If you are interested in high performance blenders and you have done your research well, chances are that you would have narrowed down your final choice to a Blendtec or Vitamix blender.
The Blendtec Total Blender and the Vitamix 5200 are widely considered to be the among the best high performance blenders available in the market. Even though there are some newer models released for either brand, these 2 models remain the flagship blender for their respective brand.
It can be very difficult to make a decision between these 2 blenders, let alone crown one as a definitive winner over the other. However, there are definitely factors (sometimes nuanced) that can sway you to either side depending on your preference.
After watching hours and hours of comparison videos and live demos, and doing extensive research on these two blenders, we have distilled the information down to the most critical factors you need to consider before making your decision. Read on.
Blendtec Total Blender
First, in case you are not entirely familiar with these 2 blenders, here is a brief background of each blender.
Blendtec is a division of K-Tec, Inc. and its blenders are manufactured and assembled in the company’s facility in Orem, Utah. The Total Blender is a 3 horsepower (3 HP) machine that can achieve a blade speed of 29,000 revolutions per minute.
The key difference between the Total Blender and the 5200 are that the 5200 is designed to be used with a tamper while the Total Blender is not (more below). Also, unlike 5200 and other traditional blenders, the Total Blender does not contain any knobs or levers. In their place are 9 small buttons and a digital interface.
6 of the buttons correspond to preprogrammed ‘blend cycles’ that are optimized for particular recipes ranging from smoothies to soups. 2 buttons are manual speed controls (up and down). The last button is the pulse button that allows you to do short bursts of medium-high speed blending (the blades spin as long as you hold the button down).
Vitamix blenders are manufactured and assembled on-site at Vitamix’s headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. Interestingly, the 5200 contains a cutting edge motor that is designed and manufactured in Sweden. Enhanced energy savings and motor performance allow The Vitamix 5200 is a 2 horsepower (2 HP) machine that can achieve a top-end blade speed of 37,000 revolutions per minute (higher power or blade speed does not necessary correspond to better performance as we will discuss later).
Perhaps the most discussed and controversial aspect of Vitamix versus Blendtec blenders is the fact that Vitamix blenders have been designed to be used with a tamper (which will be discussed in detail below). Operated manually, the tamper allows users to enhance the blending process by guiding larger or denser ingredients towards the blade.
Comparison Factor 1: Blender Power
In terms of raw power, the Total Blender, as a 3 horsepower machine, edges out the 5200. However, raw power is a poor gauge of a blender’s performance as that also depends on many other factors like the blade and jar design.
In fact, in terms of power, there is very little to choose between the 5200 and the Total blenders as both machines are extremely powerful and effective for a variety of blending tasks (differences come about for specific tasks as we will see later).
Watch this great video by blenderdude that compares the power of Blendtec against Vitamix:
Conclusion: Power is not a differentiating factor for these 2 machines
Comparison Factor 2: Noise Levels
Again, this is not a differentiating factor as both blenders are very noisy machines!
Comparison Factor 3: Exterior Design, Size & Weight
The Vitamix 5200 has a square motor base that is 7.5 inches wide, 9 inches tall, and weighs in at 11 lbs. With the jar and lid on, the machine stands at approximately 20.1 inches tall. The jar that comes with the 5200 has a capacity of 64 oz.
The Total Blender has a motor base 7 inches wide and 8 inches tall. With the jar and lid on, the machine stands at 15 inches tall and weighs 7 lbs. For the jar, you have the option of the original FourSide Jar with a capacity of 64 oz. or the enhanced WildSide Jar (at a slightly higher cost) with a capacity of 88 oz.
As a sleeker and lighter machine, the Blendtec Total Blender has an advantage in terms of portability and as we shall see later, storage.
Conclusion: Advantage Blendtec
Comparison Factor 4: Ease Of Operation
Whether you prefer buttons or knobs on your blender ultimately comes down to personal preference. However, many users seem to like the preprogrammed cycle buttons on the Total Blender, as it can make the blending job very straightforward and easy. There are a total of 6 preprogrammed cycles and as long as you use similar categories of ingredients (e.g. for soup) to that recommended in the recipe book for each cycle, the Total Blender will automatically take care of the correct blending speed (which varies throughout the cycle) and duration. This gives the Total Blender the potential to become a one-touch, hands-off blender. Of course, the manual speed controls give you the choice of manual operation if you so prefer.
Furthermore, the pulse button on the Total Blender makes it easy to chop up (instead of blending them completely) ingredients in a controlled manner. This can come in very handy for example when you are throwing in the final bits of ingredients into a soup and want them to remain chunky.
The Vitamix 5200 comes with a tamper which is not found in the Total Blender. Some consumers have expressed a preference for the Total Blender because they want to go hands-off or multi-task while blending and not have to use a tamper. In response to this, we have to point out that it is not the case that you have to use the tamper with the 5200 everytime you blend. You use it if it is required or if you think it will enhance the blending.
Because of the longer shaped jar and narrow base of the 5200, it may be necessary to use the tamper to push ingredients towards the cutting path of the blades. However, the tamper can also give the 5200 greater flexibility, and in some cases even a significant advantage over the Total Blender, for example when processing thick recipes as we will see in the next section.
Another common concern is the blender shaking or moving during blending, especially with chunkier/ heavier ingredients. The movements are not by any means wild nor violent and are seldom huge concern as you can simply hold the blender firm from the top. Movement like this is inevitable with powerful blenders like the Total Blender and the 5200. However, having a lighter base, the Total Blender is more prone to this than the 5200 as we have observed in several demonstrations using the same ingredients on both machines.
Comparison Factor 5: Blending Very Thick Recipes Like Nut Butter & Hummus
This is where the tamper of the Vitamix 5200 gives it a significant advantage over the Total Blender (using the default FourSide or WildSide jar). When making nut butter using the Total Blender, you would have to stop the blending and use a spatula to even out the ingredients now and then before starting again to ensure proper blending.
With the 5200, you could continuously stir the nut butter mix with the tamper and finish the blending in about a minute or so. This makes blending nut butter and other thick recipes on the Total Blender 3 to 6 times slower than on the 5200.
The solution, if you own a Total Blender and want fast blending with nut butters, is to purchase a Twister Jar, which can blend nut butters in about a minute without the need for a tamper. However, a Twister Jar would require you spend an additional $100 or so.
Conclusion: Clear Advantage Vitamix
Comparison Factor 6: Dry Grinding
Both the 5200 and Total Blender can do a good job with grinding coffee beans and grains. With the Total Blender, you can do all your dry grinding with the regular jar.
With the 5200, however, if you plan to do dry grinding regularly, it is recommended that you purchase a dry grains container that comes with a ‘dry blade’ so as not to damage the ‘wet blade’ that comes with the default container. The dry grains container costs an additional $120 approximately. This said, we are unaware of any user who has actually damaged the ‘wet blade’ due to excessive dry grinding.
Comparison Factor 7: Cleaning & Storage
This is an area where the Blendtec Total Blender has an advantage. At 15 inches tall with the jar in place, the Total Blender fits nicely between the average countertop and upper kitchen cabinet (which have an average distance of 17 to 18 inches).
For the Vitamix 5200, at over 20 inches tall with the jar on, you would have to dismantle and store the jar and motor base separately under the kitchen cabinet. That said, this should not cause any significant problems usually.
In terms of washing the jar, you may find the regular 64 oz. jar of the 5200 a little hard to reach at the bottom, as it is rather long and also narrow at the bottom. As such what many people do is to put water and a little washing liquid into the 5200 jar and blend it for a while, before rinsing it clean with water. You could of course fork out a little extra and buy the smaller 48 oz. jar which is easier to clean.
In contrast, the shorter and more squarish shaped Total Blender jar that has less internal ridges makes cleaning comparatively easier. Some people have also feedback that by virtue of the difference in blade design, the Total Blender tends to get less residue trapped at the bottom of the jar compared to the 5200.
Conclusion: Advantage Blendtec
Comparison Factor 8: Price
No matter where you make your purchase, you can generally buy the Blendtec Total Blender at a lower price than the Vitamix 5200.
As an example, at the time of writing, the Blendtec Total Blender (with the WildSide Jar) can be purchased at Amazon (which typically offers a discount of at least 10% of the official retail price) for about $90 less than the Vitamix 5200.
Conclusion: Advantage Blendtec
Comparison Factor 9: Warranty & Customer Service
Both Vitamix and Blendtec now offer 7 year manufacturer warranties for in-home (non-commercial) use.
Based on feedback online, the customer service experience of Vitamix customers with regards to servicing and repairs appear to be extremely positive. While Blendtec customers appear to be very satisfied with customer service as well, it pales slightly in comparison to the effusiveness of praise heaped on Vitamix.
Conclusion: Slight Advantage Vitamix
Again, the purpose of this comparison is not to crown a winner but to highlight pertinent factors for you to consider in your decision between Blendtec vs Vitamix.
Here is a summary of when you might choose one over another:
You may prefer the Vitamax 5200 if:
- You are looking to blend thick recipes like nut butter frequently and do not want to have to buy a separate jar to do it more efficiently
- You want a heavier, more commercial looking machine that does not shift as much when blending chunkier or heavier ingredients
You may prefer the Blendtec Total Blender if:
- You want the ease of simply pressing a button and letting the blender handle the rest without manual operation
- You are looking for a lighter and sleeker machine that is easy to store and clean