This article was updated in October 2017 to reflect changes in the Bosch dishwasher lineup
Bosch dishwashers are incredibly popular, but—like most home appliances—they have horrendously confusing names.
To the average customer, the 500 Series looks just like the 800 Series, and model numbers like SHXM63WS5N and SHPM65W55N all blend together. But, what do those series designations mean, and why do they matter?
That’s why the editors at Reviewed.com are here to help. After you’ve read our guide to Bosch dishwashers, you’ll be able to tell an Ascenta from a Benchmark, and a pocket handle from an external control.
Amazingly, the line used to be even more complicated, but Bosch simplified things a few years back, deleting the “Plus” designations. Now, there are five flavors of Bosch to choose from, each with its own colors, handles, and special features. Generally speaking, you get more features when you spend more money. Here are the differences, and how to tell them all apart.
What's The Same
All Bosch dishwashers have a few things in common: They can be mounted flush with cabinetry for a built-in look and they have a detergent dispenser designed for tablets. The 300, 500, 800, and Benchmark Series dishwashers all use the same wash system. The only differences are what options and features they add.
Every 300, 500, 800, and Benchmark dishwasher comes with with RackMatic, which allows users to more easily adjust the height of the upper rack among 3 height levels and 9 tilt positions to fit more items. (Some Ascenta models also offer RackMatic.) Models with hidden controls feature Bosch's InfoLight—a light that beams down on the floor to let you know when the dishwasher is operating. Some Benchmark Series dishwashers have TimeLight, which projects the actual time remaining on the floor beneath the dishwasher.
The Ascenta Series
Ascenta dishwashers are Bosch’s entry-level offering. They range in price from $450 to $650 and are all manufactured in North Carolina. Unlike higher-end models, Ascenta dishwashers have a hybrid tub—it’s made of stainless set into a plastic base. Counting color combinations, there are 12 dishwashers in the series. They're available in black, white, and stainless.
Sound ratings range from 46 dBA to 50 dBa, which is louder than other Bosch models, but quieter than many competitors. The “scoop handle” design—an indent beneath the exterior-facing controls—is unique to Ascenta and some models in the 300 Series.
The 300 Series
Counting colors, handles, and other options, there are 30 dishwashers in the 300 Series. Each 300 Series features an all-stainless tub and two racks. With the exception of the German-made 18-inch model, they’re all made in North Carolina. The 300 Series dishwashers' sale prices range from $670 to $990, and their sound ratings range from 44 dBA to 46 dBA. New for 2017, they all come standard with third racks and RackMatic.
Unique to the 300, 800, and Benchmark Series are models with a built-in water softener. Though these models cost a bit more, they can help keep spots off your glassware.
There are two different styles of front-mounted controls, or your choice of a traditional "bar" handle or a recessed "pocket" handle. A panel-ready model is also available.
Models with a bar handle and hidden controls are only available in stainless steel. Oddly, some well-optioned models cost more than any 500 Series dishwasher.
The 500 Series
With only 10 options, the Bosch 500 Series is the simplest in the company's lineup. 500 Series dishwashers have all the same features as the 300 Series, but add a more flexible third rack setup. They range in price from $805 for pocket-handle models to $855 for the single bar-handle model.
New for 2017, all 500 Series dishwashers are rated at 44 dBA. Like the 300 Series, models with a pocket handle or recessed handle are available in black, white, and stainless steel.
The 800 Series
You'll find the most choice within the 800 Series. Some models are similar to those in the 500 Series, but with a lower sound rating and additional folding tines. Hidden control models also have touch-sensitive buttons. But move up the line, and you'll find water softeners and even a model with smartphone connectivity.
The new Bosch MyWay third rack is only available on some 800 Series and Benchmark dishwashers. It is angled to fit deeper items like cereal bowls, serving utensils, and ramekins. The second rack can still fit tall items underneath.
There are now 30 dishwashers in the 800 Series—twice as many as years past. They range in price from $809 to $1170, and have sound ratings as low as 39 dBA.
The Benchmark Series
Benchmark sits at the very top of the Bosch lineup. Most of the dishwashers in the Benchmark line are made in Germany, and they have every feature from the 800 Series—and more. For instance, LEDs light up the interior when you open the door.
You get your choice of hidden handles or color LCD displays, and many models have built-in water softeners. Sound ratings are exceptionally quiet— as low as 38 dBA, the quietest dishwasher on the market. Of course, the prices match the luxury quotient. They range from $1,299 to $1,999 and are generally only available from independent retailers.
The Model Number Tells All
If you get confused, the best way to learn more about the dishwasher you’re buying is by taking a look at the model number.
Though model numbers may look randomly generated, every SKU tells a story. For example, let’s examine the SHE33T55UC. Just from looking at this number, you can tell it’s a 24-inch model with external controls in the 300 Series, with a stainless finish. How?
• The initial S tells us that the product is a dishwasher. (A model number starting with a B is a fridge, and an H is a microwave.)
• If the second letter is an H, it’s a standard 24-inch model. If it’s a G, it’s a 24-inch ADA compliant model. If it’s a P, the dishwasher is a compact, ADA-compliant 18-inch model.
• The third letter tells us what the handle and display combination is. An E, for instance, means external controls. X means the dishwasher has a bar handle, while a P means the dishwasher has a pocket handle. A V means the dishwasher is panel ready.
• The fourth digit tells us what series the dishwasher is in. 3 = 300 Series. A = Ascenta, 5 = 500 Series, 8 = 800 Series, and P = Benchmark.
• The eighth digit tells what color the machine is. 5 = Stainless, 6 = Black, 2 = White, and 3 = Panel Ready.
Simple enough, right? Armed with this information, you can find the right dishwasher for your needs.