If you like piña coladas ... you'll probably like a blender. In the world of high-powered, high-end blenders, two names sit at the top of the list: Vitamix and Blendtec. Both offer supremely efficient and durable blending, especially compared to cheaper, budget brands, but which is right for you? To find out, we compared the most popular blenders from each brand — the Vitamix 5200 ($450) and the Blendtec Classic 575 ($420)— to figure out which blender should find its way to your counter.
As of 2021, Vitamix has 100 years of production under its belt. But the brand didn't start off with blenders (a can opener was its first runaway hit). The original blender was called the Vita-Mix and was born from its founder's desire to live a healthy lifestyle through whole-food nutrition. Essentially, founder William Grover Barnard and his family lived a vegetarian lifestyle, and they found that blenders could give them tasty meals (smoothies, blended soups, etc.). The brand is now almost entirely focused on making blenders, ranging from wallet-friendly options to those with the latest innovations.
Blendtec doesn't have as much time on its hand as Vitamix, but 46 years is still a long time to continually innovate upon a powerful blender. Founded by Tom Dickson, Blendtec gained notoriety for its Will it Blend? marketing campaign in which Dickson would put non-food items — like phones, toys and other miscellaneous items — into a Blendtec blender to, well, see if it would blend.
The Vitamix 5200 features a 64-ounce jar atop a motorized base with 10-speed manual control. When it comes to features on a blender, the 5200 is pretty standard – no bells or whistles, not even preprogrammed settings. On the other hand, the Blendtec 575 is packed with added features. It has fewer speed options — just five compared to the Vitamix 5200's 10 — but it also has four preprogrammed settings: a smoothie mode, a 60-second blend cycle, a 90-second blend cycle and a clean function, in which you basically run the 575 with water and dish soap, cleaning the blender.
The biggest difference between the design of the 5200 and 575 blenders is the design of their blades. The Vitamix 5200 uses alaser-cut, stainless-steel hammermill and cutting blades, while the Blendtec 575 uses a blunt blade. On inspection, the two blades couldn't be any more different. The 5200's blade is sharp as hell, and you'd better be careful you don't cut yourself on it; the 575's blade is dull and works by pulverizing instead of slicing.
The jars of the two blenders also differ. The Vitamix's jar is tall and made of glass, with an opening to use the additional tamp. The Blendtec 575 comes with the option of two style of jars, both made of plastic. The first jar is known as the FourSide Jar, which is squared off and designed to generate more friction, which Blendtec recommends for making hot soups. The pricier Wildside Jar has a wide base and a fifth side, which are meant to work in conjunction to create a blending vortex that more efficiently blends without the need for a tamp — which the Blendtec does not include with its blenders.
The differences in design between the two blenders ultimately affect the way they perform. By and large, the Vitamix is one of the most efficient and effective blenders out there. It creates smooth blends, and while there is some clumping, the tamp is a helpful tool to get things going smoothly. It has 10 speeds, which makes customizing blends easy, especially since you can adjust the speend mid-blend. The Blendetc blender is a decent blender. The biggest issue with it is its steadfast belief that a tamp is not necessary. According to the brand, Blendtec's blades and jars are designed to never clump up, removing the need to scrape the sides during blending. That's just not how blending works. Things will come out smooth from the 575, but you better account for all the times you'll have to stop its operation to get an even blend.
As interesting as Blendtec's Will it Blend? series is, its blenders pale in comparison to Vitamix blenders. Blendtec is too caught up in its own marketing — No tamp necessary! It can blend your phone! — whereas Vitamix lets the power and efficiency of its blenders speak for itself. Depending on which two blenders you compare from the brands, one may be more expensive than the other, but at the end of the day, it's the Vitamix's variable speed control and extra-sharp blades that make you think Vitamix first when you want to shop for a high-end, high-powered blender.