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Acer Packs the Athlon64, More Fire Power Under Its Ferrari 3200 Notebook's Hood

Technical Data For The Taiwanese Ferrari, Continued

As the table of specifications reveals, the Acer Ferrari 3200 is generously equipped. It not only includes an integrated WLAN module based on the 802.11g standard, but also a Bluetooth module to make PAN connections.

A further goody is the device's built-in slot-load DVD multi-drive. It can read and write all common DVD blanks, regardless of whether "+" or "-". It even gets along just fine with less common DVD-RAM disks. Acer did, however, save some money on the hard drive. That said, 80 GB leaves room for plenty of storage capacity. We would have gone for mass storage "spinning" at 7200 rpm, however. This would have been simple to achieve and an inexpensive performance plus.

The AMD mobile Athlon64 2800+ designed for notebook use features Powernow, a power-saving technology. We already explained the principle behind this technology in an article on another Athlon64 notebook, the Q8M Power64 XD from Yakumo. Read the details there if you're interested. This mechanism did not yet work in the Q8M Power64 XD, as the manufacturer had deactivated it. That has all changed in the Ferrari3200; its CPU automatically adjusts both the clock speed and the operating voltage automatically to the computing power required by applications that are running. In other words, if more computing power is needed, the CPU's clock speed and operating voltage are raised automatically. If the power requirements then decrease, the operating voltage and clock speed decrease accordingly. This function not only helps save electricity but also keeps the CPU temperature low, which in turn means that the fan is not always on. In the case of the Ferrari 3200, it turns on infrequently when running standard Office applications.

The graphics processor, the Mobility Radeon 9700, also features various automatic power-saving mechanisms such as clock gating, frequency and voltage throttling. Plus, the user has the option of adjusting the core and memory speeds to individual requirements - at least on this device. We say that because many manufacturers deactivate the relevant tab in the graphics card driver.

Using the three slide controls the user can regulate graphics processing power consumption and performance as well. However, there are only two settings to choose from (maximum or minimum speed).

But Acer largely limits even this function, with the effect that it is only possible to choose between maximum and minimum core memory speed. The manufacturer went for minimum core and memory speeds as standard settings for battery operation. Later in this review we discuss to what extent that positively influences battery life and negatively affects frame rates when playing games.