Roborock S8 Pro Ultra Review: Powerful but Pricey
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Roborock S8 Pro Ultra Review: Powerful but Pricey

Nov 21, 2023

The S8 Pro Ultra is an impressively powerful robot vac with an excellent range of features. But the core cleaning performance has flaws, making its high price tag hard to justify.


Even if you’re familiar with the world of robot vacuums, you might not have heard of Roborock.

The Chinese firm remains one of the lesser-known companies in this sector, despite launching several devices since 2016 and maintaining deep ties with Xiaomi.

Its flagship robot vac might sound like a smartphone, but the S8 Pro Ultra is actually one of the most capable robot vacuums you can buy. With class-leading suction power, self-cleaning and emptying functionality and tons of features, it sounds like a force to be reckoned with.

But how does it hold up in real life? I spent a few weeks using the S8 Pro Ultra to find out, and the results are a bit of a mixed bag.

The S8 Pro Ultra might be Roborock's flagship robot vac, but you wouldn't necessarily know it from the design. Both the vacuum itself and dock are covered in a rather cheap-feeling plastic, with the company's efforts clearly focused on what's going on inside.

It certainly isn't ugly, but there are better looking robot vacuums out there. Given how quickly the white model I tested accumulated dirt and stains, I’d recommend opting for the black version instead.

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

A large disc design is nothing new, although at 9.65cm, it is fairly low profile. Still, before buying, it's worth making sure it can fit under furniture such as coffee tables or TV stands – I got lucky with this.

Few robot vacuums can make it into tight spaces, but that's especially true of the S8 Pro Ultra. A diameter of 35.3cm means it's only really suitable for larger open spaces.

The S8 Pro Ultra is self-emptying, so it’ll never get full if you return it to the dock regularly

The key design feature on the top of the vacuum is the raised LIDAR tower for navigation, but there are also three physical buttons: power (for stopping or starting cleaning), home (to return it to the dock) and mop-only. Pressing and holding the latter for three seconds toggles the child lock mode, which disables all three.

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A flap on the front offers direct access to the dust bin, but this is only necessary when the filter needs cleaning. The S8 Pro Ultra is self-emptying, so it’ll never get full if you return it to the dock regularly. The latter is the only way to fill the 200ml water tank, as it's not accessible directly.

You’ll find three wheels at the bottom, with a small one at the front enabling the device to rotate a full 360 degrees. Unlike some robot vacuums, the rotating side brush isn't designed to be removed.

The mop pad and dual rubber rollers are also fixed into place, but both can lift themselves out of the way when not in use. Both work just fine on tiled flooring and carpets, but thicker rugs may prove to be an issue.

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At the front of the device, a large 3D sensor emits invisible infrared light that enables excellent object detection, regardless of the lighting in the room. The S8 Pro Ultra uses AI to recognise 42 common household objects, and it’ll stop before swallowing up anything over a certain size.

Unlike some robot vacuums, the S8 Pro Ultra is very easy to set up. You simply attach the plastic base to the dock, connect it to the power and slide the vacuum itself into place.

Just make sure you listen out for the ‘charging’ voice message or look for the pulsing power icon on the top of the device. There was some charge out of the box, but it's worth waiting for an hour or two until it hits 100%.

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Once fully charged, the S8 Pro Ultra is ready to start cleaning, with a dust bag already pre-installed within the dock. For mopping, you’ll just need to fill up the middle of the three containers with cold water, either on its own or combined with Roborock's own floor cleaner. Other brands supposedly risk corrosion and damage.

Even if you’ve never used a robot vacuum before, you’ll be up and running without too much hassle

To map your rooms or begin cleaning cycles, you’ll need to download the Roborock app. Connecting the S8 Pro Ultra to the app is straightforward, and it's easy to link it to your home Wi-Fi network.

Provided you position the dock on a hard, flat surface, setting up the S8 Pro Ultra is smooth and seamless. Even if you’ve never used a robot vacuum before, you’ll be up and running without too much hassle.

As I alluded to above, the Roborock app is required to access all functions of the S8 Pro Ultra. It's a free download for Android and iOS, and relatively easy to get your head around.

But before you try out any features, you’ll need to create a map of your home. Mapping my flat (minus the two bedrooms) took around 20 minutes, after which I was presented with a detailed overview of all the rooms it had visited.

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The map it creates can be viewed in either 2D or 3D, while you can also choose no-go zones or a specific sequence in which you’d like the full area to be cleaned. You can create as many maps as you’d like, both for single- and multi-level homes, although I can't comment on how effective the latter is.

Roborock uses an AI system to try and identify any obstacles it encounters. Each guess is given a percentage, and it tends to be accurate most of the time.

The main exception I noticed was when it repeatedly mistook the legs of chairs for wires, but this didn't appear to affect cleaning. If it ever turns out to be a problem, you can manually edit the names of furniture, rooms or surfaces within the app.

That's where you’ll also find granular control over the particular areas you’d like to be cleaned. You can choose the full map, only certain room/s or even specific zones, with the latter going as small as 0.1m².

There's also the ability to send it to a location in your house – a great option if you spot a particular area that needs cleaning. You can either set a pin and let it find the best way there, or use in-app controls as a remote for the vacuum. Both work well.

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

Like most robot vacuum cleaners, you can schedule cleaning for when you’re not at home, either for a one-off occasion or the same time every day/week. There are also customisable routines available, with a full clean of the whole house or vacuum and mop of the kitchen/dining room after meals among those recommended.

While there's no voice assistant on the device itself, the S8 Pro Ultra is compatible with both Amazon's Alexa and the Google Assistant. I tested the former via my Echo Dot, which worked well across a variety of commands. It's nice to not need to constantly rely on the app for key functions.

The array of customisation options makes the S8 Pro Ultra a very capable device

And those are just the core features available. Within the app, there are dozens of different ways to fine tune the experience to your liking. The default options will be fine for most people, but the array of customisation options makes the S8 Pro Ultra a very capable device.

The S8 Pro Ultra is one of the most powerful robot vacuums you can buy. It boasts an impressive 6000PA of suction – that's higher than almost all rivals.

However, you’ll only actually get close to that on the ‘Max’ or ‘Max+’ suction power modes, which deplete battery life quickly. On my tight weave carpets, it did a very good job of collecting all visible dirt and made the cream surface noticeably brighter. On the most powerful modes, I couldn't have done a better job with a regular vacuum.

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

But the big trade-off here is noise. The S8 Pro Ultra is extremely loud in this mode, and it quickly becomes annoying if you need to concentrate on anything at home.

Therefore, it's a much better option for people who are happy to schedule their cleaning for when they’re out. The solid object detection means it's unlikely to get stuck.

Of course, you can drop down to the less powerful modes, but I found them to be far less effective. ‘Quiet’ is only worth it for large bits of dirt, while ‘Turbo’ is still noisy enough to be disruptive.

On the most powerful modes, I couldn't have done a better job with a regular vacuum

I was hoping for the default ‘Balanced’ mode to be the sweet spot, but sadly that wasn't the case. It delivered a very patchy clean of the carpet, missing several obvious bits of dirt and debris. Even for a quick daily clean, it doesn't really cut it.

Fortunately, the mopping functionality is far more impressive. The ‘Intense’ setting is quiet enough to be used on a regular basis, while ‘Moderate’ and ‘Mild’ modes still do a good job if it's not too dirty.

Across all intensity levels, the S8 Pro Ultra leaves floors looking shiny and streak-free. It can't clean the deepest in-ground stains, but I doubt any robot vacuum could.

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

A combined vacuum-mop cycle will make use of the ‘Dynamic Lift’ feature, where the mop is raised and water flow stopped when a carpet is recognised. It's not always instant, but I never ended up with a wet carpet.

Roborock says the 5200mAh battery will last for up to three hours on ‘Quiet’ mode. But you’re looking at about half of that on ‘Turbo’ – a full 63-minute vacuum and mop dropped the battery from around 80% to 10%.

Of course, the most important thing is that it can last a full clean without running out of battery. Unless you have a very large house, that shouldn't be an issue.

Charging while in the dock is relatively quick, too. Within around three hours, it went from that 10% battery to fully charged.

Thought the S8 Pro Ultra itself was large? The dock takes things to the next level. It measures 42.6 x 51.3 x 45 cm, and you’ll need at least 0.5m above and 0.7m in front for it to work effectively.

Given it's also around 9.5kg in weight, you also won't want to move the so-called ‘RockDock Ultra’ around much. Most of my floors are carpeted, with the most logical location being in the corner of my living room. But as I soon found out, the dock is designed to only be placed on hard, flat surfaces, otherwise the robot vac can't find its way back.

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

My only alternative was to keep it in the corner of my small kitchen throughout testing, where it often got in the way of other things. If you also have lots of carpets in your home, it's something to be aware of.

This all feels like a lot of hassle, but it's worth it. The dock's size and weight are justified by an impressive range of functionality. It can automate pretty much all robot vacuum maintenance, from cleaning and drying the mops to refilling with water and emptying the dust bin. It can even clean the underside of the dock and all brushes.

Anyron Copeman / Foundry

In fact, there are only a handful of things you’ll ever need to do to keep the S8 Pro Ultra in tip-top condition. Replace the dust bag and clean water every few weeks, empty the dirty water and very occasionally clean the dust filter. That's it.

The remarkable low maintenance is a key selling point of the S8 Pro Ultra. It takes a lot of the stress out of owning a robot vacuum, allowing you to fully enjoy all its benefits instead.

The remarkable low maintenance is a key selling point of the S8 Pro Ultra

Price is one of the big drawbacks of the S8 Pro Ultra. Roborock is selling the device for $1,599.99, although it only ships to the US.

In the UK, your best bet is to import the device from Amazon Spain, where it costs €1,499 (approx. £1,290). You’ll pay more for delivery than usual, but it shouldn't take too long to arrive.

While there's one spare dust bag, you’ll have to pay extra for any after that, as they’re not designed to be reused. Roborock's own floor cleaner and any other spare parts are also sold separately.

It means the S8 Pro Ultra is one of the priciest robot vacs you can buy. It's more expensive than almost all the options in our best robot vacuum chart, with the Ecovacs Deebot X1 OMNI the most realistic alternative.

There are other premium options around, but it's a lot of money for a device that doesn't get everything right.

The S8 Pro Ultra makes it easier than ever to automate cleaning around your home, but it comes at a cost.

A gigantic dock might look unsightly, but it means emptying, cleaning and refilling with water are all handled for you. It's also extremely powerful, with comprehensive vacuuming that can rival a manual version.

However, that relies on using the highest modes, which are often loud and deplete the battery much more quickly. The sheer size of the S8 Pro Ultra also means many smaller spaces are out of reach.

Mopping is consistently good, and almost every conceivable robot vacuum feature is present here, but it doesn't quite tick all the boxes.

It certainly won't be able to replace a regular cordless vacuum, making the high price tag hard to justify.

As the resident expert on Windows, Senior Staff Writer Anyron's main focus is PCs and laptops. Much of the rest of his time is split between smartphones, tablets and audio, with a particular focus on Android devices.