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Frigidaire FGHI2164QF review: A Frigidaire top-freezer fridge that just isn't frigid enough

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MSRP: $1,299.00

The Good The Frigidaire Gallery FGHI2164QF is a good-looking top freezer with an innovative set of modular door accessories. The "smudge-proof" exterior makes it easier to keep clean than other stainless steel models like it.

The Bad Temperatures ran warmer than we'd like throughout every section of the fridge, and a poorly thought-out meat-and-cheese drawer in the center of the fridge makes it tough to fit bulky items inside.

The Bottom Line Despite an appealing aesthetic and some attractive features, this fridge is too poor a performer for us to recommend.

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5.3 Overall
  • Features 8
  • Design 8
  • Performance 2
  • Usability 6

Top-freezer refrigerators are the most basic and least expensive models available, but that doesn't mean there aren't opportunities to splurge. Take the Frigidaire FGHI2164QF. At an MSRP of $1,300, it offers an all-stainless-steel build and an attractive interior packed with user-friendly features, including "Custom-Flex" door compartments that give you an outstanding degree of flexibility over how you store your groceries.

Unfortunately, it's not a strong performer, or anything close to one, quite frankly. At the default setting, the entire refrigerator yielded average temperatures above 40 degrees, a food safety benchmark set by the FDA. Even after dialing it down to the coldest setting, hot spots persisted in both the body of the fridge and in those in-door shelves. It's a far worse result than we've seen from other top freezers that cost less, including the $800 GE GTE18GMHES and Frigidaire's own FGTR1845QF , which boasts the same Custom-Flex compartments as the FGHI2164QF, but sells for $300 less. Despite getting a lot of things right, the FGHI2164QF isn't a fridge we'd recommend.

Design and features

First, the good news. Frigidaire did a decent job with the design here, building a fridge that takes full advantage of the brand's "smudge-proof" stainless steel. While "smudge-resistant" might be closer to the truth, it's still a nice feature, and noticeably easier to keep clean and shiny than other stainless-steel models we've tested.

It's a minimalist look, too, with no extra accents, colors or curves. If you want a simple stainless-steel fridge that blends into your kitchen without trying too hard to stand out, it'll fit the bill.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

There's a lot more going on inside of the fridge than outside. Along with spillproof glass shelves, you'll find a dedicated drawer for meats and cheeses, along with an extra drawer up top that runs the width of the fridge. The two shelves in the middle also slide out to help you access items in the back -- this is especially handy for the shelf that sits right underneath the drawer. It's worth noting, though, that you can rearrange the storage space as much as you want, with a veritable bounty of slots to fit those shelves (and that meat-and-cheese drawer) into.

At the bottom of the fridge, you'll find the usual pair of crisper bins for fruits and veggies. Each one comes with a slider that'll let you adjust the humidity within, which is a nice feature, and one that's oft-forgotten by other fridges, including more expensive models. The bins feel a bit flimsy, though, and rattled around too much for my tastes each time I opened or shut them.

The modular "Custom-Flex" door is highly customizable, with a variety of different types of bins and storage containers (like this can dispenser) for you to choose from and place where you like. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The key feature of the interior, though, is the "Custom-Flex" door. It's a smart design that essentially packs three rows of rails into the door. Frigidaire's bins are built to clip into these rails -- once they're in, you can slide them left and right to make space below, or swap their positions fairly easily. I say "fairly" because I sometimes had to use a bit of extra force, both with the sliding and the swapping. I didn't mind all that much -- I'd rather that than have loose-fitting bins that slid on their own each time I opened or closed the door.

You have a fair variety of bins to choose from, with extras costing about 15 bucks a piece on Frigidaire's website. Less expensive Custom-Flex models sell the more unique bins separately, but they come standard with the FGHI2164QF. Along with the butter bin and three standard storage bins (large, medium and small), you'll find a more miniature bin intended for water bottles or kid snacks and a dispenser that holds six or seven cans of beer or soda. There's also a non-Custom-Flex bin at the bottom of the door that runs the width of the fridge.

Coupled with the high degree of storage flexibility offered inside of the body of the refrigerator, the Custom-Flex door makes for one of the most versatile interiors we've tested. If you like to micromanage your storage space, it's an attractive feature.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

A Frigidaire sans frigid air

What's black and white and orange all over? Our heat map of the Frigidaire Gallery FGHI2164QF running at the default setting. Each and every section of the fridge compartment came back with an average above 40 degrees F -- which explains why it's the orangest heat map we've ever made.

It's a patently bad result. Most refrigerators default to a setting of 37 degrees, and the good ones hit that mark throughout the entire interior. The mediocre ones might see a few drawers or in-door shelves creep up above 40, but they'll at least keep the main body of the fridge out of orange territory. Not the FGHI2164QF. No matter where you put your groceries, they're going to be at least a few degrees warmer than you'd like.

Ry Crist/CNET

The minute-by-minute graph of that same test, while admittedly wonkier to look at, paints an even clearer picture of the result. With thermocouples taking the temperature of 10 different regions inside the fridge every minute for 72 hours, we took a total of 43,200 readings over the course of the test. Only four of them came back below 40 degrees.

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