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

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 its high-end 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.

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.

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.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

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.

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.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

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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