01.Vitamix VM0109 and Optimum 9400 blender
Optimum 9400 blender
We've put both blenders through their paces. Read our side-by-side comparison of their features, performance and ease of use, or go straight to our verdict.
The Vitamix is said to make healthy living easy and claims to replace 10 kitchen appliances. It can juice, cook, freeze, blend, chop, grind and also has a self-cleaning system. It has a heavy-duty, commercial-quality 1200W motor, two-litre jug capacity, variable speed control and weighs almost 5kg.
It has a tamper tool that allows you to push food into the blades without jamming the tool and damaging the unit. With this tool you can stir the ingredients without stopping the unit.
The Optimum has a powerful 1500W motor, two-litre jug capacity, variable speed control plus pulse option and weighs in at about 5kg. It's versatile and has a variety of functions to create things like fruit and green smoothies, as well as grinding nuts and grains, crushing ice, and making nut butters and milks, ice cream, soup, dips, juices and cocktails.
Like the Vitamix, it comes with a tamper tool.
Our tester, Fiona Mair, put the Vitamix and Optimum through the same tests as blenders, cooking potato and leek soup, crushing ice and chopping carrots.
The potato and leek soup required some preparation first, by cooking the potato and leeks on the stove and when blending in the Vitamix the soup wasn’t very hot, only reaching 56°C. This is because the Vitamix doesn’t have a heating element – instead, the blades turn so fast that they generate friction which creates heat.
To test the Vitamix further she also made a fruit smoothie and nut butter. She found it to be excellent across all tests except for chopping carrots – it left a large piece unchopped.
She also assessed the ability of the dry blade jug (which can be purchased as an optional extra for $240) by making icing sugar and dough. Icing sugar was made perfectly but Fiona wasn’t impressed with the dough. To combine all the ingredients she needed to scrape the jug after every second of mixing about six to eight times before the dough came together. The jug tipped off the motor unit when combining the ingredients and it doesn’t knead for you as a mixer would.
The Optimum performed excellently for blending soup and crushing ice but it was unable to chop carrots. The instructions call for water to be added when chopping vegetables but this turns the vegetables into a puree rather than chopping them. But if this is the result you’re after then it’s excellent.
Soup can be heated, but only to a warm temperature. Much like the Vitamix it doesn’t actually have a heating element but instead the blades turn so fast that they generate friction which creates heat.
Fiona tested it further by blending avocado, kale vegetable soup and making a rockmelon smoothie. The results were impressive.
The re-test: Since publishing this article the manufacturer contacted us to say a new version of the 9400 is now available. It supersedes the version we tested and claims to address the chopping issue we came across. We re-tested the new version, however, after following the instructions we still received the same result when chopping carrots. On further testing, we discovered that if you use speed 1 for less than 10 seconds (or pulse) you can achieve a good chopping result. We think improvements need to be made to the instructions to ensure users are getting the best results.
Ease of use
For ease of use Fiona assesses:
- controls, and
- ease of cleaning.
While the jug of the Vitamix is lightweight, it sits loosely on the unit and can move or easily be knocked over. Fiona found it to be very noisy when operating at high speeds and found the unit to move and vibrate when mixing a heavy batter or when mixing for an extended amount of time.
She also found it awkward to remove mixtures from around the blade. While there was no written labelling the controls were very easy to use and comprehend.
The Vitamix isn’t dishwasher safe and the blade housing isn’t removable; however, you can use the high speed with water and detergent to clean the unit quickly. The stainless steel exterior may require more effort to clean.
The controls are easy to use and while the plastic jug might stain, it is lightweight. The blade housing isn’t removable and getting rid of food from around the blades can be awkward. It’s very noisy during use and the large jug might be awkward to clean in a sink.
While it’s not dishwasher safe, using some water and soap and running the unit for about 20 seconds will clean it up easily.
The Vitamix and Optimum both allow you to create endless amounts of healthy, nutritious foods. Their powerful motors allow them to handle heavy loads better than most standard blenders.
In comparison to the blenders we’ve tested, the Vitamix is up there with the better scoring models, and would make our What to Buy list. Following the re-test of the Optimum, it too would make our What to Buy list, providing you aren't following the instructions.