Samsung RH25H5611SR review: Samsung's most affordable Food Showcase fridge passes the test

Performance was noticeably better in the body of the fridge, too. The more expensive model held steady at 38.3 degrees on its main shelves, but produced averages above 40 degrees F in each of its two drawers. The less expensive RH25H5611SR, on the other hand, kept temperatures on the main shelves even closer to the 37 degree target, and kept all three of its drawers below 40 degrees, as well. That last bit is undeniably impressive for a side-by-side model -- even our previous top-scoring side-by-side, the LG LSXS26326S, saw its bottom drawer come in above 40 degrees in the default setting test.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Performance was slightly less impressive at the minimum setting of 34 degrees F. While they all came in well below the FDA's food safety benchmark of 40 degrees F, temperatures in the body of the fridge were all less accurate than before, coming in about 2-4 degrees warmer than the target. The door ran warm, too, with the bottom two shelves both finishing with averages higher than 40 F.

That isn't a terrible result compared with other side-by-sides, most of which typically struggle to match the temperature consistency of other form factors due to the narrow, vertical design of the fridge. It's also a better result than we saw with the more expensive Food Showcase side-by-side -- that model saw the majority of the door yield averages above 40 degrees in our 34-degree test, along with one of the drawers in the main body of the fridge.

We ran the 34-degree test twice, replacing the door openings with Food Showcase door openings on the second run. It made virtually no difference. Ry Crist/CNET

We're usually finished after testing a fridge at the default setting and testing it at its coldest setting, but with the RH25H5611SR, I decided to run a third test. During each run, we'll open the fridge and freezer doors for set intervals twice a day. You can see those five door openings in the minute-by-minute graphs above -- they're the five biggest spikes in each graph. For the third test, I repeated the 34-degree run, but replaced the refrigerator door openings with Food Showcase door openings to see if using the Food Showcase door helps the fridge hold the cold (and save you money).

As you can pretty plainly see, there's virtually no difference between the two graphs, aside from spikes at the door openings that are ever-so-slightly less turbulent (and a little bit harder to pick out). The average temperature in each region held steady, and while none of them rose in the second test, none of them dropped by more than 0.2 degrees, either. If the Food Showcase door has any impact on performance, it's fractional at best.

Things got cramped fast, especially when I started loading in our large stress test items. Ry Crist/CNET

How much does it fit?

Side-by-side fridges will never get especially high marks for their storage capacities. Even the largest ones are still narrow, which gives you a lot less flexibility with larger items.

That's certainly the case with the RH25H5611SR. While I was able to fit all of my test groceries inside with room to spare, I found I didn't have the flexibility needed to keep items well spaced out, or grouped together in a sensible fashion. With only a few of the in-door shelves offering enough space for tall items, my condiments ended up weirdly dispersed throughout the door, with a ketchup bottle ending up with my butter up top and a bottle of maple syrup ending up squeezed in with the beer and wine at the bottom.

Even after rearranging the shelves in the fridge to make more room for my tall items, I was only able to fit three out of six stress test items inside with my groceries. Ry Crist/CNET

After the groceries go in, we try to stuff in our six large stress test items, as well. The extra-large pizza box was too wide to stand much of a chance (we've yet to find a side-by-side that fits it), but the other five all managed to squeeze in one at a time. However, when I tried to see how many I could squeeze in at once, I found I could only fit two: a cake tray on the top shelf and a casserole dish on top of my two packs of soda.

Our final test is to take everything out, rearrange the shelves to optimize space as much as we can, then try again. As said before, you can't rearrange the in-door shelves, so my options were pretty limited. I was, however, able to lower the top shelf one notch, allowing me to move my milk jugs into the body of the fridge, where they belong. That freed up valuable door space, and also made room in the fridge for a third stress test item, a tall-sized pitcher. The last two -- a party platter and a roasting pan -- had to join that pizza box on the "no-go" shelf.

Three out of six stress test items is a bit worse than the side-by-side average. With most of the other models we've tested, we've been able to get four in at once. With 15.6 cubic feet in the fridge and not a lot of flexibility with where you place your shelves, it's an interior that leaves a lot to be desired.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

Remove the wildly different exterior aesthetics from the equation, and this is essentially the same fridge as Samsung's original Food Showcase side-by-side. The key differences are that it performs better and costs less. If the plain-looking design is fine by you (and if you don't need an excess of storage space), then I say it's clearly the better value at $2,100.

Pass up on the door-in-a-door approach altogether, and you'll be able to save some money. At $1,500, the LG LSXS26326S is just one solid side-by-side alternative on the market. Still, with strong performance, the Food Showcase side-by-side has more going for it than a nifty door, and merits consideration even if you're a door-in-a-door skeptic like I am.

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