Bosch SHP65T55UC
Bosch SHP65T55UC

Best dishwasher

Reviews point to the Bosch SHP65T55UC as one terrific dishwasher. Operation is nearly silent, users and experts say. Cleaning performance is top-shelf, with only minor caveats. Energy usage is low. Rounding things out, this Bosch is packed with features not normally found in dishwashers in its price range. It's part of the Bosch 500 Series of dishwashers, which includes models with different door and color options, as well as an extra feature or two, but all are equally strong performers.
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GE Profile PDT750SSFSS
GE Profile PDT750SSFSS

High-performance dishwasher

The GE Profile PDT750SSFSS scores highly in user and expert reviews. Its most popular feature is four raised Bottle Wash Jets that do a terrific job of getting the insides of taller items sparkling clean. Overall cleaning performance is excellent as well, with only a few minor stumbles noted. This GE Profile is a couple of dB quieter than the Bosch SHP65T55UC, though experts and users rave over the noise levels of both dishwashers. There's no third rack, as found in the Bosch, so capacity and loading flexibility are lower.

Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR75UC
Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR75UC

Best value dishwasher

Reviewers say that the Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR75UC provides an outstanding combination of cleaning performance, energy efficiency, convenience and bang for the buck. It's not the most feature-packed dishwasher you can buy, but it delivers what matters most -- spotlessly clean dishes. It also scores well when it comes to low noise. The Bosch Ascenta series includes a number of additional models that differ in color, door design and minor features, but that work every bit as well.
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Amana ADB1100AWB
Amana ADB1100AWB

Cheap dishwasher

The Amana ADB1100AWB is an excellent choice if your top priority is consistently clean dishware at the lowest possible price. It's notably noisier than the top-rated dishwashers and has fewer features. However, it sells for a lot less and gets dishes cleaner than any other dishwasher in its price range -- and outperforms many dishwashers that sell for more. Like all good dishwashers, it's Energy Star qualified, so operating costs are low as well.

Sunpentown SD-2201W
Sunpentown SD-2201W

Best portable dishwasher

In a situation where a built-in dishwasher isn't possible, the Sunpentown SD-2201W countertop dishwasher makes a terrific alternative. Dishwashing performance is as good as many full-sized dishwashers, and energy efficiency of this Energy Star qualified model is exemplary. It's not feature packed, but the five dishwasher cycles can aptly handle most tasks. Though the SD-2201W is slightly louder than the quietest dishwashers, it's quite a bit quieter than many lower-priced models. Installation is easy, as long as you have a sink nearby.
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See a side-by-side comparison of key features, product specs, and prices.

Dishwashers save work and energy

Even if you've purchased a dishwasher as recently as five or 10 years ago, you may be surprised at how much cleaning performance has improved since then. In addition, energy and water efficiency has increased and exceedingly quiet operation has become a given.

With top-rated machines, dishes that previously required significant pre-rinsing can now be dropped right into the dishwasher, even if they have gooey or baked-on food. Sensors, once available only at the very high end, are now offered on many mid-range and even budget dishwashers. These automatically adjust the cycle to deliver just the right cleaning power while conserving both water and electricity. Engineering advancements and improvements in sound insulation mean you might be near your dishwasher and not even know it's on -- though the very quietest machines have a filter that needs to be manually emptied on occasion.

Types of dishwashers

There are two basic types of dishwashers -- built-in and portable. Built-ins are installed into the kitchen, just like other major appliances such as ovens or refrigerators. Most built-ins have a single interior space. Independent dishwasher drawers are another option. Once thought to be the next great thing, dishwasher drawers are only offered by a few makers. On the plus side, dishwasher drawers can be loaded and operated independently of one another. On the negative side, the individual compartments are substantially smaller than standard dishwashers -- inconvenient for even moderately sized families.

Built-in dishwashers run from about $300 to as much as $2,000. Higher prices bring you more features, greater flexibility, and higher styling -- but not necessarily better performance. Top-end machines can also be among the very quietest, but sound insulation on even some moderately priced dishwashers has advanced to the point where  they can be as quiet as very expensive machines -- at least most of the time.

Most built-in dishwashers, including budget models, meet current Energy Star ratings for energy and water usage. These dishwashers must be at least 5 percent more energy efficient and 15 percent more water efficient than nonqualified models.

Portable dishwashers are mainly used in apartments or small homes, where space limitations or rental agreements make permanent installation impossible. These models can be on casters, so they can roll away for storage, or they may be designed to sit on a countertop. Generally smaller than built-ins, portables attach manually to a faucet for their water supply. Once known as annoyingly noisy energy hogs, today's portables can be as energy efficient and quiet as their built-in counterparts.

Portables tend to run between $200 and $1,000, with higher prices corresponding largely to more interior space. Roll-away portables are still available and popular, but we noted better -- and more -- feedback for countertop dishwashers.

When you are comparing prices of either built-ins or portables, keep in mind that an energy-efficient model can save you money over the long term on your electric and water bills, so it may pay to spend a bit more upfront. In addition, some local utilities offer rebates if you purchase an Energy Star-rated model.

Finding the best dishwashers

To find the best dishwashers, including budget dishwashers that perform like champs, we analyzed expert and owner reviews. Among the experts, top review sites include ConsumerReports.org and Reviewed.com. Both have lots of dishwasher reviews and they perform hands on tests of the models that they rate. J.D. Power and Associates doesn't test or rate individual dishwashers but does conduct a large annual survey to assess owner satisfaction with brands.

User reviews fill in the back story of how a dishwasher performs in the home. Top sites for those include BestBuy.com, Amazon.com, Sears.com (for Kenmore models) and HomeDepot.com -- with one caveat. While BestBuy.com and Amazon.com only post original reviews, some  other sites might also post reviews that originally appeared elsewhere -- typically manufacturer web sites. While such reviews are valid, and usually balanced, they appear again and again on multiple sites across the web. We only consider such reviews once in analyzing which dishwashers are truly best liked by their owners.

Once that data is analyzed, we boil things down further by placing particular attention on four key factors: performance, ease of use, noise and cost of ownership (which includes energy efficiency). We also consider dishwasher prices and the relative value offered by different models. The final result is our list of Best Reviewed dishwashers.

Elsewhere in this report:

Best Dishwashers: If you want useful features, energy efficiency, quiet operation and, spotless dishes every time, these models are your best bets among built-in dishwashers

Best Value Dishwashers: Looking for a solid performing dishwasher that won't wash away your bankroll? These dishwashers perform better than their price tags might indicate.

Best Portable Dishwashers: If a built-in dishwasher won't work in your kitchen, these portable dishwashers can be a surprisingly strong alternative. Top countertop and roll-away dishwashers are discussed.

Buying Guide: We discuss what you need to consider when figuring out which dishwasher is best for you.  These are the key factors you need to consider when shopping for the best model.

Our Sources: These are the expert and user reviews we used to name the top built-in and portable dishwashers, along with some budget-saving alternatives. They are ranked in the order of their helpfulness and expertise.

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