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Hardware  » Micro Computers (Performance)

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51 posts found
  GrubbsGrady

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/30/09
Posts: 337

 
OP  7/10/14 2:58:17 PM#1

Hi folks, I wanted to get some opinions regarding micro computers. I don't follow different components or anything like that, so I'm not up to date on what has or has not been released; however within the next 6 months I am going to be trying to make two gaming desktop computers that are high end, but also as small as possible without sacrificing performance.

Is this something that I can do without starting a fire and burning up the components, or would you suggest I keep away from going small.

Any info/suggestions are appreciated here, I'm not really looking for parts yet since the build date is a ways off and I don't know what will be available at that time.

  SEANMCAD

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/22/09
Posts: 5327

7/10/14 3:04:57 PM#2

general rule for desktops is the smaller the desktop the higher the price to performance ratio is. Also the fewer input slots there are (usb etc)

Given 'large' vs 'small' is in the magnitude of square inches one might want to ask themselves why they really need it to be smaller if its not going to be highly mobile.

Also, with VR technology right around the corner more USB inputs will be needed for a full experience in that space.

Correlation does not imply causation

  poefue

Novice Member

Joined: 2/26/07
Posts: 234

7/10/14 3:14:42 PM#3
Check out http://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc/ and http://www.reddit.com/r/buildapcsales/ for some good advice and some good deals on parts.
  jdnewell

Elite Member

Joined: 7/04/06
Posts: 1937

7/10/14 3:25:05 PM#4

You can build Small Form Factor PC without giving up much if any performance. As far as USB ports go unless you need more than 4-6 then you would be fine as well. Not sure what that was about in the post above.

Google Small Form Factor PC and you can see what some prebuilt options are. You can easily build these at home as well. More thought and planning when buying hardware is required tho. And some may be a bit more pricey in some cases.

But it is easily done and many people build awesome rigs in SFF.

When you do some research and are ready to buy components post here with your budget and what you are looking at, I.E. AMD / Intel build, what GPU, ect. and folks can help you.

  CrazKanuk

Elite Member

Joined: 10/06/09
Posts: 1596

7/10/14 3:28:15 PM#5

I've benchmarked a few rigs including a Zotac, Nuc, and Supermicro and they can all, arguably, run games, but there's nothing, really, that will run a game at high quality and good frame rates. We could still be a way off that. Honestly, I'd put together a good desktop rig for today's market (not top of the line, but mid-high) and by the time it's out-dated you'll probably start seeing good mini form factor gaming pcs. 

Crazkanuk

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  Cleffy

Elite Member

Joined: 5/09/04
Posts: 5539

7/10/14 4:01:30 PM#6

I've been interested in making a powerful machine that takes up a small space recently. MSI just released a mini-ITX barebones kit that does fits into a pretty small form factor yet has all the possible oomf of a full system. Its still relatively big, but not as big as a full tower. I think it might be interesting to build one with an external water cooling loop.

I also was interested in cases that fit behind the monitor by Asus.

  jdnewell

Elite Member

Joined: 7/04/06
Posts: 1937

7/10/14 4:11:51 PM#7
Originally posted by CrazKanuk

I've benchmarked a few rigs including a Zotac, Nuc, and Supermicro and they can all, arguably, run games, but there's nothing, really, that will run a game at high quality and good frame rates. We could still be a way off that. Honestly, I'd put together a good desktop rig for today's market (not top of the line, but mid-high) and by the time it's out-dated you'll probably start seeing good mini form factor gaming pcs. 

No offense but you have been looking at the wrong PCs then.

I know MSI offers a GTX 760 specifically for SFF. Pair that with an I5 / I7 and a micro atx mobo and that would beat most "gaming" PCs on the market.

Read on these forums some of the builds in SFF people build and tell me they cant run games at an acceptable framerate with high graphics

http://hardforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=102

Here is a link to a review of an MSI SFF PC

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2014-msi-nightblade-review

Running these components.

  • CPU: Intel i5-4670k quad-core CPU @ 3.4GHz per core, with fan
  • Graphics Card: MSI GTX 760 with 2GB GDDR5 RAM
  • Motherboard: MSI Z87I Gaming motherboard
  • Memory: Kingston HyperX Genesis (1600MHz) 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage: Kingston 120GB mSATA SSD, Western Digital Blue 1TB HDD
  • Power: 600 Watt PSU
  • Other: Toshiba DVD-RW drive, Intel 7260 dual-band 802.11ac WiFI module, Bluetooth 4.0
That will beat the shit out of most peoples rigs.
 
ITX GTX 760
 
ITX 270x
 
Both designed specifically for SFF. Although with many SFF cases you can fit a full sized gpu. It is very possible to build a great gaming rig in a small case.
 
  cyberpunkhobo

Hard Core Member

Joined: 2/26/14
Posts: 56

7/10/14 5:37:47 PM#8
If you're not concerned about price, there are two major things to take into consideration before building a SFF gaming PC.

1) You're only ever going to be able to squeeze a single graphics card into the machine. Now, I realize that's probably obvious, but it's not something people really think about when deciding to go small. If you foresee yourself ever desiring to expand the capabilities of your gaming rig(s)--by adding a second graphics card, a video capture device, whatever you can think of--your options will be limited.

2) This one actually relates to your concerns about overheating and is something few people even realize can be a problem: noise. Keeping a high-performance PC that's stuffed into a shoebox cool is not a quiet affair. It can be if you build your PC with noise-reduction in mind; but that usually requires some kind of compromise.

That being said, I have two SFF gaming machines in my office and they've served me well over the past year. Going with smaller machines doesn't mean that much of a performance hit nowadays. But if you have any plans for fancy use cases that go beyond typical gaming, I would reconsider.
  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13776

7/10/14 6:29:54 PM#9

A lot of case manufacturers will offer small cases, but Silverstone is the only one that really pushes to cram a legitimate, high end gaming desktop into as small of a case as they can.  Here's their latest effort at it:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163237

In case you don't like metric, that's basically 13.9" x 11.6" by 8.7".  The long direction is to allow  long video card, the next is to allow Micro ATX motherboards, and the final one is to allow standard height video cards, power supplies, CPU coolers, and so forth.

If you really want smaller than that, you can get the Silverstone SG07:

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=6624652&SRCCODE=WEBGOOPA&utm_source=google&utm_medium=paid_search&utm_campaign=paid_search_google_pla&scid=scplp686229&gclid=CjwKEAjw8_idBRCExfC15My3owwSJACSDX_W16NbyFmF-vLeqYPisnmw61TxShO8EYdAmLFm9c5fJBoCTpjw_wcB

That limits you to a Mini ITX motherboard with a single expansion slot (for the video card, of course), a non-standard form factor power supply built into the case, and too little space to fit most good CPU coolers.

Going smaller than that would force you to sacrifice performance.  You could, for example, get an iBuyPower Hexa, but then you're stuck with Intel integrated graphics.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13776

7/10/14 6:37:23 PM#10
Originally posted by jdnewell
Originally posted by CrazKanuk

I've benchmarked a few rigs including a Zotac, Nuc, and Supermicro and they can all, arguably, run games, but there's nothing, really, that will run a game at high quality and good frame rates. We could still be a way off that. Honestly, I'd put together a good desktop rig for today's market (not top of the line, but mid-high) and by the time it's out-dated you'll probably start seeing good mini form factor gaming pcs. 

No offense but you have been looking at the wrong PCs then.

I know MSI offers a GTX 760 specifically for SFF. Pair that with an I5 / I7 and a micro atx mobo and that would beat most "gaming" PCs on the market.

Read on these forums some of the builds in SFF people build and tell me they cant run games at an acceptable framerate with high graphics

http://hardforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=102

Here is a link to a review of an MSI SFF PC

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2014-msi-nightblade-review

Running these components.

  • CPU: Intel i5-4670k quad-core CPU @ 3.4GHz per core, with fan
  • Graphics Card: MSI GTX 760 with 2GB GDDR5 RAM
  • Motherboard: MSI Z87I Gaming motherboard
  • Memory: Kingston HyperX Genesis (1600MHz) 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage: Kingston 120GB mSATA SSD, Western Digital Blue 1TB HDD
  • Power: 600 Watt PSU
  • Other: Toshiba DVD-RW drive, Intel 7260 dual-band 802.11ac WiFI module, Bluetooth 4.0
That will beat the shit out of most peoples rigs.
 
ITX GTX 760
 
ITX 270x
 
Both designed specifically for SFF. Although with many SFF cases you can fit a full sized gpu. It is very possible to build a great gaming rig in a small case.
 

Those video cards may well make sense for someone who goofed and got a too small case that didn't anticipate housing a gaming rig.  But there are small cases that are built to house long video cards, such as the Silverstone ones that I linked.  In particular, the SG07 is smaller than the MSI Nightblade that you linked, in addition to being much better equipped to handle the heat output of a high end gaming rig.

  udon

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/23/07
Posts: 1643

7/10/14 6:38:09 PM#11

Powerful gaming machines put out a lot of heat which those smaller cases are not well equipped to handle.  Maybe if you went water cooled you could do it but than you have to contend with the water cooler parts taking up space to.

Also I have not looked of late but I thought those smaller mother boards tended to be slower ram and bus's with the lower end CPU's.

Everything is a trade off.  You don't need a monster case but you do want one with enough room and venting options to support your needs.

  GrubbsGrady

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/30/09
Posts: 337

 
OP  7/10/14 8:24:10 PM#12
Originally posted by Quizzical

A lot of case manufacturers will offer small cases, but Silverstone is the only one that really pushes to cram a legitimate, high end gaming desktop into as small of a case as they can.  Here's their latest effort at it:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163237

In case you don't like metric, that's basically 13.9" x 11.6" by 8.7".  The long direction is to allow  long video card, the next is to allow Micro ATX motherboards, and the final one is to allow standard height video cards, power supplies, CPU coolers, and so forth.

If you really want smaller than that, you can get the Silverstone SG07:

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=6624652&SRCCODE=WEBGOOPA&utm_source=google&utm_medium=paid_search&utm_campaign=paid_search_google_pla&scid=scplp686229&gclid=CjwKEAjw8_idBRCExfC15My3owwSJACSDX_W16NbyFmF-vLeqYPisnmw61TxShO8EYdAmLFm9c5fJBoCTpjw_wcB

That limits you to a Mini ITX motherboard with a single expansion slot (for the video card, of course), a non-standard form factor power supply built into the case, and too little space to fit most good CPU coolers.

Going smaller than that would force you to sacrifice performance.  You could, for example, get an iBuyPower Hexa, but then you're stuck with Intel integrated graphics.

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

Quizzical, those cases you linked were a little bigger than I was hoping for; however I think that is as small as I am going to get.  I looked at the Hexa and that is really crazy, small enough to just hold in your hand. The integrated graphics just wouldn't do it for me though, sadly.

I'll check back in when I am about to build to see what parts you all think would be best/if there are any new options in the small case market.

 

Thanks again everyone!

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13776

7/10/14 9:28:36 PM#13

If you really want smaller than the Silverstone SG07, there's also the Alienware X51.  Of course, that isn't much smaller than an SG07, and you not only give up some performance, but also a lot of the advantages of desktops, as it's about as close to being a laptop without a monitor as it is to being a desktop.  Or you could get a gaming laptop and not use the built-in monitor or keyboard, though that strikes me as somewhat ridiculous.

Why is the small form factor such a big deal, anyway?

  miguksaram

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/29/03
Posts: 828

7/10/14 10:53:28 PM#14

I've linked to this particular site a number of times when similar questions have popped and I'd highly recommend you check it out.  I too recently decided that if I can have near identical performance at a somewhat higher price in a MUCH smaller package it was the way to go for me.  My primary gaming system now sits firmly in an NCASE M1 v1 (crowd sourced private vendor)

 

My current system specs:

CPU: Intel i7-4770k

CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L12

MB: ASRock Z87E-ITX

GPU: EVGA GTX 770

RAM: Crucial Ballistix Sport VLP 8Gb (2x4Gb sticks)

SSD: Crucial M500 240Gb

PSU: Silverstone ST45SF-G

OS: Windows 8.1

 

http://hardforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=102

  GrubbsGrady

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/30/09
Posts: 337

 
OP  7/11/14 12:07:10 AM#15

Originally posted by miguksaram

I've linked to this particular site a number of times when similar questions have popped and I'd highly recommend you check it out.  I too recently decided that if I can have near identical performance at a somewhat higher price in a MUCH smaller package it was the way to go for me.  My primary gaming system now sits firmly in an NCASE M1 v1 (crowd sourced private vendor)

 

My current system specs:

CPU: Intel i7-4770k

CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L12

MB: ASRock Z87E-ITX

GPU: EVGA GTX 770

RAM: Crucial Ballistix Sport VLP 8Gb (2x4Gb sticks)

SSD: Crucial M500 240Gb

PSU: Silverstone ST45SF-G

OS: Windows 8.1

 

http://hardforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=102

Nice man, are you satisfied with your build? Thanks for that link I'll check it out for sure.

Originally posted by Quizzical

If you really want smaller than the Silverstone SG07, there's also the Alienware X51.  Of course, that isn't much smaller than an SG07, and you not only give up some performance, but also a lot of the advantages of desktops, as it's about as close to being a laptop without a monitor as it is to being a desktop.  Or you could get a gaming laptop and not use the built-in monitor or keyboard, though that strikes me as somewhat ridiculous.

Why is the small form factor such a big deal, anyway?


Quizz, I for sure do not want to downgrade to the point of being gimped or having a laptop for a desktop :D

As for why small, two reasons. One is that its just something I have always thought would be awesome. To have a really small computer that if needed to could be taken with me on a trip or moved to another room, or just be able to say "Yeah my awesome games come from that little box!"

That part is just a dream, and the other reason - also why I am building two- is because my girlfriend is really in need of a new computer (she is using my first built) and she saw some pictures of the small gaming PCs and asked if our next computers can be small like that. I'm just trying to give her another reason to enjoy the hobby! If we can't go small then we will go as small as we can without giving up performance or having extremely loud computers. 

A little off topic, but is there anything coming out soonish that I should be waiting on before trying to get parts? New lines of CPU/GPU or anything?

  miguksaram

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/29/03
Posts: 828

7/11/14 12:25:04 AM#16

I am VERY satisfied with my current system and it's performance.  If you or your GF can live with entry level gaming performance you could always check out another private vendor from that same site I linked, Lone Industries L1 or L2 cases.  The primary difference is the L1 has only 1 expansion so only single height video cards will work while the L2 has 2 expansion slots due to popular demand to increase the number of video cards that can used in the case.

 

I built a system for a friend of mine that has nearly identical specs to my own in the L1 minus the GPU, a lower wattage i7 CPU (he didn't need it for his uses) and of course you must go with a Pico PSU.  Don't let that fool you though as you can easily get 160 Watt quality Pico PSU's that will run all the hardware plus an entry level GPU such as a GTX 750.  You simple can't overclock but given it's size that wasn't ever really going to be an option anyway.

 

http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1810890

https://loneindustries.com/products/2

 

L2 dimensions: 8.6"x4"x9.5"

 

EDIT:  The cases I'm referring to are top quality aluminum cases from private vendors so be aware they are fairly expensive compared to other options on the market.  With that said they also serve a VERY niche clientele with demands that aren't normally met by the mainstream vendors.  This is the main reason they are made by the private vendors in the first place, the originator wanted something for themselves not currently available and realized other might as well.

  GrubbsGrady

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/30/09
Posts: 337

 
OP  7/11/14 2:12:29 AM#17

Awesome thank you for that case as well its tiny! I'm going to talk to my girlfriend some more about this tomorrow and see what she thinks. I was hoping we would be able to go a little above entry level with the components we are using when we build.

As for the price, I don't think that those are priced highly at all. These are supposed to be our 'luxury' builds where we don't cut any corners so I'm expecting to pay more than I normally would on a build.

Again, thanks a ton for your feedback!

  jdnewell

Elite Member

Joined: 7/04/06
Posts: 1937

7/11/14 12:37:05 PM#18
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by jdnewell
Originally posted by CrazKanuk

I've benchmarked a few rigs including a Zotac, Nuc, and Supermicro and they can all, arguably, run games, but there's nothing, really, that will run a game at high quality and good frame rates. We could still be a way off that. Honestly, I'd put together a good desktop rig for today's market (not top of the line, but mid-high) and by the time it's out-dated you'll probably start seeing good mini form factor gaming pcs. 

No offense but you have been looking at the wrong PCs then.

I know MSI offers a GTX 760 specifically for SFF. Pair that with an I5 / I7 and a micro atx mobo and that would beat most "gaming" PCs on the market.

Read on these forums some of the builds in SFF people build and tell me they cant run games at an acceptable framerate with high graphics

http://hardforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=102

Here is a link to a review of an MSI SFF PC

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2014-msi-nightblade-review

Running these components.

  • CPU: Intel i5-4670k quad-core CPU @ 3.4GHz per core, with fan
  • Graphics Card: MSI GTX 760 with 2GB GDDR5 RAM
  • Motherboard: MSI Z87I Gaming motherboard
  • Memory: Kingston HyperX Genesis (1600MHz) 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage: Kingston 120GB mSATA SSD, Western Digital Blue 1TB HDD
  • Power: 600 Watt PSU
  • Other: Toshiba DVD-RW drive, Intel 7260 dual-band 802.11ac WiFI module, Bluetooth 4.0
That will beat the shit out of most peoples rigs.
 
ITX GTX 760
 
ITX 270x
 
Both designed specifically for SFF. Although with many SFF cases you can fit a full sized gpu. It is very possible to build a great gaming rig in a small case.
 

Those video cards may well make sense for someone who goofed and got a too small case that didn't anticipate housing a gaming rig.  But there are small cases that are built to house long video cards, such as the Silverstone ones that I linked.  In particular, the SG07 is smaller than the MSI Nightblade that you linked, in addition to being much better equipped to handle the heat output of a high end gaming rig.

Those were examples of available hardware for SFF builds, not a recommendation on what to buy. Considering I was responding to a poster I quoted I thought that was obvious. No where in my post did I mention or say this should be bought. I even stated you can fit a full sized GPU  in many SFF cases. Did you even read the post?

Considering the OP is looking to build in 6+ months recommending hardware today seemed a bit premature.

I mainly didnt want him turned off of the idea by some posts claiming you cant build a SFF gaming machine. Being able to see some SFF hardware and builds will at least give him an idea, then he can do his own research and actually learn something. Learning for himself and knowing what his options are beats coming here and just buying shit because someone else said so.

  CrazKanuk

Elite Member

Joined: 10/06/09
Posts: 1596

7/11/14 1:06:19 PM#19
Originally posted by jdnewell
Originally posted by CrazKanuk

I've benchmarked a few rigs including a Zotac, Nuc, and Supermicro and they can all, arguably, run games, but there's nothing, really, that will run a game at high quality and good frame rates. We could still be a way off that. Honestly, I'd put together a good desktop rig for today's market (not top of the line, but mid-high) and by the time it's out-dated you'll probably start seeing good mini form factor gaming pcs. 

No offense but you have been looking at the wrong PCs then.

I know MSI offers a GTX 760 specifically for SFF. Pair that with an I5 / I7 and a micro atx mobo and that would beat most "gaming" PCs on the market.

Read on these forums some of the builds in SFF people build and tell me they cant run games at an acceptable framerate with high graphics

http://hardforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=102

Here is a link to a review of an MSI SFF PC

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2014-msi-nightblade-review

Running these components.

  • CPU: Intel i5-4670k quad-core CPU @ 3.4GHz per core, with fan
  • Graphics Card: MSI GTX 760 with 2GB GDDR5 RAM
  • Motherboard: MSI Z87I Gaming motherboard
  • Memory: Kingston HyperX Genesis (1600MHz) 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage: Kingston 120GB mSATA SSD, Western Digital Blue 1TB HDD
  • Power: 600 Watt PSU
  • Other: Toshiba DVD-RW drive, Intel 7260 dual-band 802.11ac WiFI module, Bluetooth 4.0
That will beat the shit out of most peoples rigs.
 
ITX GTX 760
 
ITX 270x
 
Both designed specifically for SFF. Although with many SFF cases you can fit a full sized gpu. It is very possible to build a great gaming rig in a small case.
 

Agreed, I thought he was looking for small though (like not a 1 foot cube). IDK about anything like the size of your hand that's going to give you the performance you're looking for. Although keep your eyes on Zotac? I haven't tested anything in like 6 months, but I don't think it's that drastically different for a micro. 

Crazkanuk

----------------
Azarelos - 90 Hunter - Emerald
Durnzig - 90 Paladin - Emerald
Demonicron - 90 Death Knight - Emerald Dream - US
Tankinpain - 90 Monk - Azjol-Nerub - US
Brindell - 90 Warrior - Emerald Dream - US
----------------

  jdnewell

Elite Member

Joined: 7/04/06
Posts: 1937

7/11/14 1:44:09 PM#20
Originally posted by CrazKanuk
Originally posted by jdnewell
Originally posted by CrazKanuk

I've benchmarked a few rigs including a Zotac, Nuc, and Supermicro and they can all, arguably, run games, but there's nothing, really, that will run a game at high quality and good frame rates. We could still be a way off that. Honestly, I'd put together a good desktop rig for today's market (not top of the line, but mid-high) and by the time it's out-dated you'll probably start seeing good mini form factor gaming pcs. 

No offense but you have been looking at the wrong PCs then.

I know MSI offers a GTX 760 specifically for SFF. Pair that with an I5 / I7 and a micro atx mobo and that would beat most "gaming" PCs on the market.

Read on these forums some of the builds in SFF people build and tell me they cant run games at an acceptable framerate with high graphics

http://hardforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=102

Here is a link to a review of an MSI SFF PC

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2014-msi-nightblade-review

Running these components.

  • CPU: Intel i5-4670k quad-core CPU @ 3.4GHz per core, with fan
  • Graphics Card: MSI GTX 760 with 2GB GDDR5 RAM
  • Motherboard: MSI Z87I Gaming motherboard
  • Memory: Kingston HyperX Genesis (1600MHz) 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage: Kingston 120GB mSATA SSD, Western Digital Blue 1TB HDD
  • Power: 600 Watt PSU
  • Other: Toshiba DVD-RW drive, Intel 7260 dual-band 802.11ac WiFI module, Bluetooth 4.0
That will beat the shit out of most peoples rigs.
 
ITX GTX 760
 
ITX 270x
 
Both designed specifically for SFF. Although with many SFF cases you can fit a full sized gpu. It is very possible to build a great gaming rig in a small case.
 

Agreed, I thought he was looking for small though (like not a 1 foot cube). IDK about anything like the size of your hand that's going to give you the performance you're looking for. Although keep your eyes on Zotac? I haven't tested anything in like 6 months, but I don't think it's that drastically different for a micro. 

Your right. The true micro PCs will in no way ever be a gaming rig.

My bad, I assumed the OP was talking about more of a SFF type build when he mentioned gaming and performance in there with it =)

You can get some pretty small dimension SFF builds tho if you are very thoughtful and specific in what you buy. Nothing you can hold in your palm.

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