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Frigidaire's Affinity line has produced some solid washers, some of which even ended up on our Best of Year list for 2012. But the Frigidaire FAHE4044MW feels like it came from the shallow end of the mechanical gene pool. In addition to middling performance, its 3.4 cubic foot capacity is less than what most of the competition offers. Worst of all, its controls are Atari-grade, and its lid topples over at the slightest breeze. For a $799 MSRP, you can buy a much better machine.
Design & Usability
The design of this washer left a lot to be desired
Behold, the tale of a courageous and incredibly handsome washing machine reviewer. He was set to review the Frigidaire FAHE4044MW, when its lid struck the gallant reviewer in the face. Again, and again, and again. Push it too far forward? Slam. Too far back? Slam. It happened every time our gallant reviewer leaned over to get test loads out of the drum.
Beyond that pesky lid, this Frigidaire was much like other top-loaders in its price range, with straightforward controls. There is a knob cycle selector that you twist, and a push button start, neither of which felt particularly responsive. We appreciate simplicity, but these just felt cheap.
Performance & Features
Fairly good cleaning ability mixed with fairly bad everything else
When we unpacked the Frigidaire FAHE4044MW, we noticed a tag stuck on it that proclaimed the machine to be the "Best Cleaning High-Efficiency Top Loader." Intrigued, since it's our job to determine the truthfulness of such statements, we kept reading and noticed the caveat: for models with an MSRP $649 or under that were available August 2012 or earlier while using the Normal, Heavy, and/or extended wash cycle/stain treat selected. Put that way, the Frigidaire had a much lower threshold to cross. Generally speaking, it succeeded.
The Heavy Duty cycle on this washer indeed outpaced many of its competitors, especially when dealing with tough messes like sweat and chocolate. Across all other cycles, it continued to tear through stains. Unfortunately, it also tore through everything else, leaving our standard fragile fabric test sheets tattered.
"Villain," said the Reviewer. "Thou hast undone my laundry!" "Villain," replied the FAHE4044MA. "I have done thy laundry. Beep, beep."
The FAHE4044MW also had a major problem with efficiency, using quite a bit of water per wash. We estimated that its annual yearly running cost is over $58, which is nearly twice what some similarly-sized front-loaders cost per year. Over five years, that'll add up to $150 — hardly small change.
Furthermore, because this washer had a hard time spinning out excess water from loads, it'll mean harder work and more energy wasted in the dryer, and therefore even more money out of your pocket. Every load that came out of this machine was sopping wet, with the Heavy Duty cycle leaving a whopping 81 percent of the test load's weight in water. We like to see no more than 50 percent left behind.
When stain removal just isn't enough
The Frigidaire FAHE4044MW is good at removing stains, but that's not enough to make it a good washer. Yes, that might sound counterintuitive, but think about it: A great washer gets your clothes clean, is easy to use, doesn't waste water or energy, and doesn't damage your clothes. For an MSRP of $799, there are many better washing machines out there.
Every machine that comes through our doors undergoes the same battery of standardized tests. Princes and paupers are all treated the same here. The fared well in our cleaning tests, but poorly in all others.
We use standardize stain strips. They're stained with common household substances like blood and red wine. The Frigidaire FAHE4404MW had a good showing, plowing through blood and sweat stains. A harder worker it is, perhaps too hard.
Whenever we hook a washer we also attach water and watt meters. Using these, we estimate that the yearly running cost of the FAHE4404MW to be around $58. Amongst top-loaders, thats on the high side, but not unheard of. However, is more to efficiency than what goes into a washer. What comes out is important too.
This Frigidaire got poor marks for the amount of water it failed to spin. Weighing the test loads after a wash cycle, we managed to calculate that each load retained about 77% of its weight in water. That means more work for your dryer.