Eufy’s flagship RoboVacs are some of the most loved robot vacuums on the market. They are small, attractive, easy to use, and reasonably priced. I reviewed the 11+ in 2017, and its positive attributes almost eclipsed the fact that … well, it just wasn’t great at cleaning. Today, we will be reviewing the Max Clean Robot Vacuum.
This year, Eufy’s new 11S Max offers the upgraded version of the same small, slim, attractive robot vacuum. Now Eufy claims that it has a max suction power of 2 kilopascals. (For comparison, the Coral vacuum has 2.7 kPa; a typical handheld vacuum might produce around 1.7 kPa.) When the vacuum’s brushes start rotating slower on high-pile carpeting, they trigger the vacuum’s fan motor to amp up the suction power. For such a small, light vacuum, it’s pretty effective at agitating and cleaning my dog-hairy carpets.
My main gripe with the 11S Max is philosophical: It uses an outdated navigation technology. Instead of mapping software, the 11S Max uses so-called bounce navigation technology, which sends the bot ping-ponging around your house at random until the battery runs out.
A few years ago, bounce technology was par for the course for budget robot vacs. Nowadays, even more more affordable robot vacs have mapping software, which is a much more effective, thorough, and energy-efficient way to clean your house.
If your budget maxes out at $200, the 11S Max is probably one of the best affordable robot vacuums you can buy. But if you have room to go slightly higher, you might want to investigate whether you can swing a smart vacuum instead.Lust for Life
The 11S Max looks pretty much exactly like the 11+. It’s 2.85 inches tall, slim enough to fit under my couch, with no threatening red laser eyes or gun turrets poking out of its glass top. To set it up, I plugged in the stand and put the batteries in the remote. The robot vacuum ran for an impressive two hours and took a little over four hours to charge.
The dustbin is an upgraded and respectable 0.6 liters, which I filled up to the brim with dog hair every time I ran it. There’s no sensor to alert you when the bin is full, but Eufy states that most people will probably be able to run the device two or three times to fill it.
For a vacuum with such powerful suction, it’s remarkably quiet. I measured it at 60 decibels on hardwood, and between 60 and 65 on carpet, depending on if BoostIQ was activated. For reference, 60 decibels was low enough for me to watch the season finale of Fleabag while it was cleaning.
Infrared and drop sensors helped the 11S Max do a much better job of navigating than its predecessor. It adroitly avoided the step in my kitchen and navigated its way out of bot booby traps, like my children’s scooters piled in a corner.
In fact, the only household items that gave it serious trouble were shoelaces dangling off the shoe rack and a small accent table with a domed base. The 11S Max spent so much time and energy ramming up against the table base’s slanted sides that I eventually moved the piece to the garage while it was vacuuming. The long hair from my daughter and I didn’t snarl the carpet brush.
The 11S Max does have edge-cleaning capabilities, and if you set the vac to auto-clean, it will combine both random and edge-cleaning pathways. I did see it follow a few edges, like under my kitchen cabinets and along a wall. However, when the cabinet ended, it went back to happily bouncing. I consistently found debris left over in high-traffic areas of my house, like by the shoe rack and under my children’s chairs at the kitchen table.Against Apps
For some people, it’s a bonus to not have to download yet another app and tediously connect your robot vacuum to your home network and your phone. Certainly, I felt that way when it came to Eufy’s Wi-Fi-free baby monitor. Sometimes it feels like a revelation to just plug in a device and use it.
The 11S Max has a single button on top to power it on, but it also comes with a remote that requires two AAA batteries. The remote has manual directional control, along with other functions like boosting the suction power, returning it to the dock, and spot-cleaning. You can also schedule cleanings with the remote, but only daily, not weekly or every other day as you can with Eufy’s Wi-Fi-enabled vacuums.
Overall, the 11S Max is simple and easy to use. But I just can’t get over how hilariously outdated bounce-cleaning is. I ran the 11S Max for the full two hours. When the battery finally started to die, it was in my bedroom.
It beeped sadly to and fro for a while, trying to find the door. Honestly, it stood about as much chance of randomly finding its way back to the dock as I did of finding Atahualpa’s Incan treasure on a map. When I could no longer bear its pathetic attempts, I picked it up to return it home. The button flashed and it died in my hands. It was like a scene from the end of Where the Red Fern Grows.
A mapping vacuum can edge-clean more effectively; it can cover your whole house, and find its way back to the dock to charge. It just wasn’t worth it to pick up all the old Band-Aids and tangled pieces of ribbon in my house and hope that a random robot path might happen go over that spot. And it’s not worth starting the robot vacuum and leaving to run errands, if the bot is going to die under your bedroom dresser and not make its way back home.
After a week, I found myself using the 11S Max as just a quick touch-up measure before friends came over. I could push the 30-minute quick clean button to send it on an emergency sweep for dog hair tumbleweeds while I washed dirty dishes and swiped at the bathroom mirror to signal to our friends that our house isn’t a malarial swamp.
If that’s what you need a robot vacuum for, then the 11S Max is a great pick. Its suction power and carpet brush agitated my carpets enough to fill one or two bin loads with dog hair. It’s remarkably quiet, and it’s one of the few robot vacuums on the market that is attractive enough not to scare my 2-year-old.
But if you need something quicker and more thorough, Ecovacs and Roborock now offer cleaning robots with mapping technology for about $100 more, and I think mapping tech is worth it. What can I say? Bounce is not back.
Max Clean Robot Vacuum
The Roborock S5 Max is the latest floor-cleaning robot by Roborock. The Chinese company specializes in making these electronic sweepers and is known for collaborating with Xiaomi, which is why there is an obvious similarity between Xiaomi’s robovacs and Roborock-branded products.
The Roborock’s primary selling point is that it works as both a vacuum and a mop. It takes on both tasks simultaneously, making for a deeper and fuller cleaning.
Roborock S5 Max specs:
- Suction power: 2,000Pa
- Dust bin: 460ml
- Water tank: 290ml
- Battery: 5,200mAh
- Mapping and tracking: LDS and SLAM
- Noise: 60dB
Roborock S5 Max vs Roborock S6
Roborock may have sown some confusion into its product mix thanks to its naming convention, so we thought a good explanation was due. The Roborock S5 Max succeeds the Roborock S6, even though the latter would appear to be a superior product in name only. The S5 Max is the latest and greatest machine, though not by much.
The S5 Max surpasses the S6 in a few ways. It has a larger 290ml water tank, which is more than twice as large as the 140ml tank in the S6. Further, it manages water more intelligently thanks to the app, as opposed to the physical controls for the S6’s tank. This means you can specify different water usage terms for select rooms or surfaces, and manipulate the flow on-the-go. Another advantage of the Roborock S6 is that it is slightly quieter thanks to its air screen.
Dust bin capacity is slightly smaller with the Roborock S5 Max, but only by 20ml (460ml vs 480ml). Pretty much all other features are the same across both vacs — even the design is amazingly similar.
How to set up the Roborock S5 Max
The Roborock S5 Max is very simple to set up. All steps are given to you in the app, but we will give you the general rundown to give you a better idea of how the process works.
Getting the robot ready to clean takes a few steps. After installing the dock and anti-moisture layer using the included adhesive tape, simply fill up the water tank and install the mopping module. Once you’ve got it pieced together, download the Mi Home app from the Google Play Store.
Open the application and log in your Xiaomi account, or create one if you don’t have one. Pressing the home and power buttons simultaneously on the Roborock S5 Max will reset the Wi-Fi. Then it’s a matter of adding your device, which takes a few steps. I would say I had the Roborock S5 Max ready to clean in less than 10 minutes after unboxing it.
How to use the Roborock S5 Max
Using the Roborock S5 Max is also a simple process, as it does most of the work on its own, but the machine has a few features you can use to dial in specific cleaning preferences. We will get into all of the main ones in this section.
Getting the Roborock S5 Max to clean
The application makes is pretty straight-forward and much of the work is done by the Roborock S5 Max’s intelligent system. Simply select the Roborock S5 Max, tap the button with the three squares and a “+” sign, and select your cleaning mode and water level. Once this is done, select Clean. The robot will begin scanning and cleaning the area.
The first run through of my 110-square-meter apartment took 147 minutes. Times get shorter as the system learns the ins and outs of your home.
Once done cleaning, the app will show a map of the area the robot cleaned. You can tap on the three-dot menu button and go to settings. Toggle the Map saved mode to have the Roborock S5 Max remember the house. The system is smart enough to analyze the map and find improved routes in future sessions.
Cleaning by zones
Now that the map is saved you can get into the fun features, like selective cleaning. To do this, select the Roborock S5 Max within the Mi Home app and tap on the Zone tab. Select an area you want clean by tapping and dragging a square. You can even tap the Add button to select multiple areas. When done just hit the Clean button and let the magic happen.
Creating invisible walls
You can create invisible walls and no-go zones to prevent your robot from going to certain places. For example, I made sure the robot stayed out of my closet, or got too close to the Christmas tree, or messed with my cat’s food and water bowls.
To do this, simply select the Roborock S5 Max within the device list, tap on the Map settings, and select No-go Zone. You can also use the same section to divide rooms and edit the saved map.
Other cool features
Secondary features include the ability to set a timer, send the vacuum to a specific location, use your phone as a remote control, look at the cleaning history, share the robot with other Xiaomi accounts, and more. Additionally, the Mi Home app can be linked to Alexa or Google Assistant to use with your smart home speakers.
Living with the Roborock S5 Max: pros and cons
Living with the Roborock S5 Max was pleasant. I can say my house is cleaner than it used to be, and I spend less time cleaning it. It is saving me about 30 minutes a day, which is the time it would take to sweep and mop my whole apartment.
It usually took the Roborock S5 Max about two hours to clean the whole place.Edgar Cervantes
It usually took the Roborock S5 Max about two hours to clean the whole place — if it could on one charge. I achieved this by using the “balanced” cleaning mode. If I opted for “turbo” or “max”, the device would need to go back and recharge at some point in the middle of a cleaning session.
The manufacturer claims the Roborock S5 Max can work for up to three hours on a single charge, but I honestly don’t see that happening. In my experience it barely got to the two-hour mark, and it did so without much battery left when using the “balanced” mode. Using the “power” mode killed it way faster and forced the robot to go back and recharge in the middle of a session.
I also noticed that using low levels of water left streaks on the marble floor. The floors were clean, but the tracks were annoying. Using the highest water level fixed the issue by forcing the intelligent water pressure system to push more liquid into the mopping module, therefore keeping it more wet. And though I worried this would mean filling the water tank more often, the system turned out to be pretty efficient. I was able to use a single tank each time it mopped, with a bit of extra water left at the end.
The Roborock S5 Max’s silent mode isn’t quiet enough to let the vacuum run overnight.Edgar Cervantes
One thing I will complain about: the “silent” mode isn’t exactly quiet enough to let the vacuum run overnight. I didn’t really notice a difference in sound to between silent and normal, to be honest, so I ordered the device back to its dock so I could fall asleep.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Roborock S5 Max requires a bit more maintenance than your traditional robot vacuums thanks to the mopping feature. A vacuum-only robot can clean a house multiple times without filling the dust bin. This true for the Roborock S5 Max when it’s only vacuuming, but mopping and the water tank necessitate some oversight. You will have to clean one and fill the other with water each time you want to use the robot for mopping.
After a time, it became second nature to fill the water and wash the mop every time the S5 Max finished cleaning, ensuring it would be ready for the next session. I loved being able to activate the S5 Max while I was away, or while I was working. This meant I had to be on task myself with respect to the reservoir.
I loved being able to activate the S5 Max while I was away.Edgar Cervantes
How well does the Roborock S5 Max work?
Despite my few complaints regarding usability, the Roborock S5 Max gets the job done. It kept my floors clean and was able to collect trash efficiently. Its 2,000Pa suction power is no joke. Once I found a quarter in the dust bin, which is quite impressive.
Despite my few complaints regarding usability, the Roborock S5 Max gets the job done very well.Edgar Cervantes
I appreciated the advanced features like invisible walls, no-go zones, voice controls, and the ability to map different cleaning parameters for different areas of the home. The device is smart enough so that you don’t have to worry about a thing once it is set up and knows your home. These are features you often only find in the higher-end machines.
Roborock S5 Max review: Value for money
At $599, the Roborock S5 Max isn’t exactly cheap. iRobot’s Roombas and Neato’s vacuum cleaners can be purchased for less if you go with the entry-level versions. The cheapest iRobot vacuum is the Roomba 614, which costs $274.99, and Neato’s D3 Connected goes for $399. These, however, are limited to vacuuming and can’t take care of your mopping needs.
The convenience of having both vacuuming and mopping functionality in one machine is very enticing. iRobot is the most popular floor-cleaning robot manufacturer and it does not offer a two-in-one solution like Roborock. You would have to buy a separate machine to take care of mopping, and iRobot’s cheapest mopping robot is the Braava Jet 240 at $199.
The Roborock S5 Max may save me as much as 180 hours of floor cleaning per year. To me, that is worth much more than $599.Edgar Cervantes
If you’re looking for a well-rounded floor cleaning robot that can take care of both dry and wet cleaning, the Roborock S5 Max is a great contender at its price point. Though you can get two robots from iRobot for a little less, Roborock will save you the headache of dealing with two separate machines. The S5 Max also has a great feature set and a design that competes against the best.
Most importantly, the Roborock S5 Max may save me as much as 180 hours of floor cleaning per year. To me, that is worth much more than the $599 this machine costs. Want in? The Roborock S5 Max is available in the US from Amazon at a $60 discount. Just activate the coupon in the Amazon page to make a good deal even sweeter.