How we test – the Top Ten Reviews process

Man using vacuum cleaner to clean living room
(Image credit: Getty Images)

At Top Ten Reviews, we want customers to feel confident they are making the right purchase for them. We do all the groundwork and research to find the best products out there, so you don’t have to. 

Our team and writers are all committed to thorough research and extensive testing to give readers the most accurate product reviews. They all bring specialisms and expert knowledge in their respective product categories.

How we choose products

We test as many products in one category as possible to ensure we can really find the best product out there. We don’t stop at the big name brands and don’t only include the most popular products on the market. We update our product lists with new items whenever we find new products that we think are worth including in our buying guides.

Crucially, we take no money or compensation from brands when we review their products. It’s important to us that we remain completely neutral and unbiased when we test and review. 

Our revenues are generated from affiliate links to retailers if you make a purchase through our site. As these affiliate revenues are standardised, you can rest assured we won’t push you towards one product or retailer over another.

How we test products 

Our expert reviews are experienced and knowledgeable about the product categories they operate in. They know exactly how to put a product through its phases to ensure it’s built to the highest quality standards and will last you as long as possible.

All of our products are tested using in-depth and repeatable testing methods. As much as possible, we try to have the same person reviewing every product in a category in the same environment. We favor the home environment over a lab as we believe it brings authenticity to the testing. We use the products we test just as you would at home, ensuring our testing is reflective of real-life usage. 

Our testing protocols are comprehensive and include everything from unboxing and assembly to care, maintenance and durability. For example, when testing lawn mowers, we would ask our reviewers to examine the following:

  • Unboxing: Make a note of the packaging (recyclable, quantity, etc). Look at the instructions - are they detailed enough, clear enough? 
  • Assembly: How long does assembly take from start to finish? Does it require more than one person? Does it require heavy lifting? 
  • Sound test: With a decibel counter, measure how loud the mower is on its different settings. Compare with other objects/scenarios for clarity (eg “the same as a quiet office” “the same as a carn horn”, etc).
  • Performance: Use the mower on a pre-measured lawn. Using a higher cutting setting, run the mower once over your lawn, then again with a 2.5-3 inch cutting height. Run through the speed settings (if applicable). How easy is the mower to operate? Make a note of the mowing quality - is the lawn mowed to golf course standard? Does it shred leaves, or do you have to rake/blow beforehand? What is the precision like?
  • Cleaning, storage and maintenance: Where should the mower be stored? Can it fold up into smaller dimensions? How should it be cleaned, and how often? Is it easy to do? What is the recommended maintenance, especially for gas mowers? Speak to a professional and enquire as to the best practice for maintaining the product. 

At Top Ten Reviews, we also focus on assessing each products according to specified criteria. Our Top Ten Checklist covers the following criteria:

1. Design

We examine the look and feel – the ergonomics of a product. What colors does it come in, what materials is it made of? How easy and comfortable is it to handle? Are there any standout features?

2. Features

We focus on the product specs. 

To use our earlier lawn mower example, is it self-propelled, or do you have to push? How many settings/speeds does it have? What is the blade like (eg dual blade)? Does it have rear-wheel drive or front-wheel drive? How much grass can it collect? Is there a way to regulate the ratio of mulching/bagging?

3. Set-up and assembly

We summarize the unboxing and assembly part of the testing protocol. We comment on the packaging (size, sustainability, materials used), the instructions provided, the assembly process and whether it required more than one person. 

4. Performance

How does the product perform in action? Does it do a good job? is it noisy? Does it emit any kind of smell? Does it work as expected? Are there any problems with its function?

5. Care and maintenance

Where and how should you store the product? Does it fold up or come apart to save space? How should it be cleaned, and how often? How easy is it to clean? How often should it be maintained, and who can repair it? What is the warranty like, and what is covered?

6. Price and availability

How does this compare with other models/brands? Where does it sit in terms of price? Is it worth it? Does it have/lack extra features compared to other brands that might be more/less expensive? Where can you find it? Which retailers stock it?

7. User reviews

We take look at comments and reviews on the manufacturer’s website, as well as those left on retailer sites such as Amazon, Bestbuy and Walmart. We include useful snippets from these reviews to help you make your purchase decision. 

8. What the experts say

We ask an expert in the field for their opinion of the product and brand – for example, if we are reviewing lawn mowers, we'd speak to a gardener, or toasters, we'd ask a breakfast chef. 

9. The ultimate verdict – should you buy the product?

Based on our testing, we explain whether you should buy the product. We'll base our decision on budget, as well as performance.

10. How does it compare to competitors?

Here, we assess how the product stacks up against others in the buying guide. For example, we share whether we preferred using one product over another, or whether one is more cost-effective than the other. 

Each of our reviews thoroughly evaluates every one of the points in that testing criteria, so you can easily and accurately compare products in the same category.

Our Top Ten Reviewers

Our reviewers all have prior experience and industry knowledge of the product categories they review. They know exactly what to look out for when they test an item, and will always give their honest opinion of it. 

They are committed to providing customers unbiased buying advice and receive no compensation from brands to review their products. 

Here are some core members of our Top Ten Reviews team:

Headshot of Luke Edwards
Luke Edwards

Luke is a veteran tech journalist with decades of experience covering everything from TVs, power tools, science and health tech to VPNs, space, gaming and cars. 

You may recognize him from appearances on plenty of news channels or have read his words which have been published in most tech titles over the years. 

In his spare time (of which he has little as a father of two) Luke likes yoga, surfing, meditation, DIY and consuming all the books, comics and movies he can find.

Naomi MacKay
Naomi Mackay

Naomi MacKay is a garden and outdoor expert. She previously made the move from local newspapers and consumer technology magazines into the gardening press as Assistant Editor at Garden Answers magazine, and has also worked for the Royal Horticultural Society, and writes garden columns for a number of publications.

She has reviewed everything from robot mowers and watering cans to grills and weed killer. Her writing work has taken her to gardens and garden shows around the UK, including the world-renowned RHS Chelsea Flower Show. 

Mina Frost headshot
Mina Frost

Mina is the Reviews Editor at Top Ten Reviews. She works with section editors to create accurate, detailed and in-depth reviews to populate our buying guides. She has degrees in Linguistics and Investigative Reporting, and is also a freelance writer and editor. Mina is a bit of a foodie and loves a glass of Sancerre, so she's right at home testing anything from blenders and air fryers to wine fridges.