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Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

Posted by dgjr3 (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 3, 02 at 11:22

Can anyone compare the positives and negatives of the two grills? The appear similar.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

I too would like some info on these grills. I was ready to get the Medallion from Home Depot until I stumble upon this forum. Yes, I am a newbie.
I have searched these forums but there is so much conflicting info, so please settle this.

The virco seems to have everything i need at a great price, but it's LP. With the Virco conversion kit, will i still need to make modifications with drilling to get it to work properly including low and high settings? If not, will the included instruction suffice or will i have to refer to instruction on this forum?

Some has said that there is a MM $1500 NG version out now and a $600 version due in Novermber. Is this worth waiting for? Is there a rotis and side burner for the $600 MM?

Anybody had luck with getting a side burner for the medallion by vermont casting grill? Expo Home design sells the grill, but won't order the side burner. Haven't gotten an answer from home depot yet.

I am leaning towards the Virco but wanted to make sure that conversion is EASY and relatively foolproof without extra drilling required.


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

the MM $600.00 does have a rotis and side burner. It is more Comparable to the Vermont Castings as far as looks than the Virco all SS. the $1500.00 MM from Sams Club looks very similar to the Virco, maybe a little bigger, but all SS too.


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

The Virco LP to NG gas conversion kit does not require you do any drilling, but you do need to be capable of putting together gas fittings properly. It comes with decent enough instructions, and there are people here who have installed the kit with no problems. I have the grill and the kit but have not installed it. Not because it's too difficult, but because I don't have a natural gas line to that area. For now, for my degree of usage, propane is just fine. I also like the portability it offers.


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

I bought the $1500 MM Y0660 a few months ago. I, too, considered the Virco. These are my comments.

The Virco is probably a better value. Eight hundred dollars for an all-stainless grill is impressive. But after looking at the Y0660, that was the grill for me.

The Y0660 seems to be constructed out of a heavier gauge steel. Everything about it feels more solid. The cabinet is all double-walled, making it very robust. The doors are twice as thick as the Virco. The cover (lid) that covers the side burner is much stronger and doesn't flex as much as the Virco. It simply has more quality, something that is hard to describe in text, but obvious if you objectively compare the two grills. This is, in no way, meant to be a negative for the Virco. It's just that the Y0660 is a higher-quality product WITH a higher price to go with it.

The brass ring on the side burner on the Y0660 is heavier and thicker. Does that make it better? Perhaps not but I would prefer the thicker one.

The Y0660's drip tray is full width. It extends under the side burner. The Virco's does not.

The Y0660's drip tray glides out on casters. The Virco's does not. It just slides in a slot.

The Y0660 has a built-in smoker box with a dedicated burner. This is very cool. The Virco does not have a smoker box.

The Y0660's temperature gauge doesn't break. ;-)

I can easily reach temps in excess of 600 F on my Y0660. I don't know what the limit is because 600 is adequate for me. I've seen about 620-630 F on a couple occasions.

The Y0660 has a (slightly) larger grilling surface. The extra rack is a heavier gauge as are the grids, if I'm not mistaken.

The Y0660's cabinet is a large step up from the Virco. It has two center drawers, on casters. It has a dedicated gas tank door. The tank sits on a shelf that is on casters and extends out to swap tanks. This is a very nice feature. One of the doors has a built-in spice rack and a welded rod to hold a roll of paper towels. The doors has brass latches to hold them closed.

The Y0660 uses a ceramic plate flame control design versus the conventional stainless steel waffle panels that is common to many of the high-end grills. Personally, I initally preferred to have the SS plates but after using this ceramic system, I like it better. The ceramic system holds the heat much better when you open the lid. The temp doesn't drop as much as with SS plates. The only negative is that it holds the heat much longer after you are finished cooking so you have to wait longer to clean & cover the grill. But that's a small price to pay considering how well it works while cooking. Also, the ceramic plates rest on a heavy SS grid, which should wear well. The plates are inexpensive to replace. Also worth mentioning is that flare-ups aren't a problem. I kind of expected this to be an issue with the ceramic system.

The handle of the grill lid seems heavier as does the lid itself. It's seams are nicely welded, ground and polished, just like the Virco.

The Y0660 has two thick-wall stainless fold down side trays and a very simple but strong design to attach them.

My Y0660 does not show any signs of discoloration on the lid. The double-wall'd lid has a larger air gap between walls and a greater area of the lid is double-wall'd compared to the Virco.

The Y0660 has some neat options available. You can remove one of the three main racks and substitute a griddle, iron skillet or even a deep fryer. Actually, you could use all three of these at once, if you choose.

The Virco does have some stronger points as well. The panel that houses the rear IR burner is stainless on the Virco, black powder-coated steel on the Y0660. I really wish this was upgraded to SS. The Virco has SS burners, the Y0660 uses a heavy porcelin-coated cast iron. There is quite a debate as to which is better, a thin-wall welded SS tube or heavy cast iron. I don't know which is better but I would prefer to have SS. I guess Grand Hall will soon have SS burners available for the Y0660. I will probably get them when they are available.

I ordered the cover from Grand Hall and am dissapointed. For the $45 cost, it is a cheap vinyl cover without padding and IT LEAKS!!! I called Grand Hall to complain and they told me "Yes, it's not designed to be waterproof". What? It's a cover, the FIRST thing it should be is waterproof. The Virco comes with a lined grill cover, don't know if it's waterproof or not but I would bet that it is.

So, as you can see, I am very pleased with my choice. But I am not trying to knock the Virco. The Virco is a steal at eight hundred dollars. But if your budget allows, the Y0660 is a step up in refinement, features and size. It is truly very close in quality to a DCS, Viking or Thermador type grill. It make VERY few sacrifices considering it is about $3500 cheaper. That's right, about 1/3rd the cost.

Good luck with whatever grill you choose. -Terry


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

Nice work Another_terry!

I would disagree that the hood is lighter, I checked out both models and the MM seemed lighter to me, but we will have a weigh off to prove who is right (ha ;-)

I also think the VIrco has double walled doors, but I will agree the MM cabinetry is awesome with the extra doors and features.

I also think the Virco has more BTU, but honestly the temps are high enough to sear, burn, whatever so at what point are you wasting gas anyway?

I don't like the Virco knobs much. They seem a little cheap and loose, the latter can be remedied. It is rumored that the new MM might have SS knobs. Very cool.

I think I would like the ceramic plates for more even heat distribution as long as they were not a pain to clean. Definitely prefer SS burners, but understand that is up for debate.

The cover that comes with the Virco is awesome (and waterproof).

My 2 as a Virco owner who has looked over the MM at the store (Sams)


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

Yes, the Virco has double wall doors, and the hood is doublewall also.

The only problem I've had with the knobs is that if you lean against the grill, it can be enought to turn on the burner valve without any sparc. But this only happens if I'm working on something onr or behind the grill and forget to turn off the propane first. I've had no problem with the knob quality, though. I expanded the valve stems first thing to let the knobs get a better grip on the stems, so none have fallen off and broken on the concrete.

There is some play in the valve stems themselves, but on a par if not a bit better than the $600 Grand Hall stuff. Not sure about the $1500 GH valve play.


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

I have been looking at grills for a few months now. I have also been lurking on the forum for awhile. What a great resource for info. and details about grills!

The Virco's that I have looked at in several Costcos all have a rounded dent on the front just under the hood. It is cosmetically unappealing but does it serve some functional purpose I am unaware of?


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

That sounds like shipping damage.


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

spambdamn_rich,

Am I missing something? My Virco has a single-walled hood. I thought I was crazy but I double checked. It is my only critique of the grill but for the money I am very pleased. Maybe I'll call Virco Associates and ask.

Maybe you got the "Deluxe Edition" ;- )

Thoughts?


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

The front portion of the hood is double walled. The sides are not. Check around the hole where the thermometer is mounted.

Mine is double walled there. I haven't checked all the ones in the stores, but I'd be surprised if they weren't all the same as mine.


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

Slow reply to Delray,

Thanks, glad you enjoyed the comparision. I tried to be as objective as possible, even though I owned one of the two grill in the comparision. The main point I was trying to make is that these grills really don't compete against each other, one grill is almost twice the price of the other one. So you would EXPECT more features and a heavier construction on the more expensive grill, which the Y0660 delivers except for a few small details.

Your Virco does indeed have double-walled doors. That's what makes them stiff. The MM doors are thicker, which might look more impressive to some, but really aren't much of a difference.

Concerning BTUs, the Virco has 3x20K for a total of 60K BTUs for the main grill (excluding IR panel). The MM Y0660 has 3x18K for a total of 54K BTUs but also has a 6K smoker tray burner that can be used to bring the total up to 60K too.

Virco knobs not too good? MM knobs probably not much better. Before this grill I had a "Professional" grill which is a store brand grill sold by Home Depot's Expo Center. It was actually made by Charbroil and was priced at $1000. It had superb stainless knobs, nicer that any Viking or DCS or whatever. Wish I could get a few of those. BTW, after looking at the Virco, I was convinced to sell my "Pro" grill and upgrade to a Virco which was $200 CHEAPER. If anyone doesn't think the Virco is a superb value, go look at the "Pro" at Expo Center. Again, I'm not trying to slam that grill, just pointing out that the Virco is a far better value. I could write a detailed comparison of that grill, if anyone is interested.

Delray, the ceramic plates are easy to clean, just wire brush them a bit and flip them from time-to-time. The jury's still out on this one, for me. The only high-end company to use ceramics is DCS, everyone else uses stainless flame tamers similar to the Virco. But, DCS is the supreme grill which ALL others should be measured against, IMO. So maybe these plates are the way to go, I don't know. I'm just not totally convinced yet.

Glad to hear your cover is waterproof, as it should be.

BTW, I had dinner last weekend at a friends house on his Virco. He is very pleased with it.

-Terry


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

Terry:

I'd very much like to hear your comparision of the Expo "Professional" to your MM, since I'm looking at both of those plus the Virco. For starters, correct me if I'm wrong, but Expo doesn't offer the Pro with a rotissirie, do they? That alone is a disadvantage vis-a-vis the Virco and MM. P.S. in your post, you said that DCS is the only high-end grill to offer ceramic elements; I know of at least one other -- the Turbo line sold by Barbecues Galore -- that also uses ceramic (in their case, briquettes). I suspect there are others.

Thanks in advance for telling us more about the "Professional".


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

Bubbens,

Just a quick reply. I will try to write that comparison this evening or tomorrow, too busy to do it now.

I'm not familiar with Barbecues Galore. The grills I was referring to are the multi-thousand dollar ones like DCS, TEC, Viking, Wolf, Thermador, Dacor, etc. Were is the BBQ Galore priced?

-Terry


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

Expo "professional"? The only one I recall at Expo was the Medallion made by Vermount Castings. Is this what you are referring to? It is not all stainless however.
There's a small size (about 25-27 inch grill head) for $600 with no side burner or back burner and a larger one (30 inch) with back burner but no side burner for $900.


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

Terry,

Barbecues Galore sells their own line, Turbo, which is/are made in Sydney, Australia, and also carries other well-known griills such as Jenn-Air (the really expensive SS ones, not the ones they sell at Lowe's), DCS, Weber, and Beefmaster (which I think is actually a smaller, less-impressive Virco). The Turbos range in price from about $800 up to around $3,000, and I believe that every single one uses ceramic briquettes incorporated into a grid. I've done a lot of Web surfing looking for grills, and while I can't tell you for certain right off the top of my head, I'm reasonably certain that I've come across other high-end SS grills that use ceramic. Clearly, though, not every manfacturer agrees that its necessary or desirable to use. As for "The Professional," it IS made by Charbroil, and the smaller version does go for $800 (there's a larger one for $1,000). But I misspoke: what I recall it (the Professional) was missing was a side-burner, not a rotissirie, and the Expo salesman told me that they will not order them with side burners. Expo, by the way, sells a LOT of gas grills, from $5,000 DCS and other models to Webers (and yes, including the Medallion by VC). I'll look forward to your comparison, Terry. Thanks.


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

Mini-review of Expo's Professional grill and a comparision to the Virco.

After five or six years of frustration using my Weber (not enough heat) I decided to consider an upgrade. I really wanted the Weber to work, but I just couldn't get the temp over 450F. One day at Home Depot I saw the Straublestone (misspelled, I'm sure) and felt that was an upgrade at a reasonable price. So, before buying that I shopped around to be sure of my choice. One of the trips included a trip to Home Depot's Expo Center. This place is loaded with all the high-end grills, very painful to go in there because I want to buy ALL of them. ;-) But on this trip they had a new grill called the 'Professional'. It was priced at $1000 (actually $999 I think) and upon inspection it looked almost as good as the others that they had and a considerably lower price. I also strongly considered the $900 'Jenn-Air' which is really made by Vermont Castings. I choose the Pro over the Jenn-Air due to construction. It was almost all stainless where as the VC was not. So I coughed up my $1000 and went home a happy kid with his new toy.

Well, about three months later I spot the Virco during a trip to Costco. Sheesh, two hundred dollars cheaper and ALL stainless. So I set out to sell the Pro (at a loss, of course) and buy a Virco. But I ended up with the MM Y0660 as explained earlier in this thread.

The Pro grill is made by Charbroil for the Expo Center. They have also introduced a smaller, 45K BTU, 3-burner model for $800. Both grills has an unlimited warranty on the SS, a 10 year warranty on the burners and a 2 year warranty on any other part. Both grill come with a heavy-duty rotisserie standard and no side-burner. I don't know if this is an option, but I don't think that it is. The grill does not include a cover. It did come assembled at no additional charge. These grills arrived at the Expo unassembled and they sub-contract the assembly at their store.

The Pro grill, while still a good product, seems to be overpriced when compared to the Virco. The Pro grill uses four 15K BTU cast iron burners for a 60K BTU total, same as the Virco. I was able to reach an indicated 550+ and I could tell that it was noticeably hotter than my old POS Weber.

The pro's single biggest weak link is its drip tray design. First, it's fabricated out of epoxied or powder-coated steel, not stainless. Second, it is only accessable from the rear which makes it a bit of a pain to clean. and third, the dang thing is so poorly designed that it barely slides in it's slot. The tolerances are so poor that it wants to come out of its track and fall on one side or the other. It's hard to explain, but trust me, it sucks big time. I was so frustrated that I was in process of designing a new drip tray to be fabricated out of SS to replace that sorry design. I was quoted $100 by a local sheet-metal company.

The Pro's rear IR burner is set in a black powder-coated steel panel wheras the Virco uses SS for the panel.

The Pro's flame-tamers are make of regular steel and are black powder-coated. These will NOT last very long. They were starting to degrade during the three months that I owned my grill. They have a two-year warranty so you can probably get a set or two for free before the warranty expires.

The cabinet on the Pro is inferior to the Virco. The cabinet is a single-walled wrap of stainless that has a two to three inch opening all the way around the top. So it does not offer any protection from the weather, it will get wet in there if the grill is uncovered. On the front are two single-wall doors, just folded SS sheetmetal. The Virco's cabinet is far superior.

The Pro's lid is folded stainless sheet that is spot-welded on the sides. The Virco's is welded, ground and polished and as a result looks much nicer. The Pro did have a double wall lid but the gap is quite narrow. In spite of this, it did not discolor on the outside during my short ownership.

The temperature gauge worked well and seems to be reasonably accurate but I never calibrated it to be sure.

The handle on the lid looked like chrome plated steel, not solid SS as on the Virco.

The handles on the sides of the cabinet were also chrome-plated, not SS.

The Pro grill uses beautiful, cast & machined SS knobs. These really looks impressive, even better than the Vikings and DCSs.

So there is absolutely nothing really wrong with the Pro except for it's price point. It served me very well and I was willing to deal with the non-SS parts as needed. But when compared to the Virco, it seems like it should be priced well under the $800 range. The Virco is truly unbeatable under $1000, at least for now. Who knows, maybe next year Virco will have some competition at that price point.

-Terry


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

Terry:

Thanks for that detailed, extremely informative comparison. You've simplified my decision my eliminating one option I'd been considering (the Pro). Now it's between the Virco Classic, the MM Y0660, and a possible new upcoming model from MM that may be between the $600 one and the $1,500 Y0660 one (see post above from Alek). One question: if you had it to do over again, would you still buy the YO660 over the Virco? Thanks again.


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

Bubbens,

Yes, I would buy the Y0660 without hesatation. It is a substantial step up in quality over the other two grills and, to me, is easily worth the extra money. I can say, with great confidence, that you will be pleased with that grill.

-Terry


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

I did a closer exam on the $1500 MM yesterday at Sams.

The model had the stainless steel knobs (nice). The gauge of the SS on the doors and hood did not seem thicker to me (based on how much pressure I had to make it flex) but the MM has A LOT more distance between the inner and outer walls on both the front of the hood and the doors. I would say about 1" all around vs. the Virco @ 1/4" on the hood and maybe 3/8" on the doors. I imagine this space would improve insulating ability?

The unit itself is somewhat larger in size depth and length although cooking area is about 2" increased over the Virco I believe. The MM is more impressive with all that thick walled cabinetry. The temp guage on this one freely turned around in its hole (mabye it is supposed to do that) but was more heavy duty all around (read about the guage problems for many Virco owners). I was tempted to twist it out and put it on my Virco (take those SS knobs too!) but resisted (partly knowing some poor Virco owner is already without a manual due to lpsage/cgirt).

The thing I did notice, especially with the smaller/$599 MM next to it was the profusion of screws holding things together. This is not a problem necessarily if everything is SS, but I do like the way the Virco seems seamlessly put together with the few screws involved for the tray and right bar having a SS cap to hide them and give a quality finished look. On that note, I should add the Virco handles look like they came from a cabinetry shop. The larger MM's handles are wide and look more integrated/appropriate to the unit.

Looking more than skin deep, I think that is where the Virco actually shines. The three cast iron burners on the MM are not a plus for me. I realize there are those that swear by them, but considering most high end units employ SS, and the myriad of issues with holes rusting over as noted in the Member's Mark threads (smaller model) this is not a plus IMO. Also it is bothersome they would go to the length of SS knobs and have the rotiserrie burner front painted steel? That is just wierd or sloppy. Maybe it will be fine since it is covered most of the time with a hood, or considering the liquids from cooking and the heat it would be exposed to, I would wonder if this is going to rust and chip in time? Maybe it is painted aluminum so only the latter would apply.

If you have not noted already from the other posts, the MM has a smoker, several nice drawers/compartments, and a nice rolling grease/debris tray that extends the full width of the unit. The Virco's is more like a shelf sliding on a ledge under the grill. The MM also has a beefier brass side burner and a more substantial fold up tray on the end. The Virco comes with nice insulated cover.

Considering everything, I would still opt for the Virco due to the step up in price (Virco $799, MM $1499) although the MM really is an impressive unit for $1499. Closer in many aspects to the units we were previously comparing to the Virco at $2800-4000.

Change the grill burners and rotisserie front to SS, and give it a less screwed-together appearance and would I have coughed up an additional $700? I probably would have for another $300, but at $700 it would be a second Virco (now that would be a serious increase in cooking space and power!) or 2-3 seasons worth of fine grilling food!


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

Nice summary, Delray.

I'm pretty sure the MM rotisserie burner frame is plain steel. Aluminum wouldn't last long subjected to that kind of heat. The paint will probably burn off in a short time. A magnet could resolve the question of aluminum vs. steel. It probably will rust a bit, but the stainless frame on the Virco rotisserie blackens after the first use, so it's not like it looks much better than rust. I don't think that steel frame is a deal breaker, but for a $1500 grill I'd expect a higher quality burner frame.

I agree about the cast iron burners. For that kind of money they should be cast brass or stainless.

I wouldn't want the $1500 MM because it takes up more floor space without much greater grilling capacity. As it is, I haven't mounted the side shelf on the Virco, in order to fit in into my patio space.

I wonder if one could order those stainless knobs from Grand Hall, as spare parts... ;-)


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

Delray,

Wow, the Y0660 had SS knobs? Interesting, I haven't seen one with those. Now I need to upgrade the burners AND the knobs. ;-) I'll have to call GH and see if they will upgrade me gratis.

I enjoyed reading your assessment of the grill. It is always interesting to me to read about what other people value as important criteria in their decision making process. Case in point is the visible screws. That's something I never even noticed, yet it concerns you quite a bit, even to the point of a deal-breaker if it weren't improved. I'll have to look closer at the Virco during my next Costco run to understand what you are referring to. Fortunately, all the screws are SS, at least.

I certainly agree with you about the insides. As I stated earlier, that's where the Virco is better than the Y0660 with its SS burners and SS IR panel. I just don't understand why Grand Hall choose to skimp in those areas. I could ALMOST find an argument for the burners, cast vs. tube, but not really. And I guess Grand Hall agrees as SS burners will be available soon, according to a another post. But to put a regular steel IR panel in seems unthinkable to me. And it IS steel and yes, it will rust over time and need to be replaced. ;-(

In regard to the larger physical size of the MM, it does allow a larger pan to be centered over the side burner. The burner is further away from the main grill. I don't think I mentioned that in my earlier review. So really, that extra space can be used and is not wasted, it does serve a purpose.

Here's a tip Virco owners might want to condsider. I would raise the side shelf to be even with the side burner surface. It would make the shelf more useful as it would be flush with the other top surface. Also, consider removing the handle on the side burner lid and cut a finger hole in the lid instead. That would give a long, flush surface to place items. This is a big complaint of my friend who has a Virco.

Thanks again for the review, I alway enjoy reading other people's opinions about consumer items, whether it's grills, boats or whatever. You can sometimes avoid big mistakes.

-Terry


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RE: Members Mark $1500 vs Virco $800.00

I should also add that the MM has a lot more space (like twice as much) on the rack. The cooking surface is bigger, but the hood must be even more square vs. triangular (from the side) so it fits a much larger rack. In all fairness, The Virco does have a couple screws on each side that I did not notice earlier. You are right that the screws are only a minor cosmetic issue if that. Hey I'm a designer, I could not help notice ;-) I probably would have noticed them less if the two units were not together as the smaller MM has a lot more.

The unit is still plenty impressive regarding craftmanship for me. It looks like 30% bigger with all those nice doors (drool, drool). They had it up on a wood palette and I'm sure it weighs at least 30% more. Ok, leave the screws on and change the other things and I would have gone for it over the Virco for $300, but for $700...you know that is only 100 under getting a second Virco.


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