Paying more for a smaller refrigerator might seem counterintuitive, but for many, a counter-depth model with doors that sit flush with countertop edges is a legitimate upgrade. Typically, these types of design-minded fridges cost at least a few thousand dollars, but the Frigidaire FGHC2331PF costs just $1,600, making it one of the most affordable counter-depth side-by-sides on the market.
Along with the counter-depth build, the FGHC2331PF comes with Frigidaire's "smudge-proof" stainless steel finish, which does an admirable job of repelling fingerprints and helps the fridge look a little more expensive than it actually is. Things seem cheaper on the inside, though, with flimsy, squeaky drawers, an underwhelming mix of features, and some of the poorest performance we've come across in our tests. As one of the only counter-depth fridges priced below $2,000, it's legitimately tempting, but I'd recommend steering clear.
Don't judge this fridge by its cover
The FGHC2331PF is a stainless-steel fridge in an ocean of stainless steel fridges on display at your local appliances retailer. It's a safe, inoffensive design that does little to set itself apart. Still, it's hard to fault Frigidaire for that, especially considering that this is a midrange model.
The fingerprint-resistant, "smudge-proof" finish is a nice touch, though. While it isn't totally impervious to blemishes, it's much, much better than standard stainless steel models, enough so to call it an unqualified upgrade. You'll adjust settings on the FGHC2331PF using a touch panel located above the ice and water dispenser, another nice design touch at this price range.
On the inside, things feel much less high-end. You won't find much in the way of features except for basics like spill-proof shelves and humidity controls for the crisper bins. I did appreciate, however, that the FGHC2331PF lets you rearrange the main shelves and in-door shelves into a bounty of different positions -- that comes in handy when the narrowness of side-by-side design forces you to get creative with shelf placement.
You also get a "Chill Drawer" that sits above the two crisper bins. The refrigerator diverts a little bit of its cooling power directly into this drawer by way of a vent in the back. A slider sits just outside of drawer, letting you adjust between generic-sounding "cold" and "colder" settings to control how much of that spare cold air gets vented inside. It's a nice enough feature, but without specific temperature settings, I'm not sure that it's really all that useful.
The only other feature worth mentioning is a refrigerator shelf that slides out for easier access to items stored in the back. At least, that's what's supposed to happen. In practice, there's too much friction for it to slide smoothly, especially if anything heavy is sitting on top. It's a shame to see an otherwise nice feature get spoiled by clunky execution.
The drawers don't glide easily either. Each one squeaked unpleasantly each time I pulled it open or pushed it shut, poorly lubricated plastic screeching against plastic. It's a distinct annoyance in my book, and one you'll have to put up with fairly often as you use the thing (unless you're comfortable breaking out the WD-40).
That's really about it. There's very little here aimed at helping this fridge stand out or feel like a true upgrade. Instead, it feels more like a fridge you might settle for. If counter-depth is a must and you don't want to spend more than $2,000, then settling might be what happens here, because you really don't have a whole lot of options.
At face value, fridge performance might not seem like your most important buying concern. After all, cold is cold, right?
Not exactly. While the difference between good fridge performance and bad fridge performance can literally come down to a matter of degrees, you'll be much better off with a model that keeps things in line with the target temperature. A poor performer that runs warm will accelerate spoilage and cost you money down the line whenever you have to throw stuff out. Per FDA standards, we look for models that keep things down below 40 degrees F, the point at which bacteria like listeria can start to become problematic.
Unfortunately, the FGHC2331PF falls short of this standard. After three days at the default setting of 37 degrees F, only three regions in the fridge yielded average temperatures below 40 degrees. The other eight regions -- those orange spots in the heat map above -- all ran warm. That includes all of the in-door shelves and three out of the four main shelves in the body of the fridge, including the top shelf, which sat about 10 degrees above the target. To be frank, that's a staggeringly bad result.
Graph those three days' worth of temperature readings out, and you can see just how all-over-the-map this refrigerator is. Move your milk from the bottom shelf (light blue) to the top shelf (dark blue), and its temperature will jump almost ten degrees.