So onto the processor – a 1.6GHz Turion. The unit we were supplied with actually shipped with a ML30 variant, equipped with 1MB of cache. However, the model shipping actually is the ML28 – with 512Kb of cache, and inevitably our benchmark scores will reflect this difference.
This is placed in a Radeon RS480 ATI chipset, which support ATI’s PowerPlay 5.0 power conservation system. In our MobileMark battery tests though the results weren’t stunning with a time of only 168 minutes. Compared to many recent Centrino based machines that last well over 200 minutes, this is disappointing. That said actually doing light word processing and web browsing on this machine saw it last about four hours before giving me a power warning. There’s 512MB of RAM fitted in the notebook and opening up the expansion slot with some screws reveals that it has been supplied on two sticks, leaving no room for expansion. The Turion doesn’t have a dual-channel memory controller so there’s no real need for two sticks. Therefore this is a cost cutting but restrictive measure. Additionally, Acer has also only supplied 266MHz (PC2700) memory rather than the PC3200 that the chipset supports.
In terms of performance the Turion, running at 1.6GHz kept up AMD’s habit of beating Intel, scoring 220 in SYSmark 2002, ahead of the Sonoma based AJP we looked at recently, though we have to bear in mind that shipping models will only half half a Meg of Level 2 cache. Due to the presence of a Radeon X700 we also ran a set of 3D benchmarks and got some very playable scores at the native resolution, hitting over 40 frames per second. However, during testing I did noticed some artifacts in Half-Life 2, which spoilt things a little. In general use, the system fan occasionally fired up but the noise was fairly innocuous so wasn’t a problem.
The Acer 4401LMi is as we’ve grown accustomed to from Acer, a well put together notebook with a decent amount of connectivity. The X700 makes for a solid gaming machine, and the Turion processor impresses with its speed, but not with its battery performance. Ultimately, though it’s the screen that disappoints slightly, with only average resolution and quality. With that in mind, I’d still recommend going for a Centrino based machine for work and something with a better screen for play.