(updated October 27, 2013)
As you either already know or are now discovering for yourself, there are many options when it comes to high-performance blender manufacturers. Talk to someone who’s been through the buying process and ended up purchasing a Vitamix. He or she will likely tell you the hardest decision wasn’t choosing the brand. Rather, it was selecting a particular Vitamix model in the company’s ever-expanding home line that ended up being the most daunting step of the process. Help with sorting through these individual models has been solicited of me so often that it was the first issue I addressed in the Vitamix portion of my FAQ page. Despite my response questions still continue to flood my inbox on the matter. But I’m happy to do my best to help because – let’s face it – Vitamix isn’t exactly making this decision an easy one for most of us!
There’s good news, though. The reality is, even though Vitamix provides you with many choices – and all of them excellent ones at that – the differences in many of these packages are negligible and, in some instances, practically nonexistent. In this article I’ll lay out the exact differences in every Vitamix model in their current home line – 24 at last count – hopefully making it a little easier for you to figure out which one might be right for you and your family.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind during your selection process is that there are basically only two different motors Vitamix will use for every blender in the entire line. From the early 1990s with the introduction of the 5000 model, to early 2012 with the appearance of the Professional Series 750, Vitamix installed their world-class 2-peak horsepower motor in every blender they made (there is one exception, noted in the chart that follows). The motor in older models was built in Cleveland, Ohio, but all of today’s 2 HP models are equipped with a new Swedish motor designed and manufactured exclusively for Vitamix. In March 2012 the Pro 750 was introduced featuring a 2.2-peak horsepower motor. Subsequently, a few other models using the same motor were developed, and are now commonly referred to as “Next Generation” models.
Here I will divide every model in the Vitamix home line into one of two categories, distinguished by the motor used in the blender – the 2 HP or the 2.2 HP. I’ll call them “Traditional” and “Next Generation,” respectively. A third category dedicated solely to Certified Reconditioned Vitamixes – all of which are derived from those in the first two – will then follow, as will a brief note about models you will not see mentioned.
The majority of your options fall into this category. These models are based on a tried and true design platform that has propelled Vitamix to the very top of the high-performance blender heap – a position unlikely to be relinquished anytime soon. The blender with each of these models utilizes a 2 HP motor housed inside motor bases of identical shape and dimension. Except for the model name stamped on the front of the control panel, and sometimes a color specific to a particular model, these motor bases are virtually indistinguishable from one another. Following is a synopsis on other characteristics of the blenders and their respective package contents for models in the “Traditional” category. As you will eventually discover, the alteration of any single characteristic or feature could very well be the only detail separating one model from another.
All but two models in the category feature a user interface implementing a Variable Speed dial in the center of the control panel flanked by levers/toggle switches on either side.*** On a few models the Variable Speed dial will also have 3 pre-programmed cycles (Smoothie, Frozen Desserts, and Hot Soups) to be utilized in conjunction with Vitamix recipes specific to them. On these particular models the lever to the user’s left will be for pulsing, and the one to the user’s right is a Start/Stop lever. If the Variable Speed dial does not contain pre-programmed cycles – as will most often be the case – to the user’s left is a High/Variable lever, and to the right, a Power On/Off lever. Below is an image of the three different control panels that will be found on blenders in the “Traditional” category, the top being the most common.
***Edit: In October 2013 Vitamix introduced the 6000 model which has neither a Variable Speed dial nor lever. Instead, its center dial consists of timed cycles only. Like the 6300 and Professional Series 500, it also has a Pulse lever. It has been added to the image below.
Unless otherwise noted in the chart below, all models in this category will be packaged with the universally-recognized standard 64 oz. BPA-free Vitamix container with four-blade assembly and two-piece lid attachment. On most models the handle will be covered with an ergonomic soft-grip which contains a built-in indentation for the user’s thumb. Otherwise the model will feature the exact same container minus the soft-grip. Note the difference below.
With few exceptions and despite the different names, the core collection of recipes in the Vitamix recipe books in this category are identical. This core collection is designed for healthy, “every day” recipe blending with commonly available ingredients, though, as you will see, some models contain books with recipes tailored to raw/vegan/vegetarian diets and other models have those geared toward what you might find in a restaurant, or otherwise inspired by chefs. The books are bound in one of two ways. The first is by 3-ring binder with an “easel” style front and back cover, designed for easy upright viewing of the loose-leaf recipes on countertops. The second is a more common “spiral” style binder.
Some models are simply packages put together by Vitamix which include the same exact blenders plus the addition of extra accessories such as different sized containers and tampers, spatulas, cutting boards, etc. Color options will also vary from model to model. Some models are available in every color Vitamix makes, but, depending on the current inventory, may or may not be available at the time of purchase. Other models are available in only a few colors and, in some instances, only one. Finally, Vitamix offers a 7-year warranty on some models and 5 years on others.
Now that you’ve been primed on what constitutes the basic differences amongst “Traditional” Vitamix models, it’s time to get into specifics. In order to most efficiently compare the various options available, we’ll need a barometer. Enter the 5200, the flagship model in the Vitamix home line. It is by far Vitamix’s biggest seller, is the most reviewed model on the internet today (including mine), and is the basis upon which all other Vitamix models in this category are constructed.
In the following chart I have identified seven key features which comprise any given Vitamix model. These are: Motor, Interface (control panel), (primary) Container, Recipe Book, Accessories, Color Options, and Warranty. Unless specifically highlighted in the chart as not part of the model package, minor inclusions such as the owner’s manual, warranty card, introductory DVD, start-up guide, etc. are not referenced as they are standard in all models. At the top of the chart I identify the components of all seven features of the Vitamix 5200 model. Then, for each successive model in the category, I highlight its features which differ from those of the 5200. Click on the chart below to open it in a new window, where it may be re-sized to your personal viewing preference:
Vitamix “Traditional” Model Comparison Chart
In order to remain relevant, this chart, along with information on any models discussed below, will be revised as needed to reflect additions and subtractions to the Vitamix home line.
“Next Generation” Models
There are only four models in this 2.2 HP motor category. Three of them contain motor bases which are identical in every way except for color options. The lone exception is the original model in the 2.2 HP line, the Professional Series 750. It features 5 pre-programmed settings on its Variable Speed dial in addition to speed control: Smoothies, Frozen Desserts, and Hot Soups – the same three found on the Pro Series 500 and Vitamix 6300 – plus the addition of Puree and Cleaning cycles. The image below shows the two interface designs of the blenders in this category.
The motors on these blenders have been equipped with what Vitamix calls “enhanced airflow management,” the result of which is slightly less motor noise during blending. Company statements of noise reduction from those in the former category have ranged from 40% to 50%, although in actuality the differences in my experience appear to be less significant.
The Creations Elite model is equipped with the same 48 ounce container included with several models in the “Traditional” category. However, all containers included with the three other models in this category have a new design featuring a shorter, wider profile which makes a fully-assembled machine much more likely to be able to be stored on countertops underneath upper kitchen cabinets. The standard installation height for upper cabinets is usually 18 to 19 inches above the countertop. The total height of assembled “Next Generation” blenders is 17.5 inches. Along with a wider container profile is a corresponding wider blade assembly on these models. The blades measure 4 inches across, tip to tip. For these containers, a different sized tamper has been designed as well. Like all Vitamix copolyester containers, these, too, are BPA-free.
In the following chart I have identified the seven key features for each “Next Generation” model. Again, clicking on the chart below will open it in a new window, where it may be re-sized to your personal viewing preference:
Vitamix “Next Generation” Model Comparison Chart
Certified Reconditioned Models
For various reasons Vitamix keeps models in its inventory which cannot be sold as new. These include customer returns, blenders used for promotional or advertising purposes, or those used for display at home shows. Each makes the trip back to Cleveland where technicians, using a 17-point inspection process, re-certify it to the exact same specifications as their new blenders. Whether the machine has been used previously or not, it is re-packaged with a new BPA-free jar, tamper, and accessory package including tutorial DVD and recipe book. Vitamix then makes these Certified Reconditioned models available for re-sale at discounted pricing backed with the identical warranty attached to their new machines, for a period of five full years. If you’ve spent any time reading the various Comments sections of this website, you’ve noticed that I am a strong advocate of all the Vitamix refurbished models.
A refurbished Vitamix package can be constructed from amongst the blenders of any original model in the entire home line, but will be re-sold as one of only three models: Certified Reconditioned Standard, Certified Reconditioned Standard Programs, or Certified Reconditioned Next Generation.*** The Standard model will include a motor base from any “Traditional” model referenced previously in this article except for the Professional Series 500 or the Vitamix 6300 – excluded because of the pre-programmed cycles included on their Variable Speed dials. Which actual blender the customer ultimately receives will depend upon availability per Vitamix’s current inventory, and occasionally by the color selected. Getting Started Plus is the spiral-bound recipe book that comes with the Certified Reconditioned Standard model.
The Pro Series 500 and 6300 comprise the Certified Reconditioned Standard Programs models. This package will include the spiral-bound Savor recipe book. The last reconditioned model option, Certified Reconditioned Next Generation, will include a motor base from any of the four blenders in the “Next Generation” category. All will include the 64 ounce container with the shorter, wider container, newly designed tamper, and hardbound Simply Fresh recipe book.
***Edit: In July 2013 Vitamix introduced two additional reconditioned model options: the Certified Reconditioned Two Speed, comprised of the TurboBlend Two Speed and CIA Creations blenders, and the Certified Reconditioned Next Generation Programs, which is always a Professional Series 750.
Other Vitamix Models
Often I receive inquiries referencing Vitamix model numbers not mentioned in this article. These are almost always an identification code representing a model’s specific color. For example, a Vitamix 1364 is actually a CIA Professional Series model in Ruby (red) color, while the Vitamix 1365 is the exact same model in Onyx (black). If you come across an unfamiliar Vitamix model number, chances are it simply designates the color of a blender you already know by a more familiar name.
Other times I’m asked about blenders in the Vitamix commercial line. While also top-of-the-line in their own right, these blenders are designed and manufactured with commercial-grade cooling systems which allow the blenders to be used for hours on end, as you might expect to find in a restaurant setting. Accordingly, they usually come with higher price tags and shorter warranty durations while producing similar actual results to the home line models. In my opinion they do not represent the same overall value to the average consumer than does any model discussed above.