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Samsung RF32FMQDBSR review: Samsung's $4,000 fridge: Mediocrity never looked so good

Despite average performance, a stunning design sets this high-end fridge apart from the competition.

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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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7 min read

If you want Samsung's top-of-the line Chef Collection fridge, you'll need to shell out six grand. If that's too much of a cold, hard number for your tastes, then you might consider the Samsung RF32FMQDBSR, a four-door model that looks just like it -- but costs two thousand less.

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Samsung RF32FMQDBSR

The Good

The Samsung RF32FMQDBSR offers Chef Collection-level looks for $2,000 less. Despite the lower price tag, you still get a few high-end features, like the ability to switch one half of the freezer into fridge mode.

The Bad

This model wasn't as solid a performer as the Chef Collection, or as comparable French door models that cost slightly less. Also, the storage-minded features inside of the fridge were hit and miss.

The Bottom Line

There's obvious appeal in such a good-looking fridge, but keep in mind that you can find better features and performance for less.

That's a much better price for exquisite design, but the rub is that the RF32FMQDBSR isn't as feature-rich as the Chef Collection fridge, with none of that model's chef-inspired luxury features. We like the Chef Collection's interior and cooling performance better, too. You'll also get more fridge bang for your fridge buck with a better performing, less expensive French door model like the LG LMXS30786S or the GE Profile Series PFE28RSHSS . Still, none of the Samsung model's shortcomings undercut the gorgeous design, so if it's a hankering for high-end looks that's motivating your buying decision, be sure to keep it in mind.

Samsung's four-door fridge is a stunner (pictures)

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It looks the part

Like the Chef Collection model, the RF32FMQDBSR is a four-door "t-type" fridge, which basically means that it's split into four quadrants. You get the usual French door approach up top, and the same two-door train of thought down with the freezer, too.

It's also an undeniably good-looking appliance. The recessed handles maintain the flat-front aesthetic while also highlighting the unique four-door design, same as the Chef Collection model. That fridge really hit it out of the park with its eye-catching looks, so I don't blame Samsung for doubling down and offering the same selling point here.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Still, the RF32FMQDBSR is more of a fraternal twin to the Chef Collection fridge than an identical one. It's a bit smaller, for starters, offering 30 cubic feet of storage space instead of 34. Also, with the Chef Collection model, the front LED display lights up through tiny pinholes when in use, then disappears when you're done. No such trickery in the cheaper version. You get a touch panel, instead -- more of a standard approach, and less of a seamless one.

Many of the Chef Collection's features are missing in this model, too. You won't find the stainless-steel Chef Pans built to marinate things in the fridge and then go straight into the oven and dishwasher, nor will you find the Chef Basket that holds things like chopped veggies and grated cheese and then lifts out onto your countertop for Taco Tuesday. The sparkling water feature is gone from the water dispenser. Also gone: the Chef Pantry, the bottom drawer that runs the width of the Chef Collection fridge and offers adjustable temperature settings.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The CoolSelect+ compartment is still in play, though. It's the bottom right quadrant of the refrigerator, and while you'll probably use it as the right half of your freezer, you get the option of dialing the temperature up and using it for extra fridge storage. That's a very nice high-end feature, and of all the Chef Collection's bells and whistles, probably the first one I would have wanted to see in a cheaper version.

You won't control it in quite the same way, though. In the Chef Collection model, the CoolSelect+ controls were hidden on a touch panel on the top of the CoolSelect+ door. The cheaper model went ahead and relocated them to the touch panel on the front of the fridge. I'm not sure I mind that -- the Chef Collection controls required you to hold the door open in order to use them.

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No touch controls on top of the CoolSelect+ door -- instead, they're on the front of the fridge. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You also get some of the Chef Collection's storage-minded features inside of the fridge. There's a shelf that folds up and out of the way, and another that slides in, giving you two good spots to store tall items. Other features are new, like plastic dividers that split the in-door shelves across the middle to help section things off and a plastic egg bin insert. Neither one of those actually seemed that helpful -- the dividers actually made it more difficult to store bulky items, and the egg bin doesn't fit a carton of eggs, nor does it stop loose eggs from rolling around when you open and close the door.

There are also a few basic features I was surprised not to find in this fridge. There's no butter bin, for instance -- the usual spot in the top of the left door is designated for eggs, instead. You also won't find humidity sliders for the crisper drawers.

In sum, it all comes down to looks, this refrigerator's strongest suit (at least on the outside). If design is most important to you, then it deserves strong consideration -- but only if you're comfortable with a slightly sub par slate of features. Though they aren't nearly as eye catching, both the LG LMXS30786S and the GE Profile Series French door have more to offer on the inside, and both cost less.

Keep in mind also that Samsung isn't the only manufacturer making fridges in that distinctive t-type style. LG's in the game now, as well, offering four-door, t-type fridges as part of ""="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="49661eb2-a1ff-4fc0-9ff9-e6c69b396865" slug="lg-introduces-diamond-collection-stainless-steel-kitchen-appliances-sans-smudges" link-text="its high-end " section="news" title="LG introduces Diamond Collection kitchen appliances -- sans smudges"> That includes a $4,300 model that offers some direct competition for the RF32FMQDBSR. We'll have a better comparison of the two when we finish testing the LG model out -- look for a review in the coming days.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

A tale of two tests

We test each refrigerator we review in a climate controlled chamber, monitoring the minute-by-minute temperature in each region of the fridge and freezer for 72 hours. The Samsung RF32FMQDBSR yielded some interesting results. At the default setting of 37 degrees, the fridge ran a little warm, with hotspots in the bottom shelves of each door. It's not a terrible result, but it isn't a great one, either. The Chef Collection fridge cooled things down with greater accuracy and consistency, as did the LG LMXS30786S and the GE Profile Series French door . At $4,000, I would have liked to have seen better from Samsung here.

From there, we repeat the test at 33 degrees. Like most Samsung fridges, the RF32FMQDBSR only dials down to 34, so we tested there, instead. The results were almost exactly the same as before, just shifted down 3 degrees. As a whole, the fridge was about 3 degrees above the target, with the bottoms of each door coming in hottest.

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At both the 37- and 34-degree settings, the fridge ran a few degrees warm, with the bottom shelves in each door (light green, light purple) running the warmest. Ry Crist/CNET

The minute-by-minute results offer a closer look at how the fridge performs. In addition to the warm averages, you can see the spikes during our regularly scheduled door openings. Each of those door openings only lasts a few minutes (30 seconds open, 30 seconds closed, etc.), but the spikes each last for hours, taking longer to return to stability than we've seen with comparable fridges. Even the blue lines representing the body of the fridge spike up above 40 degrees for extended lengths of time -- not good, according to FDA standards. If I'm picking a fridge based on performance alone, I'm going to look for skinnier spikes.

As for the freezer, averages held steady within a degree or so of the target temperature (0 degrees) in each of our tests. Spikes during the door openings and during defrost cycles typically jumped to around 12 degrees before coming right back down -- a satisfying result, but not as good as we saw with the LG LMXS30786S. That freezer never jumped to anything higher than 8 degrees, and always returned to the target temperature in quick fashion, yielding some of the skinniest freezer spikes we've seen.

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How much fits?

Not surprisingly, the RF32FMQDBSR fits plenty of groceries. With 30 cubic feet of space, you'll have no problem squeezing in enough food to feed a good-size family, and as said before, the storage-minded features like slide-in and fold-up shelves help keep things flexible.

Still, it isn't the best use of space I've seen in a fridge. The ice maker sits in the top left corner, eating up a good chunk of space in the body of the fridge. I'm not a fan of ice makers like these, because they take up space in the fridge without making things any more compact in the door. See that big plastic bump in the middle of the left door? It juts out to catch the falling ice -- and in the process, blocks off the shelf beneath it from storing anything tall, including condiments, beer, and other typical door shelf fodder. Even though it makes less ice, I'll take the slimmed down in-door ice maker of the LG LMXS30786S any day.

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The shelf dividers only seemed to get in the way. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

In addition to our standard grocery load, we also challenge our fridges to accommodate a sextet of stress test items: a pitcher, a party platter, a casserole dish, a roasting pan, a cake tray, and an extra large pizza box. All six made it in fine on their own, but I was only able to fit four of the six all at once without rearranging the shelves or removing those annoying plastic inserts from the doors.

Once I did, all six made it in without incident -- although at that point, I suppose I'd need to find a place to store the superfluous pieces of my fridge. At any rate, they're additions I could do without.

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The verdict

There's genuine appeal in the look of the Chef Collection fridge, so credit Samsung for finding a way to offer something similar at a lower upfront cost. At $4,000, the RF32FMQDBSR is still priced as a high-end upgrade, where the aesthetic typically weighs heavily into shopper's buying choices. With its unique, attractive design, it's positioned well.

Still, for the price, I wish it offered better cooling performance and a more helpful slate of features. Even without the chef-inspired luxuries of the $6,000 version, there's still room for more than Samsung's offering (adding in basics like crisper controls and a butter bin would be a nice start). Those weaknesses aren't enough to undercut the overall appeal here, though -- if you like what you see, and what you see is what's most important to you, then this fridge merits a close look.

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Samsung RF32FMQDBSR

Score Breakdown

Features 7Design 9Performance 6Usability 7