- Review Price: £899.00
Although we’ve already seen a couple of Turion notebooks recently from Acer, this is the first one to arrive from a UK system integrator. The Evesham Quest Roma MT 37 is a mid-range machine which should appeal to a broad spectrum of users, based on specifications alone. It might not look as cool as the Acer Ferrari 4000 notebook, nor does it feature the same build quality – but it is a lot cheaper. The price difference is most likely due to the MSI M610 chassis which is far more basic than that of the Ferrari 4000 – there’s no sign of carbon fibre here.
As the model name suggests the core of the Quest Roma MT 37 is an AMD Turion 64 MT-37 processor, which is clocked at 2GHz. This is the top of the range ultra lower power version of the Turion processor and drains a mere 25W of power in use. Evesham has paired the processor with 512MB of PC2700 memory comprising two 256MB modules – this means that if you want to upgrade your memory you have to discard one of the fitted modules.
With a 5,400rpm 80GB Western Digital hard drive there should be plenty of storage space as long as you don’t intend to use the Quest Roma MT 37 for storing loads of HD video content. The optical drive is a Sony dual layer DVD writer which writes to DVD+/-R media at 8x, DVD+/-RW at 4x and DVD+R DL at 2.4x. It also writes CD and CD-RW media at 24x.
Rather interestingly the Quest Roma MT 37 is using the ATI Radeon Xpress 200P chipset, along with the Mobility Radeon X700 graphics chipset – just like the Acer Ferrari 4000 in fact. This should be fast enough for most games at 1,024 x 768 and with 128MB of graphics memory to back it up, you won’t have any problems storing textures either. The 15.4in widescreen display has a native resolution of 1,280 x 800, while also sporting a high contrast glossy coating. This is great for watching films or playing games, but it’s not so good if you want to use your laptop outdoors in the sunshine – but then there’s not much of that in the UK anyway.
But the features don’t stop here, as the Quest Roma MT 37 comes with both 802.11b/g wireless and Bluetooth built in. Further to that you get 10/100Mbit Ethernet and a 56k V.90 dial up modem, so there are plenty of connectivity options.
The Ethernet and modem connectors are fitted on the left hand side of the chassis along with two USB 2.0 ports and the optical drive. The right hand side features a further two USB 2.0 ports, a D-SUB connector, S-Video out, a PC Card slot and a multi format card reader for MMC, SD and MemoryStick cards. Finally around the front are the headphone and microphone sockets alongside a four-pin FireWire connector and an IrDA window. The headphone connector also doubles up as an optical S/PDIF out.
There is a set of blue LEDs on the right hand corner indicating if the wireless is on or off, hard drive activity, key locks and a charge light. Above the keyboard is a row of buttons which from left to right are the power button, media player button, Bluetooth on/off, web browser, email and wireless on/off.
The keyboard is a little disappointing – it’s very rattly and although the key travel is pretty good, it’s not comfortable to type on for extended periods of time. The Fn and Ctrl keys have also been swapped around and the Enter key is not full size. The touchpad is slightly erratic in use and the odd V shape doesn’t help when you try to use the scroll zone, which is partially obscured on the far right.
So, build quality apart from the keyboard is pretty solid, but it’s not up to the standards of an IBM ThinkPad, or even something from Sony or Samsung. Measuring 355 x 255 x 30mm and weighing 2.8kg the Quest Roms is fairly portable, but it’s not what you’d call ultra-portable. The problem is that the size is dictated by the screen, and 1,280 x 800 is not a particularly high resolution for a 15.4in screen.
Looking at the performance numbers it seems like the somewhat conservative 512MB of system memory is holding back the processor as Quest Roma MT 37 only managed a fairly mediocre 163 in SYSMark 2002, that’s almost 90 points slower than the Acer Ferrari 4000 which has a slower processor, but 1GB of RAM. It’s not far behind in PCMark 2005 with an overall score of 2,653, but it falls behind again in 3DMark03 with a score of 5,891, some 450 points slower than the Acer again.
With a MobileMark 2005 battery life 182 minutes I can’t really complain, although the DVD playback test was slightly shorter at 159 minutes, but you’d still be able to watch a full length film on it. The MobileMark 2005 performance rating was also down compared to the Acer with a score of 156, some 49 points behind.
The performance results aren’t amazing, but at least you should be able to work comfortably for up to three hours away from a power socket. But where the Quest Roma MT 37 wins a lot of ground over the competition is when it comes to price. At £899 including VAT this is a quite attractively priced machine considering the hardware you’re getting. The Quest Roma MT 37 may not be the greatest notebook I’ve ever seen, but if you’re on a tight budget it should fit the bill nicely.
The Evesham Quest Roma MT 37 features several high-end components but it could do with some more system memory and a better keyboard. The performance results are a mixed bag but it will handle everyday office tasks and occasional gaming without too much of a problem.
Score in detail
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