Dyson is a popular brand synonymous with expensive vacuum cleaners. Here at Reviewed, we get a lot of questions from consumers about whether or not these floor cleaners are worth their premium price tags. In answer, we’ve put all the current Dyson vacuums to the test in our labs to see which ones perform and if any don’t. For the majority of people, the Dyson V11 Torque Drive(available at Dyson for $699.99) will cover all your bases.
The Dyson V11 Torque Drive is a no-compromise cordless stick vacuum. It has powerful cleaning, great battery life, and features you won’t find anywhere else.
The V11 Torque Drive has two major features that set it apart from all other cordless vacuum cleaners: an LCD screen on its back and automatic suction adjustment.
The LCD screen lets you know how much battery life you have left down to the second. This feature ensures you’ll never be caught short while vacuuming between cushions.
The V11’s self-adjusting suction feature is a little more subtle. When you’re cleaning, it lowers or increases the amount of suction based on the type of surface you’re cleaning. This increases battery life and helps keep this Dyson from damaging your floors.
Shiny new toys aside, the V11 Torque Drive is a stick vac that aces the basics. Our testing shows that this Dyson picked up 95% of the dirt we laid out for it. The large debris tests also impressed us: A lot of vacuums just plow crumbs from one side of the room to the other, whereas the V11 has specialized gaps in its brush head to ensure pickup.
The only downside is that the Dyson V11 Torque Drive is expensive. Yes, you’re getting a vacuum that has features no other brand has and its top-tier performance is icing on the cake. However, you can find other vacuums on the market that provide a clean that’s almost as thorough for a fraction of the cost, therefore offering a better value. For example, LG CordZero can stand toe-to-toe with the V11, but sells for about $100 less. If you’re looking for a cordless with a similar user experience, the Tineco Pure One S12 is super sleek.
In our lab, we make our own dirt mixture with grain sizes ranging from silky talc to coarse sand, which we then embed into short-pile and deep-pile carpet.
In a single pass on regular carpet, this Dyson removed 76.3% of all our testing dirt. We normally see numbers around 33% for upright vacuums, so the Dyson’s performance blows the average upright vacuum out of the water.
Unlike the V11, the Animal 2 isn’t portable. You can’t take it outside to clean your car easily, and it’s heavy to lug up and down a set of stairs.
Still, if you’re looking for a great Dyson upright, this is the one to get. Like the V11, its major downside is its price. Yes, you’re getting the most powerful vacuum cleaner we’ve ever tested, but you’re going to pay a premium for it.
Hi, I’m Jon Chan, the senior lab technician at Reviewed. If you clean with a product then it’s likely I oversee its testing in our labs. This includes everything from laundry detergents to full-sized vacuums. When it comes to cordless vacuums, I like models that provide excellent battery life and value.
When it comes to cordless vacuums, vs. uprights and canisters, our performance expectations are different, so we use different testing methods for each category. Since Dyson makes each kind, we decided to break this list into separate contests. We don't, after all, want to compare apples with oranges.
Cordless vacuums: When we test battery-powered vacuums, we’re looking for longevity, ease of use, and powerful suction.
To test battery life, we charge each model for 24 hours. Once charged, each vacuum is run at its highest settings and timed until it stops working. If the vacuum doesn’t meet its manufacturer’s advertised claim about its total runtime, we take note and adjust our expectations to see if, under laboratory conditions, the vacuum can still adequately do its job.
Cleaning shouldn’t be complicated, so we take note of how intuitive the design of the vacuum is: Can we figure out how to use it without opening its manual? We also consider the little things, like how easy it is to use and how quickly we can change a vacuum’s attachments, plug in the charger, store the vacuum, or empty its dirt bin.
To test their cleaning power, we placed 20 grams of sand on a testing platform covered in medium-pile carpet. Before use, this sand is sifted through a specialized mesh to ensure a consistent size of grains between 420 and 595 microns. After evenly spreading the sand across our test platform, we run each vacuum over the carpeted platform once, on max settings. We also check to see if each vacuum can pick up large debris like uncooked rice and macaroni. This test is conducted twice: once with the vacuum’s motorized head and once with its crevice tool.
Upright and canister vacuums: We hold uprights and canisters to much the same standards. Each vacuum is subjected to a battery of tests on surfaces ranging from deep-pile carpet to bare kitchen floors. The carpet tests revolve around the ability of each vacuum to pick up embedded dirt and pet hair. On bare floors, we’re more focused on seeing if a vacuum can pick up large debris like uncooked rice and macaroni.
Aside from cleaning, we also test how easy each vacuum is to use. We check to see how easy it is to lug up a set of stairs, the length of its power cord, and the number of attachments it comes with.
What You Should Know About Dyson Vacuums
There's lingo: Animal, Absolute, Trigger, and Motorhead
Whenever you see a Dyson V8 Absolute or a Dyson V8 Motorhead, you’ll know the difference between them is the attachments included. Typically Trigger and Motorhead models come with the fewest attachments, while the Absolute models come with the most.
On older models, Animals have more attachments than All Floors.
Cordless vacuums are different from canister and upright vacuums
Overall, when consumers think about Dyson vacuums, they’re primarily considering cordless options. For the most part, cordless vacuums should be viewed as supplementary cleaning tools to be used in between heavier cleaning sessions where you would use an upright or canister vacuum, which typically offer a more powerful performance. You’d also want a cordless vacuum in situations where a full-sized vacuum is too cumbersome.
This said, if you’re willing to pay a higher price for the privilege, it’s possible for a cordless vacuum to stand toe-to-toe with a full-sized vacuum—with a few caveats. The top-rated Dyson V11 Torque Drive has a suction force similar to that of an upright vacuum, but you'll only be able to use it for this level of cleaning for about 9 minutes before it runs out of power and needs to be recharged.
In many cases, the only difference between a cordless vacuum and hand vacuum is the cordless vacuum’s long extension, which allows the brush head to reach the floor.
Although rare, some two-in-one–models come with a handheld vacuum that can be removed and used to clean without the floor extension—a real bonus when you’re cleaning furniture or a flight of stairs. The best example of this is probably the Miele TriFlex, which can transform into three different modes to tackle just about any situation.
Other Dyson Cordless Vacuums We Tested
Dyson V11 Outsize
The Dyson V11 Outsized is an upgraded version of the V11 Torque Drive. It has the same LCD screen that shows battery life and adjusting suction, but with a larger brush head and dust bin. It also has a removable battery, meaning you can swap over to a new one when the first runs out of power.
With the extra battery you get twice as much runtime as the V11 Torque Drive, and the Outsized has a larger cleaning path. But, the extra-large dust bin and brush head makes the whole unit a little unwieldy, making it awkward to hold up and maneuver. Combined with the increased price tag, the V11 Torque Drive edges this model out.
However, if you’re interested in a replaceable battery and a cordless that has proportions closer to a full-sized vacuum, check out the Outsized.
Dyson announced that it would stop developing new corded vacuums because of how confident its R&D team was in the Dyson V10 Absolute. But, the details made us skeptical.
However, after spending time testing the V10, we found that its Absolute moniker is apt. The V10 comes with absolutely everything: a powered brush head that’s designed for hardwood floors, a motorized mini brush for cleaning upholstery, a soft brush for hardwood, a combination upholstery/bare floor tool, a crevice tool, a drive cleaner head, and a soft dusting brush for computers and delicate items. These all attach to a 5.6-pound, wall-mountable package, making it one of the lightest cordless vacuums on the market.
Without a doubt, the Dyson V10 puts all its tools to good use. In our testing lab, it picked up 89% of the dirt we left out for it.
It also dominated the battery tests. On the low setting, it can run for 60 minutes, perfect for day-to-day maintenance. For intense cleaning jobs, the Absolute can run for 9 minutes on the highest setting.
If you haven’t noticed a trend, do so now: The Absolute’s downside is its absurdly expensive price tag. Still, if you want zero compromises in power or battery life, this is the cordless vacuum to buy.
The Dyson V8 Absolute is near the pinnacle of cordless vacuum technology, i.e. it’s one heck of a vacuum.
The V8 almost overwhelms with its number of included attachments: a powered brush head that’s designed for hardwood floors, a motorized upholstery brush, a soft brush for hardwood, a combination upholstery/bare floor tool, a crevice tool, and a soft dusting brush. As a hallmark of Dyson's design, the handheld unit only weighs 5.6 pounds.
The brush head is made from carbon fiber and nylon. It’s softer than a puppy, infinitely more gentle on floors, and better at picking up dirt. In our labs, the V8 picked up 88% of the dirt we put down for our tests.
On the low setting, the battery lasted an amazing 40 minutes. (The max suction setting drains the battery in 7 minutes, though.) When you’re done, you can empty out the V8’s dustbin with the pull of a single lever on top of the machine.
If you like the Dyson V10’s sleek design but don’t want to spend as much money on it, the V8 is a viable option. However, the Dyson V8 still costs twice as the average cordless vacuum.
The cordless Dyson V7 Car+Boat wins our top spot for best handheld vacuum, due to its tremendous ability to clean around furniture, tight spaces, and floors.
This handheld offers long battery life, powerful suction, and a flexible set of attachments including a motorized rotating brush head is compact, just six inches across, and designed to resist tangling hair, two dusting brushes, a crevice tool for tight spots, and a flexible hose that extends out two feet for more reach under seats. We understand the high price tag is a little hard to swallow for most people, so if you’re willing to get by with the minimum number of attachments, the Dyson V7 Trigger lacks the Car+Boat’s included car charger and some tools—but costs less.
When tested, this bagless vacuum beat all its competitors on pick-up for strong suction; it cleaned over 75% of the dirt we laid out for it.
Battery life is up to 30 minutes of low-power cleaning or 7 minutes at full power—the setting we used for testing.
The Dyson V7 Car+Boat’s attachments also impress: A motorized rotating brush head is compact, just six inches across, and designed to resist tangling hair. The Car+Boat model also includes two dusting brushes, a crevice tool for tight spots, and a flexible hose that extends out two feet for more reach under seats.
No matter whether you’re doing some spot cleaning on upholstery or going at some dirt in pile carpets, the V7 will get the job done.
The downside is that the V7 Car+Boat model is strictly a hand vacuum, so it can’t clean floors.
Other Dyson Upright and Canister Vacuums We Tested
Dyson Big Ball Multifloor
The Dyson Big Ball Canister is a sight to behold. It has a specialized self-righting design which means that if you take hard corners or happen to kick the unit, it may roll over, but it will always get back up on its wheels.
This canister vacuum also has superior reach. Its skinny hose and small brush head lets it get into every cranny with ease.
While we like the design of this canister, it has weak suction for a vacuum in its price range. It picked up 34% of the testing dirt, which is average, but not what we’d expect from high-caliber Dyson.
The Dyson Ball Multifloor 2 upright vacuum marks a crossroads between the company’s cordless and full-sized efforts. It weighs about 10% less than the Dyson Ball Animal 2 upright and is subsequently about 10% less powerful.
The Multifloor 2 picked up around 64% of the testing dirt we laid out for it, which is well-above average, but it lagged behind more powerful Dyson models like the Dyson Animal 2.
This being said, the Multifloor 2 offers a great value: Dyson engineering and attention to detail at a relatively affordable price.
Tipping the scales at 19.4 pounds, the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball upright vacuum is the largest Dyson we’ve ever tested, but its massive bulk does not translate to raw power. The Cinetic Big Ball picked up around 62.15% of the testing dirt on the normal carpet, which is about the same as the Multifloor 2.
Maneuverability tests show that the Cinetic Big Ball isn’t the best at cleaning under furniture, because its titular Big Ball gets in the way. Even with a foot of clearance, you can only push the brush head in about 15 inches before the vacuum gets stuck.
Dyson makes up for this by including seven cleaning attachments so you don’t need to rearrange all your furniture if you want to clean your floors.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.