That said, vague thermostat controls made temperatures hard to manage. While its unusual size may help it fit into small kitchens, its interior isn't as large as some competitors. It’s dimensions—66 in. high x 33 in. wide x 35 in. deep—are similar to top-freezers of the same capacity. But if you’ve got a kitchen with a designated nook for a fridge, this side-by-side might be just the upgrade you’re looking for.
The Maytag MSF21D4MDM (MSRP $1,599) earned positive results in the majority of our lab tests. An overly warm fridge section, however, kept perfection out of its grasp.

Short and sturdy

This stainless side-by-side emphasizes Maytag's new design language. It boasts bright LED lighting, interior shelves with silvery gray trimming, and cast door handle caps that we like but don't love.

Despite its design, this side-by-side has some low-end elements that reveal its economical nature. The temperature controls use a 1-7 scale rather than a degree-based thermostat. There’s also just one crisper drawer with an adjustable slider (the bulky icemaker takes up already limited freezer space). Mercifully, the water filter is located down at the bottom of the fridge, where it's easy to access.

Temperatures in the fresh food section were too high. We recorded average temps of 38.04°F at the top, 40.32°F in the middle, and 43.29°F at the bottom. Fortunately, a steady average temperature shift of just ±0.2°F—over 72 hours—means it’s at least consistent over time.

Nonetheless, this model doesn’t come with a digital thermostat, so simply turning down the fridge is an imprecise “fix” that could lead to excessively chilly air at the very top.


The freezer fared better, with average temperatures clocking in at -0.52°F up top and -1.06°F near the bottom. An average temperature deviation of ±0.69°F isn't as precise as we’d like, but it’s not enough to ruin frozen groceries.

A warm fridge risks spoiling the package

In our lab tests, almost everything about this Maytag's performance turned out positive: The freezer was nice and cold, the crisper did a decent job retaining moisture, and it’s even relatively efficient.



That said, our tests revealed some warm temperatures in the fresh food compartment. Turning the thermostat down to compensate will help, but not completely.

Most side-by-sides exhibit a wide range of temperatures from top to bottom. In the case of this Maytag, we saw a five-degree shift from the top shelf (38.04°F) down to the lowest drawer (43.29°F).

Turning the thermostat down a notch or two might bring the warmer sections in line, but then you run the risk of freezing food stored on the uppermost shelf, especially since the scaled controls lack the precision of a degree-based thermostat. While there’s no ideal solution—short of getting a different fridge—careful organization of groceries could salvage the fridge’s performance.

For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
While the Maytag comes with multiple drawers in the fridge, only one of them is equipped with an adjustable humidity slider. That lone crisper did a decent job, not a great one. Our test materials lost an average of 0.15 grams of moisture an hour over the course of three days. We’ve seen half this from some of our top scorers.

A specialty product without much competition

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Despite a few performance flaws, there are certainly things about this Maytag that we loved: The price is great (some retailers are offering it for as little as $1,350), plus the design is unique and eye-catching. Overall performance was fine, despite warm temperatures in the fresh food compartment.

But even if there weren't any problems with the MSF21D4MDM, at the end of the day this is a specialty fridge designed to fit in a specific kind of kitchen. The fact is, if you’re looking for a side-by-side that’s larger than 21 cubic feet, you’ll be able to find a superior model for a similar price.

For that matter, if you’re looking for a 21-cubic-foot side-by-side and have an extra $300 to spend, we’d recommend the KitchenAid KSF22C4CYY over this model. It’s the same size as the Maytag—and both are made by Whirlpool Corp.—but the KitchenAid offers superior performance in ways that really count.
Freezing times were also average. Room temperature test materials cooled down to 32°F in about 1 hour 32 minutes.

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As a 21-cubic-foot side-by-side, this Maytag will undoubtedly feel a bit cramped. Compared to similar top-freezers, however, you’ve got plenty of space to work with. The fridge’s collection of adjustable shelves and drawers make 10.33 usable cubic feet of fresh food storage available.

The freezer, on the other hand, is definitely tight. With only 3.36 usable cubic feet available, you might want to consider going to some else’s house for Thanksgiving, as there’s no way anything like a frozen turkey will fit in this narrow compartment.

An icemaker is going to use more energy, and we always run our efficiency test with the icemaker on. We calculate that, based on a fixed rate of $0.09 per kWh, it’ll cost you about $42.86 per year to run this Maytag. That comes down to about 0.1 kWh to cool each usable cubic foot. Don’t need a lot of ice? Consider turning off the icemaker for additional savings.

Meet the testers

Matthew Zahnzinger

Matthew Zahnzinger

Logistics Manager & Staff Writer


Matthew is a native of Brockton, MA and a graduate of Northeastern, where he earned a degree in English and Theatre. He has also studied at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and spends most of his free time pursuing a performance career in the greater Boston area.

See all of Matthew Zahnzinger's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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