Vitamix Ascent Series Review (A2300, A2500, A3300, and A3500)

The Ascent Series is Vitamix’s latest line of blenders. Vitamix sent me the A2300 and A3500 to review. The other models have a different combination of the same features, so this is a comprehensive review of all four models. [Disclosure: If you make a purchase after following a link from this site, Joy of Blending may receive a referral commission (at no cost to you), and I am grateful for your support.] I’ve had them for a short time, and will update this page as I use them more. As far as I can tell, the Ascent models blend just as well as previous Vitamix models. The most notable new feature is wireless connectivity, which allows them to use “personal size” containers on a full-size Vitamix. There are also a range of other incremental changes.

The difference between Ascent models is their control interface and color/finish options. The A3300 and A3500 use a knob and touchscreen, while the A2300 and A2500 use a knob and physical switches. The A2500 and A3500 have program modes plus manual control, while the A2300 and A3300 have manual control only.

A2300A2500A3300A3500
touchscreen
programs35
count-up timer
user-set countdown
variable speed
pulse  

Vitamix tells me that the Ascent Series will be available in Canada starting in February.

Wireless Connectivity

Compared to previous Vitamix models, the major development is wireless connectivity technology. The Ascent bases use near-field communication (NFC) to identify which container is being used. (There is an NFC tag embedded in the bottom of the container.) This allows Ascent models to use both full-size containers and small personal-size containers. The smaller containers aren’t available for purchase yet, but Vitamix plans to offer a 20-oz container and a new mini 8-oz container for the Ascent series in Spring 2017.

The Ascent models only run when they recognize a container. This means that previous Vitamix containers that don’t have NFC tags will not work with the new models.

The Ascent models also have Bluetooth. Vitamix has not said what they plan on doing with it, but when you turn on any of the Ascent models on, you can search for available Bluetooth connections on your phone, and “Vitamix_1.1” shows up. I don’t know when they will roll out Bluetooth features, but since the Bluetooth connection is there ready to go, we will most likely be able to use the future features on models bought now.

Other New Features

Timer Display

All Ascent models feature a digital timer that counts up and displays the seconds and minutes of manual blends. The motor automatically stops after 6½ minutes when using the large 64-oz container. (Smaller containers will have shorter maximum blend times because they are not vented, and extended blending could build up too much pressure.) The 6½ minute automatic cutoff means that even the Ascent models without programs (A2300 and A3300) effectively have a soup program. Just ramp up the speed to high, then the motor will turn itself off after 6½ minutes. (The soup program on the A2500 and A3500 runs for 5¾ minutes.)

The A2500 and A3500 have program modes, and when running a program, the timer counts down the time remaining. The A3300 and A3500 have the option of manually setting a specific amount of time, which the timer counts down from and then automatically stops the motor.

Here is a video tour of the touchscreen features of the A3500 (the A3300 is identical except it does not have the program buttons):

New Lid

The Ascent lid is clear, instead of the previous black lids. I never thought about the black lids blocking the view before, but after using the clear lid, I find myself appreciating the better view. The Ascent lid also has snap fasteners that make a satisfying click when they are locked on. (It reminds me of the Glasslock food containers, which I like.) In this video you can see Vitamix’s head chef demonstrating the A3500, and you can hear the lid click on:

The Ascent lid also forms a better seal. The seals on the old lids are usually fine, but if you blend a large amount of thin liquid, they can leak a bit. The Ascent lids stay sealed in situations where the old lids could leak.

Dishwasher-Safe Container

Previously, Vitamix said that only the S-Series containers were dishwasher safe. Now this full-size container is dishwasher safe. For normal use, most people will be better off just running it with soapy water, but for the occasional thick and sticky blend, being able to run it through the dishwasher will be nice.

10-year warranty

Previous Vitamix models came with either 5 or 7-year warranties. Vitamix warranties are great because if your machine needs service, they cover shipping both ways. They also often offer first-time courtesy replacement for items damaged by user error/negligence

New Styling

The Ascent models have more curves, and a clean bevel. They are designed to look good from all sides, including the back. They moved the label from the back to the bottom, so if you use it on a kitchen island, the back of the machine looks more polished.

Digital Knob (A3300 and A3500 only)

The A3300 and A3500 have a digital knob. It is still a physical knob, but it does not have absolute position. Every time you turn the machine on, or after a blend is stopped, the speed setting resets to one. This is nice because it prevents the potential to accidentally leave the speed on high and make a mess by unexpectedly starting at max speed. The knob has a nice feel, and it gently clicks between speed settings. (It moves from 1 to 10 in half-step increments.)

More Containers

Vitamix says that the 20-oz and 8-oz containers will be available in the Spring. The 20-oz container is the same size and shape as the to-go cup on the S-Series, but the screw-on blade assembly is different. The 8-oz container uses the same blade assembly as the 20-oz, but the container is much shorter. I think it will come in handy for blending small amounts of things like salad dressing.

The one significant downside I see to the Ascent models also has to do with containers. I like being able to use my 32-oz container with my 7500. It has 3” blades instead of the wide 64-oz container’s 4” blades, and a narrower bottom that allows it to blend smaller volumes more easily. (The 7500 and Ascent models come with a wide 64-oz container.) The Ascent 8- and 20-oz containers will be good for small volumes, but you can’t use the tamper with them. The small Ascent containers will be good for liquidy blends like sauces and smoothies, but not for thick spreads or frozen desserts that require the tamper.

I believe Vitamix will release a tamper-able narrow container for the Ascent Series because the Ascent cookbook refers to a 48-oz container, but I don’t know when—hopefully later this year. Until then, the Ascent models can only make larger batches of thick spreads and frozen desserts. (The difference in minimum volume to blend thick recipes easily is ~36 vs. ~24 oz.) However, I know many people who happily use the wide 64-oz container only, so this is a non-issue for plenty of people.

Subtle Differences

Dimensions

The overall dimensions are similar to G-Series Vitamix models. The Ascent base is about ¼” shorter. The Ascent base plus container and lid is also about 1/4” shorter than G-Series models, which puts it at 17¼”. The base footprint is 8×10¾”

Power Cord

The power cord length is 4 ft instead of 6ft on C and G-Series models. Like previous models, Ascent models allow you to stow excess cord by wrapping it around the bottom, and it secures out of sight.

Speed

The maximum speed is the same as the G-Series models (~23,000 RPM).

The minimum speed is slightly slower than G-Series models, but the difference is barely noticeable (1,400 RPM vs 1,600 RPM).

More noticeably, as you turn up the speed knob, the speed first increases more gradually, then more quickly. (The G-Series models increase evenly across the full range.) It’s easier to understand with a plot:
Also, the Ascent models have a similar microprocessor speed control to the G-Series, which maintains speed regardless of load, up to the maximum output of the motor. (See my speed measurement page for more details.)

Also similar to G-Series models, there is a soft start. If you start the motor at high speed on a Classic Vitamix, the motor immediately goes at full throttle, but G-Series models automatically ramp up the speed. The soft start on A-Series is not quite as soft as on G-Series (~1.8 sec vs. 2.4 sec to get to maximum speed). This could make high-speed pulsing slightly more effective.

64-oz Container

The Ascent 64-oz container is very similar to the G-Series Container. It weighs ~4% more (1240 g vs 1190g). With the lid, the container is same the same height. Without the lid, the Ascent container is ~1/4” taller, because the Ascent lid is shorter. The pour spout is slightly different, but so far I haven’t noticed a big difference.

Physical Controls

For people who prefer physical switches over touchscreens, the A2300 and A2500 deliver. The A2300 and A2500 have pulse and start-stop paddle switches, which work nicely. The variable speed knob is bigger and the numbers are more visible than on previous Vitamix models. The speed knob also adds an off position, which makes turning the machine off more convenient (and can help prevent accidentally starting it).

On-Off Switch

Ascent models have an on-off switch towards the rear bottom of the right side. This is the same position as G-Series models. The Ascent base shell has a little lip over the switch to protect it from spills, which the G-Series does not have.

Rubber centering pad

The Ascent centering pad that the container sits on has more curves. It’s a bit more stylish, but the top of it is also not perfectly flat like the old ones. This means that the container can rock slightly, but its not a big deal. I guess the advantage is that it slopes away from the hole in the middle, which means that if you spill a lot of liquid on the top of the pad, it will drain off the sides, instead of into the motor in the middle. I’ve never seen it be a problem with the old design though.

Packaging

Vitamix replaced molded styrofoam in the box with a clever cardboard design, which is a nice benefit for the environment. The cardboard holds everything securely, even if it is inverted.

What is the future of older models?

Vitamix has started referring to non-Ascent models as Legacy models. My Vitamix source says the C-Series is likely being discontinued. I don’t know when they will go out of stock for good. My source also says that they plan to continue making the S-Series, plus the Pro 750 and 780 through 2017.

Container Compatibility

Legacy containers cannot be used on the Ascent series, because they do not have NFC tags. Interestingly, the Ascent series drive shaft is the same as the C- and G-Series drive shaft, so you can use the Ascent full-size container on C- and G-Series bases. (Vitamix says the wide container shouldn’t be used on C-Series bases, but I don’t think it is a big problem—just be a bit more careful about not overheating the motor.) However, the inside of the 4 centering posts are different on the Ascent series, which will prevent you from using the Ascent 20-oz and 8-oz containers on legacy models.

It’s too bad that Legacy containers can’t be used on Ascent models. My understanding is that this is primarily a safety concern. Vitamix needed a container detect system to be able to use the screw-on blades, so that the blender wouldn’t run with the blades exposed. Vitamix engineers came up with a clever solution: the screw-on blade assembly has an NFC chip with a magnetic reed switch, so that the NFC chip only activates when the container is properly screwed on. The advantage of this setup is that it doesn’t require any cumbersome locking devices.

Color Options

A2300: White, black, slate, and red
A2500: White, black, slate, and red
A3300: Pearl Gray and Black Diamond
A3500: Brushed Stainless (the shell is solid metal instead of plastic on other models)

Is the Ascent Series for you?

If you will only be using the smaller container, the S-Series bases are more compact, so they could be a good choice for a tight kitchen space. If you don’t like the look of the digital timer, you might want a Legacy model.

I am sure some people will raise concerns about the new, more advanced, models having more things that could go wrong and be harder to fix. My first response is that the new models come with the 10-year warranty, so at the minimum you will be covered for that long. I’m guessing that the microprocessors should last for a very long time, but we won’t know for sure what the lifespan of these new models will be until they start aging. Vitamix has been selling models with microprocessor speed control (6300/Pro 500 and G-Series) for about 5 years, and I haven’t heard of any problems with the microprocessors failing.

Summary

The Ascent series offers a range of improvements over previous models. Vitamix plans to release more containers and wireless features for Ascent models, so getting an Ascent is buying into the future of Vitamix. The first additions will be the 8- and 20-oz containers in the Spring, then there will be more coming later. It will be interesting to see what the Bluetooth features will be. Other standout features on all Ascent models are: timer display, 10-year warranty, clear snapping lid, and fully dishwasher safe containers. Here’s a link to all Ascent models at Vitamix.com.


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Comments

Vitamix Ascent Series Review (A2300, A2500, A3300, and A3500) — 44 Comments

  1. Really interested in the smaller containers. So many uses for them. Sometimes hard to get things out on the big ones. Looking forward to them coming out.
    Thank you.

    • I think the A3500 has the advantage. The main downside of the A3500 in that comparison is that the smaller containers for the Ascent series are not available yet.

      • Thanks for the reply. Will the 20oz container make frozen desserts as well as say the 32oz container? Not sure if the 20 oz container is for smoothies and dressings/sauces only.

        • Good question. The 20-oz container will not be good for frozen desserts because you can’t use a tamper with it. In the Ascent series, I believe the 48-oz container will play the role of the 32-oz container, with the combination of a narrower bottom and the ability to use the tamper. We don’t know when the 48-oz container will be released though.

          • So the 20 oz container really is only good for times when you’re making liquids that are less than 2 cups (smoothies, almond milk, sauces or dressings)?

  2. The Ascent it seems like what the G series should have been to start with. It should be interesting to see how customers respond to this move. If you want to use the new 8oz and 20oz containers you have to buy an Ascent, and if you upgrade none of your old containers will work so you are out ~$140 per container. It seems like they could have found another way to appease the safety issue. The S series uses basically the same type of container/blade system and did not require an NFC tags in the containers to be approved. Almost seems more of a marketing move to ensure people that upgrade have to buy all new containers as well and that anyone that wants to use the new containers has to buy an Ascent.

    It’s too bad they did not redesign the 64oz container more. People were pretty unhappy with the low profile 64oz container because it performs so poorly with smaller batches or single smoothies, Vitamix really should be including a smaller container with these blenders instead of expecting them to spend $140 on a second container to make a smoothie. This wasn’t an issue with the older tall 64oz container because it worked well for everything with it’s narrower base.

    I’m surprised at the non-linearity of the speed on the Ascent, it gives you a more control at lower speeds, but very little at higher speeds. For example speeds 5-10 on the G series are covered only between 8-10 on the Ascent. Speeds 1-6 on the Ascent only get you to 6000 RPM then you only have 4 settings to go from 6000-24,000. Perhaps they found that there was more to be gained by having extra range in the lower rpms and past a certain point it was better to just be going max speed. In reality 10 speeds is probably twice as many as anyone needs. Perhaps that’s one thing the bluetooth setup with allow custom user RPM settings and programs.

    • The S-Series makes the screw-on containers safe by using physical barriers and magnetic detection… That system would not be compatible with using the bigger containers.

      And as far as using the smaller containers on full-size machines, Vitamix wanted a way to make sure someone didn’t try to make hot soup in one of the sealed containers, because pressure would build up and it could explode (or at least shoot out hot liquid).

      For the speed response, I think it’s nice to have more control at the slower end. When I’m not blending at maximum speed, I’m usually on the lower half of the range, trying to retain some texture.

  3. Do the Accent machines have the quieter motor like the 7500? Do you know if they will be making a dry grain container for the accent? I assume you can use the container that comes with it for grains? I also cannot decide if I need the pre-programmed buttons. I am a newbie to this technology. Thanks

    • In my measurements, the Ascent bases are slightly quieter than the 7500’s. I didn’t put it in the review because the difference was minor.

      I believe that they will make a dry container for the Ascent, but I don’t know when. You can use a wet container for grains, but it won’t work quite as well as the dry blade, and it does scratch up the container.

      Nobody needs the pre-programmed buttons. But some people love them and find that they add convenience.

  4. The A2500 and A3300 cost the same. For someone with no prior Vitamix experience, what are the plusses and minuses of programs (A2500) versus a programmable timer (A3300)? (Does the timer allow self-programming as an effective substitute for pre-set programs?) Do have any other suggestions for choosing between them? Reasons for choosing a different model?

    Thanks.

    • You can set the timer on A3xxx models to automatically stop the machine after a specified time. You can see in the A3500 touchscreen video above at 1:06 how the timer works (the A3500 and A3300 have the same timer function). The timer is different from pre-programmed modes in a few ways:

      • It does not control the speed, whereas the program modes progress through a series of speeds, which are mainly ramping up the speed for you).
      • You have to set the timer every time, whereas the program modes are always ready to go.
      • The advantage of the timer is that it is customizable; the program modes are always the same, which might not be the ideal time if you change ingredients or volumes.

      The time when I will use the timer is for grinding flour, because in that case I usually grind the same amount (2 cups whole grain), and there is a balance between getting it as fine as possible while not heating it too much. However the count-up feature on the A2xxx models would be useful as well. I believe Vitamix will be releasing a dry blade container for Ascent models at some point, but I don’t know when.

      The big difference between the A2500 and A3300 is the switches vs touchscreen control. They are both good, and I don’t have a strong opinion on which is better. It’s really a personal preference. The question to ask yourself is, are you excited about using the touch controls and premium digital knob?

      I personally wouldn’t pay extra for the program modes, though I know plenty of people who love them. So, I would be choosing between the A2300 and A3300. (Though I do like the elegance of the A3500 all-metal brushed stainless finish.)

      Sorry I don’t have a simple answer for you. I’m just trying to be honest.

  5. What poor timing. I just got a 7500! It was a Christmas gift so I can’t complain of course but it does kind of dampen the buzz.

    Interesting how cheap the A2300 is…less than the 7500 even with the newly lowered price.

    Microprocessors are generally not a concern when it comes to more things to go wrong. They last a long time when they’re from a reputable source. The real issue is in the digital knob, display and touch components, which wear badly even in luxury products. In my opinion the physical controls on the 2xxx’s are a much better idea than the digital interface. I find it strange that the price is so much lower than the legacy models though. It seems like the Ascent line is an upgrade in (almost) every way.

    • I agree that the day after Christmas is a poor launch date. If you want an Ascent model, you can probably return your 7500. (Vitamix has a generous 30-day trial period.)

      Do you have a source on high-quality digital knob, display, and touch components wearing badly?

      As far as displays and digital knobs go, I’ve seen plenty of 20-year-old car radios (that use digital display and knob) working fine without problems, and I haven’t heard of them being a problem. Touch panels haven’t been around as long, but my guess is that high-quality ones should last fine. I had a cheap touch panel scale that started acting up after a few months, but that was low quality. The other example I can think of are mobile device touchscreens, but a) those can last a long time, b) they get a lot more abuse, and c) I don’t think they are totally comparable, since the blender touch panel has big fixed-position touch buttons.

      • I am actually wondering the same thing. Is the ascent really an upgrade in every way? Pricing wise the legacy series can come out to be cheaper if you consider the availability of recertified units. More importantly containers for the Ascent series aren’t out and we don’t know the pricing on them. The legacy series has those 32 oz containers and we know the price for them. The biggest advantage of the Ascent series is the ability to use 20 oz and 8 oz containers. But if you don’t plan to buy those containers the advantages are moot.

  6. Some sources say this new line of blenders is “quieter”. In your opinion, is the Ascent any quieter than the Heritage Pro 750? Thank you.

      • OK, thank you very much. I’m quite happy with my Pro 750 Heritage, but I was wondering if I should have waited for the new Ascent models. They look very nice, I must say. I like the clear lid.

  7. Regarding the A3300 (and apparently the other new Ascent blenders), PRNewswire relates the following information:

    “Attendees [at the Consumer Electronics Show] will see how the Vitamix A3300 Ascent Series blender communicates with the Vitamix® Perfect Blend™ Smart Scale and Recipe App to detect the type of blending container being used and modify the desired recipe accordingly.

    “‘If, for example, a user selects a smoothie to make in the Recipe App, the Perfect Blend Smart Scale will automatically determine the size of the container being used – whether it’s the 64-ounce low-profile container or the smaller 16-ounce or 8-ounce containers – and adjust the recipe as needed,’ said Mark Fleming, Vice President, Product Management and Engineering for Vitamix. ‘Through wireless technology, the scale, blender and app are all connected and work together to make the consumer more confident and successful in the kitchen.'”

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/vitamix-unveiling-cutting-edge-blending-technology-at-consumer-electronics-show-300386449.html#continue-jump

    Can you elaborate based on your own and sources within Vitamix? For example, would it be possible to use an app to “program” the A3300 and A3500 for a particular recipe? If so, a major difference in functionality between the two blenders is substantially reduced. If not, what’s the full story?

    Thanks.

    • I strongly suspected that the Ascent wireless technology would eventually be used with the Perfect Blend Smart Scale, but, so far, Vitamix has not told me anything about it. So that press release you found has more information than I had up until reading it.

      It’s too soon to know the full story. I believe the functionality described in that press release is in an unreleased version of the Perfect Blend App. I will update as I find out more.

  8. Do you think the price is an “introductory” one which will become more expensive after a short time? It does seem strange that the new Ascent models are less $ than the ones they are going to replace.

  9. Geez, the thought of phasing out the 5200 (especially with the tall container) is chilling. I think it’s perfect–you can use it for small amounts, you have the option of very slow speeds at the low end of the variable spectrum, and it’s durable and versatile as hell. And what about the dry container?? We’ve been told for years (since at least the release of the 5000) that it was the way to go if one wanted to grind rather than blend–I still remember when they were 64 oz instead of the current 32. I dunno . . . as tempting as I find the Ascent 3300, I can’t imagine life without my my 5200-ish Prep 3.

    My guess is that Vitamix isn’t about to discontinue the Prep models because they’re such a commercial mainstay but the warranty isn’t nearly as good. It just seems to me that they’re throwing out the baby with the bathwater. 🙁

  10. Do you know if the 8oz cup or smaller containers will be able to be used with the programs/presets? It would make sense that if it knows what container your using, the smoothie program (for example) would adjust for the 20 oz cup in time and speed?? Would the hot soup program work in 20 0z cup or even 8oz (hehe).

    • Yes the small container will be able to be used with the programs. And yes, part of the idea of the Self Detect is that it will adjust time and speed for the container being used.

      The hot soup program will be disabled with the 8- and 20-oz containers, because they are not vented. If you were to run them for extended periods and heat built up, pressure would also build up, and they would either explode, or spurt hot liquid/steam when you unscrewed the blade assembly.

  11. Adam – I have the Professional Series 750. Does the Asscent models have the exact same power and speed as the 750? Is the only difference just the wifi, touchscreen and the new smaller containers?

    • Power and speed are basically the same. The speed response to the dial is a bit different (see the speed plot above for details). There are other differences beyond what you mentioned. For a quick overview see the summary at the end of this post, or this Ascent vs. Legacy section I just wrote for my Vitamix comparison page.

      • Thanks. So all else being equal, would you recommend the new Asscent over the Pro 750? And if so, which particular Asscent model would you choose?

        • Yes, I do recommend the Ascent Series. Basic blending performance will be mostly the same, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend ditching an old model, but in a side-by-side comparison I think the new Ascent features easily win out. The only significant downside to the Ascent right now is if you want a secondary narrow container, they aren’t available yet (but they are coming soon.)

          The analogous Ascent model to the Pro 750 is the A3500, with its 5 program modes and premium metal shell. If price were not a major concern, I would pick the A3500, but, if I were feeling more price-sensitive, I wouldn’t be disappointed with the A2300.

          • Thanks. I have a spare 32 oz container for the 750 – but you are saying they will make a 32 oz container soon for the Ascent Series?

          • I don’t know about 32-oz, but a 48-oz container (with the same narrow base as the 32-oz) is in the works. They don’t have a release date for it yet though. And the 8- and 20-oz containers will be good for small volume tasks that don’t require the tamper.

  12. Could someone with computer skills make and sell a chip that one could attach to the bottom of some of the legacy containers that would make them usable on the Ascent series blenders?
    Or is there some physical impediment to doing that?

    • I wondered about this myself. Using an unapproved container would of course void the warranty, but I was still curious. The chip in the Ascent containers can be detected by NFC readers (present in most modern Android devices). With an NFC tools app I was able to see that the chip type is an NXP NTAG216 Mifare Ultralight C. Ultralight C cards use cryptographic authentication to prevent cloning. I tried cloning it anyway to a writable NXP NTAG216 tag using an Android app, and, not surprisingly, the new tag did not unlock the Ascent base.

      So, it’s not a physical impediment exactly, but it would require some more sophisticated cracking. I don’t know how feasible that is.

      (There is a physical impediment to using the Legacy 32-oz container, because the four centering posts on Ascent are a different shape. The Legacy 48-oz and 64-oz containers fit on the Ascent base, but, of course, won’t work unless you figure out how to bypass the Self Detect.)

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