new Roomba in town.

Roomba s9 vs 960 Design
The Roomba s9 (left) features a significant redesign from the traditionally round shape of Roombas like that of the 960 (right).

If you haven’t noticed, the s series is the first time iRobot has deviated from the circular design that Roombas are famous for. It’s an interesting redesign to say the least, and it offers a fresh, new aesthetic. The main buttons are also no longer placed in the center, which now features a metal plate embossed with a minimalist iRobot logo. Moreover, its black plastic exterior has a matte finish compared to the glossy plastic of the Roomba 960. Whether you like it more or less than the traditional look is up to you, but it does mark the s series as the start of a new era of advanced Roombas.

An important thing to note here is that this new D-shape isn’t just to change up the Roomba’s image. It’s actually a key factor in optimizing the placement of its brush rolls, suction, and other components, as you’ll see below.

Imprint Smart Mapping

The Roomba s9 maps your home and lets you control which room to clean.

Roomba s9 Imprint Smart Mapping
The Roomba s9 maps out your home and finds the best way to clean each room.

The Roomba s9 uses Imprint Smart Mapping to plot the full layout of each of your home’s levels. This allows it to determine the best path to take to clean your floors, resulting in straighter lines and more efficient cleaning cycles. You’ll be able to actually see a digital map of your home through the Clean Map report generated by the iRobot HOME app, which also indicates exactly which areas were cleaned.

While the Roomba 960 can do the same thing, the big difference is in how the s9 can learn which room is which. You can tell it to clean the bedroom or the kitchen specifically, or schedule when it should do so, via app or voice command. iRobot also improved its optical sensors to scan more data points so it always knows where it is and where it needs to go, and while cleaning, it scans the room 25 times per second to avoid obstacles better.

Imprint Link Technology

The Roomba s9 can work with the Braava jet m6 to clean and mop your floors automatically.

Roomba s9 Imprint Link Technology
This robot vacuum can play tag with a robot mop.

The Roomba s9 can pair up with iRobot’s robot mop to let you have a fully autonomous cleaning system. The two robots will share map information with each other so you can freely let them take care of both wet floors and dirty carpets. It’s one step closer to a fully automated home, but it does require a significant investment on your part to fully appreciate, since you’ll have to purchase the Braava jet m6 separately. Needless to say, the Roomba 960 has no such capability, but as most homes don’t need a robot mop, it doesn’t lose out on much either.

PerfectEdge Technology

The Roomba s9 can clean corners and edges better.

Roomba s9 PerfectEdge Technology
The Roomba s9’s new corner brush reaches deeper into edges.

iRobot’s PerfectEdge Technology is perhaps the key factor in the Roomba s9’s redesign. By giving the Roomba an actual front section as well as sides, the s9 is better able to align with walls while adding more reach to its spinning brush. Its D-shaped design is intended to allow it to reach dirt and debris in corners and along walls better. In addition, its new Corner Brush has finer bristles grouped into 5 arms, compared to the usual 3 on the 900 series, so it can better sweep particles into the robot vacuum’s suction.

Cleaning Power

The Roomba s9 has 40x Suction and Power Boost Technology.

Roomba s9 Cleaning Power
The Roomba s9 is one of the most powerful robot vacuums today.

The Roomba s9 has a massively improved motor that iRobot claims has 40 times the suction power of the 600 series. Compare this with the 960’s rated 5x suction for perspective. Moreover, the s9’s D-shape allows it to have wider dual rubber brushes that aren’t squeezed in between its wheels, resulting in roughly 30% more ground covered in a single pass than the 600 series. It also has a Power Boost mode that lets it clean carpets deeper.

Cleaning tests reveal how superior the improvements made on the Roomba s9 are. It can pick up over 99% of debris of various types on any type of floor, whereas the 960 can struggle with fine particles like sugar on low and high pile carpets.


The Roomba 960 comes with a Virtual Wall Barrier.

Roomba 960 Virtual Wall Barrier
The Virtual Wall Barrier lets you limit the areas your Roomba cleans.

The inclusion of a Virtual Wall allowed Roomba 960 owners to control which areas of the house are off-limits during a cleaning job. It’s a nifty feature that can protect pet bowls from being overturned as well as keep the Roomba safe from traversing rooms that you haven’t cleared of wires yet, for example. The Roomba s9 doesn’t have this additional device, though with its more advanced sensors, it doesn’t need it. Furthermore, with the ability to tell rooms apart, you can limit its activity to specific rooms, negating the need for a Virtual Wall altogether.

The other notable difference here is that the s9 is compatible with the Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal, which lets it empty its own bin automatically when it returns to its home base to recharge. Note though that the Clean Base comes with the s9+ only, which costs around 30% more than the s9.


The Roomba s9 offers topnotch mapping and cleaning features, but at a steep price.

The new iRobot Roomba s9 can do everything the Roomba 960 does, only better. It moves smarter around your home and cleans floors even more thoroughly. However, all of its improvements and additional features come at a huge cost — the s9 costs almost twice as much as the 960. Whether the daunting price difference is worth it depends entirely on your cleaning needs and preferences.

If you want the smartest robot vacuum that money can buy, you’ll want the Roomba s9. It’s fantastic if you have a complex floor plan with a lot of difficult-to-reach corners or a lot of high pile carpeting. You’ll also be able to tell Alexa to “clean the kitchen at 9 PM” while you’re away on business, the ultimate in hands-free home automation.

If all of those sound unnecessary to you and cost is a big consideration, the Roomba 960 is a great mid-range option. It has impressive cleaning performance and efficient navigation, and it can also be controlled via voice command or smartphone, albeit not in as specific a manner. There’s a reason the Roomba 960 is one of iRobot’s most highly-rated models, and at its current price, it’s truly the better value.

Last update on 2022-06-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.