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GE GSE25HEMDS Side-by-Side Refrigerator (Black Slate) review: This midrange GE side-by-side fridge just can't keep its cool

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The Good This popular midrange fridge from GE looks great in black slate and offers plenty of room for groceries. It's also slightly more efficient than the average side-by-side.

The Bad Temperatures on the top shelves were several degrees too warm, even with the fridge dialed down to its coldest setting. There also aren't any features or design touches beyond that black slate finish worth getting excited about.

The Bottom Line You can find better performance than this for the price -- keep shopping.

6.2 Overall
  • Features 5
  • Design 8
  • Performance 5
  • Usability 7

Setting aside the brand's ultrafancy, built-in models, GE's side-by-side refrigerators range in retail price from about $1,300 to $3,000. That puts the $1,700 GE GSE25HEMDS right at the lower end of midrange models, which appears to be a pretty popular spot for fridge shoppers -- the thing has over 3,000 reviews on GE's website, with an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars.

Safe to say that I'm less bullish on it. For starters, you could spend about $500 less on the equally spacious and nearly identical GE GSS25GGHBB, which also has thousands of reviews and an average rating of 4.4 stars. You'll barely notice the difference, because the GSE25HEMDS doesn't have any unique features to set it apart aside from the fancy black slate finish and a slight efficiency boost. Worse, the GSE25HEMDS was a poor performer in our cooling tests, with average temperatures in the main body of fridge that came back well over 40 F, a food safety benchmark used by the FDA. We saw hot spots like those even with the temperature dialed all the way down to the coldest setting, which is just too warm for me to recommend.

At 35.75 inches wide and with a total capacity of 25.3 cubic feet, 15.7 of which allocated to the fridge compartment, the GSE25HEMDS is a traditional, full-size refrigerator that sticks close to the side-by-side playbook. At an energy draw of 643 kWh, it'll add about $77 to your yearly energy bill. Divide that cost by the capacity, and that comes out to a little over $3 to cool each cubic feet -- a relatively low, efficient number.

With sturdy curved handles and subtle rounded edges, it's about as attractive as conventional, mid-range side-by-side fridges get, especially in GE's black slate finish, of which I'm a fan. That black slate finish gives the fridge a look and feel that's slightly coarser and significantly less shiny than traditional stainless steel. You'll still leave prints behind if you smear your smudgy fingertips over it, but it'll do a better job than most fridges at disguising them. One other note on the finish -- it is, indeed, magnet-friendly. More and more of today's fridges aren't.

Temperatures on those top two main body shelves were too warm at the refrigerator's default setting.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

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