We’ve already pitted the Dyson V11 Absolute vs Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 and now it’s Gtech’s turn to take on the might of Dyson’s state-of-the-art sucking machine. Ladies and gentleman, in the red corner, the all-conquering Dyson V11 Absolute cordless stick, and in the blue corner, Gtech’s plucky and remarkably convenient AirRam MK2 cordless upright.
They're both among the best cordless vacuum cleaners you can buy, but they take very different approaches to the business of cleaning. So now, let suction-based battle commence…
Gtech AirRam MK2 vs Dyson V11 Absolute: Two concepts
If you’re old enough, you might remember the sight of grandma pushing and pulling a manual rectangular floor sweeper across the Axminster, fag in mouth and a cup of Tetley’s on the mantelpiece. Well think of the Gtech AirRam MK2 as the modern, battery-powered equivalent.
When it comes to expediency, there is simply no more practical a cordless vac on the market. For a start, all the weight (just 3.2kgs) is at ground level which means it’s a breeze to push and pull without the fatigue one usually experiences with stick vacs. It can also stand up on its own and be collapsed to store away in a shallow cupboard or under the stairs. Put another way, if you had half a dozen vacuum cleaners scattered about the abode as this reviewer does, the AirRam is the model you’ll grab the most. Guests popping round? That’ll be the AirRam. Kids spilled cereal all over the floor? That’ll be the AirRam. Pile of dog hair on the lounge carpet? That’ll be the AirRam.
By contrast, the Dyson V11 Absolute is, like every stick vac on the market, a hassle to store unless you can be bothered to actually mount the charger-cum-storage attachment against a wall. It also feels like more of a rigmarole to dig out for those quick whizzes around the living room, just before guests arrive.
Don’t get us wrong, the Dyson V11 Absolute is the best all-round cordless vac so far invented, because it not only sweeps floors better than any other stick vac, but it can also be used in handheld mode to dust shelves, clean away cobwebs and vacuum the skirting board, sofa or dog bed. You can’t do those last four things with the AirRam because it cannot be used as a hand-held unit. It is, to all intents and purposes, just a simple upright floor vac.
However, when it comes to cost, there is a very good argument for buying both the AirRam MK2 and the company’s Multi handheld unit for dusting duties. Granted, the Multi is not a patch on the Dyson in handheld mode (or indeed most other vacs), but it’s good enough for dusting and edge cleaning. Combined, the two Gtech items wade in at an amazingly reasonable £299.98. That’s £299 and two pence less than the Dyson V11 Absolute. Or, put another way, you could buy two sets of Gtech combos for the price of one V11.
Gtech AirRam MK2 vs Dyson V11 Absolute: Features
The Gtech AirRam MK2 has just one suction level – full blast. It’s not as powerful as the Dyson V11 but its low-slung brush head ensures excellent collection of everything in its path. On the plus side, it also comes with an LED headlight which is a genuinely useful thing when vacuuming in low light areas.
By comparison, the Dyson V11 Absolute is a slice of sci-fi with clever motor and battery management and three power levels (see Performance below). It’s also equipped with what Dyson calls Dynamic Load Sensor – in Auto mode, a sensor detects the resistance of the floor surface against the brush head so if, for instance, the head is moved from a hard floor to carpet, the suction and brush head speed are automatically increased accordingly. We love this element and you will too.
Gtech AirRam MK2 vs Dyson V11 Absolute: Tools for the task
This section should be easy because the Gtech AirRam MK2 doesn’t come with any tools at all. Then again, it’s not that type of vacuum cleaner. If you want to dust the shelves, sweep the car or remove hair off the sofa, purchase the Gtech Multi hand unit at the same time.
By comparison, the Dyson V11 Absolute comes with a full buffet of attachments. The superb Torque Drive is the brush head of choice for both carpets and hard floors; its fast spinning nylon and carbon bristles makes short work of all carpet matter in just one sweep. And if you only have hard floors, consider using the wide velvety roller brush which buffs at it sweeps.
When it comes to handheld mode, this baby has the works: there’s the mini motorised tool for sofas and dog beds, the combination tool for general sucking up of stuff, the crevice tool for crevassing, a soft dusting brush for, er, dusting and a wand storage clip for the crevice and combination tools.
Gtech AirRam MK2 vs Dyson V11 Absolute: Battery life
The Gtech AirRam MK2’s square removable Lithium Ion battery takes about four hours to fully charge and provides about 40 minutes of continual vacuuming. That’s pretty exceptional given the battery’s modest size. Replacement batteries cost £70 a piece
The V11 Absolute comes with a removable click-in battery that’s monitored using a clever algorithm that measures suction performance against battery consumption. You can reasonably expect about 60 minutes in Eco mode, 40 minutes in Auto and 15 minutes in Boost. A replaceable Dyson battery will set you back a whopping £130 but thankfully it holds peak performance for aeons.
Gtech AirRam MK2 vs Dyson V11 Absolute: the bin
Both of these vacs have the best bin emptying systems of any others on the market. The Gtech’s is the work of simple brilliance. You just pull out the 0.8-litre cylinder, flip open the side door and, while over the dustbin, slide a lever from one end to the other. Astonishingly, all the stuff it has collected is pushed out in a single compressed matt of hair, dust and other household impurities. Gtech claims the bin can actually hold up to 2.4-litres of floor matter and this writer is inclined to agree. Another cool thing is that you don’t get your hands dirty in the process.
Where the Gtech’s bin system is a feat of simplicity, the Dyson’s is far more complex in structure yet just as easy to use. Although its 0.76-litre bin is constructed like those in most stick vacs, it uses a system of levers and sliders to remove its contents. Simply push down on the red lever and the outer transparent sleeve jolts down, ejecting everything – including matted pet hair – in one tidy lump. Like the Gtech, it’s an almost completely dust-free experience.
Gtech AirRam MK2 vs Dyson V11 Absolute: Filtration
Allergy sufferers in particular will be pleased to know that the v11 Absolute’s six-layer filter system is said to capture '99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns’. The rear filter and bin can be cleaned under water so no aftermarket spares are required.
The Gtech AirRam MK2’s filter system is a much more simplified affair comprised of a simple but effective tube of foam. To clean it quickly, simply bash it against a piece of garden furniture while avoiding the inevitable cloud of dust. Alternatively, follow Gtech’s instructions and give it a thorough wash and dry.
Gtech AirRam MK2 vs Dyson V11 Absolute: Performance
This is where it becomes very difficult to declare a winner. This writer owns both models and, while the Dyson V11 Absolute clearly provides far more suction power (in three increments), the Gtech AirRam MK2’s performance is easily on par, especially when used on carpet. And this despite the fact it has only one power setting.
Put another way, after I’ve tested a vacuum cleaner for pick-up performance, I usually reach for the AirRam to see if it manages to collect any remains on the test carpet. Time and again it has somehow managed to collect a surprisingly large amount of detritus missed by the test model that had just swept the same area. Presumably its effectiveness has something to do with Gtech’s proprietary AirLOC system which allegedly picks up larger debris on the forward stroke and deeply embedded dust and pet hair on the backstroke. Or perhaps it’s something to do with the very low-slung brush bar which hugs carpet and hard floors with such ferocity that the motorised brush is sometimes able to pull the entire unit along the floor without even holding on to it.
The AirRam’s low brush setting does have an unfortunate side effect when it comes to tackling the edges of a rug, especially if it’s of the loose variety or has tassels on the edge. In a nutshell, if you’re not careful on your approach, the AirRam’s revolving brush will swallow the rug’s edge and everything will simply stop dead. The battery indicator will glow red as if to announce that the motor is in extreme pain and you will have to lift the whole unit off the rug, wait a few seconds and tap the foot plate to start it off again. The secret, I’ve discovered, is to lift the whole unit over the edge of the rug and be very careful when cleaning the edge area. Yes, it’s a pain to deal with but it’s not as serious as a train smash.
Another thing not quite in the AirRam’s favour is its so-so performance when cleaning to the very edges of a floor surface and especially corners. Yes, its moderate suction power will draw any pet hair that’s gathered along the skirting but it may leave a fine, slim row of dust in its wake. Another reason to purchase the Gtech Multi hand vac at the same time.
On the plus side, the AirRam’s low profile and articulating handle means it can vacuum all the way under beds and most sofas. While it doesn’t steer as spritely as the Dyson V11, it’s perfectly okay for general cleaning duties.
As expressed above, the Dyson V11 Absolute is incredible at sweeping both carpets and hard floors. It also steers like a dragonfly. Unlike the Gtech which has just one power band, the Dyson V11 Absolute has three – Eco, Auto and Boost. Eco is fine for hard floors but it’s not as efficient as Auto mode which automatically ramps up or lowers suction power depending on the floor surface. Boost mode is so powerful you’d only ever use it on a deeply soiled carpet or to clean down the side of a car seat. And anyway, it’ll drain the battery in just 15 minutes.
So, while the Dyson V11 Absolute is a stalwart cleaner for all types of flooring (and right to the edge), the Gtech puts in an amazing innings for the price. No it won’t clean to the very edge and it won’t sweep the mantlepiece, but you really do need to factor in the AirRam’s much lower asking price which is about as low as a cordless vac can go.
Gtech AirRam MK2 vs Dyson V11 Absolute: Verdict
If price is a major obstacle and you’re looking for a stupendously good cordless vac that is a breeze to use and extraordinarily efficient, then the Gtech AirRam MK2 has few peers. Its ability to clean carpets down to the webbing is second to none, its bin system is magical and it goes on running for up to 40 minutes at a time. Figure in the handy headlight and wherewithal to reach deep under beds, and you have one of the most commendable upright cordless vacs on the market.
However, if you’re flush and fancy embracing the very highest in cordless vac tech, the Dyson V11 Absolute is the bee’s knees. This beauty has more suction than an industrial window lifter, steers like an angry wasp and its bin emptying system is easily on par with the Gtech. What’s more it comes with more tools and brush head attachments than the majority of its competitors. And that’s something the Gtech cannot claim.
Looking for a different cordless vac? Head over to our Best Cordless Vacuum Cleaner guide