I’m guessing you’ve already decided on getting a Vitamix, right? Now you’re just making sure you get the right one. The best one? And that’s how you found yourself looking at the Vitamix A3500.
I’m happy to tell you – having reviewed literally every Vitamix in existence and written probably 50,000 words about them – you’re right. It is the best. Pretty much.
It has the most features, the most capability. It does things so awesome you will on occasion feel a small but noticeable embarrassment about the level of privilege it has conferred upon you.
But it’s not for everyone. There are many good Vitamix models, and you have to be sure that the specific advantages this one provides will make it worth the added investment. That’s what this article is about.
It’s going to show you how the A3500 is different from its brothers and sisters, and help you decide whether to get it, or a cheaper one instead.
Table of Contents
- 1 What’s Interesting About the Ascent A3500
- 2 What Do Other Customers Say?
- 3 The Unboxing: What Comes With It?
- 4 What Can I Make With It?
- 5 How Does It Compare?
- 6 Where Can I Find Other Accessories?
- 7 Are My Old Containers Compatible With the Ascent?
- 8 How Noisy Is It?
- 9 Is It Dishwasher-Safe?
- 10 Where can I Find a Reconditioned Vitamix A3500?
- 11 What’s the Best Price and Where Can I Buy It?
- 12 Verdict: Is This Blender for You?
What’s Interesting About the Ascent A3500
I’m going to skip a discussion of the things that make all Vitamixes awesome, because I assume you know them: You can pulverize absolutely anything. You can make everything from cold smoothies to hot soups. You can make ice cream, mince garlic, and shred chicken.
But why the Vitamix A3500?
There are 2 key features that separate it from all earlier models and from the lower-priced models in the new Ascent range. Each of those features merit discussion:
Important Feature #1: Program Settings (Read: Maximum Convenience)
There are 5 programs that come built-in: Smoothies, hot soups, dips/spreads, frozen desserts and self-clean. What they mean is that you load up the ingredients, press the button, and walk away.
Not only does the machine adjust the blending time and speed to suit these ingredients, but – and this is key – it stops automatically when the blending is done. When you’re doing multiple things in the kitchen at once, this feature saves you a lot of time and a lot of mistakes.
If you’re someone who’s always multi-tasking in the kitchen: Chasing kids, or sending audio notes while you cook, this feature is indispensable. This alone will make this blender worth spending the money on compared to other Vitamixes over the lifetime of the machine.
Here’s where things get interesting: You might know that other models have pre-set programs too. Say the 750 Professional (which is often around $20 cheaper). Is there any difference between those older pre-set programs and these new ones?
Yes: The newer pre-set programs are different. On the Ascent blenders, the pre-sets are not part of the variable speed control dial, like on the 750 Professional. They have separate touch screen buttons.
With the pre-sets of older models, you can’t adjust anything when the pre-set is… set, because it would require turning the variable speed control dial off of that pre-set onto something else. With the A3500, your pre-set can be set, and you can, if you want, bump the time up 10 seconds, or the speed a couple notches. This is for when you’ve made the same thing so many times you know exactly the texture you like on it, no matter what the pre-set thinks.
To summarize, this machine is the ultimate convenience and ultimate flexibility combined, and there’s not another one like it.
Important Feature #2: Use Different Containers
You should consider this blender if you absolutely know that, either now or in the future, you’re gonna want to use different size containers. That is, you’ll want to make big ol’ batches of food on some days, and personal smoothies to take out of the house on other days. You’ll want to make bowls one day, and mid-size batches (48oz container) other days.
Not only that, you want the pre-set programs on your machine to automatically adjust to whatever container you put on it. That’s the “self detect” feature you hear about.
Now… if you JUST want the ability to use multiple containers, you don’t need an A3500. You can get this same capacity with the A2300, which is more than $100 cheaper. The main downside there is you lose out on the pre-set programs.
Put another way: If pre-sets AND being able to use different containers is important: Get the A3500. If it’s just the different containers you want but you won’t use the pre-sets much, you can get save money by getting an A2300.
Important Feature #3: The Easiest to Clean
There are 3 ways in which this blender is not only easy to clean, but the easiest to clean of all models. They are:
a) The self-clean program: Every Vitamix can be cleaned by dropping soap and water into the container and running it for 30-60 seconds. But I can tell you, owning an older model as my “every day: machine: You never do exactly 30 or 60 seconds. And – maybe this is just me – the exact time I’m supposed to be cleaning the container is the time I want to be eating the thing I just made with it. So I don’t actually do the clean as often as I should.
With this model, that’s not an issue. You empty your delicious goods out. Drop soap/water in. Hit self-clean, and walk away. Eat delicious goodness. Come back and empty the soapy water when you’re less hungry.
b) Easier to wipe screen: Because the screen is bigger on this model, it has more open space, and less crevices for bits to get stuck around. With older models, and even the Ascent A2300, you have a bit less space, and food debris can get stuck a little more easily around the variable speed control dial. This is a small thing, but when you’re using the blender every day, it can become a big thing.
With the 3500 Ascent, it’s a one wipe clean. There’s never fuss. And your machine always looks like new.
c) Dishwasher safe containers: I put this last because it’s also a feature of the other Ascent blenders, but it’s a heck of a feature nonetheless. Older Vitamixes did not have this capability but the Ascent blenders do, and it’s awesome. Combined with a) and b) This makes the A3500 the most cleanable blender Vitamix has made.
Digital Timer, Touchscreen, 2.2HP Motor, Clear Lids
These 4 things do contribute to the A3500’s greatness, but I’m grouping them here to make it clear that these are features of all the Ascent range blenders.
But you do get them with the Ascent 2300, which is usually more than $100 cheaper. To buy an A3500 Ascent you need enough reasons to justify the extra spend. These 4 features while great, can’t be on that justification list.
That said, here’s what you need to know about them:
This is useful for two reasons: For one any program settings you choose automatically adds an amount to the blend time, so you know how long it’s going to take before you start. You’ll memorize these times before long, and it’ll be helpful as you plan your cooking (Ok, the hummus is going to take 6 minutes. I’ll chop the parsley for my Tabbouleh in that time.)
For two, if you don’t use the program settings, the timer counts upward, so when any blend finishes, you can see how long it took. This is a feature I wish I had with my blender from the beginning. Everything you make without a preset, you’ll still know the right blend time, and you’ll start to memorize it for your favorite dishes.
This looks cool, and feels cool to use, but on top of everything else we’ve discussed, there’s no new capability this gives you. That is, on top of the improved cleaning we talked about above.
|Note regarding the touchscreen: It’s not the same kind of touchscreen as the older (and oddly more expensive) 780 blender. It’s “haptic” like your iPhone in that you feel tiny clicks as you adjust it. This prevents you from sliding your fingers across it without being able to tell very well how far you’ve moved. It gives maximum control while blending, but with the luxurious modern feel of “touch.”|
How big a difference could the clear lid make over a rubber lid? A small difference, but an important one. The clear lid means you can look into the blender to see progress as you’re blending. Why would you want to do that?
If you have a rubber lid, and you’re blending a big batch of thick ingredient, the progress of the blend goes from top to bottom. Obviously the ingredients closest to the stainless steel blade blend first. Ingredients on the top can float on the top for a little while, and you want to be able to see the point where they get sucked under and start to blend.
The clear lid lets you do that. Like I said, a little bonus, but it’s something you will actually use.
It’s their newest and most powerful motor. Will you notice the difference? If you do a lot of work with dough, you may notice it. If you do a lot of frozen ingredients, ditto. Dropping in whole pumpkins and sweet potatoes, I think so.
But for the most common tasks, like smoothies or soups, all you’ll notice (whether you get this or an older model) is your ingredients quickly obliterated. I wouldn’t call the extra .2HP a reason in itself to buy this blender.
What About the Self-Detect Thing?
If you’ve seen these blenders, you might have heard of the “self-detect technology” and “Wi-Fi capabilities.” Let me say a little about those quickly:
The self-detect technology is kind of cool, but for most people, I don’t think it’ll make much difference. It basically means the blender knows what type of container you place on it. With the pre-programmed settings, it means you can place a different container on the top (say the small bowl container) and the same program settings will take on a higher blend time, to compensate for the smaller force that can be generated in the smaller container.
This is actually super helpful if you’re regularly switching between containers. It means you the right blend times and speeds are “baked in”, all the way through the range. Note though, that if you don’t plan on getting any other containers, you won’t get any value from the self-detect technology.
Lastly, a smaller thing “Self Detect” does is prevent the blender from turning on if the lid isn’t secure, but I’ve never particularly found this to be a problem.
Wi-Fi connectivity is another story…
Despite there currently being no use for the Wi-Fi capability, it’s been suggested that this may allow owners of Ascent blenders to obtain new presets and other technology updates in the future. The details remain to be seen, but this is an exciting prospect nonetheless, especially given that with your 10-year warranty (increased from 7 years on Next Gen Vitamixes), you’ll have this machine for an awfully long time.
What Do Other Customers Say?
Customers, overall, are extremely satisfied with this blender. They love the program settings, the efficiency, and the time they save.
I don’t call it a downside, but people who are first-time users often notice the noise. Interestingly, early indications are that the Ascent range is, in fact, the quietest model yet, slightly quieter than the Vitamix 750.
A lot of people have complained about it only coming with the 64-ounce container. Because of its price, they feel that it should come with all of the container sizes. I thought this misguided, but that’s because I write about blenders for a living. 🙂 Having a model come with multiple containers would be unprecedented for Vitamix, particularly given that they lowered the price on the Ascent range for some reason (the 780, for example, costs more!).
Some people also think the 64-ounce container is way too big… which I also found odd given that the machine itself is actually a little SHORTER than it’s predecessor.
Let’s put it this way: If you are a family, I think the 64oz is just the right size. However, if you are running solo with this thing, and you’re only wanting personal smoothies, maybe for you and the partner, you probably don’t need an Ascent 3500.
Let me leave you with one other downside for your decision: If you’re upgrading from an older model and you bought other containers for it, they won’t be compatible with your new Ascent. The self-detect technology means only “self-detect” containers will fit.
The Unboxing: What Comes With It?
Unboxing this baby is a real joy. Can’t you just smell that new blender smell through the computer screen now? It comes with the base, the 64-ounce container, and a clear lid, a low-profile tamper, and the Simply Blending cookbook.
What Can I Make With It?
Oh boy, the options are endless! One of the reasons this machine is so awesome is the versatility. The programs are the obvious starting point: smoothies, hot soups, dips & spreads, and frozen desserts. That means you can use this fantastic blender to make anything from clam chowder to your mom’s famous chip dip.
Want to have some fun for a second? Here’s some inspo from the recipe archive.
Tell me these Cranberry Coconut Squares look awful…
Or these black bean burgers with sriracha aoili…
I’m telling you right now, whatever you think you’re going to make when you get this blender, what you end up making, will be so far beyond it.
Nut butters are good to go. Hard, dry ingredients like coffee beans or chia seeds aren’t a problem. Flours are easy to make in this machine too.
A much shorter list would be: What can’t you make?
The coolest part is that, once you get comfortable using it, you can make your own creations. You could make a chutney or your own barbeque sauce. Not your style? Why not make some creamy almond butter to go on your morning toast?
How Does It Compare?
Vitamix A3500 vs A3300
The A3500 is a pretty clear-cut winner between the A3300 and the A3500. There are a lot of similarities. The biggest difference is the five program settings that come with the A3500. The A3300 has no programs.
The A3500 also has the metal base option, which is nice, while the A3300 does not. The A3500 is about $100 more than the A3300. So really it comes down to how much you value presets. Will you use the preset programs all the time? If so, $100 won’t seem like much money after a year of regular use.
Vitamix A3500 vs A2300
The A2300 is the base version of the Ascent series, while the A3500 is the top of the line. There are quite a few features that the A3500 has and the A2300 does not have, including a touchscreen, 5 programs (smoothie, hot soups, dips & spreads, frozen desserts, and self-clean), user-set countdown, and the metal base option.
That being said, the A3500 can be as much as $150 more than the A2300 (which is still an outstanding blender, especially for the price). I think that if you are looking for top of the line, you will want to invest in the A3500. If you want maximum value for money, you might consider the older Vitamix 5300 (which is still number 1 on my “Top 3 Vitamixes” list).
Vitamix A3500 vs 750 Pro
The 750 Pro is a well-loved blender. Lots of people leave rave reviews on it.
The 750 Pro also doesn’t have the self-detect technology that the A3500 has with its containers. This can be good or bad, depending on what you are looking for. I would say the A3500 has an advantage here because you are going to get a better blend every time.
The 750 has a rubber lid that a lot of people really like. That was a complaint on the Ascent series, having a clear plastic lid. They both have the stainless steel blade, motor, and control dials. I think it boils down to what you are looking for in a blender. The A3500 is more convenient than the 750.
Vitamix A3500 vs 5200
The 5200 is in the C series of the Vitamix lines, which means you’re stepping down two rungs in development from the A3500. The 5200 has no touchscreen, no programs, and no pulse setting. In many ways, the A3500 is superior to the 5200. The 5200 is slightly cheaper depending on the day, but if you’re investing this amount of money, I really recommend just making the leap and getting the most up-to-date product that gives you the longest time with the best technology.
Vitamix A3500 vs E320
Vitamix A3500 vs Blendtec
The A3500 and Blendtec are both high-quality blenders that are commercial grade. The Blendtec has multiple models, so it’s hard to draw up a complete comparison.
The Blendtec has a 3.0 horsepower motor, while the A3500 has only a 2.2 horsepower motor. This lets the Blendtec go faster and possibly blend things better. However, I would argue that a 2.2 horsepower motor is plenty of power for a blender, especially if you aren’t using it for commercial use.
The A3500 has 5 programs (Smoothie, Hot Soup, Dips & Spreads, Frozen Desserts, and Self-Clean), while the Blendtec has 6 (Batters, Ice Crush, Smoothie, Ice Cream, Whole Juice, Hot Soup). I think these kind of even out, especially considering the A3500 has a self-clean feature.
There’s also the lid issue. The A3500 has a clear plastic lid, while the Blendtec has a vented gripped lid. A lot of people will prefer the gripped lid, but there are some that like to see in from the top. A preference issue here again.
Beyond that, these two blenders are pretty similar, with stainless steel blades and BPA-free containers. The Blendtec basic version is about $150 less than the A3500. I would argue the A3500 has better reviews, but it’s up to you which blender is best for your lifestyle.
Where Can I Find Other Accessories?
Whatever you’re looking for, whether tampers, other containers, other cookbooks, they can all be found on the Vitamix website. There’s even this amazing little “under blade scraper” tool. Don’t get me started.
Are My Old Containers Compatible With the Ascent?
Unfortunately, the old containers are not compatible with the Ascent series blenders.
How Noisy Is It?
All indications are that it’s the least noisy model they’ve ever made. That doesn’t mean it’s quiet. You won’t want to stand next to one while it’s blending and try to have a conversation. But the percentage of owners who find the noise a true life problem is very insignificant.
Is It Dishwasher-Safe?
Yes, the container is dishwasher-safe. By all means, you can throw (okay, don’t throw it) your blender in the dishwasher after use. However, the preferred method for cleaning the Ascent series blenders is to put a little soap and water in, then turn on the self-clean program. Let your blender do the work for you.
Where can I Find a Reconditioned Vitamix A3500?
Great question! Initially, there were no reconditioned Ascent blenders because they were the newest model. And in fact, most of the Ascent blenders still can’t be bought refurbished… Except this one.
If you’re fine with the idea of it, you can now get a reconditioned A3500 from Vitamix right here. Save another $70 ish and still get a top of the range blender? Why not!
What’s the Best Price and Where Can I Buy It?
The official website lists the A3500 at $619.95 MSRP. It’s also just come down $20 in price at Vitamix.com.
Of course, you can get it on Amazon too, but I always figure why not support great brands directly, especially when the price is the same (or lower).
Verdict: Is This Blender for You?
Here are the questions to answer:
- Are you going to actually use the five program settings?
- Do you find kitchen tidy up not just inconvenient, but truly intolerable?
- Do you want the ability to have different containers, say for your morning smoothie, some baby food, and tonight’s dinner?
If the answer is yes to one or more of these, you will love your Vitamix A3500.
The Vitamix Ascent series A3500 is a top-of-the-line blender. It has a price to match it but comes with all the bells and whistles you could need. Being in the Ascent series line, it has Wi-Fi capabilities. That means you will be able to update things as technology improves. This will save you from having to upgrade every time a new version comes out.
It’s an investment that will make your mornings faster, make preparing good meals easier, and generally add some convenience to your life.