Roborock S5 Max review: Precision water control sets this robot vacuum/mop hybrid apart

Since launching couple of years ago, Roborock has impressed us with hybrid vacuum/mop robots that perform on par with the category’s biggest brands. The Roborock S5 Max is the company’s latest and, we dare say, greatest offering.

Naming convention suggests the S5 Max is the successor to the Roborock S5 that we reviewed more than a year ago. But some new features surpass even the top-of-the-line Roborock S6 The most significant is a higher-capacity electric water tank. The robot’s mopping function has become increasingly sophisticated with each model. While the S5 gave the user no control over how much water was dispensed during each mopping job, the S6 added a simple switch that let you select how much water dampened the mopping cloth. The S5 Max fully integrates mopping with the robot’s other advanced functions and enables more precise water management in the Mi Home companion app. The S5 Max also adds selective room cleaning, a feature previously available only on the S6.

Beyond these improvements, the Roborock S5 Max carries over most of the features and design cues from the earlier models. That includes LiDAR mapping, 2000Pa suction, zone cleaning, and Alexa and Google Assistant voice control.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best robot vacuums, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.

roborock s5 max suctionRoborock

The Roborock S5 Max has five different suction modes from “gentle” to “max.”

Setup and usage

The S5 Max comes with all its brushes assembled, so all that’s left for you to do is set up its charging dock. Roborock touts the S5 Max’s “Total Water Shutoff,” which means it shouldn’t drip while it’s docked, so you can keep the mopping module filled and ready for its next job. Nonetheless, it has included a plastic moisture-collecting tray to set the robot on while it’s charging. The water tank slots easily under the dustbin and, once filled with tap water, can be kept there, requiring you only to attach the cleaning cloth when you want to mop your hard floors. The water tank capacity has been doubled to 280ml, enough to clean a 2,000-square-foot room, according to Roborock.

Once that’s all set up, you have to download the Mi Home app and create or log in to your account. After you add the device, the app prompts you through connecting it to your Wi-Fi network. I had the S5 Max ready to clean in less than 10 minutes.

To start a cleaning job, you tap a button with three squares and a plus sign near the bottom of the app to choose your cleaning mode and water level. There are five suction levels from “gentle” to “max,” and four water levels including a dry-mop option. Then you tap the Clean button to send the S5 Max on its way.

roborock s5 zones Michael Ansaldo/IDG

You can add cleaning zones to any room’s map.

Expect the first cleaning to be the longest and least efficient, as the robot will be learning the layout of the room and building a map. When its done, the app displays the area the robot covered and the path it took through it. Subsequent cleanings get smarter and shorter as the robot becomes more familiar with the room.

With a room map saved, you can tell the robot to clean only certain parts of the room and to stay out of others. The first is done by adding zones to the map: Tap the Zone button, drag the bounding box to the area you want cleaned, and resize it. You can create multiple zones by tapping the “add” button. To create virtual barriers, select No-go Zone and mark those areas on the map.