Blendtec Designer 650 Review
Pros: Great at crushing ice, makes a mean blended margarita
Cons: Very pricey, not amazing at making smoothies
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
This blender finished in the middle of the group, ahead of the KitchenAid Diamond 5-Speed and behind the Vitamix 5200. The Blendtec and the Vitamix 5200 retail for roughly the same price, $500 for the Blendtec and $450 for the Vitamix. However, the Vitamix did slightly better in almost all of our tests, with the exception of convenience. The KitchenAid matches the Blendtec when it comes to crushing ice and grinding, but can't quite match it when it comes to making smoothies or pureeing food. However, it does cost hundreds of dollars less than the Blendtec, making it a much better value.
We bought all the top blenders that are currently available on the market, then tested them side-by-side to see which blender is really the best of them all. We compared their skills at whipping up the perfect frozen margarita or smoothie, pureeing and grinding food, and how convenient it is to use. We split our testing process into five weighted rating metrics, with the Blendtec's results described below.
The Blendtec got off to a good start, doing a respectable job at mixing up smoothies and earning a 7 out of 10 for its performance in this metric, which accounts for 30% of the total score. We made a green smoothie, a berry smoothie, a fruit and oat smoothie, and an Oreo malt in each blender, grading the texture and taste of each beverage produced.
We used the "Smoothie" preset for the green, berry and fruit and oat smoothie and then the "Ice Cream" setting for the Oreo malt, per the manufacturer's instruction. The green smoothie came out quite well, liquefying the ingredients much more than some of the other products.
It only left a few residual pieces of greenery unblended, but overall we felt that the texture of the smoothie was just a little too watery, failing to match the velvety-smooth texture of the top products.
The berry smoothie came out quite similarly, with the Blendtec only failing to blend a small chunk of fruit and seed. This blender doesn't really obliterate the seeds, so we did find the finished drink to taste slightly seedy if we drank it unsifted, though overall it still created one of the better smoothies of the group.
The quality dropped a little with the fruit and oat smoothie — it didn't struggle with the thicker smoothie, but did leave some unblended oats on the side of the pitcher. We also noticed that the Blendtec slightly heated up the smoothie, with the finished product being noticeably warmer than the beverages produced by other blenders
The Blendtec finished out with an ok performance at making an Oreo malt, though it practically reduced the ice cream to milk if we ran it for too long.
However, it did totally obliterate all of the sandwich cookies.
Next, we moved on to our Ice metric, which constitutes 20% of the overall score for each appliance. This metric is composed of two tests: crushing ice and mixing up a frozen margarita. The Blendtec scored close to — but not quite at — the top of the group, earning a 9 out of 10.
The Blendtec crushes it at crushing ice, obliterating all of the ice cubes without struggling. However, they did bounce around a bit right at the start and there were a few larger chunks that evaded being crushed wedged under the blades.
The Blendtec Designer delivered another admirable performance in our margarita challenge. We used the recommended "Ice Crush" setting, which ran for about 35 seconds, and produced a decently well-blended margarita. The ice was evenly crushed but the finished drink wasn't quite as smooth as some of the other products, with the average size of the crushed ice just being a little bit larger.
For this group of tests, we rated and judged how easy it is to actually use each blender, scoring them on everything from their preset functions to how easy they are to clean. The Blendtec did quite well, tying with a handful of other blenders for the top position with its score of 7 out of 10. Altogether, the tests in this metric account for 20% of the total score — identical to our Ice metric.
We started off by looking at the different preset functions on each product, as well as how clearly they are labeled. This blender has 6 presets: batters, ice crush, smoothie, ice cream, whole juice, and soups, which are each identified by a different icon. The icons are quite intuitive, showing a whisk for batters or a margarita glass for crushing ice, but the EKG symbol for pulse can throw you off at first.
It has a digital timer that will count down when using the presets and count up when using the manual mode. The Blendtec is also one of the easiest products to clean, with the pitcher being by far the easiest to clean thoroughly without getting cut.
However, the inner lid did feel a bit flimsy. Conveniently, you can also place the pitcher back on the base to dry, as there is still a decent amount of ventilation. Unfortunately, the lid and blades are not listed as being dishwasher-safe, while the pitcher is labeled as being fine for the top shelf only.
It also is very easy to remove the lid, though it can take a small amount of extra attention to get it properly aligned and seated when putting it on.
Moving back to another food test, we tested out each product by making nut butter and tomato soup in each blender, as well as testing out if it could actually heat up a soup. Altogether, this trio of tests is responsible for 15% of the overall score, with the Blendtec performing admirably and earning an 8 out of 10.
This blender did a good job at making extremely creamy almond and peanut butter, only taking about 5 minutes. It was just a tiny bit grainy, but the Blendtec's motor didn't show any signs of a struggle at all.
The Blendtec continued its strong showing in our pureeing test, creating a decently thick tomato soup that was very well mixed.
It didn't do amazing at heating it though, even after we ran the "Soup" cycle multiple times, only raising its temperature to a little over 130°F, rather than the piping hot 150°F the best blenders got it to.
For the final 15% of the total score, we tested out how well the Blendtec did at milling corn kernels, grating parmesan cheese, and making powdered sugar. The Blendtec Designer delivered another solid performance, earning a 7 out of 10.
This appliance made very soft powdered sugar, with no visible granules remaining, but about a tablespoon did get caught up on the top of the lid. It struggled a little more with the parmesan cheese. It has plenty of power to grate it, but there were more larger chunks left over than other models had.
It redeemed itself a bit at milling corn flour, with over 95% of the finished product easily passing through a sieve, with only a few larger popcorn pieces.
This blender isn't a great value, as it has an average performance and a premium price.
Overall, we didn't really find any major flaws with the Blendtec, but shouldn't you simply buy the best if you are going to spend $500 on a new blender.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer