After putting this unique fridge through its paces, it turns out that this is an appliance that—as far as our tests indicate—you’ll definitely want in your kitchen. The flexible freezer zone is easy to use, letting you store everything from frozen pizza to hors d’oeuvres to white wine at each item’s ideal temperature. Other performance high points, like low energy consumption and consistent temperatures, hit all the right notes to complement unparalleled versatility.
The unusual design of the Samsung RF32FMQDBSR (MRSP $3,999) resulted in some pretty spectacular numbers at the end of our testing procedure. At the end of the day, we only found a few minor faults that failed to derail this impressive fridge.
”What are the three rules of refrigeration?” “Consistency, consistency, consistency…”
Large fridges tend to have problems with even temperature consistency. While that proved mostly false for this Samsung, the main fresh food compartment did exhibit a few small hiccups. From top to bottom, average temperatures clocked in at 38.88ºF at the top, 38.19ºF in the middle, and 39.36ºF at the bottom, roughly two degrees higher than the calibrated 37ºF setting. It’s an easy fix, especially since temperatures only fluctuated about 0.65ºF over time—fantastic for a fridge this size.
The freezer, on the other hand, blew us away. Unlike full-width pull-out drawers, each half-freezer gets its own compressor; that means each one can concentrate its efforts on cooling a smaller space. With average temperatures of -0.23ºF at the top and 0.07ºF at the bottom, there’s no question that the freezers get cold enough. What’s more, average fluctuation was lower than on any other full-sized model we’ve previously tested: With shifts of only 0.05ºF, unsteady temperatures (and the potential freezer burn) are virtually nonexistent.
2013: A Fridge Odyssey
This massive Samsung is one of the largest fridges we’ve ever come across, but the interior layout remains familiar. Bright LED lights in the fridge bathe your food in a bright aura that makes everything look clean and fresh. Not only do the rear-mounted shelves make for flexible fridge storage, they also flip up, fold back, and slide out for easy access. Even though the icemaker is found in the main fridge cavity, it’s designed to be slimmer than the bulky ones you’d find on older models.
While the small shelves on the left fridge door are contoured to fit around the large ice dispenser, the right door sports three multi-gallon-sized bucket shelves. Only the middle shelf on the right door is adjustable; none of the others can be moved from their designated slots. Instead, removable shelf dividers and an egg bucket help organize storage.
Like the upper fresh food section—but unlike most other fridges—the freezer uses two French doors that open up onto mirrored half-freezers. Everything—the sliding shelf on top, as well as the two drawers underneath—glides in and out with remarkable ease. Splitting the freezer into two independent compartments does result in some cramped storage, though. Having more independent drawers and shelves makes it easier to organize your food, but the drawers don’t slide out as far as a typical pull-out freezer. You have to bend down and dig deep to get at food in the back. Also, fans of large frozen pizzas will be disappointed: the storage cavities are roomy enough to fit bulky items like a frozen turkey, but they’re not broad enough for your favorite family-sized thin crust.
Efficient, roomy, and consistent—everything you’d want in a fridge.
It’s rare that a fridge is nearly flawless, but such is the case with the RF32FMQDBSR. Its crisper drawers were remarkably effective at retaining moisture, its freezing times were slightly faster than average, and its total storage space is larger than almost every other stand-alone consumer fridge on the market today.
What really impressed us was the freezer’s consistency. We recorded less than one degree of fluctuation over 72 hours, the kind of regularity that will prevent freezer burn if temperatures stay below 0ºF—which they did. The right-hand freezer section offers adjustable temperature settings independent of the permanent freezer, and as such, each lower compartment gets its own independent compressor.
We did notice that the freezer takes a long time to bring food from room temperature down to the ideal 0ºF—it stalls out at about 20ºF after 24 hours, requiring another full day to stabilize. Your food is still frozen either way, and once temperatures stabilized, they displayed almost no fluctuation at any point in the freezer. We repeated the freezing test three times on two different models, and the results proved consistent. This issue applies to both of the lower compartments, regardless of which setting you use for the adjustable section.
The icing on the performance cake is definitely this fridge’s energy efficiency. Despite having a larger-than-average internal capacity, this model will cost you less to run in a year than some smaller budget fridges.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
The crisper drawers in the Samsung proved to be fantastic when it came to moisture retention. Over the course of 72 hours, our test materials lost an average of 0.1 grams of moisture per hour. That puts these drawers into the upper echelons of crisper performance, and means your fresh veggies from the farmers market should stay crisp and tasty for several days.
Small, but effective
The tiny half-freezers found on the bottom of the Samsung proved to be effective at chilling our test materials. In one hour and 38 minutes—just slightly faster than average—our food was officially frozen; that’s fast enough to avoid most the reduction in texture and flavor that comes from ineffective freezing, though there’s still room for improvement. Fortunately, the insulation proved to be just as good at keeping the cold temperatures in: after 36 hours without power, the internal temperature of our test food had reached a mere 26.59ºF.
The only issue we had with this freezer involved its lower drawers. Normally it takes food about 24 hours to reach an internal temperature consistent with the freezer’s thermostat. The internal temperature of food placed in the drawers as opposed to on the open top shelf, however, took 48 hours. While this shouldn’t have an impact on your food, it’s an unusual aberration that we weren’t anticipating.
Four settings for the fourth door.
The lower right corner of the RF32FMQDBSR is what makes this fridge really interesting. Holding down the CoolSelect+ button on the control panel lets you alternate among the Freezer, Soft Freezing, Chill, and Cool settings.
Soft Freezing, designed to cool food at 23ºF, is great for keeping ice cream and other frozen treats creamy without turning your Rocky Road into a dairy brick. Chill sets the compartment to 30ºF, ideal for defrosting meat or keeping deli items fresh when preparing for a party later in the evening. The Cool setting, which hovers at a balmy 41ºF—even warmer than the main fridge compartment—turns it into additional drink storage, whether you want water and soda for a summer cookout, or if you need to chill a lot of white wine for that fancy dinner party.
And of course, you can always use it as a regular freezer section identical to the lower left compartment. This allows the Samsung to match the storage capacity of a full-width pull-out freezer.
Our tests showed that this compartment works just as well as the main freezer section regardless which setting you choose, though you’ll want to wait at least 24 hours for temperatures to change when switching between settings.
An awesome product that may change how you look at food storage.
Americans love multi-purpose gadgets, but it’s rare for something as stagnant as fridge design to get an interesting jumpstart—precisely why the Samsung RF32FMQDBSR’s innovation makes it so interesting. The convertible freezer section is a practical innovation that turns this fridge into an interactive experience, one that may make you rethink how you shop, and may even help you become a better host or hostess. Stock up at the store, invite some friends over, and get ready to utilize this fridge to it’s fullest potential.
Even if you never use the convertible cavity, you won’t be disappointed: Low energy consumption and steady temperatures help keep long-term expenses like electricity and food waste down, while the huge interior capacity makes it a perfect fit for large families. Even better is that most retailers seem to be offering it for just under $3,000, a price that puts it into direct competition with many other high-end French door models.
Echo, echo, echo…
The Samsung RF32FMQDBSR is one of the largest free-standing fridges on the market today. With four adjustable fridge shelves and a full-width one at the bottom set above two crispers, the actual layout is pretty typical; it’s the added depth that gives you the extra room. Bucket-like shelves found on the doors—three on each, with gallon storage on the right-hand side only—aren’t as customizable as we might like, but they’re roomy enough to store things without any hassle. All told, this fridge gives you a whopping 13.44 cubic feet of usable fridge space.
For the purposes of our measurements, we calculated both the permanent freezer and the adjustable lower-right compartment as combined freezer storage. They’re mirror images of each other, with a sliding shelf on top and two drawers—the bottom one being the shallower of the two—below that. Three shelves on each door add a little extra storage, but the shallow design means you won’t be able to put much here other than ice packs and ice cream sandwiches. Both sections total 8.94 cubic feet of usable space. Whether or not you decide to use it all as frozen storage is entirely your decision.
Despite its giant girth and ample storage, this Samsung is incredibly energy efficient. Even though it’s larger than most other models on the market, it should only require about $48.84 per year to run. We calculated that with the lower-right corner at its coldest setting, with the icemaker running, and with a fixed rate of $0.09 per kWh. If you don’t plan on using the icemaker, or plan on setting the flexible storage to a warmer degree, it may cost you even less. This all translates to 0.07 kWh per cubic foot, making this comparatively energy efficient even up against smaller models.
Meet the testers
Logistics Manager & Staff Writer@ReviewedHome
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
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