The T3 Award-winning Dyson V11 Absolute review in a sentence: a relatively recent model that's been surpassed by even newer updates to the Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner range.
Update: This Dyson V11 review was written at the time of its launch. The V11 is still among the best cordless vacuum cleaners you can buy, but have a look at our Dyson V15 Detect review, and compare the best current pries on each model before making your mind up. The V15 is more powerful, has more advanced cleaning heads, including one with a laser in it (!) The price of it is not all that much higher, too. And now, back to the original review…
Dyson V11 Absolute is an absolute beauty. And a beast! It builds on the success of the Dyson V10, which it very closely physically resembles, and boosts both the power and the smartness of its cleaning, with 20% more suction, a new Torque Drive Motorhead that knows whether it’s on hard floor or carpet, three power modes and an improved battery management system that achieves run times of up to 60 minutes.
This is a handsome strap of high-tech vacuum cleaning machinery whichever way you look at it. But the proof is in the pudding so we’ve called in the dogs, emptied the dusty contents of our last vacuum cleaner test and trampled it in for good measure. Will the V11 Absolute suck up the punishment or absolutely suck? We think you already know the answer to that… Although those with larger houses, or who just like to get the floors clean quicker may want to look at the Dyson V11 Outsize. As its name suggests, it's the V11 but BIGGER.
Dyson v11 Absolute review: Design
The first thing that strikes you about the v11 Absolute is how long it is with the suction tube and floor head in situ. At 1.07 metres it’s several centimetres longer than the Tineco Pure One S12 we happen have alongside it, which may be an issue with some users of shorter stature. Yes, it would be nice to have a Miele-style telescopic tube for a wider variety of user heights, but for some reason that type of simple innovation has yet to reach the cordless arena. Whatever, the v11 feels comfortable in the hand and, at 3.01kgs, it’s relatively light too. This is an excellent thing because when it comes time to remove the floor head and do some above-head cobweb removal, you need something that you can actually lift without having to follow it up with a visit to the osteopath.
Unlike most cordless sticks which are comprised of a T-shaped assembly with the handle and motor above the dust collector, this one adopts an in-line design which apparently greatly increases suction power. The upshot of this is that the suction tube and all detail tools are connected directly into the bottom of the bin where the dust is ejected from. Since the bottom of the bin is as flat as a pancake, it does look a bit aesthetically ugly having a tiny detail nozzle plugged into the bottom. Worse, because the bin is relatively wide, you need to either fumble about looking for the interface or upend the whole unit so you can find it. And when you’re holding it in the air to do some high altitude dusting, you can’t actually see the tool head at all. In our opinion, a conically shaped bin end interface would not only look less Heath Robinson-esque but it would be a darn sight easier to fit the supplied tools and see what you’re doing. A set of LED headlights on the main brush head wouldn't go amiss either.
Those pretty insignificant design issues apart, the v11 is a cracking looker. The injection moulded plastics are stronger than they look so they should withstand a lot of knocks and bangs. We also love the colour of the silky blue fluorescent-style suction tube and the fact that it comes with a clip for two detail tools.
Recent Dyson vacs have all sported excellent bin emptying mechanisms and this one’s no exception. The bin itself holds 0.76 litres of carpet matter which may seem small but is in fact slightly larger than the average. To empty its contents, you simply push down a latch and the outer transparent sleeve jolts down, ejecting everything – including matted pet hair – in one tidy lump. This is an excellent thing because it means you will rarely need to put your hand in to coax out clumps of dusty hair – a common issue with many other stick vacs that simply open a hatch.
Where most earlier Dyson vacs came with built-in batteries, this one comes with a removable click-in Lithium-Ion battery that can be charged either on or off the hand unit. For added convenience, the whole shebang includes a wall mounted charging station. Spare batteries cost about £65 each but they don’t seem to be readily available from the Dyson website.
Dyson v11 Absolute review: Performance monitoring
Some recently launched cordless stick vacs come with more than just a simple battery level indicator. In fact, some of the very latest models are fully sensor equipped. The lightweight Roborock H6, for instance, features a small OLED screen that provides second-by-second battery levels when holding the trigger, while the excellent Tineco Pure One S12 goes even further to include full cleaning performance monitoring – including information on blockages – with a huge and very pretty looking LED display.
The Dyson also monitors performance in real time but its LCD display is much more simplified and features just one button to flick through its three main performance modes – Eco, Auto and Boost. Like the Roborock, the v11’s colour LCD screen also provides a real-time battery level count down in seconds which is really handy. It also reminds you when to clean the filter or clear blockages.
The v11’s three battery modes mean that, on average, you get a bit longer running time from your Dyson. Although we didn’t perform any pedantic tests of its battery usage, according to the v11 Absolute’s clever algorithmic performance monitor, we could have expected about 60 minutes in Eco mode, 40 minutes in Auto and just 15 minutes in Boost.
Dyson v11 Absolute review: Cleaning performance
This is where this cordless stick vac truly performs. Suction power is often measured in Air Watts, a combination of airflow and the amount of power the vacuum cleaner produces. This one registers at a whopping 185AW in Boost mode, which is more than powerful enough for any vacuuming duties though still some way off the 250AW of the mains-powered Miele C3. That said, suction power isn’t everything; in fact too much of it can be a hindrance, making it really difficult to push the vac over carpets and even hard floors (some corded vacs we’ve tested have sucked so hard they pulled the carpet away from the underfelt).
Thankfully, the v11 sails across most carpets without latching on and refusing to budge. In fact it’s one of the most manoeuvrable models in this regard, turning corners like Lewis Hamilton and reaching deep under low furniture and beds. Which brings us nicely to the veritable smorgasbord of tools it comes with; six in all, including a nozzle and a combination dusting brush which are attached to the main suction tube for added convenience.
For both hard floors and carpets there’s the absolutely excellent Torque Drive Motorhead which is comprised of a single high-RPM revolving brush with loads of space around it to prevent clogging. On the front there’s a three-way switch that raises or lowers two little gates for different suction levels. When open, larger items like cereals are also more easily collected. This is the brush head to use for both carpets and floors and definitely the one to choose if you have pets around. In Auto mode it collected more dog and cat hair than we thought possible and even Eco mode performed exceptionally well when used on a hard floor.
According to Dyson, the Torque Drive Motorhead’s Dynamic Load Sensor (DLS) 'intelligently detects brush bar resistance up to 360 times a second and automatically communicates with the motor and battery’s microprocessors to change the suction power between carpets and hard floors.’ We can vouch that it works like a dream; you can actually hear the sound of the motor change as you switch from rug to hard floor.If your home has mostly smooth wooden, vinyl, stone or tiled floors, then grab the equally impressive revolving fluffy head. This soft, velvety number is perfect for ingesting larger items like spilt dry cereals along with any dust and hair. It not only cleans right to the edge but it also gives the floor a gentle buff at the same time.
The third and final Mini Motorised tool is like a mini version of the Torque Drive. This is the one to reach for when doing stairs, dog beds and sofas, and it’s perhaps the only time you’ll ever need to use Boost mode. Although it’s not as efficient as Dyson’s similarly sized Tangle-Free Turbine Tool – as supplied with the corded Big Ball Animal 2 – the Mini Motorised tool still made a fair fist of removing most hair from the dog bed.
Dyson v11 Absolute review: Filtering
Allergy sufferers in particular will be glad to know that the v11 Absolute’s advanced filtering 'captures 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns', making this a valuable addition to Dyson's suite of wellness products, which also includes the Dyson Pure Cool Me air purifier.
Thankfully the rear filter and indeed the whole bin can be cleaned under water so no aftermarket spares are required. To remove the filter you simply twist it off and to remove the bin there’s a hidden tab that releases it for easy cleaning. Just make sure that everything is bone dry before reattaching.
Dyson v11 Absolute review: Verdict
The world of cordless vacs has exploded recently with some truly excellent contenders all vying for Dyson’s crown. On evidence of this particular model, the trend-setting British company still rules the roost. This is an excellent all-rounder for both carpets and hard floors. It excels in all disciplines, has excellent battery life, is a doddle to use and it’s not too heavy in the hand. We even like the faint 'boing' sound it makes every time you release the trigger.
Yes, the price is on the high side, and we’re not that keen on the ugly interface between the tools and the dust collector. Even so, if you’re after a cordless stick vac that packs major punch across the board then this is still THE vac to grab.
- More of the best cordless stick vacs for your perusal