Dyson v6 review:

A large price drop makes the Dyson v6 a whole new Animal

In the charts and pictures below, the v6 is still referred to as the DC59.

In addition to these performance tests, we tested each vacuum's suction power at the floor, via a sealed homemade box with a 1-by-6-inch slot on top and a 2-inch diameter PVC pipe connected to the side. Placing the vacuum's cleaning head over the slot on the lid, we used an anemometer at the PVC opening to record suction power in CFM or cubic feet per minute.

(Click to enlarge)

These measurements represent how much suction each vacuum has on the floor, independent of debris type. The v6 has two modes, a default power and a high power setting. On the high setting, the Dyson boasted the second best suction of the lightweight vacuums we tested in this group. On normal power, the v6 produced average suction, though less than both the Electrolux Ergorapido Power or the Shark Rocket on their default power settings.

Suction power isn't the only key to a vacuum's success, however. The design of the roller brush and cleaning head, as well as how well that brush seals to the carpet will also have an impact on overall performance, but the suction power measurement gives us an idea of the raw cleaning power each vacuum can muster. The v6 is capable of strong suction, but it's carbon fiber brush bar took it over the top in terms of performance. The fibers sit close enough together to trap debris, but they're also fine enough that they release the debris so that the suction can carry it to the bin. For our performance tests, we tested every vacuum in its default performance mode.

Cheerios, 1 oz. (percentage picked up)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Hardwood
Midpile
Low-pile

On low-pile carpet, the v6 was at or near the top of the pack in every test in terms of performance, though the top scores were all close. This vacuum seems to excel on this carpet, largely because the base plate could get over top of the debris. If you expect to vacuum a lot of larger debris like cereal, this ability will be especially important to you.

Pet hair, 1 oz. (percentage picked up)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Hardwood
Midpile
Low-pile

With the exception of pet hair, the v6 was again in the top three in terms of performance on mid-pile carpet. With higher-pile carpet, agitation is important, especially when fine particulates or clingy pet hair are involved. The v6 performed admirably, though it didn't blow us away in terms of mid-pile carpet performance. Like most stick vacs, the v6 might be the vacuum you use for frequent light cleaning, but you'll still need a full-sized vacuum to really agitate your higher-pile carpet to clean it well.

Sand/sawdust, 1 oz. (percentage picked up)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Hardwood
Midpile
Low-pile

Hard floors seem to be challenging for vacuum cleaners. For vacuums with good suction, fine particulates or small debris shouldn't be a problem. Even with the most powerful vacuums, however, large debris can prove problematic, especially if the bottom plate of the cleaner head is unable to clear it. It's a problem that the softer brushroll of the v6 Absolute helped address and one of the main advantages you get from the more expensive model.

On hard floors, without that softer brushroll, the v6 struggled with large debris, but it excelled at picking up fine particles. The latter is a testament to the v6's suction power as well as the fine, closely-space carbon fiber bristles. It's also worth noting that, while it didn't pick up all of the pet hair, it picked up more than half of it.

Closely-spaced, carbon fiber bristles gave the DC59 the upper hand with fine debris on hard floors. While they weren't the best for agitating small debris on mid-pile carpet, the DC59's excellent suction helped to make up some of the difference. Colin West McDonald/CNET

With our standard-sized, upright vacuums, I thought that the hard floor tests, while important for our review, were somewhat unrealistic in terms of practical, real-life application. After all, for cereal spills, you'd likely use your broom and dustpan before going to the trouble of pulling out and plugging in the vacuum cleaner. I think that the v6 would be perfect for spot cleaning in the kitchen or on any of your other hard surfaces. Given it's performance with fine debris, it would also be an excellent answer for dusty baseboards or crumbs under the cabinet.

While it didn't necessarily excel with large debris like the Cheerios when the wand and floor cleaning head were attached, I had no trouble sweeping them up when I attached the combination tool, making the v6 function more like the dust busters of old. I love this flexible functionality.

Human hair was challenging for many of the upright vacuums we tested, no matter the flooring type. If your home is populated by short-haired inhabitants, this will not be a concern for you. If your home is like mine, however, and inhabited by long-haired humans and animals alike, this may be more important. With regards to brushroll tangling, the v6 wasn't the best, but it certainly wasn't the worst. Fortunately, I found it easy to access the brushroll and to pull the hair from around it.

In addition to the more practical tests, we also subjected all of the vacuums to a bit of a torture test. For these lightweight vacuums, that meant spreading 1.25 ounces of bobby pins and small nuts onto low pile carpet. This final test wasn't a performance test as much as it was a test of overall ruggedness. We wanted to know if the appliance would break if you accidentally vacuum over a bobby pin or a coin. The v6 wasn't able to complete the testing because the nuts kept jamming the roller brush. Of the 25 bobby pins in the total weight, this Dyson collected only three into its bin. That said, even with the brush jam, the vacuum didn't break. While it didn't excel, the v6 did pass this test.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Maintenance and Support
The v6 requires the same maintenance of cyclonic upright vacuums, which involves regularly emptying the bin and rinsing the filter once a month, according to Dyson's directions. Beyond that, Dyson offers a two-year parts and labor warranty. This isn't ungenerous, but the cheaper Shark Rocket comes standard with a five-year limited warranty. That's an outlier, though, and the Dyson's warranty matches that of the rest of the vacuums in this test group.

Conclusion

Finally, with the $300 Dyson v6, you can obtain a Dyson machine without feeling like you have to take out a loan. To make things better, the v6 is a very good stick vacuum. You only get one attachment with this model, but the combi tool is a good one. The rest of the line includes more and uses a direct drive brushroll. The top model, the v6 Absolute , even adds a hardwood specific soft roller. Other than extras, though, the engine and core of each v6 is the same.

So to me, shelling out the extra dough for the $400 v6 Motorhead , the $500 v6 Animal, or the $600 v6 Absolute doesn't feel worth it. $300 is just right. Compared with other brands, it's still a pretty costly stick vac, but at least this one's in the same ballpark. Our main issue with the usually competent Dyson has always been price. The v6 fixes that and it's now much easier to recommend. Don't forget about the excellent $180 Hoover Linx in your shopping, but the Dyson v6 is definitely worth a look.

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