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Samsung RF34H9960S4 review: Meet the $6,000 fridge that might just be worth it

This kitchen monolith looks beautiful, costs six grand, and might actually be a bargain.

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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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8 min read

Fancy a new fridge? Have six grand? Then, behold, the Samsung Chef Collection Refrigerator, model RF34H9960S4. Priced well above anything else offered by the top manufacturers, the Chef Collection fridge is as high-end as refrigerators come -- at least before you start throwing around names like Viking and Sub-Zero.

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8.2

Samsung RF34H9960S4

The Good

Samsung's Chef Collection fridge is the largest and most feature-rich model we've ever tested. The gorgeous design manages to live up to the steep $6,000 price tag.

The Bad

Though steady in our tests, the Chef Collection fridge wasn't able to outperform less expensive refrigerators in our cooling tests. Also, you need to open the door in order to access the controls.

The Bottom Line

We've seen slightly better performance from less expensive models, but this luxury fridge feels appropriately luxurious, and its features can't be beat. Covet accordingly.

That last bit is the really important part, as the Chef Collection seeks to bridge the fridge gap between high end and ultra-high end. Competing top-of-the-line models from the other major brands typically cost thousands less, but put the Chef Collection fridge up against the niche fridges from those aforementioned luxury brands -- which cost thousands more -- and the appeal of this Samsung unit starts to appear.

Along with a bevy of unique features drawn from the input of world-class chefs (per Samsung's marketing, at least), the Chef Collection fridge boasts a whopping 34 cubic feet of storage and a premium, "t-type" build. Though it wasn't as strong a performer as I would expect from a $6,000 fridge, it's steady enough (and stylish enough) to deserve strong consideration alongside fancier fridges that sell for even more.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Design and features

Almost every refrigerator is going to be a big, blocky behemoth in your kitchen, but the Chef Collection fridge is downright monolithic. Cue the orchestra.

At 36 inches wide, 36 inches deep, and 6 feet tall, this thing is a kitchen Goliath, ringing in with a total capacity of 34.3 cubic feet, 19 of which make up the refrigeration compartment. If that's not enough of a space odyssey for your needs, you can transform the bottom right quadrant from freezer into fridge with just a few taps on the in-door control panel.

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You'll need to open the fridge in order to access the in-door controls. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Those in-door controls were a sticking point for some in our test lab, as they require you to open a door in order to use them. I was less bothered -- you'll probably rarely use the controls, and basic info like the running temperature is available right on the front of the fridge by means of a slick-looking set of LEDs that disappear altogether when not in use.

Make no mistake, the focus here is on design, and Samsung is betting that design-minded shoppers would rather have those controls neatly out of sight at a slight inconvenience than have them cluttering up the streamlined build for usability's sake. Given that this is a $6,000 fridge, I think that's a smart bet. People are going to buy this thing to make their neighbors jealous, not because they need their refrigerator to be more intuitive. It's a rare instance where form over function was probably the right call.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Chef Collection's emphasis on design is literally front and center here, with a semi-unique "t-type" build that splits both fridge and freezer right down the middle, creating a sort of hybrid between French door and side-by-side stylings. Recessed handles only serve to reinforce the split-faced design, an especially elegant touch that immediately gives the Chef Collection fridge a good deal of luxury cred. Looking it over, it's a challenge not to be impressed.

Other features, on the other hand, are geared almost exclusively towards usability. Though you won't find a touchscreen or any other marquee smart features, the Chef Collection fridge does quietly boast smart grid compliance for users who live in areas that allow you to automate your refrigerator's defrost cycles to run when the energy rates are at their lowest.

The fridge also comes with a pair of stainless steel "Chef Pans" that slide neatly into place below the refrigerator shelving -- a product of the Chef Collection's "Club des Chefs" brain trust. Use one to marinate a steak, and you'll be able to transfer the entire pan straight into the oven, then on into the dishwasher after your meal.

Feast your eyes on Samsung's Chef Collection fridge (pictures)

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You'll notice other foodie-friendly features throughout the fridge, too, including the "Chef Basket," an in-door shelf designed to hold grated cheese, sliced veggies and other prep ingredients. When you're ready to start cooking, it comes right out to join you. There's also the "Chef Pantry," a wide drawer below the crisper bins that's designed to hold delicate items like meat and fish at an optimized temperature.

You can even load a SodaStream carbonator directly into the fridge door, then dispense sparkling water on demand. Switching carbonators is a quick, easy process, though you do need to wait 20 minutes or so before you can begin dispensing the stuff. Flip the sparkling water lever back up, and you'll be back in ice-dispensing mode, with an ice maker that, to my ear, seemed a bit quieter than the average fridge.

All in all, the Chef Collection refrigerator claims about as many high-end features as you'll find in a fridge, including enough unique ones (and enough that seem legitimately useful) to keep things compelling. Pair that with a design that swings for the fences, and you've got an appliance that looks and feels farther ahead of the curve than almost any other model we've looked at.

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Jared Hannah/CNET

Performance and usability

Let's say you currently own a fridge that you spent $1,500 on, and that you're more or less happy with its performance. How much better would you expect a $6,000 fridge to perform?

If you answered "four times better," then you might come away disappointed with the Samsung Chef Collection fridge. That isn't to say that its cooling performance is disappointing in and of itself, but it doesn't blow less expensive fridges out of the water, either. Some, like the $4,000 LG LMXS30776S , even manage to outperform it, with internal temperatures that fall closer in line with the selected running temperature.

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The top shelf (orange) spent about a third of this test above 40 degrees, but overall, the performance was steady. Ry Crist/CNET

Still, it offers consistent cooling, and for most consumers, I think that's good enough. The graph above shows the temperatures of the main refrigeration compartment's top, middle, and bottom shelves over a 72 hour test in our climate control chamber. Set to 37 degrees, the Chef Collection fridge kept the bottom and middle shelves almost completely below 40 degrees, a benchmark temperature for sensitive ingredients set by the FDA. With averages of 38.4 degrees and 37.8 degrees for the bottom and middle shelves, respectively, Samsung did a fine job in this test.

The top shelf -- that orange line in the graph -- ran a little warmer, which is to be expected. As the fridge's cooling efforts cycle on and off, you can see the line creep up north of 40 degrees on numerous occasions, spending a total of about 21 hours out of 72 above 40. That's a little less than 30 percent of the test -- not a perfect result, but also not hot enough to raise the overall average above 40. It's also far better than we saw from the $2,600 Frigidaire Gallery FGHB2866PF , which saw its top shelf sit above 40 degrees for more than 60 percent of the same test, for a final average of 40.2 degrees.

How we test refrigerators (pictures)

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I was also encouraged to see that whenever that top shelf's temperature crept above 40 degrees, the Chef Collection fridge was able to make quick work of pulling it back down -- usually with just one or two cooling cycles. That Frigidaire Gallery model struggled by comparison, on more than one occasion leaving the top shelf above 40 degrees for upwards of 4 hours. It also tended to require several consecutive cooling cycles to get the temperature back down where we wanted it.

As for the freezer, it tended to run a few degrees cold on the left half, and a few degrees warm in the "Cool Select" compartment on the right. There's nothing wrong with either of those results, although I wouldn't blame you for expecting a little more precision from such an expensive fridge.

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The Chef Pantry consistently keeps things a few degrees colder than the other drawers. Ry Crist/CNET

I also took a look at how well the Chef Pantry held its temperature, and came away satisfied. It defaults to "Fridge" mode when the refrigerator is set above 36 degrees. That mode came out to a steady average of 35.2 over our 72-hour test -- consistently cooler than the two crisper drawers, which sit directly above the Chef Pantry.

Set the fridge to 36 or below, and the Chef Pantry will switch over into "Fish/Meat" mode, which chills things down closer to 30 degrees. That's the sweet spot for storing flounder and filet mignon, according to the top chefs in the Chef Collection's culinary think tank.

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After stocking each fridge with a full load of groceries, we test to see if we can squeeze in these bulkier items, too. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Speaking of storing things, the Chef Collection fridge aced our capacity tests, which wasn't at all surprising seeing as how it's the biggest fridge we've ever tested. Without moving any shelves from their default positions, we were able to load our standardized grocery load into the fridge with plenty of room to spare -- enough to handle each of the stress test items pictured above, even when we crammed all six in at once.

That's as good a result as you'll get from that test, and it's even more impressive when you consider that we could have flipped the right half of the freezer into fridge mode for even more space. The need never arose.

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Our next test is the optimized configuration test, where we're allowed to move groceries out of their standardized positioning and rearrange the shelves if needed in order to make better use of the space in the fridge. It was more or less a moot point with the Chef Collection, seeing as how it managed a perfect score during the standardized run, but I was still curious to see how hard it was to move the shelves around.

As it turns out, they pop in and out pretty easily, although at one point I had to fuss with one for a good ten seconds or so. Also, there aren't quite as many slots to put them in as other fridges I've tested -- though admittedly, that's about as small as fridge quibbles come. You can also slide two of the shelves back and out of the way to make room for bulkier items without needing to rearrange anything at all.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

Selling a $6,000 fridge is a pretty tall order, so I give Samsung's appliances team a lot of credit for what they've done here. This fridge looks flat-out fantastic -- every bit the part of the Chef Collection's centerpiece. With a wide array of unique, appealing features, it's a genuinely tempting splurge for upper crust kitchens.

The Chef Collection fridge is on sale now in the US, with a seemingly identical model selling in Australia (albeit with a different model number). As for shoppers in the UK, Europe gets its own, distinct Chef Collection line, complete with its own, smaller-sized version of the fridge.

You absolutely do not need to spend this much to keep your food cold, but if you want a kitchen that's this far ahead of the curve, then the Chef Collection fridge might just be worth the money. What's more, if you're already shopping for something ultra-high end, the Chef Collection fridge might actually come as a bargain, costing thousands less than many of the most popular offerings from premium niche brands. If your pockets are deep enough -- and yes, that's an awfully big "if" -- then this fridge belongs on your radar.

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8.2

Samsung RF34H9960S4

Score Breakdown

Features 10Design 9Performance 7Usability 8
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