Two of the most popular cordless vacuums are the Gtech AirRam Mk2 and Dyson V8. In this article, we compare the two models to help you make the right choice for your home.
The UK cordless vacuum market is fiercely competitive at the moment.
Since the original AirRam was released, cordless vacs have quickly grown in popularity. This has been helped by improvements in suction power and battery life.
In recent years, Dyson has moved ahead of most brands with its V6, V7 and V8 ranges. Companies such as Gtech, Hoover and others are producing some excellent models though – and often at lower prices.
This is good news for consumers, but it can make it hard to decide which is the best option. Choosing is made more difficult by the "marketing speak" used by vacuum manufacturers.
Comparison of the Dyson V8 and AirRam Mk2
The AirRam Mk2 and V8 are both cordless models that are designed to rival full-size vacuum cleaners. They are very different in design, features and price though. Here’s an overview of some of the most important differences.
Floor cleaning only
No Hands Ejector
No Hands Ejector
40 minutes (without motorised tool)
Tools & Accessories
Handheld mode, mini motorised tool, combination tool, crevice tool
Great for floors, but lacks the versatility of other cordless vacuums. Also struggles with pet hair - but available for a great price.
The best cordless vacuum on the market. Excels on all floors - especially if you get the Soft Roller floor head. Very expensive though.
Before we discuss the features of each vacuum, it’s important to understand the various versions available.
At the time of writing, there are two versions of the AirRam Mk2: the basic model and K9 version. The only differences are the K9 is built with reinforced components and has a scented tab to hide pet odours.
There are three Dyson V8 models: Animal, Absolute and Total Clean. The Animal is the basic version that comes with a direct-drive floor head. The Total Clean and Absolute have an additional “Soft Roller” head for hard floors. You can read our comparison of the Absolute and Animal here for more information about how these models compare.
Did you know...
It's fair to say Dyson and Gtech aren't the best of friends. Dyson, for example, was forced to remove an advert in 2015 comparing the original AirRam to one of its cordless vacuums, as it was deemed misleading. This hasn't stopped Dyson making direct comparisons between its vacuums and other brands though.
Design and Weight
Every recent Dyson cordless vacuum, including the DC59, V6, V7 and V8, aims to combine the best of stick and handheld vacuum cleaners. When in stick mode, the rigid tube provides a wider cleaning radius and attaches to the pivoting floor head. But when the tube is detached, the V8 doubles as a powerful handheld.
While the AirRam Mk2 doesn’t have a detachable handheld, it still features a unique design. Both the dust canister and motor are in the floor head, so suction is generated close to the floor. Instead of a regular dust canister, the AirRam also compresses dust and dirt into “bales.”
A feature we like on the AirRam is the flexible steering. This, combined with the low-profile design, makes it easy to clean floors.
In terms of weight, the Dyson is a lighter vacuum. The AirRam Mk2 weighs 3.5kg, while the V8 Absolute has a weight of 2.61kg. This might not sound like a big difference, but is noticeable during extended cleaning sessions.
When it comes to versatile design, the V8 is the clear winner. The AirRam is convenient for floor cleaning though.
This section is a tie, as both vacuums have "hands free" emptying systems.
The Dyson V8 comes with the company’s new “No Touch” emptying system. Instead of relying on gravity to remove dust and dirt, you use a lever to force it out. This is an improvement on the V6, as dust often gets stuck in this model.
Gtech has included a similar feature on the AirRam Mk2. After removing the dust bin, there’s a slider that forces dust and dirt out and into the bin.
Cleaning Performance and Suction Power
When it comes to raw suction power, the Dyson V8 is the clear winner. It’s built with the company’s new V8 motor that provides even more suction than the already powerful V6. Dyson has even tested it (in Max mode) against various other models and claims it has twice the suction of any other cordless stick vac.
In fact, Dyson has compared the two models and found the V8 has 10 times the suction power of the Mk2. This isn’t a completely fair test, however, as the V8 was tested in MAX mode, which greatly reduces run-time.
Despite Dyson's implications, the AirRam Mk2 isn’t a weak vacuum. It provides ample suction for most tasks - but it's not as powerful as the V8.
The AirRam does a fantastic job of cleaning hard floors. The strong suction removes dust and dirt hidden between floorboards, which is important as there aren’t any accessories included. It’s also decent on carpets – as long as you don’t have pets (more on that in a minute).
The Dyson V8 is also excellent on hard floors – especially if you buy the Absolute or Total Clean with the Soft Roller floor head. Its suction power and direct-drive cleaner head (which provides 150% more power than the V6) also come in handy on carpets, where it does a great job of removing dirt, hair and dust.
The AirRam is marginally better when it comes to edge cleaning though. Its floor head is designed to provide suction at the sides, which can save time and allows you to clean in corners. The V8’s direct-drive floor head doesn’t quite match the AirRam’s edge cleaning, but it can convert to a handheld to clean missed areas.
This category goes to the Dyson by default, as the Gtech doesn’t come with any tools for above-floor cleaning. There’s no hose or ability to convert to a handheld, so it’s purely for floor cleaning.
The Dyson, on the other hand, excels at cleaning your entire home. The detachable handheld is great for stairs, while the lightweight design allows you to clean above furniture. If you opt for the Total Clean version, you also get handy tools such as a flexible crevice tool and “Up Top” adaptor.
If you want to clean more than just floors with your cordless vacuum, the Dyson V8 (or any of the Dyson cordless range) is the clear winner.
One of the criticisms we mentioned in our Gtech AirRam Mk2 review is that it struggles to pick-up pet hair. The K9 version doesn’t solve this issue.
In contrast, the direct-drive cleaner head of the V8 can dig into carpets and remove plenty of pet hair. It’s the clear winner if you have a dog, cat or other animal in the house.
Both the Gtech AirRam Mk2 and Dyson V8 are listed as having a 40-minute run-time. So, this category appears to be a draw.
Or is it?
The V8’s run-time is only when you don’t use a motorised floor tool. Most of the time, you’ll want to clean with the direct-drive cleaner head, which reduces run-time.
The AirRam also wins when it comes to charge time. You can fully recharge it in around four hours, while the V8 takes approximately 5.5 hours.
This category is difficult to call, as both the vacuums have decent filtration for a cordless vacuum.
The Dyson V8 is built with the company’s “Whole Machine Filtration.” This is only found on the V8 series – it’s not available on the V6 or V7. The filtration system provides excellent allergen retention.
The AirRam Mk2 is no slouch when it comes to filtration either. The unique design, which places the dust bin inside the floor head, prevents much dust escaping. Most of what gets through is then caught by the filter.
Tools and Accessories
This is another category that goes to the Dyson by default, as the Gtech AirRam doesn’t include any tools or accessories.
The tools included with the V8 depend on the version you buy. All models include a miniature motorised tool, which is great for cleaning pet hair on stairs or upholstery, and a docking station for charging. There's also a combination tool, rigid crevice tool, soft dusting brush, “Up Top” tool and flexible crevice tool depending on the model.
Price is a category where the Gtech AirRam Mk2 is the clear winner. The RRP of the entry-level V8 Animal is £469.99 according to the Dyson website – and the Total Clean and Absolute cost even more. This is eye-wateringly expensive for a cordless vacuum.
In contrast, the AirRam has an RRP of £200. This is still expensive, but nowhere near the price of the V8.
So, which should you buy – the Gtech or Dyson?
In our opinion, the Dyson V8 is clearly the superior vacuum. It has stronger suction power, does a great job on pet hair, cleans almost any surface effectively and is far more versatile. If you can afford it, we highly recommend the V8.
But that brings us to the biggest drawback of the V8: the price. If you only want to clean floors and don’t want to spend over £400, the Gtech AirRam Mk2 is a good alternative – as long as you don’t have pets. The lack of tools means it isn’t suitable for cleaning furniture or cars though.
If the V8 costs too much but you need more versatility than the AirRam can provide, the Dyson V6 Absolute is an excellent alternative that’s much cheaper than the V8 – but be aware of the shorter run-time.