Acer Ferrari 5000 review: Acer Ferrari 5000

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The Good Excellent looks and design. Good performance. HDMI output.

The Bad Flaky peripherals. Screen could have been better. Expensive.

The Bottom Line The Ferrari 5000 is the best looking and performing notebook Acer has released, but it's pricey and not without its quirks.

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7.0 Overall

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The Acer Ferrari 5000 is the company's latest performance notebook -- itself an update from the popular Ferrari 4000 released 18 months ago. It's a black and red laptop, which is quite stylish in a subdued way -- subdued for a car tie-in that is. It's certainly less gaudy than the ASUS Lamborghini VX2, which is quite welcome, as though that notebook is quite the performer it's almost noxiously ostentatious. The Acer has some carbon fibre sections, though it appears to be mostly decorative.

The palm rest is a matte-black plastic, and also quite sexy, though it does get quite greasy with fingerprints -- Acer's supplied Ferrari cloth comes in handy here.

Though the notebook looks virtually identical to its predecessor at first glance, the ports and optical drives have been moved around -- with the optical drive now at the left, alongside both an ExpressCard and PCMCIA port.

One of the disappointments we encountered with the Ferrari 5000 was its lack of an HD DVD drive -- the specifications list tantalised us with the promise of one, but once opened we found it was simply a dual-layer DVD burner. HD DVD drives cost about AU$600 by themselves, so this is quite a saving for the company, obviously. They're not the only company to pull features at the 11th hour -- as Sony did with the release of their PlayStation 3.

The Ferrari 5000 boasts some obvious upgrades over the previous model: the processor is a dual core AMD Turion running at 2GHz; there's 2GB of RAM, which is almost compulsory for a performance Vista machine; a 160GB hard drive; and an AMD Radeon X1600.

The previous version's DVI port has been upgraded to an HDMI connection, though it is still a video-only connection. To get digital audio you'll need to connect via the front-mounted SPDIF connection. A nice addition, though a little perplexing, was the inclusion of a HDMI to DVI cable. We would have expected a HDMI-to-HDMI cable would have come in more handy.

Given the Ferrari's entertainment focus, we were somewhat perplexed that it comes preinstalled with Windows Vista Business rather than Premium. The Media Center features of the Premium Edition should have been a shoo-in.

The bundled mouse is something of a shocker, with an uncomfortably bulbous midsection, and we noticed a bit of lag when using within Windows. To test the fidelity of the Bluetooth connection we installed the first person shooter Call of Juarez, but there was no noticeable lag within the game -- it's a seemingly intermittent issue. We did notice that it operates a lot better with the USB charge cable connected, so it could be power related.

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