Like the car it represents, this laptop will make eyes turn and engines burn.
The Acer Ferrari One sure brings back memories. Before I switched to Macs, I was a proud owner of the 3200 series which was based on the Mobile Athlon CPU and a Radeon 9700 GPU. This was in the year 2004 and back then, it was one of the fastest laptops along with being a bit big and heavy.
The Ferrari One that I’m looking at today is targeted towards the smaller/lighter market segment but still manages to throw a punch or two compared to other laptops in its class. Acer/AMD dont want to call the Ferrari a netbook but judging it by its size and pricing, it could very well fit in that segment like the Sony P series.
Packaged in a mean looking black box, the Ferrari One comes with bare essentials- a charger, a quick start guide and with a cleaning cloth. I did receive an Acer branded external optical drive that was outside the package but this unit came to us directly from AMD instead of Acer. So although I’m not sure if the optical drive is bundled with the retail packaging, I’d be surprised it it wasnt.
The Ferrari One is nice and small in size- comparable, but not as small as some of the netbooks we’ve looked at. The lid, like earlier Ferrari models, is a shiny red color and features the prancing horse badge on it. Needless to say, it looks magnificent. The right side of the Ferrari One has a Gigabit LAN port, power connector, SD/Mem Stick reader, two USB ports and audio input and output jacks while the left side has an additional USB port, the VGA DSUB connector and XGP Port which technically allows you to connect and external graphics cards. Towards the front, you have sliders to enable/disable WiFi and Bluetooth.
Flipping the lid open reveals a 11.6 inch LED screen with a 1366×768 resolution. The slightly larger than netbook size accommodates an excellent keyboard with keys that feel as big as your desktop keyboard. Above the keyboard, the power switch emits a brilliant red light while white LEDs let you know of any hard disk activity and NUM/CAPS lock. Below the keyboard, you have an interestingly shaped trackpad that supports multi-touch. The palm rest looks like its made of carbon fiber.
The Ferrari One we received featured a 1.2GHz dual core AMD Athlon X2 L310 CPU along with 3GB RAM and a 5400 RPM 320GB Hard Drive. The onboard Radeon HD3200 GPU takes some RAM out of your system memory but offers pretty impressive performance. Acer uses the 802.11n draft specification for WiFi along with Bluetooth 2.1. While the model I recd did not offer HSDPA connectivity, there apparently is a model that will allow 3G access. Audio is powered by the Realtek.
Usability-wise, the Ferrari One feels extremely zippy. The dual core processor, while low in clock speed, does a good job of keeping up with everyday usage applications while the onboard GPU is very capable of playing 720p movies or even a bit of gaming with less demanding games like World of Warcraft. I liked the keyboard very much as well with the larger sized keys that seemed easy to type on. The touchpad, although small in size, works quite well and the mouse buttons don’t require much pressure to click.
We ran our usual set of benchmarks on the Ferrari One to see how it compare to other netbooks/notebooks. It produced a Cinebench 10 score of 2134, PC Mark Vantage Score of 2089 and WinRAR score of 548. This makes the Ferrari One MUCH faster than your 1.6GHz Atom based netbook- even the ones powered by the nVidia ION chipset which score around 1529 in Cinebench, 1797 in PCMark and 472 in WinRAR.
Battery life on the Ferrari One is decent. While it doesn’t match some of the netbooks we’ve looked at, such as the ASUS 1101 with a battery life of almost 7 hours, it is in line with other netbooks that offer close to a four hour battery life with their standard batteries. Heat was not much of an issue with the Ferrari One either- yes, it did get warm during heavy loads but not the levels of being intolerable like some of my MacBook Pro machines. Acer also does a good job of keeping the Ferrari running quietly- you’ll barely hear the fan.
Overall, I am extremely impressed with the Ferrari One. It costs about AED 2,999 (US$800) which is somewhat between netbooks that cost about 1,400 to 1,800 and decent notebooks that are in the range of 3,500 to 4,000. Atom based netbooks have often left me frustrated because of their sluggish performance while bigger laptops are often a bit heavier and larger than I like to lug around. The Ferrari One proves to be a perfect middle-ground.