Acer Ferrari: The $2,000 Windows XP Laptop from 2005

Acer Ferrari: The $2,000 Windows XP Laptop from 2005

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Greetings and welcome to an LGR thing! And hold your horses folks, cuz I’ve finally
fulfilled a boyhood fantasy: owning a Ferrari. [racecar drive-by SFX] Er well, a Ferrari laptop but whatever, close
enough I guess. This is the Ferrari 4005 WLMi from Acer, which sold for about $2,000 US dollars when it launched in the summer of 2005. And yes, this is an official Ferrari licensed
product, emblazoned with the same iconic prancing horse badge as all their vehicles since 1947. As well as the equally iconic Rosso Corsa
red paint used by Ferrari and other Italian manufacturers since the 1920s. Though not as much of said red as other Acer
offerings. Like the Acer Ferrari 3000, which was a horse
of a different color indeed, going all-in with the high-gloss Ferrari red paint scheme. By comparison, the 4000 series is more restrained
aesthetically, opting instead for red highlights and a lid topped with real carbon fiber for
an extra dash of motor racing flair. Which, let’s be honest, while it was claimed
the carbon fiber helped eliminate lid flex and reduce weight, the main reason it’s
here is because they thought it looked cool. The whole lid is coated in a glossy plastic
resin too so it still feels like plastic regardless. And any weight-saving attributes are overshadowed
by the sheer girth of the rest of the machine, weighing in at around six and a half pounds
or 2.9 kilograms, and that’s without the battery installed. So yeah, the Acer Ferrari is fully decked
out with mid-2000s portable computing power, as you’d expect for a machine that cost
twice as much as the average laptop at the time. But beyond its exotic branding and flashy
shell, what’d you actually get for your $2,000 back then? Well, Windows XP for one thing, which was
still the latest Microsoft OS since Vista wouldn’t hit store shelves for another year. You also got an AMD Turion 64 ML-37 CPU running
at two gigahertz, allowing for an upgrade path to 64-bit versions of Windows if you
desired. Though you only got one gigabyte of DDR-333 RAM by default, so upgrading to its maximum of two gigabytes was a common choice. And the laptop screen itself was quite respectable
for the time, with a matte finish 15.4” TFT LCD displaying 16:10 aspect ratio resolutions
up to 1680×1050. Driving this is an ATi Mobility Radeon X700
graphics chipset with 128 megabytes of video memory, something we’ll definitely be trying
out with some Windows XP gaming classics. For storage there’s an admirable 100 gigabyte
2.5″ 5400 RPM hard drive inside, around twice the capacity found on most other laptops of
its day. Also nice is the 8x DVD-RW combo drive, capable
of burning both DVD and CD rewritable discs. Though originally it had a bright red slot-loading
drive, so I assume it died or something cuz it only had this tray-loader when I bought
this secondhand. And in terms of ports, well, check this out. On the left-hand side you’ve got 15-pin
VGA output, gigabit ethernet and 56k modem jacks, a USB 2.0 port, a micro Firewire connection,
and a PCMCIA card expansion slot. Around back there’s a proprietary PCI Express
connector for an optional docking station, and both DVI-D and S-video output ports on
the opposite corner. And on the right-hand side there’s a Kensington
lock, 19-volt power connection, the aforementioned DVD burner, and three more USB 2.0 ports making
a total of four. It keeps going along front as well, with a
5-in-1 memory card reader that handles SD, MMC, and XD cards, as well as Sony Memory
Stick and Memory Stick Pro. To the right is a built-in mic, an infrared
port, LED status indicators, ports for both headphone out and microphone in, and light-up
buttons for toggling Bluetooth and 802.11G WiFi. The front here is also where you find the
laptop’s speakers, these two little things off to each side. They sound okay, but they’re still one of
the weaker aspects of the system, you’d think they could’ve found room for larger
ones above the keyboard. Because I mean, look at all that unused space! Acer could’ve had even more room too if
they didn’t add those extraneous quick launch buttons up top, or used this unusual smiley
face-looking key arrangement. As for the keyboard itself, eh, it’s fine. It’s no ThinkPad keyboard, that’s for
sure, but it gets the job done with halfway decent plastic caps and key travel of around
two millimeters. The smiley face arch layout takes a minute
to get used to, but it’s spread out enough that I didn’t have much trouble. What bothered me more were these dedicated
Euro and Dollar Sign keys down here, exactly the same size as the arrow keys and positioned
right up against them, making the arrows feel a tad strange to use by touch alone. And the soft rubbery material surrounding
everything? While I’m sure it was comfortable back in
2005, it’s starting to deteriorate and get sticky, an unfortunately common problem with
devices using this stuff. Speaking of aging disgracefully, this trackpad
definitely shows its age. The touch surface is comically small compared
to the rest of the machine, the buttons’ silver finish wears down easily, and it has
one of those 4-way scrolling switches in the middle that I am not at all fond of. Fortunately, they’ve included a Bluetooth
mouse as well, with matching Ferrari emblem and glossy red accents. And yeah, it’s pretty decent! Again, the rubbery bits are slowly melting
a decade and a half later, but otherwise it’s a comfortable enough mouse for 2005. All right enough of that, it’s time to crank
the Acer Ferrari to life and take it for a test drive! [computer powers on, fans whir to life] Yes, that was a picture of Michael Schumacher’s Formula One Ferrari instead of the typical Acer POST screen, a nice touch indeed. And I hope you’re not opposed to constant
fan noise, because the exhaust fan is always audibly spinning at this speed, or higher. [fan whirring rather loudly] Unlike an actual Ferrari though, the exhaust
note leaves something to be desired. Ah well, bring on that Windows XP. [Windows XP startup sound plays] Now originally, these Acer Ferraris came with a Ferrari F1 Windows theme, complete with screaming V10 noises on startup. Unfortunately, when I got mine the drive had been completely wiped, including the recovery partition. And while it did come with the restore CDs
holding all the drivers, unless you have that hard drive partition intact you can’t restore
the entire thing as it was from the factory. So I chose to manually recreate my own Ferrari
theme on a fresh XP installation. I was able to get some of the original stuff
off those recovery discs though, like the Ferrari World screensaver: a simple, and quite
frankly boring, slideshow that flips through a handful of Formula One photos. There’s also a set of wallpapers acting
as a Ferrari-themed calendar, with 24 backgrounds to choose from, one for each month of the
years 2005 and 2006. Again, all of them featuring Ferrari F1 cars. You’d think they would include at least
one or two of their legendary road cars in the mix, but oh well. Acer also included a whole bunch of software, most of which I chose not to install because bloat. I did set up the Launch Manager app, which
lets you adjust some default startup options and change the function of the shortcut keys. And I had to try out Acer GridVista, something
I saw repeatedly mentioned in old reviews and marketing material. See those extra buttons along the top right
of each window? Yeah, with this running you can quickly snap windows into place along different grid patterns, in Windows XP. Something I do all the time on more modern
operating environments, so I’m actually gonna keep this installed, I like it. And of course it came with a DVD player application,
an Acer-branded version Cyberlink PowerDVD. Nothing too special here, but I gotta say:
this LCD panel seriously looks fantastic for 2005. I had a Toshiba Satellite in ‘05 and it
wasn’t even widescreen, much less this high resolution, nor were the colors this vibrant
with viewing angles this wide. But yeah, it’s high time for some mid-2000s
gaming, and for that I’ve got five choice titles: Unreal Tournament 2004, SimCity 4
Deluxe, Doom 3, Need For Speed Most Wanted Black Edition, and of course, Crysis. I’m using Fraps to display the framerate
in the top-left, and for each game I’ll be using the normal, default settings suggested
in each game’s graphics options, running at resolutions of either 800×600 or 1024×768. It was just easier this way rather than trying
to make these particular games run at a 16:10 aspect ratio. Anyway yeah, as you can see from the UT2004
footage here, gaming on the Acer Ferrari 4000 is absolutely within the realm of possibility. Framerates into the hundreds aren’t uncommon
at these settings, and while it dips below 60 during moments of particularly high intensity, it was nothing that got in the way of fragging endless bots on Deck17. SimCity 4 on the other hand, well. This game was brutal on any system, especially
when building a larger city like this. Which is exactly why I wanted to try it out! As expected, most of the time you get framerates in the low double digits, even down into the single digits. And honestly, this is still like ten times
better than any of my PCs could run it back then, much less my laptop. The fact that you can even tell what’s moving
around when you’ve got multiple disasters going in a large city here is still truly
impressive, despite the objectively horrible framerate. Moving onto Doom 3 you can really get a good idea of how powerful this system was in ‘05, check this out! Again, I’m running this at “normal”
settings, it can run even better than this if you lower the resolution and graphics options. But yeah, at the time this was probably the
most technically advanced game on the market, and the Ferrari 4005 with its ATI Radeon X700 does a great job running Doom 3 at over 30 FPS, most of the time. The most notable issue here is the chugging
5400 RPM hard disk, which results in stuttering whenever it’s trying to load another chunk
of whatever chunky gameplay chunks need loading. Still, crazy stuff here, this kind of performance on a laptop would’ve blown my mind wide open. As you might expect, Need For Speed Most Wanted
also performs admirably, at least on medium settings. It’s not a consistently high FPS or anything, especially with all the physical destruction going on. You’d have to crank it all the way down
to manage a smooth 60 on a regular basis, but when I played this on my desktop back
then I was getting framerates in the mid-30s. And I mean, that’s just kinda how it was. Man I’d forgotten how fun this game is,
so we better move on before I blow an entire afternoon racing around Rockport. Besides, we’ve gotta find out if it can
run Crysis! And the answer is yes.
Yes it can. Cuz the Acer Ferrari 4005 is a beast, especially with the max two gigabytes of RAM installed here. Sure, Crysis is just barely playable at this
mix of medium to low settings, but the fact that it’s even halfway there on a laptop
from 2005? Yeah this is better than I expected, at least
with its infamously hard-to-run graphics and physics tech. Though, I guess this is just what happens
when you spent two thousand dollars on a desktop replacement laptop in the mid-2000s. Ahh man, money! It buys things. Like top of the line portable computers, which
the Acer Ferrari 4005 clearly was on launch. And seeing as I never came close to affording this back then, it’s been a blast playing around with it. But would it have been worth the original
asking price of two grand though? After all, upon looking at old benchmarks
and doing my own testing, this was easily among the most powerful laptops on the market. However, it was still priced a few hundred
bucks higher than similarly-specced machines, which I assume stems from the Ferrari fluff. Carbon fiber lid aside, there’s nothing
important here that separates it from a non-Ferrari laptop. It’s more of a status symbol, bragging rights situation than anything else and that’s just silly. Still, I suppose that’s what you sign up
for. Great performance, high price, loud exhaust, prancing horse up front. Yep, it’s a Ferrari all right. Y’know it sure was tempting to go with a
clickbait title for this one, something like “OMFG, I bought a Ferrari from 2005!” But I resisted, you’re welcome, and I hope
you enjoyed the video. If so, I’ve got more coming out every week
so stay tuned! As always, thanks for watching LGR.

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