Tower Compact versus Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 air fryer: which is best?

A duo of compact air fryers that are aimed at solo eaters or couples who want the benefits without the bulk of a larger appliance

Tower Compact versus Instant Vortx
(Image credit: Tower / Instant)

While I’ve tried all the best air fryer models out there I’m still looking for one that offers up more of a compact solution. There’s no doubt an air fryer can help shave a little off your energy bills, because in some cases they can be quicker and more efficient than putting on the oven. No problem with that. 

However, many current air fryers are a little on the bulky side, which has left me with a quandary when choosing one for a relative with limited countertop and storage space.

So, I’ve recently been trying both the Tower Compact and Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 air fryer in a bid to try and decide which is best for my needs. Both are smaller than your average air fryer, with a compact footprint and specification aimed at folks who want all the benefits but don’t want the bulk. 

Naturally, there are some compromises by downsizing with an air fryer, not least of which is the lower capacity. However, I’m looking to buy one for someone living on their own, who eats fairly small meals and doesn’t have the desire to master lots of controls.

In that respect then, both the Tower Compact and the Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 air fryer look to be obvious candidates. But which one is going to be best?

Tower T17025 Vortex Compact 1.5L Air Fryer

(Image credit: Tower)

Tower Compact versus Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 air fryer: price, availability and what are they?

You can pick up the Tower Compact or Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 air fryer right not, although rising demand for these appliances might make them a little harder to get than normal. 

Nevertheless, they are widely available online from outlets including Amazon. Expect to pay around £80 for the Tower Compact and the Instant Vortex about £85. At one time both could frequently be found discounted, but with sales of air fryers continuing to rocket the likelihood of getting money off either seems less likely.

Both the Tower Compact and the Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 appliances are air fryers, which in many cases allow you to cook food faster and more efficiently. They work like mini convection ovens, so heat food using an electric element and fan system that doesn’t actually fry food as such. 

However, so good is the formula that an air fryer like either of these models can be used to cook everything from chips – both frozen and from scratch, through to cuts of meat and vegetables too.

Instant Vortex Mini

(Image credit: Instant)

Tower Compact versus Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 air fryer: features

If you’re in the market for a compact air fryer then it’s entirely likely you’ll be presented with less features than are found in larger, more sophisticated appliances. That’s fine for me, as I want a machine that’s going to be easy to use, doesn’t require hours of studying a manual to master and can be used by an elderly relative who has issues with dexterity. 

In that respect, both the Tower Compact and the Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 air fryer make ideal candidates. They’ve got a basic set of features, but are simple to operate and require very little supervision, save for keeping an eye on them while cooking is taking place. That’s par for the course with any air fryer though.

The main thing with both is the compact size. The Tower has is 20cm deep and has a width of 22cm while the 30cm height certainly makes it easy to keep on a countertop. Meanwhile, the Instant Vortex is 28.6cm deep, 22.91cm wide and 29.79cm high, so there’s not a lot in it in terms of size comparisons. It weighs in at just 3.3kg whereas the Tower is just 3kg but, again, there’s not that much in it.

In terms of capacity, the former offers up 1.5 litres of cooking space, via a standard slide out basket, whereas the latter has 2 litres. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that both appliances do have limitations because of this size. And, while these are maximum capacity figures, it’s also worth remembering that air fryers work best if there’s a decent amount of room to let air circulate. So, you’ll want to put less food in the basket than the full capacity to let cooking take place properly.

 

Tower T17025 Vortex Compact 1.5L Air Fryer

(Image credit: Tower)

Tower Compact versus Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 air fryer: performance

The Tower Compact comes with a 1.5 litre capacity and 900 Watts of power, which isn’t a lot, but you’ve got to remember that this is a machine designed, realistically, to meet the needs of solo eaters or couples. 

The Instant Vortex is the more powerful machine, with 1300 Watts to play with and there’s a 2 litre capacity slide out compartment for cooking duties. In terms of specification then, the Instant Vortx looks to be the more potent and accommodating of the two appliances.

Features-wise, both appliances can do the basics to great effect, with options to air fry, roast, bake and reheat. You can select a temperature range of up to 400°F or 205°C with the Instant Vortex, whereas the Tower machine offers a range between 80-200°C, so the latter is less potent on that front too. 

However, the temperature dial might be more appealing to those who like to feel the benefit of proper manual controls, especially as opposed to the touch controls offered up by the Instant Vortex. Both appliances do work as expected though, with the simplistic functionality making them both equally appealing.

Tower T17025 Vortex Compact 1.5L Air Fryer

(Image credit: Tower)

Tower Compact versus Instant Vortex Mini 4-in-1 air fryer: which one should I buy?

One of the main selling points of the Tower Compact, especially if you’re in the UK will be the familiarity of the brand name. Tower sells a lot of air fryers and this model is as good as any other in the range though the compromise on capacity and lack of features needs to be considered. However, the Instant Vortex shouldn’t be overlooked if you’re not familiar with the name as this is the same company that makes Instant Pot machines, which are brilliant too.

There’s certainly not much difference here in terms of price and the capacity and set of features and functions in either makes it a difficult call on which is the better of the two. That said, the Instant Vortex is the more powerful of the two and there’s a half litre more capacity too. 

You can also get the Instant Vortex in a range of colours, but in terms of what they both deliver you get much the same result and in much the same timeframe. I’m inclined to plump for the Tower, mainly because I like the way the controls are so easy to master and the 1.5 litre capacity is just about right for the needs of my elderly relative.

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.