No dorm room is complete without a mini refrigerator (college students need to keep all that Red Bull someplace), but it's not quite as easy as heading to Walmart and picking up the cheapest fridge you can find. There's a major distinction between the two main types of mini fridges, and it's one that's not apparent at first glance. It turns out that some models are not fridges as all -- instead of using a compressor and coolant like a regular fridge, some models use thermoelectric cooling -- much like those portable coolers that plug into a car's cigarette lighter. This type of mini fridge can't get very cold, so they're not a good choice for storing leftovers and your drinks won't be super chilly.
This type of mini fridge is better termed a beverage cooler. If you want a mini fridge merely for keeping soda and bottled water cool (but not particularly icy cold), a beverage cooler like the 1.7 cubic-foot Haier NuCool C-RNU1708B and the larger 2.8 cubic-foot Haier NuCool C-RNU281VS might be fine. (Note that Haier makes several other mini-fridge models that do employ compressors.)
True refrigerators are a better bet if you also want to store perishables like yogurt, milk and leftovers in addition to non-perishable drinks. If you need the smallest size, we found good reviews for the $90 Haier HSNB02 (not to be confused with the Haier NuCool models). If you have a bit more space, the Danby DAR259 is a better performer witha can dispenser and two-liter bottle storage on the door.
Before you buy, here are some shopping pointers: