LG LDF7774ST review: Solid LG dishwasher gets lost in the shadow of its better cousin
The features of the $900 LG LDF7774ST impress, but the performance doesn't.
With six cycle options, room for 15 place settings, and a whisper-quiet sound rating of 44 dB, the LG LDF7774ST has a lot going for it, especially for a $900 machine. To an extent, the fact that it's cut from the same cloth as the $1,200 LG LDT9965BD speaks well for it. It has a lot of the same features for $300 less.
Except, I was often annoyed by the rack design and counterintuitive controls on the LDT9965BD, and those haven't changed either. The LDT9965BD made up for the little things that bothered me with outstanding cleaning ability and an awesome black stainless finish. The difference between the two -- the $900 model looks more typical with an ordinary stainless-steel exterior and it doesn't use steam to help it clean. As it turns out, that steam cleaning capability makes a big difference, as the LDF7774ST doesn't clean as well as its more expensive cousin.
In its defense, the LG LDF7774ST still did fine on our cleaning tests, averaging a score of 69.6 percent -- only a few points below the $1,200 GE PDT750SSFSS which earned a 74.6 percent. The LG LDF7774ST is a good dishwasher with an attractive mix of features for the price and competent cleaning to boot -- especially if you rinse your dishes. If you need a well-rounded dishwasher today for under $1,000, it's worth your consideration. But if you can wait, I'd watch for a sale on the $1,200 LG LDT9965BD.
Looking toward the middle
Viewed outside the shadow of its better cousin, the LG LDF7774ST looks pretty good. Yes, the stainless steel exterior would blend in with any number of other large appliances we've tested, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The LDF7774ST has a premium look that's in style, even if it's not as striking as the black stainless on the $1,200 LG.
As usual, you can find the LG LDF7774ST for a steep discount off of the $900 listed price, and its features look even more attractive for $650. That's its current price on Best Buy's site. You can also buy the dishwasher at Sears, Home Depot and other large appliance retailers or head to LG's site to find a location in your area. To be fair, the more expensive $1,200 LG LDT9965BD can also be found at a discount at the same retailers. The listed price is currently $900. Neither model is available overseas.
Controlling the clean
You'll find the hidden touch controls of the LG LDF7774ST on the upper lip. Start by pressing the power button and you'll hear a chime as the display comes to life. You can switch between the six different cycles with a gentle press. The borders of the button you press stay lit to show your selection and the LED on the right blinks with the estimated time your cycle will take to complete.
Select the options you want on the right, such as extra time to dry or rinse the dishes, and the blinking time will update its estimate accordingly. I would have liked an "express" option. "Quick & Dry" is the closest offering, but still takes over an hour to complete. Otherwise, the cycle choices are pretty standard fare -- Heavy, Normal, Auto and Delicate all do what you'd expect.
The LG LDF7774ST does get a few points for creativity for the "Dual Control" cycle that lets you customize the water pressure going to the top and bottom rack separately. It defaults to a heavy spray aimed at the bottom with a gentle one up top, but you can change that as you'd like. Well, you can change that if you keep the instruction manual handy.
As with the similar $1,200, using the basic functions of the LG LDF7774ST is pretty self-explanatory. Press Power, select your cycle, close the door, and the blinking display will turn solid and start counting down as the dishwasher whirs softly into action. The blue light on the front that's solid while you make your choices starts blinking to let you know the dishwasher's running.
I still missed a start button, as I did with the other LG, but I adapted to its absence pretty quickly. What I couldn't get used to was figuring out how to do anything more advanced with this dishwasher. For example, to adjust how Dual Control functions, you need to select the cycle, then press the Spray button to toggle between soft, medium, and strong flow for the upper rack. Then, hit the Half Load button to switch to the lower rack. Then, hit Spray again to toggle to your selection for that rack.
Again, I like the feature, and if you use it often, you could probably remember that order of operations, but I know it's something I'll forget within minutes of typing that last paragraph. Using any of the other options in detail similarly requires you decipher the symbols and memorize a cryptic pattern of button presses.
Get to know the room
Once you do get the cycle you want selected, you'll find plenty of room in the LG LDF7774ST for your dishes. Almost all of the tines on both racks fold down, and some rows let you fold down ever other tine so you can secure larger pots and pans in place. Clips on the ends of the upper rack's tines also let you change their angle. And the third rack gives you an extra spot for silverware or small dishes.
Unfortunately, though you can fold down tines and even change the height of the upper rack to accommodate taller glasses, I still found it a pain to use. As with the other LG, the bottom of the rack slants at odd angles, causing frequent bumps and generally uneven terrain. It must be designed like that for a reason, but for the life of me, I can't figure out why. Even with a normal load of glasses and bowls, I struggled to find a spot on the upper rack where my dishes felt secure -- and I followed the recommended loading pattern.
The upper rack gets even worse when you try to load in wine glasses, as the stem holders necessitate that you fold down a column of tines and take up two columns of space to properly secure your delicate glasses.
The interior of the LG LDF7774ST looks great thanks to the purple accents showing you where you can shift the tines, and I like the feature list and the convenient countdown timer. But a few puzzling design elements make it a pain to use.
This LG LDF7774ST and the similar $1,200 model share the same usability headaches, but the $1,200 LG LDT9965BD makes you forget about them with its top-tier performance. The $900 LG LDF7774ST doesn't. That's not to say that it's particularly bad. In fact, it outperformed the more expensive $1,100 Frigidaire FPID2497RF on our cleaning tests and kept up with the $1,200 GE PDT750SSFSS.
It's overall score of 69.6 percent might not seem impressive for a $900 machine, but we're particularly hard on our dishwashers when we test them. We spread 13 different soils over 112 different dishes, then let them sit for 24 hours before loading the dishwasher and letting it go to work.
The filter of this LG struggled to keep spinach and chili off of the dishes. It gets these bulky foods loose initially, but sprays small pieces back on as the cycle continues. We found spinach, chili, and even the occasional macaroni noodle on plates, bowls, and even inside the coffee cups and drinking glasses.
The LG LDF7774ST didn't miss many spots outright, but we'd occasionally find bowls on the top shelf that it hadn't reached, or knives on the third rack with peanut butter still clinging to them. It missed some spoons too, but more frequently than the occasional missed spot, we found water marks all over every piece of silverware and covering the drinking and wine glasses, and we used rinse aid.
Those unsightly white splotches are easy to wipe off, but certainly annoying when you're hoping to pull out a shiny wine glass and find it covered in blemishes. Even with the the Power Dry option turned on, the LG LDF7774ST still only averaged a score of 39.7 percent dry.
If you rinse your dishes and make sure to follow the manufacturer's loading pattern, you'll be pleased with the cleaning capabilities of the LG LDF7774ST. It's a competent dishwasher, it's just not as impressive as the $1,200 LG dishwasher. Neither model is a great dryer, though, and I wish the LDF7774ST were better at minimizing water marks.
Because of the third rack, the countdown timer, the dual wash cycle, and the foldable tines, the LDF7774ST is almost a bargain for $900. That's not cheap, by any means, but it has the features to match models that cost a couple hundred more. If it cleaned like the more expensive LG we tested previously, I would have recommended it heartily. As it stands, the LG LDF7774ST earns a spot on your list if you're looking for an upper midrange machine. It just doesn't do quite enough to leap to the top.