Air purifiers are fundamentally simple machines—little more than a fan and a filter—but a great one can improve your life by reducing airborne allergens such as pollen and mold spores and capturing bacteria, viruses, and smoke from wildfires and other sources.
To qualify as great, however, an air purifier doesn’t just need to work well; it also needs to be robustly engineered and thoughtfully designed.
To us, that means the air purifier should be powerful enough to clean the air in a large living room or playroom, quiet and dark enough for you to sleep near the machine in a bedroom, and inexpensive enough that it’s reasonable to have several units spread throughout your home.
After nine years, during which we’ve tested more than 50 different air purifiers, we believe that the exceptional Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty is the best among them—as we have since 2015.
That said, as strong as the Mighty is, its performance is not as singular as it once was, and in recent years many other air purifiers have closely approached our high standards. If you prefer the looks, cost, or other features of our also-great picks, know that they match this Coway model in purifying performance.
Within 30 minutes, the Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty reduced heavy smoke pollution in a 135-square-foot, 1,215-cubic-foot New York office by as much as 99.6%. In past tests, it performed equally well in a 200-square-foot, 1,600-cubic-foot New York bedroom. And when we tested it during ongoing smoke conditions in a vast Los Angeles conference room of nearly 10,000 cubic feet—more than twice as large as the AP-1512HH’s specs would seemingly allow—it cut particulate pollution by almost 70% in an hour. It’s a great value at an up-front price often lower than $200, and its energy efficiency and only-once-a-year filter replacement keep its running costs lower than those of many competitors. The AP-1512HH’s compact form, quiet operation, and ability to shut off its display lights make it especially well suited to bedrooms. During our long-term use, we’ve repeatedly confirmed that it performs like new even with filters used continuously for a year or longer.
The Coway Airmega 200M is made by the same company as the Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty and is virtually identical to it in every important respect, namely the controls, noise, and performance. Their filters and even their faceplates are interchangeable. And like the AP-1512HH, the 200M lets you completely shut off its display lights, something we value highly for bedroom use. The 200M has a square grille rather than a round one, but that’s the only major physical difference. If you prefer the 200M’s looks or if you find it at a better price, we recommend it just as highly.
The Winix 5500-2 is an exceptional performer on particulates, capturing 99.9% of the smoke in our test room in just 30 minutes on high. That’s actually marginally better (as in, 0.3% better) than the results we got from the Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty, but in practice the difference is insignificant: Both machines, when used continuously as they are in most homes, drop particulates to near zero in under an hour and keep them there. We still prefer the AP-1512HH for its lower energy consumption, smaller visual footprint, and manual display-shutoff feature—the Winix’s display shuts off only when it’s on its lowest fan speed, so if you want a dark bedroom, you have to give up a lot of air filtration—but it’s a close race. The similar 5300-2 and C535 (which is exclusive to the Winix store and Walmart) lack a few of the 5500-2’s features but perform just as well and may be available at lower prices.
Another Winix air purifier, the Winix AM90, uses the same HEPA filter as the 5500-2 and delivered virtually identical performance in our testing. It has a more contemporary design that many people are likely to find more attractive (if you prefer white, which is the only color option). It adds Wi-Fi capability and a rudimentary app, and it typically costs a bit more than the 5500-2. The almost identical Winix AM80 lacks the AM90’s Wi-Fi capability and comes only in dark gray.
The Blueair Blue Pure 311 Auto is similar in capabilities to the Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty and the two Winix models, as it reduced smoke levels by 99.9% in 30 minutes on high and by 94.2% on medium. Its auto function, which Blueair introduced to the Blue Pure lineup in late 2020, monitors your room’s air quality and adjusts the fan speed accordingly. And it has other features we like, including notably quiet performance, terrific energy efficiency, and a control panel that automatically dims after you adjust the settings. This model is also particularly attractive, with a tweedlike, washable cover that’s available in several muted colors (it arrives in gray; you can purchase the other colors separately). Two minor knocks against it: The air-quality indicator lamp, a bright blue LED, shuts off only when the unit is on its lowest setting, and Blueair recommends replacing the filters every six months, pushing yearly replacement costs above those of the Coway and Winix machines.
The Levoit Core 400S offered solid performance in our testing, removing 99.1% of smoke particles in 30 minutes on high and 96.3% on its third of four speeds—the highest at which it produces less than 50 decibels of noise. If you want a basic smart air purifier, it’s an attractive option, as it connects with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control, in addition to having its own app. But it’s typically more expensive than our top pick, the Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty.
The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ is our choice among air purifiers for large spaces of up to 650 square feet, especially when the space involves open floor plans or high ceilings. With the ability to filter more air per hour than our top pick, the Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty, it works faster to achieve and maintain low particulate levels in such challenging rooms. The combined up-front price and running costs of the Blue Pure 211+ are much higher than those of the AP-1512HH (totaling about $1,150 over five years), but that’s comparable to the costs of most other large-space purifiers we’ve looked at. It was an exceptional performer in our testing, and it’s quiet and attractive, to boot. All that said, unless you really need to clean a particularly large space, the quieter, smaller, and more affordable AP-1512HH is usually a better option.
If you need to clean the air in a space of around 200 square feet or less, the Levoit Core 300 (sometimes listed as the Levoit VortexAir) is a solid and inexpensive purifier. It was impressive in our tests, reducing particulates by more than 97% on its high setting in 30 minutes in a 135-square-foot New York office. On medium, it reduced them by more than 92%. It’s attractive and compact, measuring just 14.5 inches tall and 8.5 inches in diameter, and thanks to its display-shutoff feature, it won’t interrupt sleep with bright lights. It’s also the cheapest up front of all our picks. But it’s not terribly energy efficient: Running it 24/7 on medium consumes about $300 of electricity over five years, and seven new filters in that period cost $180, making this model slightly more expensive than the Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty over the long term. And it doesn’t keep pace with the AP-1512HH or the Blue Pure 211+ in larger rooms.
In a new section, we cover a few other purifiers that fit specific needs, including a purifier for handling VOCs, an especially energy-efficient small-space purifier, and a truly smart air purifier. We also discuss the much-hyped IKEA Förnuftig in its own section.
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