Acer Aspire 3000 review: Acer Aspire 3000

Microsoft Windows XP Home comes preloaded on the Aspire 3000, though other configurations in the Aspire 3000 series ship with Windows XP Professional. Acer bundles very little software with the system. For viewing and burning discs, Acer includes CyberLink PowerProducer and NTI CD and DVD Maker; it also provides its own utility for managing core system settings, such as passwords. Starting at $989, the Sony VAIO FS series provides a more palatable software package.

Our test unit, the Aspire 3003LCi, features decidedly bargain-bin components: a 1.8GHz AMD Sempron 3000+ processor, a meager 256MB of slow 333MHz RAM, a puny 40GB hard drive running at a sluggish 4,200rpm, and a low-end SiSM760GX graphics chip that steals up to 64MB of main system memory. Both the comparably priced Acer TravelMate 2355LCi and the Toshiba Satellite L25 offer Celeron processors and larger hard drives, and the TravelMate includes twice as much RAM. Many other laptops offer considerably better specs for a few hundred dollars more; check out our roundup of $1,000 laptops and our list of top low-priced laptops for some picks.

We couldn't measure the Aspire 3003LCi's mobile performance precisely, because the system's battery couldn't last the 90 minutes it takes to complete CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks. It consistently cut out after about 70 minutes, which is nearly two hours less than average. Battery life aside, the Aspire 3003LCi displayed enough power in our SysMark performance tests to handle basic productivity tasks such as e-mail, Web surfing, and word processing; it performed on a par with other low-priced systems, including the Gateway NX500X (a.k.a the M360) and the Acer Aspire 5000.

Acer backs the Aspire 3000 with a one-year warranty, which is standard for consumer laptops. Acer's tech-support phone lines are open only Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT. The company's online support could stand some sprucing up; it currently lacks helpful features such as forums and real-time chat with a tech-support rep.

SysMark 2004 performance
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo's SysMark 2004 rating  
SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating  
SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating  
Acer Aspire 3003LCi
Gateway M360
Acer Aspire 5000

System configurations:
Acer Aspire 3003LCi
Windows XP Home; 1.8GHz Mobile Sempron 3000+; 512MB DDR SDRAM PC2700 333MHz; SiSM760GX 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 60GN 60GB 4,200rpm

Acer Aspire 5000
Windows XP Home; 1.6GHz Turion 64 ML-30; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; SiSM760GX 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 60GN 60GB 4,200rpm

Gateway M360
Windows XP Home; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M 725; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Intel 82852/82855 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 4K40 40GB 4,200rpm

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