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Whirlpool WRB322DMBB Bottom Freezer Refrigerator review: Buy this bottom freezer fridge for the cooling power

Those are admittedly about as low-key as fridge features get, though, especially compared to models from Kenmore and LG which feature things like foldable shelves and pantry drawers that run the width of the refrigerator. It all adds up to a model that reminds me a bit of Christopher Reeve's timeless take on Clark Kent: boring, forgettable, and a bit klutzy. But just like Clark Kent, this fridge has a powerful secret -- which brings us right to:

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Super-powered performance

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Over 72 hours of tests at the default setting (typically 37 degrees F), the WRB322DMBB came through like a champ, returning average temperatures in that 35-37 degree sweet spot. Better still, the temperatures all stayed true to those averages, with nice, steady lines that don't rise or fall too much in that graph above. Our regularly scheduled door openings (those spikes in each line) only raised temperatures by a few degrees, and the fridge was always able to pull temperatures back down in short order. Translation: this refrigerator packs a serious punch when it comes to cooling power.

Performance was just as steady at the refrigerator's coldest setting, albeit a lot colder, obviously. Temperatures throughout the body of the fridge all held tight within about a 1-degree range -- an exceptionally low amount of variance. You probably wouldn't want to dial down to this setting unless you wanted your milk to freeze, mind you, but it's still good evidence in support of the fridge's ability to hold the cold.

The freezer also performed exceedingly well. We kept at it at the default setting during both tests to see if a change in the fridge compartment would affect temperatures down below. The WRB322DMBB laughed in our faces and yielded identical temperatures in each test. Those temperatures fall right in the center of the 0-5 degree range you typically want from your freezer. Like the fridge up top, those temperatures never rose very much during our door openings, nor did the freezer ever fail to pull them right back down.

Sure, a refrigerator's cooling power isn't the easiest thing to get excited about. But please take it from me, a guy who spends way, way more time thinking about refrigerators than he cares to admit: this kind of cooling power can only be summed up as "ass-kicking." I give the WRB322DMBB a 10 out of 10 for performance, and if I could give it an 11, I would.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The verdict

Buy the WRB322DMBB for the exceptional cooling performance, but only if you don't need your fridge to come packed with features or distinctive design touches, and only if you're willing to tolerate the less-than-impressive build. At $1,400, I say those are fair trade-offs for performance as stellar as this, but I also wouldn't blame you for wanting something flashier.

If you want a bottom freezer that's a bit more eye-catching, then check out the retro-styled GE Artistry Series fridge -- it looks terrific, offers passable performance and retails for $200 less than the WRB322DMBB. If it's features you're after (and if you're willing to spend a little more), then check out the bottom-freezer lineups from LG and Kenmore, each of which offers more bells and whistles than you'll get here. All are recommendable, but nothing tops Whirlpool in terms of performance.

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