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$220 Budget Computer for Parents

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April 2, 2012 11:41:38 PM

UPDATE: All the components are finished except I'm still iffy about the RAM (is it the best I can do for $20) and I need a case (also in the $20-25 range). Thoughts on those two components?

Approximate Purchase Date: Build will occur in mid May, but I'm buying components as I see them

Budget Range: $220 max

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Surfing the internet, YouTube

Parts Not Required: video card, keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: frys.com (including B&M), microcenter (B&M), amazon.com, newegg.com

Country: CA, USA

Parts Preferences: No OCZ, ECS, or Biostar

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments:

Processor: Intel i3-2100 ($94.99)
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Motherboard: H61M-P23 (B3) LGA 1155 H61 mATX Intel Motherboard ($19.99 combo discount)
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Hard Drive: OCZ SATA III 60GB ($35 AR)
(Link is for reference) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Video Card: Asus 5450 512mb ($10.68 AR)
http://www.amazon.com/SILENT-Series-Guard-Profile-Desig...

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Desktop Memory Model F3-8500CL7S-4GBRL ($19.99) - Is this good? Only 1066 but the other voltages and stuff have low numbers, so that's a good thing?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case: $15-25 range

PSU: Corsair 430W ($19.99 AR)

OS: Windows 7 (purchased $10)

Optical Drive: None, or if possible reuse the old one (No idea on specs, brand, etc). $0.00

I'm currently at around $200 (factoring in the fact that I won't pay more than $20 for 4GB of RAM).
April 2, 2012 11:49:28 PM

You'll be hard pressed to find a new hdd/ssd for $30.00 nowdays.
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April 2, 2012 11:59:31 PM


An AMD Zacate ITX mobo/cpu combo with save yah $50 or so toward a 60GB SSD . . . .

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April 3, 2012 12:07:39 AM

Wisecracker said:
An AMD Zacate ITX mobo/cpu combo with save yah $50 or so toward a 60GB SSD . . . .


This is intriguing. Is this something I would also find at Microcenter (not sure who else does combo discounts)?
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April 3, 2012 12:09:02 AM

soidier37 said:
You'll be hard pressed to find a new hdd/ssd for $30.00 nowdays.


You're right, I once picked up a 500GB Samsung Spinpoint a couple years ago for about $40 (new)! If I increase the value to $50, would that help you perhaps pick out a good model? I really don't need "space," just enough for the basic programs + their updates.
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April 3, 2012 12:11:13 AM

nbelote said:
You said you didn't want refurbished but really, you can't get much more bang for your buck:

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

There's HP's and such available but I'd rather go with a Lenovo over those.


Thanks for the idea. I had forgotten that I saw Lenovo's outlet which had pretty decently spec'd refurbished (1 year warranty) desktops (G620 processor, 4 GB ram, 500gb hard drive)for $186 about a couple weeks ago. I should've bought one when I had the chance, but it gave me an idea to do this project instead.

I would also be amenable to dropping the processor to a G620, if I could find a board that would go along with it at a cheaper price.

I'm also not adverse to the AMD/APU idea either, but again, cost is the mitigating factor.
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April 3, 2012 12:12:34 AM

Yeah, there's a Radio Shack in the town where I work that sells off-lease Dells. Most of them aren't half bad and are under $200. Would I buy one for my mom? Sure thing.
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April 3, 2012 12:24:40 AM

rebelx said:
You're right, I once picked up a 500GB Samsung Spinpoint a couple years ago for about $40 (new)! If I increase the value to $50, would that help you perhaps pick out a good model? I really don't need "space," just enough for the basic programs + their updates.


With the recent Thailand flooding, hdd's have gone through the roof, to the point where they are 2x the price they used to be.
For most budget minded people, buying a prebuilt computer usually makes mor sense on the lower end if a good sale comes around.
This is a pretty good site for tech sales and other things.
http://slickdeals.net/
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April 3, 2012 12:44:28 AM

soidier37 said:
With the recent Thailand flooding, hdd's have gone through the roof, to the point where they are 2x the price they used to be.
For most budget minded people, buying a prebuilt computer usually makes mor sense on the lower end if a good sale comes around.
This is a pretty good site for tech sales and other things.
http://slickdeals.net/


Microcenter has deals like this as well.
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April 3, 2012 12:49:17 AM

nbelote said:
Yeah, there's a Radio Shack in the town where I work that sells off-lease Dells. Most of them aren't half bad and are under $200. Would I buy one for my mom? Sure thing.


I'll check out the couple that are left in my area, but I don't think I've seen computers in my location though.

soidier37 said:
With the recent Thailand flooding, hdd's have gone through the roof, to the point where they are 2x the price they used to be.
For most budget minded people, buying a prebuilt computer usually makes mor sense on the lower end if a good sale comes around.
This is a pretty good site for tech sales and other things.
http://slickdeals.net/


I read about the flooding, but I was hoping it wouldn't affect the US market as heavily at it has. Do you think a 32GB is enough for to handle Windows/Antivirus + updates? Is there a significant drop in performance for an SSD if it is nearly filled?

I'm a regular on SD :) 

odwillia said:
Microcenter has deals like this as well.


I'll go look at their ad again for the month and see if I perhaps missed it. I know they're running the i5, i3, and fx4100/6100 combo deals right now.
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April 3, 2012 1:38:47 AM

you can save money by going ith a sandy bridge celeron instead of the pentiums, 55$ instead of 80, i know they used to be crap but really the sandy bridge ones dont apear to be bad at all, some people game on the dual core models. and if they have an old computer, why not re use the old hard drive? ide/sata adapters arent very expencive if one is needed. then they will also have any other files they want to keep.
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April 3, 2012 1:40:04 AM


rebelx said:
This is intriguing. Is this something I would also find at Microcenter (not sure who else does combo discounts)?


There are all kinds of combos ... even some your wife might approve :lol: 

MicroCenter calls them 'Bundles' -- NewEgg has combo offers at the bottom of the item pages and a separate searchable combo deal database

The AMD ITX Zacate APUs are CPU/GPU cores soldered onto the motherboard. It's really hard for someone to align 600 pins to a motherboard socket the size of your fingernail :D  I've got a ASRock E350M1/USB3 AMD E-350 APU with a 64GB SSD and 4GB of RAMs. It plays back anything and is great for surfin' around. Seldom pulls more than 40w -- sleeps at 5w. It might beat up an HD5450.

The issue is they are going semi-EOL (they have improved versions in production over the last two months with even faster graphics) and the price has been dropping weekly. Your best bet will be with either a Zacate or even a Llano APU but it's going EOL, too -- replaced with the Trinity APU and sFM2.



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April 3, 2012 1:48:54 AM

i gave my lil bro a mini itx atom/ion based build a cppl yrs ago....that thing was perfect for surfing/streaming anime/and hd netflix/hd hulu and blu-ray
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April 4, 2012 10:03:47 PM

look into the 52$ intel celerons they have now, the sandy bridge ones, apparently they are only a little bit slower than the pentiums and are very good for every day stuff.
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April 4, 2012 10:07:42 PM

oops didnt realize i posted basicly the same thing before, my bad.
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April 4, 2012 10:59:53 PM

obsama1 said:
Go with the SB Pentium. Just as good as the i3. It even beats the FX 8150!!
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Only $50, so you can get a good HDD/PSU.

ALso, NEVER use the PSU that comes with the case. Very cheap quality. You'll only need a ~400W PSU.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I was hoping that since by now no one had mentioned that the PSU might be bad, that it wouldn't be.

Buying a PSU would really put me over budget. Anything cheaper that would do? 400W seems excessive for a lack of a video card, no? Maybe I could find a smaller one and then use that? BUT then -->

I was looking at that processor in the beginning, but the reason that I opted for the i3 is because of the mobo bundle savings. I would be saving about $50 compared to the i3, but then I'd have to find a mobo on the cheap to acutually realize savings. In addition, I read that the Pentiums are using some older form of intel integrated graphics, whereas the i3 is using the "newer" *(but not 3000, I think) graphics, so I thought that might come into play BUT THEN AGAIN, I'd be using dedicated graphics in the 5450 video card.

The math is as follows:

Buy AMD FX-4100 + MSI mobo for $100 (microcenter bundle)
Buy i3-2100 + mobo for $120 (microcenter bundle)
Buy G620 for $50, and then spend about $50-55 on mobo for a total of $100-105. Are you aware of where I could get a non-ECS/Biostar mobo for super cheap? Fry's used to hand mobos away for free when I last built my computer for the office I was intern'ing at (long time ago), but no longer.

I figured that $20 was worth it to upgrade to the i3. I might not necessarily use integrated graphics, but it does have the higher clock speed, which should help in the long run, right (I intend on keeping this computer a minimum of 4 years, with only a memory upgrade, if necessary)/ I used random internet browsing and this site (which isn't super legit, I think) for reference.

Also, by avoiding the case PSU, that would mean I could substantially save on the case as well. My dad currently is using some old plain manilla folder case that you see a lot of business in the late 90s (and some law offices today!) use. It's big, not sure if all the parts are in there for the new components, and has no special holes for cooling/ventilation. I probably shouldn't use that case, I'm assuming?

THAT would mean that I now need a super budget, ideally, small sized, case. I'd like to spend no more than $20 in a store, and $25 on Amazon. Do you have suggestions? This is not urgent. I do have about 6 weeks for purchase. I do have a Fry's local.
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April 4, 2012 11:02:34 PM

mildgamer001 said:
look into the 52$ intel celerons they have now, the sandy bridge ones, apparently they are only a little bit slower than the pentiums and are very good for every day stuff.


I think at $52, I'd rather get the Pentium G620 which is $50 at microcenter, right? But then cost increases because I have to pay full price for a mobo instead of the combo discount that i3 and FX series provides at microcenter. I thought about what you said regarding the SATA/IDE kit and reusing the old hard drive, but it's likely that hard drive is slow and very used (my dad is the second owner of this computer). Probably not going to see a speed increase with old hard drive, and new processor, lol.
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April 4, 2012 11:12:01 PM

Also, thoughts on the RAM? Is the 1066 OK, or should I be on the lookout for 1333? I picked the 1066 cause the timings were all lower than 9, so I thought that might be a good thing.
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April 4, 2012 11:45:48 PM


Your RAMs are essentially conditional upon your motherboard selection and what might be available to you 'on the cheap' when perusing the memory QVL list. Memory is not a problem where ever you may turn in a build such as this -- certainly not like an SSD.

Here is a Rosewill ITX case with power supply for $55. Works great with an AMD E350.



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April 4, 2012 11:48:47 PM

well if the g620 is 50$ at micro center (i dont have any nearby so i hadnt checked their pricing) then the celeron must be dirt cheap there, and you can find motherboards the fit it that simply arent very feature ful, but better than most in retail computers (usually stripped down to bare minimum, with very littl eexpansion and few ports usually) are actually fairly cheap if you use h61. also if you use an old hard drive, you can re use the windows i think, and all that unwanted data, you could hash through it and delete most of the stuff they dont want somewhat easily, especially stuff from the previous owner. and hard drisves do limit performance some, mostly only when you actually are loading large files off of them, and a lot of the speed increase if from other parts while running programs, har ddrive shouldnt be to big of a speed factor unless you are gaming, loading lits of stuff at once, or opening programs initially. instead of taking 10 seconds to open a large program, it might take 15-20 with a larger program like say, photoshop. and with the previous hard drive, tyou also wont have to redownload all the programs (that they will use) again, often a plu
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April 5, 2012 12:44:06 AM

Wisecracker said:
Your RAMs are essentially conditional upon your motherboard selection and what might be available to you 'on the cheap' when perusing the memory QVL list. Memory is not a problem where ever you may turn in a build such as this -- certainly not like an SSD.

Here is a Rosewill ITX case with power supply for $55. Works great with an AMD E350.


Thank you, for the ITX suggestion, but I don't think it would fly. The video card I'm using says it wants a minimum of 350W PSU and the ITX case has a 250W power supply. Also, would an ITX case mean I need an ITX mobo or is mATX ok?

EDIT: I swore I read somewhere the 5450 needed a 350W PSU, but now I'm having a hard time verifying it.
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April 5, 2012 1:19:53 AM



The Zacate uses the 3rd generation of the AMD Unified Video Decoder (UVD) as opposed to the UVD2 of the HD5450 so you would be backing up as far as graphics hardware acceleration, or DXVA.

The only issue of which I am aware at launch (a year ago) there was limited support for Silverlight (that's what you need for hardware acceleration of NetFlix streams). As far as I know it has improved, but Silverlight5 still does not DXVA.

The Zacate will buzz through Internet surfing, YouTube, flash sites like ESPN3, etc. Works great with MPC Cinema, VLC, BluRay players, XBMC or other front ends.

It slays with an SSD.

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April 5, 2012 1:55:48 AM

Wisecracker said:
The Zacate uses the 3rd generation of the AMD Unified Video Decoder (UVD) as opposed to the UVD2 of the HD5450 so you would be backing up as far as graphics hardware acceleration, or DXVA.

The only issue of which I am aware at launch (a year ago) there was limited support for Silverlight (that's what you need for hardware acceleration of NetFlix streams). As far as I know it has improved, but Silverlight5 still does not DXVA.

The Zacate will buzz through Internet surfing, YouTube, flash sites like ESPN3, etc. Works great with MPC Cinema, VLC, BluRay players, XBMC or other front ends.

It slays with an SSD.


Thoughts on its performance for the next 4-5 years? Netflix will most likely be an option that my dad will be using.

Zacate > the best gaming $100 processor in the i3 (Tom's review)?
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April 5, 2012 4:26:02 AM

case and psu for 37
www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681116205...
or you can use that cooler master case and psu in your original post.

CpuIntel Celeron G530 Sandy Bridge 2.4GHz duel core
www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681911640... for 52

motherboard MSI H61M-P21 (B3) with free shipping
www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681313060... For 58

Ram crucial 2x2gb 1333
www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682014826... for 23

hdd Western Digital Caviar Blue 320gb
www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682213677... For 75
or
ssd 64gb
www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682022777... for 70 ar
or 60gb
www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682022624... for 74

equals ~245$
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April 5, 2012 5:51:15 AM

Hmm, what are your thoughts on the case + PSU? A poster earlier said that case PSUs are bad, so I wasn't sure if that'd be a good idea to get another case that comes with a PSU. Is this case's PSU better than mine? If so, where am I supposed to find the specs for it?

truegenius said:
case and psu for 37
www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681116205...
or you can use that cooler master case and psu in your original post.

CpuIntel Celeron G530 Sandy Bridge 2.4GHz duel core
www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681911640... for 52

motherboard MSI H61M-P21 (B3) with free shipping
www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681313060... For 58

Ram crucial 2x2gb 1333
www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682014826... for 23

hdd Western Digital Caviar Blue 320gb
www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682213677... For 75
or
ssd 64gb
www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682022777... for 70 ar
or 60gb
www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682022624... for 74

equals ~245$

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April 5, 2012 9:32:38 AM

cheap inbuilt psu of 500w have only around 20A curren capacity on 12v means around 200-250w capacity on 12v, and are less energy efficient with no 6 or 8 pin power connectors.

So if a unit uses upto 200 watt only, then cheap inbuilt 500w psu are enough.
I used a cheap intex 450w psu with my old build (95w cpu and 120w after overclocking, means around 200w of total power cunsumption).
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April 7, 2012 8:28:07 AM

truegenius said:
cheap inbuilt psu of 500w have only around 20A curren capacity on 12v means around 200-250w capacity on 12v, and are less energy efficient with no 6 or 8 pin power connectors.

So if a unit uses upto 200 watt only, then cheap inbuilt 500w psu are enough.
I used a cheap intex 450w psu with my old build (95w cpu and 120w after overclocking, means around 200w of total power cunsumption).


Took your advice and scrapped the case/psu combo. I'm now looking for a case in the $15-25 range and a 400-450w PSU (min. recommended for that video card on the box is 400w) in the $25-35 range. They'll come down in price during a sale/rebate in the next month, I'm sure.

Also, made some purchases today and updated the OP to reflect most recent changes.
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April 7, 2012 9:46:33 AM

rebelx said:

Processor: Intel i3-2100 ($94.99)
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

:o  great deal for 95$
rebelx said:

Hard Drive: OCZ SATA III 60GB ($35 AR)
(Link is for reference) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

:ouch:  it is a steal, 60gb ocz sata3 ssd for 35$ where you find that.

rebelx said:

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Desktop Memory Model F3-8500CL7S-4GBRL ($19.99) - Is this good? Only 1066 but the other voltages and stuff have low numbers, so that's a good thing?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

:) 
4gb will be more than enough and thus go for duel channel (2x2gb), it will provide a combined bandwidth equal to a 2133mhz ram (with 2x1066mhz modules), and 2666mhz when using 2 1333mhz ram.
(bandwidth will double in duel channel but not the speed of individual module)
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April 8, 2012 2:26:43 AM

truegenius said:
:o  great deal for 95$

:ouch:  it is a steal, 60gb ocz sata3 ssd for 35$ where you find that.


:) 
4gb will be more than enough and thus go for duel channel (2x2gb), it will provide a combined bandwidth equal to a 2133mhz ram (with 2x1066mhz modules), and 2666mhz when using 2 1333mhz ram.
(bandwidth will double in duel channel but not the speed of individual module)


Microcenter had the i3-2100 for $99.99 + 5% coupon they normally give out brings it down to $94.99.

Microcenter had the OCZ SSD for $49.99 via facebook coupon + $15 rebate. :) 
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April 8, 2012 4:52:08 AM

truegenius said:
:o  great deal for 95$

:ouch:  it is a steal, 60gb ocz sata3 ssd for 35$ where you find that.


:) 
4gb will be more than enough and thus go for duel channel (2x2gb), it will provide a combined bandwidth equal to a 2133mhz ram (with 2x1066mhz modules), and 2666mhz when using 2 1333mhz ram.
(bandwidth will double in duel channel but not the speed of individual module)


Oh forgot to ask, how does the dual channel RAM work? Let's say my mobo has 4 ram slots. Does it matter where I put the 2 ram sticks?
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April 8, 2012 4:55:18 AM

The motherboard manual will have the placement of RAM sticks in it.
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April 8, 2012 4:59:20 AM

Where'd you get Windows 7 for $10 bucks?!? lol
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April 8, 2012 4:59:45 AM

Probably a school offer or something. :p 
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April 8, 2012 5:05:26 AM

Ah, I didn't think of checking the mobo manual, doh!

And yes, we get Windows 7 Ultimate via school for $10, and Office for free!
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April 8, 2012 5:15:32 AM

Wow, luuucky!!
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April 8, 2012 6:35:04 AM

now this is bigbang for money.
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April 17, 2012 1:28:20 AM

Bump, almost done with this build! Only 2 components remain!
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April 17, 2012 1:39:50 AM

what do have so far?
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April 17, 2012 1:57:25 AM

odwillia said:
what do have so far?


Are you referring to the components that I have so far? If so, I have all of them that I listed in the original post (I have kept that fully updated for easy reference). I am short on the RAM and the case, however.
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April 17, 2012 2:20:11 AM
April 17, 2012 2:34:30 AM



The Rosewill is nice, but that's more expensive than my gaming computer's case, haha!

The second case is not so bad. $10 shipping though. Maybe I can figure out a way to eliminate that somehow.

Also, Team Elite? Is that a reputable brand? Never heard of it.
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April 17, 2012 2:47:39 AM

They have decent memory. Never used the budget stuff.
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!