We recently tested a batch of new built-in refrigerators, those behemoth, often panel-clad refrigerators that cost between $6,000 and $9,000. At those prices, you might expect dynamite performance across the board, but results are often mixed. That was the case again in our latest tests, in which a Bosch built-in soared while a competitor from Sub-Zero fell short.
The Bosch Integra 800 Series B36BT830NS, is a $7,500 built-in with French-door styling—two doors on top and a pullout freezer below. It delivered excellent temperature performance in our tests, and its dual evaporators should help preserve freshness by maintaining optimal humidity levels. It's also one of the quietest models we tested. In terms of convenience features, it comes with a temperature-controlled meat/deli bin, LED theater lighting, and a clever hinge that allows doors to be mounted flush to the cabinets without causing nicks when they're opened and closed.
While very good overall, the Sub-Zero 736TCI, $8,000, did not perform well enough to join Bosch on the winner's podium. Its temperature performance is excellent, and it's actually a bit more spacious and energy efficient than the Bosch. But the Sub-Zero is noticeably noisier, which could be a factor if your refrigerator sits within earshot of the family room or other living spaces. And its interior is more bare-bones—no gallon door storage, for example, or temperature-controlled meat/deli bin.
If you're partial to Sub-Zero, there is one built-in model from that brand, the side-by-side Sub-Zero BI42S[S], on our list of recommended refrigerators, which also includes models from Thermador, Jenn-Air, and Miele. You can also save a few thousand dollars and still get the sleek, integrated look of a built-in by choosing a cabinet-depth French-door bottom-freezer or side-by-side refrigerator.
More from Consumer Reports:
Top-rated home appliances
Best and worst products for your home
Expert Ratings and reviews
Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2007-2013 Consumers Union of U.S.