I use my blender every single day, several times a day, and it has become an essential appliance in my own health transformation. To put it bluntly, I could not maintain the level of nutrition and health that I do today without one of these blenders. But people are always asking me, "Which blender is better? And what are each blender's strengths and weaknesses?" To answer these questions, I purchased both blenders and have used them for several months to get a clear comparison.
(Note: I have no financial ties to either manufacturer, and earn nothing from the sale of these blenders. This is truly an independent, unbiased review.)
Personally, I find this series of buttons to be a complete disaster. It's extremely annoying to use. The Vita-Mix interface is far better because it gives you more control, and it's more intuitive. When you want to blend something, you know in your mind how fast or slow you want to go, and that makes the variable speed knob on the Vita-Mix far superior. It also comes in handy when you're blending foods and need to adjust the speed because the blending is not going the way you wanted. You might have big chunks of vegetables or fruits in the blender, and so you want to go fairly slow to get those chunks broken up. After you have those chunks broken up, you want to increase the speed to a finer blend. The K-Tec blender doesn't really give you much control over the speed. You sort of have to wait through a full preprogrammed cycle and hope it eventually reaches the speed you want.
On the upside, the K-Tec blender is more powerful than the Vita-Mix. It sports 3 horsepower versus Vita-Mix's 2.2, and that difference in power definitely shows itself in the kitchen. This is why I use the K-Tec blender to blend up nuts or seeds. If I were making my own peanut butter, for example, I would use the K-Tec. With the Vita-Mix, if you try to blend peanut butter or make your own nut cheeses, the Vita-Mix has a harder time getting the job done, and if you push it, the Vita-Mix will stop itself to protect the motor from overheating. It will just stop, and then you have to wait for it to cool down before you try blending again. The K-Tec, on the other hand, will just keep on grinding away. If there's one thing the K-Tec blender has, it's brute force.
But there's no doubt about the power of the K-Tec unit. If you're grinding up flax seeds, you want to use the HP3 K-Tec blender. If you're grinding grains, in my opinion, you want to go with the K-Tec. It's not that the Vita-Mix can't do it, it's just that the K-Tec is nearly 50 percent more powerful. When you want to get through this job quickly, you want the power. It's sort of like mowing a lawn when the grass has grown far too high -- you want the most powerful lawnmower you can find, or the whole process becomes an unbearable chore.
Recently, as I was blending up a banana chocolate smoothie and took my first taste, I noticed it tasted like burnt rubber. The o-ring had gotten stuck, it turns out, and when I powered up the K-Tec blender, the o-ring came off the bottom of the container and was blended up into the drink! So, of course, I had to throw out that entire drink and the container, too, which costs around $65. This was not a happy moment in my blender testing experiment. I don't know about you, but when I see a blender that eats its own parts, I start to question the quality of the unit.
In this regard, the Vita-Mix does it much better. Their blending container has an o-ring that is external to the container, so it's not something that can be caught in the blend itself. In other words, you can't accidentally drink the o-ring of the Vita-Mix.
The Vita-Mix, on the other hand, is not nearly as loud. I don't know the exact decibel rating of either product, but I can tell you from experience that the Vita-Mix is significantly quieter. I don't feel the need to wear ear protection when I'm blending with the Vita-Mix, even when it's on high. Of course, this may be due to the power difference between the two blenders. Obviously, a blender that is more powerful is going to be louder. This is a tradeoff that you may want to consider. If you plan to do a lot of blending and you want to use the high-powered K-Tec, I personally recommend you look into buying some ear protection. It really is that loud. My dog actually runs from the kitchen when I turn the unit on.
The switches and knobs feel very rugged on the Vita-Mix 5000. I don't get the sense that any of these knobs are going to wear out any time soon. However, one issue with the product is that I've noticed some variability from unit to unit. For example, I bought a unit for another family member and it ran very smoothly and made very little noise. The gear system of her blender, which can be observed by removing the container and turning on the unit at very low speeds, circulated with perfect balance; it didn't wobble at all. However, the unit I purchased, which is brand new and shipped directly from the Vita-Mix Corporation, has a bit of a wobble in it, maybe a millimeter, and the result is quite noticeable.
Granted, I'm a detail-minded person and other people might not notice a millimeter difference, but I do. When it's blending, it actually turns out that my unit makes more noise than the unit I bought for my family. So, there is some variability in the manufacturing, which is to be expected on any physical device. But the Vita-Mix has a strong warranty, so if any problems develop from this variability, you're covered anyway.
Another thing I really like about the Vita-Mix unit is that the base of the blending container is made out of a rugged-looking block of steel. This is obviously not going to break very easily. I also like the rubber padding on the base, which helps reduce some of the vibration between the container and the motor. As I've mentioned before, I like the fact that the teeth that connect the blending container to the base of the Vita-Mix are much larger than the teeth on the Champ HP3 K-Tec blender. That was a really smart design decision on the part of Vita-Mix. It was obviously an area where they decided to spend more money, which increases the price of manufacturing. Still, this unit is comparatively priced with the K-Tec. In fact, in most places you will find its price is just slightly cheaper than the K-Tec blender.
The Vita-Mix also has a little better design in terms of cosmetics. It has a nicer-looking base, even though the base is much larger. Both units appear to have adequate ventilation to protect the motor and give them a long life. The Vita-Mix blender came with the offer to buy an extended 10-year warranty for an additional $75 or so, which is interesting. That tells me that the Vita-Mix Company is willing to stand behind their blender for a good decade, which is an impressive amount of time for anything with a motor. The K-Tec blender didn't come with an extended warranty, although it came with a standard warranty that seems adequate (three years).
Neither one of these units are recommended for commercial use. You'd probably wear out their motors in a few months if you were using them in a commercial environment with non-stop blending 8 hours a day. But as household units, both of them do what they promised to do. Therefore, my recommendation is that you choose a blender based on your needs. If you really need the power and you're going to be blending a lot of really thick nut butters, nut cheeses or grinding grains, I think you will be happy with the power of the K-Tec blender. For liquids like smoothies, fruit drinks, vegetable drinks and soups, I always choose the Vita-Mix. The Vita-Mix is also easier to use, a lot less noisy, and seems to have better quality control.
Remember, I have both of these on my kitchen counter. I almost always use the Vita-Mix because I don't have to wear the ear protection. I don't have to worry about the o-ring, and I have a lot more control over the speed.
However, if you are mainly grinding very thick nut cheeses (such as pine nut cheese, one of my favorite recipes), and you want the cheese to be as thick as possible, you'll need as much blender power as possible, and the K-Tec blender is certainly a good choice. Just wear some ear protection and hold the container down tight before you start blending, otherwise the container may hop off the base and you'll start grinding gears. Make no mistake: Blending nut cheeses in the K-Tec is a bit scary. You can't just press a button and walk away; you have to be on top of this unit at all times and physically hold the container in place.
I even wrote a recipe book based on the Vita-Mix called Superfood Smoothies (click here to see it). It teaches you some of my favorite recipes for making dairy-free, sugar-free, superfood-enriched smoothies using a Vita-Mix. You'll even find my secret recipe for making a mint-chocolate ice cream shake based on almond milk, avocados and cacao powder (you've got to try it yourself to believe how delicious it is!).
So choose the blender that's best for you, and enjoy blending away. You will definitely be a healthier individual as a result.