You can't brand a notebook with the Ferrari name and not pay attention to the design - indeed, we'd be surprised if the licensing agreement between Acer and Ferrari didn't' have a line specifically prohibiting ugly notebook designs. Unlike the last Ferrari notebook we tested, the Ferrari 3400, the Ferrari 4000 plays it a little lighter on the red tones, dressing the notebook in more solid black under a carbon fibre cover that's apparently meant to resemble a checkered flag. Naturally enough, the Ferrari stallion is present -- although it should be noted that the marketing material we were sent tells us that it's the "Prancing Horse" logo. We wouldn't have picked the word "prancing" to be all that close to the uber-macho world of F1 racing, but it doesn't seem to have done Ferrari any harm.
Branding issues aside, the Ferrari 4000 is a great looking notebook. The first thing you'll notice about the physical casing is the soft, almost rubberised coating on the palm rest. Depending on how you use the notebook, this will either be great as a non-slip surface, or at the very least a good way to soak up your palm sweat. The Ferrari 4000 features Acer's slightly curved and almost smile-like FineTouch keyboard which takes a little getting used to if you're accustomed to straight and flat notebook keyboards.
The Ferrari branding also extends to the Bluetooth-enabled mouse, which uses a shock of red colouring to stand out. We were impressed by the inclusion of rechargeable batteries with the mouse, which is a great touch if you're no fan of glidepads, which is the 4000's other main mousing method.
Underneath the hood (well, it is a car-inspired notebook, after all) of the Ferrari 4000 lies either an AMD Turion 64 ML-30 processor running at 1.6GHz (AU$2,999) , or an AMD Turion 64 ML-37 processor (AU$3,999), which clocks in at 2GHz. Turion, if you're not familiar with it, is AMD's less power-hungry brother of its desktop Athlon 64 processors. Wireless connectivity is available in both 802.11g and Bluetooth flavours, controlled by two rather large and obvious flashing buttons on the front of the laptop. Graphically, the Ferrari 4000 is equipped with an ATI X700 128MB PCI Express graphics chip, no matter which processor you go for, although the speedier model processor does boast 1GB of memory, versus 512MB for the 1.6GHz machine. The upper configuration Ferrari 4000 has a 100GB hard drive, versus an 80GB drive on the slower model. In terms of shared features, both configurations ship with a dual-layer super-multi slot loading DVD burner, a 15.4" WXGA LCD screen and a 5-in-1 memory card reader.
About our only complaint with the Ferrari 4000 came with the slot-loading DVD burner, which we felt was a touch noisy when reading from or writing to discs. We did wonder at one stage if it was trying to softly emulate the Ferrari engine noise. We tested with the AU$3,999 2GHz Ferrari 4000 using Bapco's MobileMark 2002 benchmarking suite. While it absolutely refused to run that suite's reader test - which simulates light reading activity in order to gauge best possible battery life under non-intensive usage -- it did fly through the performance test, which runs a suite of common programs while testing average battery life. Its performance score of 249 makes it a very compelling option, and when combined with a battery life of 201 minutes, which is acceptable but not exceptional for a notebook of this size, you're looking at quite a speedy notebook for your money. Naturally, if you're using either the Bluetooth or WiFi capabilities of the notebook, you can expect the battery life to dip sharply.