There's no way around the fact the Vitamix is an expensive investment for serious kitchen activity. What it does, it does resoundingly well, earning a reputation for excellent performance and durability measured in decades. Consumer Reports recently tested an array of blenders available on the market, and perhaps not surprisingly, a premium Vitamix blender came out on top...but closely followed by a much more modestly priced 2nd place model.
During Consumer Reports' latest round of blender tests (sorry, ratings and recommendations sections are only available to subscribers), 70 blenders ranging from $60 to $650 were tested and ranked according to features and performance. The $450 Vitamix 5200 rated as their top pick, thanks to its monstrous ability to crush ice, efficiency at obliterating whole fruit into consistent smoothie form, and even the ability to make hot soup right in the blender.
But, Consumer Report's testers also noted the modestly priced, top-mounted motor $60 Ninja Master Prep Professional QB1004 was a surprisingly capable blender option for a fraction of the price compared to the top-tier models. Of course, it's probably unlikely the Ninja Master will outlast the Vitamix long term, but reviews online are overwhelmingly glowing about its price, easy cleaning, and solid construction, making it a capable and affordable option if the Vitamix is currently out of the budget.