GE PFE28RSHSS review: GE filled its Profile Series fridge with premium features

The GE Profile Series refrigerator has a lot going for it -- but it's the water dispenser steals the show.

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Ry Crist
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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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There's a long list of things to consider when you're picking out a fridge for your kitchen. Cooling performance, capacity, style -- all of it should factor in before you plunk down thousands of dollars for what will be one of the most visible and oft-used appliances in your home.

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7.6

GE PFE28RSHSS

The Good

The GE Profile Series refrigerator is an attractive appliance with an exceptional array of features, including the smartest water dispenser we've ever seen.

The Bad

Performance was hit and miss, with steep defrost cycles and an ineffective temperature-controlled drawer. Capacity also felt surprisingly cramped, with shelves that were difficult to rearrange.

The Bottom Line

If you want a more feature-rich kitchen, then the GE Profile Series fridge is the French door for you.

So, when I tell you that you should consider GE's $3,100 Profile Series French door fridge because it has a really great water dispenser, I don't say it lightly. Capable of dispensing the exact amount of water you need, or of simply filling up your glass, pitcher or pot automatically, it's easily one of the smartest and coolest fridge features I've ever tested, and it's just one of several tricks up the Profile Series' sleeve.

Bells and whistles aside, the Profile Series fridge isn't perfect. Its cooling performance is solid-yet-unspectacular, and the seemingly sizable 18.5 cubic foot capacity in the fridge compartment feels more cramped than it actually is. While I wish it were stronger on those two fronts, they aren't serious weaknesses, and they definitely don't undercut the overall appeal. If you want a high-end appliance that's packed with features, the Profile Series fridge offers plenty of bang for your buck.

A quick peek at GE's Profile Series fridge (pictures)

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Modern French door fashion

The GE Profile Series fridge is a modern-looking French door model with the expected stainless steel finish and a solid feel to the build. With its LCD touchscreen front and center on the left fridge door, it looks appropriately high-end for its price.

Of course, with stainless steel comes fingerprints, and while the Profile Series isn't the smudgiest fridge I've ever smudged, it's definitely no exception. A finish that's a little more fingerprint-resistant, like the one you'll find on high-end Frigidaire models , would have been a welcome addition.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Though I'm generally skeptical towards refrigerators with touchscreens, the one on the front of the Profile Series makes plenty of sense. With a multitude of features packed into that water dispenser, it offers simple, easy-to-use controls without a clutter of additional buttons and dials -- though I appreciated that you still get physical buttons dedicated to basic functions, like switching between crushed and cubed ice, or turning the LED light on and off. If you're so inclined, you can also upload photos from a flash drive to play as a slideshow when the screen isn't in use.

Open the Profile Series up, and you'll find 18.5 cubic feet of storage space inside the fridge compartment. You'll also find the icemaker packed into the inside of the left door. It isn't the largest icemaker I've seen, but fear not -- should the need for extra ice arise, you'll find a second icemaker stashed away in the freezer.

Below the pair of adjustable crisper bins sits a third temperature-controlled drawer that runs the width of the fridge. You can choose between three settings: Meat, Beverage and Deli. As you switch from one to another, the drawer's LED lights will change color. Those colored LEDs will light up each time you open the fridge, reminding you of what you've got stored inside.

All in all, it's a good-looking interior, though some of the shelves feel overly plasticky to the touch. The dishwasher-safe black slipmats at the bottom of each in-door shelf are a good addition in theory, though they don't sit flat, and feel a bit cheap as well.

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A fridge full of features

For your $3,100, what you're really buying here is this fridge's impressive slate of features. You get quite a lot of them, from basics like spill-proof shelving and LED lighting to the aforementioned touchscreen, dual icemakers and a temperature-controlled drawer. The true star of the show, however, is the water dispenser. With a couple of nifty tricks up its sleeve, it's by far the brainiest one on the market, and a killer feature for the Profile Series overall.

First up is "Precise Fill," which dispenses the exact amount of water you need with just a few quick button presses -- a handy way of giving your measuring cup a rest. You can measure your water out in cups, milliliters, or ounces, and if you're using a large-sized pot, the shelf pulls out to help reinforce the extra weight.

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Four and a half cups of water, coming right up. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The "Auto Fill" feature is even cooler. At the touch of a button, the dispenser can fill up any glass, pitcher or pot until it's nearly full, then shut off automatically. I tested it again and again with containers of all sizes. It never spilled or stopped short once. Even when I repeated a test with ice already in my glass, the fridge knew just when to stop. It honestly feels a bit like magic, and I'm pretty sure I'd never get tired of it.

One quick side note: you'll also find the Precise Fill feature in GE's Cafe Series French door fridge, which also retails for $3,100. However, you won't find Auto Fill -- GE swaps the feature out for hot water presets for things like tea and soup. Personally, I think I prefer Auto Fill between the two, but those hot water smarts are pretty appealing, too. It's a shame that it's an either/or proposition -- all three features in one fridge would be a near-slam dunk.

The Profile Series vs. comparable models

GE Profile Series PFE28RSHSSSamsung RF28HFEDTSRFrigidaire Professional FPBS2777RFLG LFX31925STElectrolux EI28BS80KS
Total Capacity 27.7 cubic feet28.1 cubic feet27.0 cubic feet30.7 cubic feet27.0 cubic feet
Refrigerator Capacity 18.5 cubic feet18.9 cubic feet19.0 cubic feet20.7 cubic feet18.9 cubic feet
Spill-proof Shelving YesYesYesYesYes
Adjustable Shelves YesYesYesNoNo
Flex Cooling Zone YesYesNoNoYes
Dual Ice Maker YesYesYesNoNo
LED Lighting YesYesYesYesYes
LCD Screen YesNoNoNoNo
Door in a Door NoNoNoYesNo
Unique Features Auto Fill, Precise Fill, Drop Down TrayNoneSmudge-Proof FinishNoneLuxury-Design Shelves, Luxury-Close Drawers
Retail Price $3,100 $3,000 $3,200 $3,200 $3,150

You'll find more features inside of the fridge, including a "Drop Down Tray" that nestles beneath the butter bin. Pull it down when you need a little bit of extra space in the door. There's also an adjustable shelf in the body of the fridge with a front half that slides back and out of the way beneath the back half to make room for tall items on the shelf below. That's a handy feature, but it's not all that unique. You'll find some sort of adjustable shelving in most high-end French door models -- though not all of them.

Feature for feature, the GE Profile Series fridge stacks up quite nicely against the competition, and even against much pricier models, like the $6,000 Samsung Chef Collection refrigerator. Unless you're a fan of door-in-a-door models like the ones we've seen from LG , Samsung , and Kenmore , there really isn't much of anything that's missing here, feature-wise.

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Hit and miss performance

The GE Profile Series fridge isn't the best performer that's passed through our climate controlled test chamber, but it was far from the worst. Over the duration of a three-day test with the fridge compartment set to 37 degrees, averages in the body of the fridge stayed right on target, with roughly a 2-degree swing from the coldest average to the warmest. That's a pretty small amount of wiggle room from one region to the next.

However, things get a little wigglier (in more ways than one) when you look at the minute-by-minute results from the same test. The blue lines are arguably the most important, as they represent the three shelves in the main body of the fridge. While they all average out fairly close to the target temperature, there are a couple of key spikes during the defrost cycles -- particularly that big one, where the top shelf (the dark blue line) rises up above 40 degrees (a food safety benchmark set by the FDA) for just over 2 hours.

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Though generally steady, refrigerator temperatures varied from region to region, with defrost cycles in the body of the fridge (the dark blue spikes) lasting up to three hours. Ry Crist/CNET

We saw steep defrosts on the top shelf of the freezer, too, with the temperature spiking up from 0 to almost 20 and then back down in the span of about ninety minutes. Those kinds of defrost cycles are perfectly normal, but a better performing freezer will keep things from spiking any higher than 10 degrees.

Factor the fridge spikes back in, and the GE Profile Series is a bit disappointing when compared with our top-scoring performers, the GE GNS23GMHES , the Kenmore 78022 , and the LG LDC24370ST . All three did better than the Profile Series -- and all three cost well over a thousand dollars less.

Aside from the steep defrosts, things in the fridge look more or less okay. The crisper bins (the red lines) straddle the target temperature with only about a degree and a half difference between the two. The in-door shelves (the green lines) run a little warm, which is normal, but they stay steady enough and close enough to 40 to earn a passing grade. The butter bin (the yellow line) runs hot, but it's a butter bin, and that's what butter bins do.

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We also test each fridge at 33 degrees, or in the case of the Profile Series, at its minimum setting of 34 degrees. As you'd expect, the average temperatures fell in each region, with the body of the fridge sitting about a degree or so over the target. We did see defrost spikes on that top shelf again -- two of them brought the temperature above 40, but only just barely, and only for about 20 minutes each time.

As for the temperature-controlled drawer, we set it to a chilly 32 degrees during the 37-degree test, and then dialed it up to 36 during the 34-degree test. We didn't see a whole lot of difference between the two settings, with the drawer averaging out at 33.4 degrees when set to 36 and 32.8 degrees when set to 32.

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We didn't see a whole lot of difference between the temperature-controlled drawer's different settings. Ry Crist/CNET

Sure, the drawer does a nice job of keeping delicate items like meats, cheeses, and fish at an appropriately low temperature -- its core purpose -- but you aren't getting very much flexibility from setting to setting. That's disappointing, given that the temperature-controlled drawer is one of the fridge's key features.

The drawer disappointment is emblematic of the fridge's performance as a whole. There are no deal-breakers here that stop the Profile Series from serving as a perfectly functional fridge, and yet in a few key spots, it comes up a little bit short. You're paying a premium for this thing -- I think that it's fair to expect a little better.

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Capacity concerns

The Profile Series fridge offers 27.7 cubic feet of total storage space, with 18.5 cubic feet allocated to fridge compartment. Those numbers are pretty typical for a French door refrigerator that costs more than $3,000, if not just slightly below par. Still, a smaller fridge can outperform a larger one if it makes better use of its space, with well-designed shelves and easy-to-use storage features.

To test this out, we loaded the Profile Series fridge with our standardized grocery load with the shelves in their default configuration. That configuration doesn't leave enough vertical room on any of the main shelves for tall items like soda or milk jugs without pushing that adjustable shelf into the back half of the fridge.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Overall, things felt a little cramped, which came as a surprise. Many of the indoor shelves felt just slightly too small, forcing us to spread our condiments out and keeping us from allocating a separate space for our can of dog food.

With the groceries in place, we tried to fit in our six stress test items, too. The bulkiest of these might be our lidded cake tray, and we couldn't find a spot for it without rearranging the shelves. The same went for our extra-large pizza box, which didn't fit. The rest -- a party platter, a roasting pan, a casserole dish and a pitcher -- all made it inside individually, but when we tried squeezing all of them in at once, the party platter got squeezed out.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Three out of six items all at once is a pretty average result when compared with similarly-sized competitors. The Electrolux EI28BS80KS4A French door fridge, which has an 18.9 cubic foot fridge capacity, was able to fit four of six stress test items all at once. The Frigidaire Gallery FGHB2866PF , which matches the Profile Series' 18.5 cubic feet, was only able to fit two out of the six in at once.

We started the test over, but this time, allowed ourselves to reconfigure the shelves and rearrange the groceries as much as needed. I'll stop right here and say that those shelves were some of the most stubborn that I've come across, and far more difficult to wedge in and out of place than they should be. At any rate, in this optimized configuration, we were able to make better use of the shelf space in the body of the fridge and pack things in a bit more intelligently.

How we test refrigerators (pictures)

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The result was that all six of the stress test items fit inside on their own, and five of six made it in all at once. It was the pizza box that didn't make the cut -- at least not for me. Jared Hannah, one of our ever-handy technical editors, took my failure to fit it in as a challenge and spent some time moving things around. Before long, he had the pizza box inside along with the rest of our groceries and stress test items. Clearly, your results may vary depending on your Tetris high score. For the purposes of this test, we'll call it an even 5.5.

Once again, the Profile Series finishes on par with its competitors. The aforementioned Electrolux model was able to get all six in at once, while that Frigidaire model could still only fit two items simultaneously.

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Is it worth it?

The GE Profile Series French door fridge is only the second refrigerator to get a perfect 10 in our features category (or in any category, for that matter). The first was Samsung's feature-rich Chef Collection fridge, which costs a hefty $6,000 -- almost twice as much as the $3,100 you'll have to spend to get a Profile Series fridge into your kitchen.

This isn't a refrigerator without shortcomings. Sharp defrost cycles and a lack of precision in the temperature-controlled drawer hold the performance back just a bit, and the 18.5 cubic foot capacity isn't as well optimized as the capacities in other fridges we've tested. None of those flaws are deal-breakers though, and they're easily outweighed by what this fridge gets right. If you want a fully-featured French door model in the $3,000 price range, it belongs at the top of your list.

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7.6

GE PFE28RSHSS

Score Breakdown

Features 10Design 7Performance 7Usability 7