GE PGB910SET Review
A middling performance from this member of the GE family.
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The is a single oven gas range from the classic American brand that brought microwaves, ovens, Seinfeld, Friends, and 30 Rock to so many homes. While we expected another The Office, our test results indicated we found a bit of a Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: a middling performance from this member of the GE family.
The main issue was the rangetop. Though one burner was pretty impressive, it was weak overall. At least the oven was solid on all temperature settings, with good convection results, too. On a cheaper range, performance like this would warrant a higher opinion, but for the price of around $1,375 (MSRP $1,559), there are better options for your money.
Design & Usability
This GE flaunts interesting design language and desirable features.
We don't often see stainless steel combined with curvy design language, as most ranges are as stocky as a fullback. But for this single oven gas range, we can imagine the husky voice of Jack Donaghy describing the contour of the back splash and the eye-shaped oven window.
We appreciate the rangetop's continuous grates, which accommodate over-sized cookware, and the griddle-ready fifth burner. The upwardly canted knobs on the front garner our approval too, but we found the backsplash less appealing than the rest. While it's not littered with excess buttons, it does bear a passing resemblance to toy "computers" for kids, which may not be the desired look for the kitchen.
The self-cleaning oven's main feature is its convection ability, in which we found decent performance. Two standard racks divide the 5.4 cubic foot cavity, which should be plenty big enough for the Thanksgiving feast. Below the oven, a drawer is available for storage, as well as for keeping food warm or for "crisping crackers, chips or dry cereal," as the manual humorously states.
The rangetop performance is incongruous with its price tag.
One rangetop burner did extremely well, impressing us with an incredibly fast boil time. However, the rest of the rangetop elements were a bit slow. Regardless of which burner we chose, they all failed to reach the high temperatures we typically like to see for searing performance. Simmering was satisfactory, but it didn't sustain a low temperature as easily as others we've tested.
Obviously, this range functions just fine and would suit most people's everyday needs, but those interested in a high-performance rangetop should look elsewhere. On the bright side, this is a gas rangetop, so by default it offers superior temperature control and responsiveness over an electric model.
Oven Broiler & Convection
Despite the underpowered performance of the rangetop, the oven earns our acclaim.
After a six minute preheat to 350°F—significantly speeding up the dinner process—the demonstrated loyal adherence to the temperatures we set, and that goes for both the conventional and convection modes. All and all, then, except for that pesky keep-warm option, the oven showed a respectably low amount of variance in both conventional and convection modes.
The broiler passed our performance test, but with something short of flying colors. It has a "Hi/Lo" button that allows for an adjustment in temperature, and should definitely be used with the door closed.
If it were cheaper, it'd be worth it.
The is a very complicated oven. Fortunately, the decision on whether to recommend it is made simpler by the relatively high price of $1,375.
Though it showed decent baking results at almost every setting—keep-warm, 350°F, maximum, convection mode—we weren't impressed with what we saw on the rangetop, even with its fifth burner, griddle plate, and sleek, continuous grates. The boiling results were slow compared to its brothers in price, and high temperatures were exceptionally low. This is puzzling, due to the rangetop's relatively high gas draw, but the data "are," as our old biology lab teacher used to say, and we can only interpret, not argue.
The ideal user of this oven would be someone who doesn't need the high-performance from a rangetop, but could use the oven's excellence—the baker, the frozen-pizza enthusiast, the casserolist. But for the price, we simply can't recommend this when there are so many other solid options out there.
If you're interested, we have tons of data to throw around, because sometimes qualitative information isn't enough. Below, we flaunt more of the data from our lab tests to make a stronger case.
The oven performance improves a few minutes after reaching the target temperatures.
The is certainly able to average the proper temperature. When set to 350°F, our sensors confirmed a direct hit: a welcome find after the relative weakness on top. At the maximum setting, we saw similar success: 557°F vs. a target of 550°F. Though the keep-warm setting was a bit warm at 182°F against a setting of 170°F, we've certainly seen much worse. With the convection fan on, we found an average of 326°F when set to 350°F and confirmed that the oven automatically adjusts for the superior efficiency of convection by subtracting 25°F. Consider the target hit. All in all, these are happy results that should yield tasty roasts and scrumptious baked goods.
Temperature variance—how far the temperature strays from the target—was very acceptable, though there was often a hiccup right around the time the oven finished preheating. We recommend waiting a few minutes after the preheating for better results. At 350°F, we found straying down to 335°F and up to 376°F. This perfectly acceptable variance was similarly exhibited up at the 550°F setting, cementing our respect for this oven. The keep-warm setting strayed a bit more than we'd have liked, but that is generally a forgivable error. On the convection setting, we saw a fair amount of temperature fluctuation between 312°F and 355°F. We generally prefer a variance of no more than ±20°F from conventional and slightly better for convection, but this should be perfectly fine.
This rangetop could cook with more gas.
In our boiling tests, the front right "Power Boil" burner had water rolling fast, revving up six cups of water to 212°F in around 4.5 minutes. However, the rest of the four elements were not particularly successful in the boiling arena. The left burners both came in around 16 minutes; very slow for typical silver and bronze winners. We don't recommend the rear right burner for boiling—it boiled six cups in 68 minutes—but it's meant for simmering, not boiling, so that shouldn't be a mark against it.
The low temperature cooking situation was better, as the underpowered nature of a rangetop shouldn't affect the lowest power settings. We found solid results here with the rangetop's four burners keeping our test pans between 119°F and 129°F, appropriate temperatures for keeping a steady simmer. While gas rangetops can't quite get as low temperatures as electric ones can—due to the inescapable fact that an open flame is always very hot—this range exhibits exemplary simmering skills.
The underpowered nature of the 's rangetop came out here, as the burners maximum settings only got our test pans to 297°F for the front right burner, and 360°F for the front left burner (the other two were in the middle). This is certainly on the cool side, so don't expect the greatest searing abilities from this appliance.
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