Acer Ferrari 3200 review: Acer Ferrari 3200

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.0
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 6.0
  • Battery life: 6.0
  • Service and support: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Cool case design; integrated 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; DVD±RW drive; 4-in-1 flash memory card slot.

The Bad Unimpressive performance and battery life; can't pick and choose components; sparse support Web site.

The Bottom Line Unless you're looking for a laptop to go with your red sports car, there are better-performing thin-and-lights than the Ferrari 3200.

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Review summary

The chance to race with Scuderia Ferrari (Team Ferrari) may never come your way, but Acer's offering a consolation prize: the opportunity to own an official team laptop. The sleek, thin-and-light Acer Ferrari 3200 sports the same color and logo as the team cars. Like its namesake, the laptop offers premium internal parts, including an AMD mobile Athlon 64 2800+ processor, a 128MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics chip, and 802.11b/g wireless. Unfortunately, the Acer Ferrari 3200 performed more like a Ford Escort in CNET Labs' tests, and the laptop's battery scores proved merely mediocre as well. This slick laptop will undoubtedly turn heads, but if speed and performance on the go is your ultimate goal, check out IBM's faster thin-and-light, the ThinkPad T42. Designwise, the Acer Ferrari 3200 lives up to its name. At 13 by 10.7 by 1.2 inches, the modest-sized, 6.8-pound laptop boasts a candy-apple-red lid that promises to remain smooth and shiny, thanks to its scratch-resistant coating. The inside of the case is made of a tough, silver-magnesium alloy.

Ferrari's official logo sits conspicuously in the bottom-right corner of the lid and by the wrist rest, but the comfortable, smile-shaped keyboard is pure Acer. A standard touch pad and two mouse buttons sit under the board, along with a handy third button for perpendicular or horizontal scrolling. Four convenient, user-programmable application buttons reside above the board, and the Ferrari 3200's big 15-inch display offers a fine 1,400x1,050 native resolution.

The sides of the Acer Ferrari 3200 accommodate an impressive assortment of drives, ports, and slots. The left edge offers four USB 2.0 ports, one Type II PC Card slot, a FireWire port, and three audio-related jacks. The DVD+RW drive on the right side is a particularly cool and unique touch--instead of the usual sliding, flimsy disc tray, it's a simple slot that smoothly accepts and ejects discs. The Ferrari 3200's front edge features two typically tinny laptop speakers, an infrared port, two on/off buttons for the integrated 802.11b/g and Bluetooth adapters, and a four-in-one card reader that's compatible with Memory Stick, MultiMedia, Secure Digital, and SmartMedia flash memory cards. Parallel, VGA, 56Kbps modem, S-Video out, and Gigabit Ethernet ports sit on the laptop's back side. Unlike many major manufacturers that let you custom configure their laptops, Acer offers just one version of the Ferrari 3200. It runs a low-voltage mobile AMD Athlon 64 2800+ processor running at 1.8GHz and has 512MB of 333MHz DDR memory, an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics chip with 128MB of dedicated video RAM, and a 4,200rpm hard drive with a generous 80GB of storage space. In light of the system's slow showing in CNET Labs' mobile performance , we wish Acer provided the freedom to add memory and choose a faster processor, graphics chip, or hard drive. Also onboard the Ferrari 3200 is a cutting-edge DVD-rewritable drive that supports -RW, +RW, and -RAM formats; a large 15-inch screen with a high 1,400x1,050 native resolution that displays graphics in fine detail; and integrated 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth adapters.

If you're looking for a similar design at a lower price, consider the first model in the Ferrari series--the Acer Ferrari 3000LMi . But beware: the Ferrari 3000's performance was even slower than the 3200's. Also worth noting: the 3000's lid lacks a scratch-resistant coating, requiring extra care if you want to avoid marring its glossy surface.

As with its hardware configuration, the Acer Ferrari 3200 does not offer a choice of operating systems--you're stuck with Windows XP Professional. The bundled software is also sparse; the highlights are CyberLink's PowerDVD for DVD playback and NTI's CD-Maker for disc burning. We wish that Acer had at least included a productivity minisuite such as Microsoft Works for home users. Acer might want to rethink the Ferrari 3200's name. The system gave a thoroughly mediocre mobile performance in CNET Labs' benchmarks. The 1.7GHz Pentium M-based IBM ThinkPad T42 slaughtered the Ferrari 3200 in mobile tasks, but a couple of factors in this carnage bear explanation. First, the Ferrari 3200 carries AMD's 2800+ mobile Athlon 64+ processor (which AMD rates at approximately 1.8GHz); many of the applications from Microsoft, Adobe, and others in our MobileMark 2002 tests were developed with Intel processors in mind. In addition, our tests measure a thin-and-light's speed in the real world--that is, unplugged. And many laptops, including the Acer Ferrari 3200, automatically instruct their CPUs to slow down when running on battery power. We acknowledge that the Ferrari 3200 would likely see a performance boost when it's plugged in and running applications that are optimized for the Athlon 64+.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  


System configurations:

Acer Ferrari 3200
Windows XP Professional; Mobile Athlon 64 2800+ 1.6GHz; 512MB DDR SDRAM @ 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 128MB; Hitachi Travelstar 80GN 80GB 4,200rpm

eMachines M6807
Windows XP Home; Mobile Athlon 64 3000+ 1.8GHz; 512MB DDR SDRAM @ 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 64MB; Fujitsu MHT2060AT 60GB 4,200rpm

IBM ThinkPad T42
Windows XP Professional; Pentium M 1.7GHz; 512MB DDR SDRAM @ 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 32MB; Fujitsu MHT2040AH 40GB 5,400rpm The IBM ThinkPad T42 gained the upper hand in CNET Labs' battery-drain tests. Though the ThinkPad's 10.8V, 4,360mAh (47.09WHr) battery is smaller than the Acer Ferrari 3200's 14.8V, 4,400mAh (65.12WHr) cell, the ThinkPad still lasted nearly 1.5 hours longer than the Ferrari. But the ThinkPad had a big point in its favor: a 14-inch screen with a 1,024x768 native resolution, which consumes much less power than the Ferrari's 15-inch, 1,400x1,050 display. Like the Ferrari 3200, the eMachines M6000, which has a big 15.4-inch screen with a 1,280x800 native resolution, also suffered from a shorter battery life.

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate longer battery life)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life (minutes)  


System configurations:

Acer Ferrari 3200
Windows XP Professional; Mobile Athlon 64 2800+ 1.6GHz; 512MB DDR SDRAM @ 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 128MB; Hitachi Travelstar 80GN 80GB 4,200rpm

eMachines M6807
Windows XP Home; Mobile Athlon 64 3000+ 1.8GHz; 512MB DDR SDRAM @ 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 64MB; Fujitsu MHT2060AT 60GB 4,200rpm

IBM ThinkPad T42
Windows XP Professional; Pentium M 1.7GHz; 512MB DDR SDRAM @ 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 32MB; Fujitsu MHT2040AH 40GB 5,400rpm The Acer Ferrari 3200's one-year warranty falls right in line with those of most other laptops. The term includes free parts and labor via mail-in or carry-in service. You can extend the warranty period for two years for an extra $124. Around-the-clock, toll-free phone support lasts for the length of your warranty.

Acer includes a good user manual that provides extensive detail on the Ferrari 3200's features and functions. However, the company's support Web site pales in comparison to those of other manufacturers. The site's FAQ list contains a short and somewhat random assortment of questions related to all Acer notebooks rather than to specific models. Conspicuously absent are a user forum and the ability to chat with a tech-support rep in real time.

To find out more about how this product's warranty really stacks up and what you should look for in terms of service and support, take a look at CNET's hardware warranty explainer.

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Where to Buy

Acer Ferrari 3200

Part Number: LX.FR206.001 Released: May. 25, 2004

MSRP: $1,999.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date May. 25, 2004
  • Resolution 1400 x 1050 ( SXGA+ )
  • Installed Size 512 MB
  • Weight 6.6 lbs
  • Optical Drive DVD±RW / DVD-RAM - fixed
  • Graphics Processor AGP 8x - ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 - 128 MB DDR SDRAM
  • CPU AMD Mobile Athlon 64 2800+ / 1.6 GHz