The Chevrolet small block V8 engine has been a staple of the automotive industry for decades, and its popularity continues to this day. One of the most important decisions when building a small-block Chevy (SBC) engine is selecting the right cylinder heads.

In this article, we will compare Vortec SBC heads to non-Vortec SBC heads, exploring the differences between the two and helping you decide which is right for your build. With the right knowledge, you can ensure your engine is built to perform at its peak. Read on to find out more about Vortec SBC heads vs. non-Vortec SBC heads and determine which is best for your build.

Vortec Vs Non Vortec Sbc Heads

Comparing Vortec & Non-Vortec Sbc Heads

Comparing Vortec & Non-Vortec Sbc Heads

Before we dive into the main article comparing Vortec SBC Heads to Non-Vortec SBC Heads, it is important to understand the basics of Small Block Chevy (SBC) heads. SBC heads are cylinder heads used on small block Chevy engines, which are lightweight and compact V8 engines.

They are known for their reliability, power, and performance. The Vortec SBC Heads are a modern version of the classic SBC heads and offer improved airflow, higher compression, and better fuel efficiency.

On the other hand, Non-Vortec SBC Heads are the classic SBC heads that have been used for decades and are known for their durability and simplicity. In this article, we will compare the two types of SBC heads, Vortec SBC Heads vs. Non-Vortec SBC Heads, to help you decide which type of head is best for your engine.

Benefits Of Vortec Heads

Benefits Of Vortec Heads

Vortec heads are a great choice for small-block Chevy engines due to their high performance and increased efficiency. Vortec heads feature larger intake and exhaust ports, a redesigned combustion chamber, and a raised intake manifold for improved airflow and better fuel delivery. With these features, Vortec heads can provide a noticeable increase in horsepower and torque.

Additionally, Vortec heads have improved heat dissipation, which helps reduce engine temperatures and increase the longevity of the engine. Vortec heads also come with a thicker deck for better strength and durability, as well as improved cooling.

The improved cooling helps reduce the risk of engine overheating and increases the engine’s life. Finally, Vortec heads are compatible with a variety of performance components, including aftermarket intake manifolds and performance cams. All of these features make Vortec heads a great choice for any small-block Chevy engine.

Better Airflow

Vortec SBC heads have several advantages when it comes to air flow compared to non-Vortec SBC heads. The most notable are the larger intake and exhaust ports, which allow for increased air flow, as well as the improved design of the combustion chamber.

The improved chamber design, combined with larger valves, allows for more efficient combustion and higher compression ratios. Additionally, the improved port design allows for better air and fuel mixture, making for more efficient use of fuel.

Finally, the Vortec SBC heads are also made from high quality materials, which means they are less likely to wear down over time, and will be able to withstand higher levels of performance. All of these features combine to make the Vortec SBC heads the preferred choice for those looking to get the most out of their engine.

Improved Cooling

Vortec SBC heads are better than non-Vortec SBC heads when it comes to cooling. The Vortec heads feature a larger combustion chamber that allows for a more efficient heat transfer, as well as improved combustion.

This leads to a cooler running engine, and allows for more power and torque. Additionally, the Vortec heads feature an improved intake and exhaust port design that increases airflow, leading to more efficient cooling.

This improved cooling also helps to reduce wear and tear on the engine components, leading to longer engine life. Finally, the Vortec heads feature a re-engineered combustion chamber shape that helps to reduce the tendency of hot spots, leading to more consistent engine performance.

Improved Spark Plug Access

Vortec SBC Heads have improved spark plug access compared to non-Vortec SBC Heads. They have a more efficient spark plug angle which gives the spark plugs a clear path to the combustion chamber. Additionally, they are designed with a shorter spark plug tube which allows the spark plug to be closer to the combustion chamber.

This reduces the potential for misfires due to the spark plug being too far away. In addition, the spark plug seats are designed to be angled away from the combustion chamber, helping to reduce any potential for spark plug fouling. This makes Vortec SBC Heads the perfect solution for engines that are running at higher RPMs.

Weight Reduction

When comparing Vortec SBC heads to non-Vortec heads, it’s important to consider the weight difference. Vortec SBC heads are significantly lighter than their non-Vortec counterparts. This weight reduction makes Vortec heads ideal for racers and high-performance applications.

The lightweight design reduces rotating mass, which helps the engine achieve higher rev levels and higher RPMs. Additionally, the lighter weight allows for faster acceleration and improved cornering. The reduced weight also helps to reduce the overall cost of the engine, making it more cost-effective to build.

The lighter weight also helps to reduce the stress on the engine components, making it more reliable in the long run. Overall, Vortec SBC heads provide a great weight reduction option for those looking for improved performance.

Disadvantages Of Vortec Heads

Disadvantages Of Vortec Heads

One of the major disadvantages of Vortec heads is their inability to support high-horsepower applications. The fact that they are designed to work with low-octane fuel means that they are not suitable for high-performance applications that require a lot of fuel and power. Additionally, Vortec heads are more prone to cracking.

This is due to the lack of cooling passages and the fact that the material used for the head is not the most durable. Finally, Vortec heads are limited when it comes to aftermarket parts. The design of the head makes it difficult to fit certain components, such as rocker arms, larger valves, and springs. This makes it difficult for enthusiasts to build a high-performance engine with Vortec heads.


The cost of Vortec SBC heads will vary depending on the specific model you choose. Generally speaking, the cost of Vortec SBC heads will be higher than those of non-Vortec SBC heads due to the advanced technology they offer. However, the cost difference between the two is not huge and should not be a deciding factor when choosing between the two.

Additionally, you may be able to find used Vortec SBC heads for a more affordable price. If you are looking for a high-performance engine, the cost of the Vortec SBC heads may be worth it and you can expect a longer life for your engine. Ultimately, the cost of the SBC heads will depend on the specific model and condition of the heads.

Cylinder Wall Thickness

When comparing Vortec SBC heads to non-Vortec SBC heads, it is important to consider cylinder wall thickness. The Vortec SBC head has thicker cylinder walls than the non-Vortec SBC head. This lends the Vortec SBC head an advantage in terms of strength, as it is designed to withstand higher stresses from combustion. The thicker cylinder walls also provide more room for larger intake valves and more efficient combustion.

This can result in improved performance and greater power output from the engine. Furthermore, the thicker walls also reduce the likelihood of the head cracking due to thermal stress. In conclusion, Vortec SBC heads have a thicker cylinder wall than non-Vortec SBC heads, which can lead to improved performance and increased longevity.

Not Legal In Some Classes

The Vortec SBC heads and non-Vortec SBC heads have similarities but there are differences that should be taken into account. Vortec heads are designed for improved airflow, while non-Vortec heads are designed for maximum power. While both types of heads are legal in most classes, due to the increased airflow of Vortec heads they may not be legal in some classes.

This is due to the fact that in some classes, higher flowing heads are not allowed. It is important to research the rules of each class before selecting a head. Furthermore, some classes may require the use of a specific type of head, such as non-Vortec SBC heads. It is essential to be aware of the rules and regulations of each class to avoid any potential disqualifications.

Limited Port Design

When comparing Vortec SBC heads and non-Vortec SBC heads, one of the key differences to consider is the port design. Vortec heads feature a limited port design, which improves airflow, resulting in increased power output. The limited port design also helps to reduce the amount of air that is lost out of the exhaust.

Non-Vortec SBC heads feature a more traditional port design, which may result in less power and airflow than the Vortec version. However, the traditional design may provide a better fit for some engines and can be easier to work with.

Additionally, traditional SBC heads are more affordable than their Vortec counterparts. Ultimately, it is important to consider the differences in port design when comparing Vortec and non-Vortec SBC heads, as this will have a big impact on the performance of the engine.


The Vortec SBC Heads are an upgrade to the traditional Small Block Chevy Heads. They offer improved flow characteristics, better performance, and increased efficiency. They are designed to work with the stock intake and exhaust systems, making them easier to install.

The Vortec SBC Heads provide more power and torque than the non-Vortec SBC Heads, making them an ideal choice for those looking to upgrade their engine.


1.What Are The Differences Between Vortec Sbc Heads And Non-Vortec Sbc Heads?

Ans: The main difference between Vortec SBC Heads and Non-Vortec SBC Heads is the design of the intake and exhaust ports. Vortec Heads have a more efficient port design which allows for better airflow, resulting in increased power and torque. Non-Vortec Heads have smaller ports with decreased airflow, limiting the engine’s power output.

Vortec Heads also have a raised intake face and combustion chamber which allow for the use of higher compression pistons and higher lift camshafts. Non-Vortec Heads have a flat intake face and shallow combustion chamber which don’t support higher compression and camshaft profiles.

2.What Advantages Do Vortec Sbc Heads Offer Compared To Non-Vortec Sbc Heads?

Ans: Vortec SBC Heads offer greater performance and efficiency than non-Vortec SBC Heads due to increased airflow, improved combustion, and improved cooling. The improved air flow is achieved through larger intake and exhaust ports, improved combustion is achieved through combustion chamber re-shaping, and improved cooling is achieved through revised water jacket designs. These features result in improved power, torque, and fuel economy when compared to non-Vortec SBC Heads.

3.What Are The Primary Differences In The Design Of Vortec Sbc Heads Compared To Non-Vortec Sbc Heads?

Ans: The primary differences in the design of Vortec SBC Heads compared to Non-Vortec SBC Heads are primarily related to the shape of the combustion chamber, the shape of the intake and exhaust ports, and the size of the valves.

Vortec SBC Heads feature a “heart-shaped” combustion chamber with round intake and exhaust ports which are larger than those found on standard non-Vortec SBC Heads. Additionally, Vortec SBC Heads typically feature larger intake and exhaust valves which are designed to increase airflow and horsepower.

4.Are There Any Performance Gains When Using Vortec Sbc Heads Compared To Non-Vortec Sbc Heads?

Ans: Yes, there are performance gains when using Vortec SBC Heads compared to Non-Vortec SBC Heads. Vortec SBC Heads are designed to improve air flow, allowing for improved combustion and greater power output.

The increased air flow also reduces emissions, making Vortec SBC Heads a popular choice for high performance engines. Additionally, Vortec SBC Heads have an improved cooling system, allowing the engine to run cooler and more efficiently.

5.What Are The Installation Considerations For Vortec Sbc Heads Compared To Non-Vortec Sbc Heads?

Ans: The main installation considerations for Vortec SBC Heads compared to non-Vortec SBC Heads are the intake manifold and the exhaust headers. Vortec SBC Heads require a special intake manifold in order to work properly, and the exhaust headers will need to be designed for the raised intake ports of the Vortec design.

Additionally, the Vortec design requires a special distributor and timing set, whereas non-Vortec SBC Heads can use a standard distributor. Finally, the Vortec heads require a special valve cover, as the valvetrain is different from non-Vortec SBC Heads.