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Frigidaire Gallery FGHT1846QF Custom-Flex Top Freezer Refrigerator review: A fridge full of features spoiled by poor performance

This Frigidaire Gallery fridge is one of the nicest top freezer designs we've seen -- but it runs warmer than we're comfortable with.

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Ry Crist
Ryan_Crist2.jpg

Ry Crist

Senior Editor / Reviews - Appliances

Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, and home networking.

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The Frigidaire Gallery FGHT1846QF is a good-looking top-freezer fridge that sells for $1,100 (or $1,000 if you skip the stainless steel). It's filled with features you don't often see in top freezer models, it feels sturdy and well-built and it offers a relatively ample 18.3 cubic feet of storage space. On paper, it's the perfect pick for someone who wants to splurge on a noticeably nicer-than-average top freezer refrigerator.

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Frigidaire Gallery FGHT1846QF Custom-Flex Top Freezer Refrigerator

The Good

There's more to this fridge than meets the eye, with helpful, high-end features hidden inside and a smudge-proof stainless-steel exterior.

The Bad

Cooling performance was pretty awful, with sections in the body of the fridge that come in above FDA-approved temperatures even at the coldest setting.

The Bottom Line

This refrigerator's performance disqualifies it from consideration, which is a shame, since the features are so good.

It's a splurge I can't recommend, though. For all it's got going for it, the Frigidaire Gallery FGHT1846QF is a weak performer -- so weak that we found average temperatures up above 40 degrees F in the body of the fridge even at the coldest setting. Even if you dial it all the way down, it's still too warm. For me, that's a deal breaker.

Features galore in this Frigidaire top-freezer fridge

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A top freezer with panache

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This Frigidaire's top shelf slides in and folds up to make room for large items.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Top freezers are the classic freezer-on-top, fridge-down-below refrigerators that most of us probably grew up with, and they're obviously nothing fancy. Still, the FGHT1846QF might surprise you with just how many features it comes with.

For starters, there's a the "smudge-proof" stainless-steel exterior. It's a finely contoured version of the popular finish that's just as shiny and metallic as you'd expect, but noticeably better at repelling fingerprints. Then there's the interior, where you'll find a top shelf that slides in or folds up out of the way, along with a pantry drawer that runs the width of the fridge. Both are rare features for top freezers, and ones that you'd more commonly expect to see in French door models.

On top of that, Frigidaire takes a modular approach with the "Custom-Flex" in-door shelving. Each shelf hangs on a rail, making it easy to rearrange things as you see fit. Even better, you can swap any of those shelves out for different modular accessories, which include things like a water bottle holder and a can dispenser. You'll have to buy those modular accessories separately, but none of them cost much more than $15.

Top freezer fridges for around $1,000

Frigidaire Gallery FGHT1846QFGE GAS18PSJSSWhirlpool WRT511SZDMLG LTCS24223SKenmore 79432
Fridge capacity 14.2 cubic feet13.5 cubic feet15.2 cubic feet17.6 cubic feet17.6 cubic feet
Freezer capacity 4.1 cubic feet4.0 cubic feet6.1 cubic feet6.2 cubic feet6.2 cubic feet
Total capacity 18.3 cubic feet17.5 cubic feet21.3 cubic feet23.8 cubic feet23.8 cubic feet
Notable features Slide-in shelf, Custom-Flex door shelves, full-width pantry drawer, smudge-proof stainless steelAutofill PitcherFlexi-Slide BinFull-width pantry drawer, automatic ice makerFull-width pantry drawer
Energy Star-qualified YesNoNoYesNo
Yearly energy consumption(kilowatt hours) 363 kWh399 kWh443 kWh501 kWh547 kWh
Yearly energy cost ($0.12 per kWh) $44 $48 $53 $60 $66
Efficiency (yearly energy cost per cubic foot) $2.40 $2.74 $2.49 $2.52 $2.77
CNET Performance Score (out of 10) 36.56.579
Suggested retail price $1,100 $1,000 $1,100 $1,200 $1,420
Lowest retail price (as of 8/8/16) $900 $800 $900 $1,095 $1,000
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The fridge features a storage-minded design that does a good job accomodating groceries of different sizes.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Those storage-minded features came in handy when it came time to start cramming in the groceries. All of my test goods fit inside just fine, with enough room left over to fit in five of our six large stress-test items, too.

That's a strong result for an average-sized top freezer, and further evidence that capacity is more than just a number. Design has a role to play, too, and in this fridge, the design does a great job.

As an example, take a look at those in-door storage bins. The bottom bin is deep enough to hold two-liter bottles and jugs of juice, the middle shelves make it easy to section off your condiments as you see fit, and the butter bin is big enough for both a few sticks of butter and a tub of margarine. They're small details, but a lot of fridges get them wrong. Good for Frigidaire for getting them right.

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Ry Crist/CNET

Performance gone bad

To call this refrigerator's cooling power underwhelming would be underselling it. It's flat-out bad, with default-setting temperatures all throughout the interior averaging up above 40 degrees F, a benchmark for food safety set by the FDA.

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Temperatures were too warm at the default setting, and we had lingering hot spots at the coldest setting, too. Not good.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Every section of the fridge is at least a few degrees warmer than it should be, which is why there's so much orange in that top, default-setting heat map. A few degrees might not sound like much, but it's the kind of thing that can promote bacterial growth on your food. You don't want that.

Of course, you can always dial the fridge down, and that's exactly what we did, with a second 72-hour cooling test at the coldest setting. As you might expect, temperatures dropped, but not nearly as much as I'd have liked.

At the coldest setting, most refrigerators will bring temperatures right above freezing, to 33 or 34 degrees F. The lowest the FGHT1846QF was able to get was an average temperature of 36.4 degrees F on the bottom shelf. Everything else ran even warmer, with the crisper bins and the majority of the in-door storage coming in above 40 degrees yet again.

It's a damning result. Even at its coldest setting, this fridge can't guarantee that it'll keep your groceries at an FDA-approved temperature. I'm really not sure that there's much else to say.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The (not-so) cold, hard truth

The Frigidaire Gallery FGHT1846QF will spoil you with fancy features not commonly found in top-freezer fridges -- but it'll also spoil your food with warm temperatures throughout the interior. That might be forgivable in a less expensive fridge, provided you could get temperatures down below 40 degrees F by dialing things down to the coldest setting. At a retail price of $1,100, and with temperatures above 40 F even at the coldest setting, the Frigidaire FGHT1846QF fails on both counts. Don't buy it.

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6.1

Frigidaire Gallery FGHT1846QF Custom-Flex Top Freezer Refrigerator

Score Breakdown

Features 9Design 8Performance 3Usability 7
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