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Dyson V10 Absolute vs Animal vs Motorhead

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Dyson V10 Absolute vs Animal vs MotorheadSo you’ve decide to buy a V10!  Well don't - at least until you understand the strengths and weaknesses of each model.  It can be a little confusing given that there are three popular models with rather non-descript names – the Absolute, the Animal and the Motorhead.  So which one is right for you?  
 

Three Models

There are three popular Dyson V10 models – the Absolute, the Animal, and the Motorhead.  The Absolute is the top-end model and the Motorhead is the most affordable model.  The Absolute and Animal machines are identical with just a slight difference in the tool set.  The Motorhead has fewer tools than both the Absolute and Animal, and there are also some physical differences in the vacuum itself.
 
So what do you get with each model?
 
ABSOLUTE
• Dyson V10 vacuum
• Docking station (wall mount)
• Combination nozzle
• Crevice tool
• Mini motorized tool
• Dusting brush
Soft roller cleaner head
Torque drive cleaner head
 
ANIMAL
• Dyson V10 vacuum
• Docking station (wall mount)
• Combination nozzle
• Crevice tool
• Mini motorized tool
• Dusting brush
Torque drive cleaner head
 
MOTORHEAD
• Dyson V10 vacuum
• Docking station (wall mount)
• Combination nozzle
• Crevice tool
Direct drive cleaner head
 
What about vacuum physical differences?
 
ABSOLUTE
• Copper colored wand (although blue and black are available), grey cyclones
• Weight = 5.9 lbs
• Dust canister capacity = 0.20 gallons
 
Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute
 
ANIMAL
• Purple colored wand, purple cyclones
• Weight = 5.9 lbs
• Dust canister capacity = 0.20 gallons
 
Dyson Cyclone V10 Animal
 
MOTORHEAD
• Red colored wand, red Cyclones
• Weight = 5.5 lbs
• Dust canister capacity = 0.14 gallons
 
Dyson Cyclone V10 Motorhead 

Battery

The battery is the same for all the V10 models.  It has the following specifications:
- 7-cell Lithium Ion Battery Pack
- 25.2 V
- 20.8 A
- 2600 mAh
- 66 Wh
 
We like that all three models, the Absolute/Animal/Motorhead, have three charging lights.  Multiple charging lights provide an indication of remaining battery charge.  This is not available on the V7 but is standard on the V8.  The V10 also has a couple of warning lights (a blockage light and a filter issue light). None of the other Dyson stick vacuum series have warning lights.
 
V10 charging lights
 
Battery recharge time for all the V10 models is 3.5 hours (in other words it takes 3.5 hours to charge a fully depleted battery). 

Suction Power

Each V10 model has 3 power settings – low, medium, and, maximum.  Power is adjusted by a slider on the top of the handheld component of the vacuum (see image of Motorhead below).
 
Dyson cyclone v10 power switch
 
According to Dyson all three models have the same suction statistics.  They are provided in the table below:
 
  Suction
Low Power  15.8 Air Watts
Medium Power  33.8 Air Watts
Maximum Power  151 Air Watts
 

Run Times

Following are the official run times (according to Dyson) for the V10s.
 
  Non-Powered Tools Powered Cleaner Head
Low Power  60 minutes  35 minutes
Medium Power  30 minutes  20 minutes
Maximum Power  6 minutes  6 minutes
 
We have actually tested the run times for the V10 Absolute with the powered cleaner head and you can see the test results in our article Dyson V10/V8/V7/V6 Battery Life.  This is worth a look as results are surprising.

Cleaner Heads

One would expect the V10 cleaning performance to be pretty much the same for the three models.  But remember that the Motorhead uses a different cleaner head than the Absolute and the Animal, and the Absolute comes with the special soft roller cleaner head for smooth flooring. 
 
Dyson V10 cleaner heads
 
Do the different cleaner heads make any difference? We did a few tests.

Cleaning Comparison - Carpet

We created debris from a carefully weighed amount of split peas (large, heavyish), chili flakes (lightweight), flax seeds (small), and ground cheerios (powder-like). Each component was weighed independently so the mix of the debris was identical from test to test.
 
We put this debris down in a 5 ft long strip on our low pile carpet and ran each vacuum over it in an approximate 10 second pass.  We then measured pickup as a percentage (by carefully emptying everything collected in the dust canister and comparing the weight to what was initially laid on the carpet). 
 
V10 Carpet Tests
 
As the Absolute and Animal are essentially the same machine we tested the Motorhead against the Absolute.  We also ran a few different configurations, those we felt could possibly make a difference – such as torque drive cleaner head set to the middle, torque drive cleaner head set to max, and doing both a forward and backward pass.
 
Findings were as follows:
 
Test % Pickup
Motorhead 94.1
Motorhead (1 forward pass + 1 backward pass) 97.1
Absolute (torque drive set to middle) 92.8
Absolute (torque drive set to max) 93.0
Absolute (1 forward pass +  backward pass) 95.7
 
Tests were performed multiple times and while the numbers did shift a bit from test to test we found that the V10 Motorhead, with its direct drive cleaner head, had better pickup of our debris on the low pile carpet than the Absolute with its torque drive cleaner head.
 
WINNER: DIRECT DRIVE CLEANER HEAD

Cleaning Comparison - Bare Floor

We performed a test, similar to the carpet test, on a tile floor.  The tests results are shown below:
 
Test % Pickup
Motorhead 92.5
Absolute (torque drive set to middle) 86.3

Absolute (torque drive set to max)

87.0
Absolute (soft roller cleaner head) 99.6
 
Again, the direct drive cleaner head on the Motorhead outperformed the torque drive cleaner head on the Absolute.  However when we switched the Absolute over to the soft roller cleaner head, the difference in performance was very apparent.  The soft roller cleaner head performed almost perfectly and showed why it is the tool to own if you have lots of bare floor cleaning to do.
 
You may wonder why we didn’t do the forward and backward pass test on the tile.  We felt, given the results on carpet, that this was not going to make any material difference so we simply left it out.
 
WINNER: SOFT ROLLER CLEANER HEAD. Also, the direct drive cleaner head outperfromed the torque drive cleaner head.

Filtration

All V10 models come with the same HEPA filter and a sealed system.  The HEPA filter is easy to remove, it can be rinsed in water, and it is easy to attach back onto the vacuum.  The sealed system ensures that only clean air is exhausted back into the room.  Filtration on these machines is very good.


Dyson V10 Motorhead HEPA filter

Noise Level

The Animal and Absolute are essentially the same machine.  Noise tests on the Absolute produced the following results:
 
  Noise Level
Low Power  63.2 decibels
Medium Power  71.4 decibels
Maximum Power  72.5 decibels
 
The Motorhead has a few slightly different characteristics from the other two models so we did some separate noise tests on this unit.  Results are below:
 
  Noise Level
Low Power  63.9 decibels
Medium Power  72.1 decibels
Maximum Power  72.4 decibels
 
Our conclusion is that the V10 models are pretty much the same in terms of noise level.  It is possible that the Motorhead is a tiny bit noisier but this is not something noticeable when you are actually cleaning with the vacuums, but is rather something that may show when using a sensitive meter.

Weight

It is always nice to have a lighter vacuum cleaner.  A lighter machine is generally easy to move, to maneuver, and to lift.  And in the case of the V10’s the Motorhead is 0.4 lbs lighter (6.8%) than the Absolute and Animal.
 
V10 Absolute = 5.9 lbs
V10 Animal = 5.9 lbs
V10 Motorhead = 5.5 lbs

Dust Canister

The dust canister on the Absolute and Animal is the same size at 0.20 gallons. The dust canister on the Motorhead is smaller at 0.14 gallons (about 30% smaller than the Absolute/Animal canister).
 
v10 motorhead vs v10 absolute dust canister
 
A smaller dust canister can be annoying if you are doing a lot of cleaning.  You have to empty it more frequently.  However, it does have a few advantages.  We find the Motorhead easier to empty than its two big brothers.  And we find the Motorhead handheld component easier to wield (the smaller dust canister makes the component more compact).  The handheld units on the Absolute and Animal are a bit large and feel a little awkward.

Warranty & Costs

All V10 models carry the same 2-year warranty. Costs are tricky to nail down as they vary from retail outlet to retail outlet and they also tend to go down over time.  However we’ve made our best guesses at this time.
Absolute = $600
Animal = $500
Motorhead = $400
 
Current prices on Amazon can be seen in the links below:

Verdict 

If you have mostly carpet or entirely carpet: Get the V10 Motorhead
- You don’t need the soft roller cleaner head that comes with the Absolute.
- In our tests the direct drive cleaner head performed better on both carpet and bare floors than the torque drive cleaner head.
- It is less expensive than the Absolute or the Animal (see current Motorhead prices on Amazon).
 
Caveats:
- If you do lots of cleaning you will have to empty the small Motorhead canister more often
- You will not get the mini motorized tool (handy for removing pet hair from upholstery and cramped areas where the full size cleaner head cannot be used.  It can also be useful for doing stairs and even for cleaning a mattress.) If you absolutely want this tool then buy it separately.
 
If you have mostly bare floors or entirely bare floors: Get the V10 Motorhead then buy the soft roller cleaner head separately.
- The soft roller cleaner head is superior to all the other cleaner heads when it comes to dealing with bare floors.
- Getting the Motorhead and the soft roller cleaner head should cost less than getting the Absolute (see current Absolute prices on Amazon).
- Even if you have mostly bare floors why not get the direct drive cleaner head as it performed better on both carpet and bare floors in our tests.
 
Caveats:
- We’ve noticed lately that the soft roller cleaner head is sometimes out of stock on Dyson.com and prices keep going up on Amazon.  Only consider this cleaner head if you can get a good price (if not you may want to opt for the V10 Absolute).
- If you do lots of cleaning you will have to empty the small Motorhead canister more often
- You will not get the mini motorized tool (handy for removing pet hair from upholstery and cramped areas where the full size cleaner head cannot be used.  It can also be useful for doing stairs and even for cleaning a mattress.) If you absolutely want this tool then buy it separately.
 
NOTE: If you are trying to decide between the V7 and the V8 then check out our Dyson V7 vs V8 comparison.
 
 
 

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About Me

Hello!

I'm Nigel Russco, a 50 year old professional engineer originally from the west coast of Canada.  I love to review vacuums and I’ve been doing just that since 2008.  

I make every effort to write unbiased, intelligent vacuum cleaner reviews and I provide average consumer ratings for each and every vacuum cleaner I investigate.  My ultimate goal is to ensure you find the best vacuum for your cleaning needs.  

I also like to help when I can so feel free to send comments.


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