Back then it came with a "Windows Vista Premium Ready" sticker. This is a kind of late - but well deserved short review.
I am still happy with the hardware. In terms of performance it is a great desktop replacement machine, with a Windows Experience Index of 4.8. After eighteen months I now find a couple of problems:
- it runs really hot and if I push the graphics (playing Titan Quest for example) then it will shutdown automatically after a while. The only way around this is to have a fan blowing cold air directly on the notebook while gaming;
- in the last couple of weeks it failed to boot - it shows the POST and shutdowns. I think it could be because it was inside one of those carry-on notebook cases and could possibly have been shaken too much while rolling down the airport.
As for the software, I ran the original Windows Vista 64 bit for twelve months on this machine, but one day I scheduled a boot time CHKDSK and it never booted. So I decided to install Windows Vista 32 bit in early January 2008 because I was tired of the lack of 64 bit drivers.
And drivers takes me to the real problem with this machine: Acer must have the worst support for their products - even for a top of the class notebook with a hefty price tag as this one.
The only drivers available for this notebook are the ones orignally distributed by Acer back in December 2006. Since then Acer have not released any driver update - eighteen months! - which means a few problems:
- I can't reliably use the Secure Digital (SD) card slot for ReadyBoost because for some weird reason the SD reader "sleeps" after a while. I reported this problem to Acer through their contact page and - surprise! - never received a reply
- I can't reliably hibernate or sleep this notebook because it will wake up at the most inappropriate times, such as while inside the backpack, causing heat problems. This again is a driver problem
- I couldn't run some games because Acer never released an updated ATI graphics driver - I had to use a special hack to force the installation of desktop graphics driver on this notebook.
It looks like the first PCs running Windows Vista could run it - but just. I have here in my home office a HP Tablet PC and even though with Windows Experience Index 3.0 it seems to perform much better - except for graphics of course.
I think only now we are seeing PCs and mobile computers that are powerful enough for Windows Vista. The Ferrari 5000 runs it ok, but Acer never released the much needed "refreshed" drivers for this machine...
What about Windows Vista? Have you noticed I didn't actually complain about it? The operating system works well. Granted I keep complaining of too much disc access, but with Outlook 2007 running all the time I think it's only fair to say this would be expected.
The main problem was drivers, and seriously this wasn't a Microsoft problem. One year on after its launch I see we finally have PCs that are actually good enough for Windows Vista.
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