When you’re shopping for a fridge, a stroll through a home improvement store can be overwhelming. Surrounded by rows and rows of fridges that more or less look identical, it's easy to pick one at random—after all, they're just boxes that keep food cold, right?
We do have a ranked list of the best refrigerators we've ever tested. But, when it comes to top-freezer fridges, our favorite is the Haier HA10TG21SS(available at Best Buy for $656.99), which is a good fit for people who want steady temperatures at a bargain price.
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Here are the best top-freezer refrigerators we've tested, ranked in order:
If you’re in the market for an entry-level, counter-depth fridge, there are are fewer options better than the Haier HA10TG21SS top-freezer.
This budget buy offers a lot for its purchase price. While its smaller stature means less storage compared to a full-size model, it has impressive temperature control and adjustable-height, spill-capturing shelves. Neither of those features are particularly common in a fridge this inexpensive.
If you're looking for a basic fridge and don't have much use for fancy features anyway, the Haier HA10TG21SS is one of the best values currently available.
The Samsung RT18M6215SG is truly a unique top-freezer refrigerator. This 18-cubic-foot fridge has a sleek, black stainless-steel exterior and temperatures that are spot-on for food preservation.
Where this fridge is truly innovative is in its freezer, which can either be set to normal freezer temperatures or, with a few button presses, can be converted into a second refrigeration zone. This can be a great choice for a small kitchen, a vacation home, or a garage or basement refrigerator.
Between its versatility and good looks, the Samsung RT18M6215SG is a better-than-average value.
The Beko BFTF2716SSIM combines a great look and solid performance in a compact package. This top-freezer has few frills, just an internal ice-maker, some nice spill-capture glass shelves, and interesting crisper tech that could extend the shelf life of your leafy greens.
Beyond these features, the Beko BFTF2716SSIM is just a basic fridge with some seriously stable temperatures. You will need to calibrate its freezer before use, but considering what this fridge offers for its purchase price, we think it’s a small sacrifice for such steady cooling.
This fridge is on the smaller side, even compared to other counter-depths, so if space in your home is tight, it makes for an excellent budget buy. Of course, the downside of its smaller footprint is lower overall storage capacity. We'd recommend this one for anyone living on their own or with maybe one other person—any larger households might find this one a bit cramped.
Our tests show this fridge is one of the most efficient available, and it is more than adequate when it comes to preserving food. Temperatures are stable, energy consumption is low, and it makes great use of the available space. It also looks really good for its price.
However, its crispers aren't great, and you’ll want to turn down the thermostat.
Still, if you’re looking to keep costs low and don’t need an ice-maker, you can't go wrong with this fridge. Whether you need a replacement unit for the kitchen or an attractive second fridge, this Whirlpool is a great bargain.
Top-freezer refrigerators may not experience the fanfare of their modern French-door counterparts, but this fridge is proof they can still hold their own in the kitchen. The Frigidaire FFHT1425VV is an impressive fridge for its size. While it's about 50% the size of a typical refrigerator, it maintains a fairly high capacity—certainly enough for a couple or small family to store food without issue.
The EvenTemp Cooling System keeps fridge temperatures consistent, fluctuating only one-tenth of a degree in our tests.
If you’re looking for a small, affordable fridge for an apartment or a garage, the Frigidaire FFHT1425VV may be the perfect pick. Not only does its small size ensure it’ll fit in more locations, but we saw great temperature consistency throughout the fridge and freezer. It’s incredibly energy efficient as well, using about half as much energy as the average fridge.
If you want a solid, no-frills fridge, the GE GTS22KGNRBB is a great choice.
While some fridges try to cram in every available extra feature and sometimes need to make trade-offs for performance, the GE GTS22KGNRBB instead focuses on the basics—and does a great job. It doesn’t have some of the usability features we like to see, like flexible shelving or storage options, but it is capable of maintaining steady, cool temperatures.
While the GTS22KGNRBB is a bit more expensive than other bare-bones fridges we've reviewed, it doesn't have other typical problems we see—like inconsistent temperatures. If you're looking for a garage fridge or need to maximize your budget, the GTS22KGNRBB is a pretty good value for what it offers.
The Whirlpool WRT518SZFM top-freezer fridge is a pro at maintaining steady, cool temperatures—a huge bonus, since this is a trait that many similarly-priced refrigerators just don't have. Additionally, the WRT518SZFM features more customizable storage options than its competition.
While we liked the cooling performance and storage options for a fridge at this price point, it’s still pretty basic, although an excellent choice. If you want dispensers or smart features, this isn’t the right fridge for you.
Finishes: White, stainless steel, black stainless steel ($125 extra)
The Samsung RT21M6213SR top-freezer refrigerator offers a beautifully sleek look with its pocket handles and fingerprint-resistant stainless steel finish. The freezer can also double as a fridge.
During testing, this fridge showed spot-on temperatures. We set all the fridges in our labs to 37°F and monitor the temperature variance. The Samsung RT21M6213SR, over the course of 72 hours, averaged 37.6°F—excellent for food preservation.
The Maytag MRT118FFFZ is one of the least expensive stainless steel refrigerators we've seen. Efficiency is this refrigerator’s strong suit. It uses power like a miser.
The fridge does have some difficulty maintaining its refrigerator temperatures: They fluctuate by about 1.5 degrees, whereas most refrigerators we've tested waver by about 0.3 degrees. The refrigerator compartment runs cold, while the freezer runs warm—both need to be calibrated before use to ensure optimal performance.
We're Reviewed's appliance testing team. Between us, we've spent years testing major appliances and today we’ve turned our attention to top-freezer refrigerators.
We have plenty of experience testing refrigerators in our lab, but we also make sure to use them just like how you’d use your own fridge over the course of a day. This combination of rigorous, objective scientific testing and subjective user experience helps give us a holistic view of how each top-freezer behaves.
We spend a week putting each refrigerator through its paces, testing and scoring over 50 aspects of fridge design and performance.
To create an ideal testing environment, we have a temperature- and humidity-controlled testing chamber that maintains temperatures of 72°F +/- 5°F, with a relative humidity of 50% RH +/- 15% RH.
A standardized testing environment ensures each fridge can perform at its best, as extreme hot or cold conditions can affect how the fridge disperses its heat, and therefore its performance.
Next, we use an array of sensors and meters to track the temperature consistency in both the fridge and freezer, the rate of humidity loss in its crispers, and how much energy is used. We also manually measure the usable storage space to ensure consistent, cross-comparable metrics across manufacturers.
What You Should Know Before Buying a Top-Freezer Refrigerator
Make Sure to Measure Everything
It’s obviously important to measure before buying anything of a substantial size for your home. This rule goes double for anyone attempting to slot their new fridge into an existing cutout in their countertops and cabinetry.
A common oversight is the fridge’s height, as those tend to be more or less the same regardless of manufacturer. It’s easy to ignore this measurement up until the exact moment you realize you need to fit a 70” fridge under a cabinet with only 68” of clearance.
You’ll also want to leave an inch or more around the sides of the fridge, to help with air circulation and keep your fridge operating at peak efficiency.
Counter-Depth vs. Standard-Depth
The term “counter-depth” refers to how much your fridge will stick out past your cabinetry.
There’s no standardized “counter-depth” number, so measurements vary between manufacturers, but a full-size fridge could be up to six inches deeper than its counter-depth counterpart. This shallow build allows counter-depth fridges to sit more flush with your cabinetry, but also necessarily means you’ll have less interior storage space compared to a full-size model.
One more thing to consider: Although smaller, a counter-depth fridge will often cost more than its non-counter-depth counterpart.
Top-freezers Are Great For Energy Efficiency
If the prospect of using less water and energy is appealing to you, top-freezers are some of the most efficient options for a new fridge.
Typically, the more complicated your fridge (in features and design), the more energy it uses. Because top-freezers generally don’t have as many features or complications as other styles of fridge, they also tend to have some of the lower energy requirements.
We recommend checking the Energy Star rating for any refrigerator you’re researching, to get an idea of what its resource requirements are.
Fit and Finish Can Complete Your Kitchen
While you can still find black, white, and bisque refrigerators at most stores, stainless steel is a more popular style with modern consumers. Regardless, you should be able to find a refrigerator that matches your kitchen setup and your other appliances.
Make Sure Its Price Is Reasonable
Top-freezer fridges are among the most budget-friendly refrigerators on the market: Most hover around the $1,000 mark, with basic models generally available for less—sometimes even under $600.
While this is a general rule and not applicable to every top-freezer, if a top-freezer is in the $1,500 range it’s either packed with extras or not providing a good value.
Manually Calibrate Your Fridge’s Temperature
The ideal temperature setting is about 37°F for the refrigerator compartment, and 0°F for the freezer.
The reason 37°F is important is because temperatures do naturally fluctuate throughout the day, due to defrost cycles and cold air escaping whenever the door opens. If temperatures rise to 40°F or above, bacteria can proliferate quickly. If the temperature dips below 32°F, some items will begin to freeze.
The freezer temperature is important, because above 0°F some foods might not freeze properly. Consistency is important for a freezer, because inconsistent temperatures are what cause freezer burn.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
Leigh Harrington has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor for myriad print and digital publications. At USA TODAY and Reviewed, she focuses on coverage about home trends, home improvement, large and small appliances, and gardening.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.