Vitamix 7500 review: A muscle car for your kitchen

That said, I don't expect anyone who buys a Vitamix to use it simply to mix batter and whip up quick smoothies. You'll need to try out more demanding recipes before you really start to see what you're paying for. Our spinach pesto test is a great example. Other blenders, even the Ninja and Breville models, needed the full 15 pulses our recipe called for in order to produce pesto of an acceptable consistency, and some, like the Cuisinart PowerEdge 1000 Watt Blender, took even longer than that. The Vitamix, on the other hand, got there within 4 pulses -- pulsing it 15 times gave us something more like a pesto smoothie.

Our almond butter test was another area where we saw some separation between the different models we tested. The Vitamix did an excellent job of grinding almonds into almond flour, getting us there within a few quick pulses. Then, it was able to whip that flour into a creamy, spreadable almond butter within about 7 minutes. This put it well ahead of what the Cuisinart and Hamilton Beach models were capable of. However, the Breville blender yielded equally creamy, satisfying nut butter, albeit with a little more stirring needed than with the Vitamix. And the strongest performer here was actually the Ninja Ultima, which produced our favorite almond butter, and did it faster and easier than even the Vitamix or the Blendtec.

After five or six pulses, we had almond flour. Ry Crist/CNET
After 5 or 6 minutes, we had almond butter. Ry Crist/CNET

The takeaway here is that a high-end, $500+ blender like the Vitamix will give you a huge step up in performance and capability from what a bargain model like the Hamilton Beach will offer you. But the same can be said of midrange models like the Ninja and the Breville, and in some tests, they're even able to compete with the Vitamix fairly evenly. I still believe that the Vitamix is the more powerful, more versatile blender here, but I'm not convinced that it separates itself from these midrange models quite enough to justify the investment, at least not for anyone who doesn't foresee a great deal of heavy-duty blending in the culinary future.

Vitamix versus Blendtec
What about someone who definitely does foresee that kind of kitchen workload? Certainly, a high-power blender like a Vitamix or a Blendtec would make sense -- but which one?

I hate to disappoint anyone hoping for an epic face-off between these two blender behemoths, but there really isn't a definitive answer here. In almost all of our tests, the Vitamix and Blendtec put out results that were practically identical. The one exception would be the pesto tests -- both did an exceptional job with a full-size load, but when we tried cutting the recipe in half in order to see how the blenders handled smaller quantities, performance actually dropped a bit for the Blendtec. The Vitamix was affected as well, requiring more pulses to finish a half-size load than a full-size one, but the effect wasn't as noticeable.

The controls on the Vitamix (top) and Blendtec (bottom). Which aesthetic do you prefer? Colin West McDonald/CNET

Aside from this minor difference, there isn't much else separating these two in performance. The Blendtec has a slightly higher wattage -- 1,560 compared with 1,440 watts for the Vitamix. The Blendtec is also quite loud, while Vitamix seems to do a better job of managing noise. The Blendtec features touch-screen controls and dedicated presets. Personally, I prefer the physical dial of the Vitamix, although I wouldn't have minded the addition of a preset or two. I also find myself wishing that the Vitamix had some sort of timer -- preferably one that counted up as you used it. Blendtec's has this, as do many of the lower-priced competitors, but Vitamix seems to have opted for more of a minimalist approach, perhaps a tad too much so.

Finally, it's worth repeating that consumers should only turn to models as high-priced as the Vitamix and Blendtec blenders once they've ruled out the less expensive but nonetheless impressive competitors currently available. Consumers interested in raw power, in particular, should take a look at the Ninja Ultima. At less than half the cost, its 1,500 watts put it in the same league as the Blendtec and the Vitamix, and our testing confirms this. The Ninja is the bulkier blender, and perhaps a bit more high-maintenance, but in terms of performance, it merits serious consideration.

Usability and maintenance
Using a Vitamix blender is about as simple as it gets. Pour your ingredients into the jar, secure the lid, then flip the switch. Vitamix advises its users to start the blender at the lowest setting, then slowly dial up to the desired speed. If you need to pulse your ingredients, you'll just press down on the pulse switch as many times as needed, for whatever duration you like. I definitely prefer having this level of manual control over using something like the Cuisinart, which automatically pulses for preset durations, although some users might prefer automatic pulsing time durations, since they can give more standardized results.

The Vitamix 7500 comes with a 64-ounce jar made from BPA-free plastic. The jar and its lid are not dishwasher-safe (nor is the plastic tamper that comes with the blender), but both are simple enough to clean -- just fill halfway with warm water, add a few drops of dish soap, then run for 30-60 seconds, rinsing and air-drying afterwards.

The 7500 also comes with a seven-year warranty, and you have the option to extend that warranty to ten years for $75. For customer service, call Vitamix toll-free at 1-800-848-2649, or e-mail service@vitamix.com.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Conclusion
The Vitamix 7500 is everything you think it is. It's powerful. It's impressive. It's expensive. Devoted users who blend with it every day and tell you it's one of the best appliances they've ever owned aren't wrong, but neither are devoted Ninja users who tell you that you don't need to spend $500 in order to own a crazy-powerful blender.

Should you buy one? I think the prudent answer is probably no. You'd need to have a really, really good reason to justify choosing a Vitamix (or a Blendtec, for that matter) over a more affordable model like the Breville Hemisphere Control or the Ninja Ultima. If your blending needs are basic enough, I think you'd be even better off with a model like the $149 KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond Blender, or even the $39 Hamilton Beach Smoothie Smart Blender.

Unless you're a caterer, a frequent party-thrower, or a dedicated home chef, you probably don't need this blender. But I can't say that I blame you if you still want it. As splurges go, it's definitely a fairly mild one, and one I think you'd be happy with for years to come. And hey -- it's cheaper than that car...

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