Acer Ferrari 3000

Is this the ultimate gimmick from Acer or a genuine contender for the front row of the grid?

Is this the ultimate gimmick from Acer or a genuine contender for the front row of the grid? Possibly a bit of both — Acer is actually the official supplier of notebooks to the Ferrari Formula One racing team, so clearly it has done a bit more than just purchase the rights to the brand.

It does, however, put some pressure on Acer to come up with a notebook that performs as well as the sports and racing cars the Ferrari name is synonymous with. Has it done it? Mostly.

As with most Ferraris, the first thing to strike you is the look — and the 3000 certainly has this bit down pat. It’s bright, glossy red with the iconic yellow and black Ferrari badge adorning the lid, while inside, a metallic silver finish surrounds Acer’s patented, ergonomically curved keyboard. A touchpad sits just off centre and is flanked by two “mouse” buttons and a four-way scroll button.

On the front edge of the notebook you’ll find another Ferrari badge plus the 4-in-1 memory card reader and on/off buttons for the built-in Bluetooth and 802.11g wireless connectivity. Four USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, three audio jacks and a PC card slot fill in the left-hand side of the case while the DVD+/-RW drive has the entire right side to itself. The now obligatory Ethernet and 56kbit/s modem connections are also available.

As AMD are also an official sponsor of the Ferrari F1 racing team it probably would have been a bit off to use an Intel CPU, so an AMD Athlon XP-M 2500+ chip has been installed. It runs at 1.86GHz and, when coupled with 512MB DDR SDRAM, managed to produce some good benchmark scores — but nothing as spectacular as you’d expect from a Ferrari notebook. PC WorldBench 4 saw a score of 114, which isn’t bad but is still some way below the fastest notebooks we’ve looked at (all sporting Intel CPUs, I might add). Likewise, MobileMark 2002 tests gave a score of 144; again, not bad but not great, falling short of a number of Intel Pentium-M and Pentium-4-based notebooks but outperforming all Celeron-based notebooks we’ve tested.

MobileMark 2002 battery tests revealed another shortcoming, with just 139 minutes being wrung out of the system’s lithium ion battery. This is around half the life of many Pentium-M notebooks we’ve had through the Test Centre. The ATI Radeon 9200 graphics chipset is a winner, however, and with 128MB of dedicated VRAM, the system is capable of playing 3D games at a more than respectable clip. It looks even better thanks to the excellent 15.1-inch TFT display Acer saw fit to install.

Its top resolution is a healthy 1400x1050 and everything from text to games to DVD movies looked great on it.

All in all, the Acer Ferrari 3000 is a well appointed notebook. It doesn’t quite deliver on the stellar performance the Ferrari badge may suggest and battery life is mediocre but nevertheless it remains a notebook worthy of praise — it’s reasonably fast, very well featured and has head-turning good looks. And it even comes with a little red Ferrari optical mouse and a special Ferrari cleaning cloth.

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Scott Bartley

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