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Updating my desktop graphics card, inexperienced, need advice

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 1, 2012 4:01:24 AM

I have more info below, but, for a bit of context, the desktop I am attempting to upgrade was purchased in 2008, it was fairly average. When I go into "performance information and tools" its base score is 3.0. It currently runs Windows Vista, but when I'm done updating it, it will have Windows 7 on it. I'm updating it mainly b/c I want to play games like Starcraft 2, The Old Republic. I'm not looking to run Skyrim on its highest settings, but I'd like a PC that can run most games for the next couple of years. I am slightly inexperienced when it comes to computer specs, but I will elaborate to the best of my ability. (my more tech savy friends are going to help me install the components, so hopefully that will go smoothly). You can view the specs below, but I'm wondering if I'll need a better graphics card, faster processor, more RAM, a better power supply, or a better cooling system. I'm not sure of everything I need, but given my current desktop and goals, what would you recommend I upgrade.


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE:
in the coming weeks, 2 or 3 weeks

BUDGET RANGE: $200-300 USD (overall, including any additional things, I will need to buy)

USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT:
Gaming, I need to run Starcraft 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic (I know this game won't be difficult to run), maybe Battlefield 3

CURRENT GPU AND POWER SUPPLY:
(does this mean processor or graphics card?) Processor: AMD Athlon(tm) 64X2 Dual Core Processor 4800+ (2CPUs)~2.5Ghz.

Power Supply 250W

Current Graphics card: GeForce 6150SE nForce430. Total memory-1336MB.DAC type-integrated RAMDAC,


OTHER RELEVANT SYSTEM SPECS: The desktop is HP-Pavillion system model, KJ402AA

(http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/Docume... that one basically)

360GB of storage, 3GB or RAM. The cooling setup is currently, the default computer fan that sometimes makes a loud humming noise. I'm going to replace it, so would you recommend anything besides just a basic computer fan?

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg or Amazon, I don't really care, b/c I don't have any experience ordering components.

PARTS PREFERENCES: none

OVERCLOCKING: Not sure what that entails, I think I know what it is, unless you think I should know about it, then I'm not worried about it

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: If you'd like me to elaborate on anything, tell me and I will do so

Edit: considering this graphics card http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... . Not sure if it would work with my machine, although I think it will. Also wondering if I got this card, would I have to upgrade anything else
a b U Graphics card
March 1, 2012 4:37:31 AM

You will have to upgrade the power supply in order to run any half decent graphics card. You will need a quality 430 to 500 watt power supply, from a manufacturer like antec, ocz, corsair. A power supply in this class would run about $60-$70, but they frequently have rebates lowering the final cost to around $45 or so
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March 1, 2012 4:53:17 AM

I figured I would need to upgrade that, but I didn't know what to shoot for, thanks, do you think I have enough RAM?
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March 1, 2012 3:12:44 PM

oktf said:
indeed mate u must buy a new PSU, (recommended to me by a member from forum) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
pretty neet price , your ram is DD2 DD3 DD4 DD5?? :p 


pasting this from HP's site.

Dual channel memory architecture
Four 240-pin DDR2 DIMM sockets
Supported DIMM types:
PC2-5300 (667 MHz)
PC2-6400 (800 MHz)
Non-ECC memory only, unbuffered
Supports 2GB DDR2 DIMMs
Supports up to 8 GB on 64 bit PCs
Supports up to 4 GB* on 32 bit PCs

Also, my operating system is 32 bit, can/should I upgrade that to 64 bit?
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March 1, 2012 3:40:15 PM

TBH your computer as is will be fine with a minor psu upgrade and graphics upgrade.

Anything else and your pretty much building a new pc. Which you might want to do down the road.

Overclocking = its like modding a car to go faster in the simpliest definition. You would in turn be modding your computer parts (graphics card/cpu/ram) to go faster and process information quicker. This in turns means more heat but better performance.

For now get a corsair 430watt builder series psu. these can be had for $30-$60. Then I'd look into buying an AMD 7750, 7770, or 7800 series card when they come out. The 7770 will be able to play most anything but you will have problems on BF3 with only 3gb of memory and that card. But sc2 and old republic will be fine. Those are not very demanding games. BF3 would almost require you to build a new system. Its pretty demanding on systems.

Do not upgrade to 64bit until you have at least 4-8gb + of memory..Basically 32bit limits the amount of memory your system will use to 3gb's...So if you have 8gb you can still only use 3gb etc.

Stay with 32bit unless you plan to upgrade your ram. Like I said you start adding all these parts you might as well build another computer.


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total = $190 (7750 will be cheaper but imo I'd stay at the 7770 and above. This will be a decent card if you ever do buy a new pc/upgrade)
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March 1, 2012 3:48:37 PM

I'd almost say just buy the graphics card, but with only a 250watt psu it very close to not being enough...if it were over 300watts I'd tell you not to buy the psu.
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a c 376 U Graphics card
March 1, 2012 4:08:41 PM

Why the 7700? The HD6850 is cheaper and better, the HD6870 the same price and much better.
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a c 191 U Graphics card
March 1, 2012 4:58:28 PM

Your system is severely limited by its older components (CPU, and a mobo that only supports 2000MT/s), but there is some room for improvement.
First, for $45, get this 380W Antec Earthwatts: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... because it is all you need to handle any GPU that won't be bottlenecked by your system.
Then, get this particular HIS HD5750: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Anything much stronger is going to be bottlenecked, AND, the IceQ cooler exhausts the card's heat. I suspect your case has minimal cooling capacity, so a card that leaves its heat in your case may cause problems. This cooler is also quiet, and effective. There is a HD5770 (and a HD6870) with this cooler also, but they look like they may be too long for your case, and the HD6870 would certainly be wasted.
The other GPU option you may wish to consider is a HD7750. It uses so little power that you may not even need to replace your PSU and will produce very little heat. The only reasons it isn't my first choice for you is because I'd be concerned about compatibility with your mobo's older PCIE slot, and even though there isn't much, available HD7750 cards don't exhaust their heat.
The less you spend now, the more you can save toward a rebuild. You could buy stronger parts that could be moved later, but getting the ones I've listed you wouldn't move, leaving this system as a hand-me-down or working backup system.
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a b U Graphics card
March 1, 2012 5:14:38 PM

Onus said:
Your system is severely limited by its older components (CPU, and a mobo that only supports 2000MT/s), but there is some room for improvement.
First, for $45, get this 380W Antec Earthwatts: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... because it is all you need to handle any GPU that won't be bottlenecked by your system.
Then, get this particular HIS HD5750: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Anything much stronger is going to be bottlenecked, AND, the IceQ cooler exhausts the card's heat. I suspect your case has minimal cooling capacity, so a card that leaves its heat in your case may cause problems. This cooler is also quiet, and effective. There is a HD5770 (and a HD6870) with this cooler also, but they look like they may be too long for your case, and the HD6870 would certainly be wasted.
The other GPU option you may wish to consider is a HD7750. It uses so little power that you may not even need to replace your PSU and will produce very little heat. The only reasons it isn't my first choice for you is because I'd be concerned about compatibility with your mobo's older PCIE slot, and even though there isn't much, available HD7750 cards don't exhaust their heat.
The less you spend now, the more you can save toward a rebuild. You could buy stronger parts that could be moved later, but getting the ones I've listed you wouldn't move, leaving this system as a hand-me-down or working backup system.


It sounds like he may want to keep upgrading his PC as time goes on. When I upgrade, I keep an eye on possible future upgrades and try to pick my components accordingly. A 380 watt PSU is itself, going to be needed to be upgraded again if he gets anything but an entry-level video card. Try to pick newer parts that can still be carried over into another computer. I'd recommend at least a 550watt PSU and the HD7700 series GPU and in a year, plan on upgrading the mobo, cpu and ram and carry over the new PSU and GPU.
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a c 191 U Graphics card
March 1, 2012 5:55:34 PM

^No. This machine is a dead-end. Anything further is a rebuild, not an upgrade. Yes, he could buy a 600W PSU and move it to the new build, but then he'd need to put back the original HP PSU and remove the interim GPU. I'm still not sure that would make it useful, as the 6150SE IGP will struggle even with accelerated web pages. The 380W Earthwatts means he can leave whatever GPU he gets in it, and it can live on as somebody's web surfer.
If the OP wants to cut costs still more, the interim GPU can be something like a HD6570. It should play those games on low settings; would that be good enough? Personally, I'd think not, and buying that card you'd be risking wasting its price. Newegg might take it back if you pay a restocking fee and buy something more powerful from them. If you want to take that kind of risk, you might try to find something open box or on eBay/Craigslist, but that's still too risky for my tastes.
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a c 376 U Graphics card
March 1, 2012 6:00:36 PM

Cooling on cards with the power usage of these cards really is not relevant. An HD5750 for $113 really isn't a good choice for the money. You can get an HD6770 for $100($70 after rebate) right now.
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a c 191 U Graphics card
March 1, 2012 6:21:57 PM

Well, if he adds a fan to the case (assuming there isn't one now, just the PSU fan), that would probably work too, although that's another $8 for the fan. Some people play that game and win, but I never count rebates when doing price comparisons. YMMV.
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a c 376 U Graphics card
March 1, 2012 6:59:40 PM

Yeah, that's why I put the rebate in parenthesis. Pretty nice deal if it comes through. Even if not though it's still cheaper and better than the HD5750. I still disagree about the cooling. It just isn't really significant on cards with this power/heat profile.
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a c 191 U Graphics card
March 1, 2012 8:08:27 PM

I had a HD5770 in a PC-Q08R, and it did heat up some (hindered CPU cooling more than anything), even though that case has both intake and exhaust fans. Your suggestion is definitely a better card, but I think he might already be hitting a bottleneck. It's something to consider if he will move the card into a new rig rather than buying another one.
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a b U Graphics card
March 1, 2012 8:32:44 PM

Onus said:
^No. This machine is a dead-end. Anything further is a rebuild, not an upgrade. Yes, he could buy a 600W PSU and move it to the new build, but then he'd need to put back the original HP PSU and remove the interim GPU. I'm still not sure that would make it useful, as the 6150SE IGP will struggle even with accelerated web pages. The 380W Earthwatts means he can leave whatever GPU he gets in it, and it can live on as somebody's web surfer.
If the OP wants to cut costs still more, the interim GPU can be something like a HD6570. It should play those games on low settings; would that be good enough? Personally, I'd think not, and buying that card you'd be risking wasting its price. Newegg might take it back if you pay a restocking fee and buy something more powerful from them. If you want to take that kind of risk, you might try to find something open box or on eBay/Craigslist, but that's still too risky for my tastes.


So you recommend a 380 watt PSU that's already a dead end? Now he has two PSU's that are useless for anything other than surfing the web.
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a c 376 U Graphics card
March 1, 2012 8:47:39 PM

egilbe said:
So you recommend a 380 watt PSU that's already a dead end? Now he has two PSU's that are useless for anything other than surfing the web.

That is overstating things a lot. The EA-380D should be able to power even an HD6870 when paired with a CPU of moderate TDP and performance per watt is only going down with the introduction of 28nm GPUs.
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a c 191 U Graphics card
March 1, 2012 9:37:33 PM

If left in that machine, an EA-380D promises a long life indeed for anything else that might reasonably be added to it. I did mention he could buy a bigger PSU with plans to move it, but that will leave this old machine as essentially junk when he restores it. The EA-380D would allow it to remain useful for years, if only for things like web surfing, office applications, and older games.
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a b U Graphics card
March 2, 2012 3:04:38 PM

jyjjy said:
That is overstating things a lot. The EA-380D should be able to power even an HD6870 when paired with a CPU of moderate TDP and performance per watt is only going down with the introduction of 28nm GPUs.


ATI recommends at least a 500watt psu for the 6870 and a 450 watt psu for the HD5750. I have a friend who's replacing the Antec 380 earthwatts psu in her computer because there's not enough amps on the 12volt rail to power the GPU.
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a c 376 U Graphics card
March 2, 2012 4:12:26 PM

Those numbers are entirely fabricated and should be ignored. It's quite possible your friend wasted a good chunk of money if AMD was the only basis she used when deciding to replace the power supply.
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a b U Graphics card
March 2, 2012 4:52:39 PM

jyjjy said:
Those numbers are entirely fabricated and should be ignored. It's quite possible your friend wasted a good chunk of money if AMD was the only basis she used when deciding to replace the power supply.


Let me spell this out for you. There is not enough amps on the 12 volt rail with 380 watts Earthwatts PSU. it works fine with a larger PSU.
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a b U Graphics card
March 2, 2012 4:59:32 PM

jyjjy said:
Those numbers are entirely fabricated and should be ignored. It's quite possible your friend wasted a good chunk of money if AMD was the only basis she used when deciding to replace the power supply.


http://forum-en.msi.com/faq/article/power-requirements-...
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a c 376 U Graphics card
March 2, 2012 5:39:51 PM

Thanks for the spelling lesson but checkout the "expert" under my name. I know what I'm talking about. Someone who quotes AMD's recommendations as if the matter does not, no offense. You have yet to say what card your friend was attempting to install and what the rest of the system consisted of so I cannot tell you if a new power supply was actually necessary but everything I have said is true.
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March 2, 2012 5:50:37 PM

Onus said:
Your system is severely limited by its older components (CPU, and a mobo that only supports 2000MT/s), but there is some room for improvement.
First, for $45, get this 380W Antec Earthwatts: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... because it is all you need to handle any GPU that won't be bottlenecked by your system.
Then, get this particular HIS HD5750: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Anything much stronger is going to be bottlenecked, AND, the IceQ cooler exhausts the card's heat. I suspect your case has minimal cooling capacity, so a card that leaves its heat in your case may cause problems. This cooler is also quiet, and effective. There is a HD5770 (and a HD6870) with this cooler also, but they look like they may be too long for your case, and the HD6870 would certainly be wasted.
The other GPU option you may wish to consider is a HD7750. It uses so little power that you may not even need to replace your PSU and will produce very little heat. The only reasons it isn't my first choice for you is because I'd be concerned about compatibility with your mobo's older PCIE slot, and even though there isn't much, available HD7750 cards don't exhaust their heat.
The less you spend now, the more you can save toward a rebuild. You could buy stronger parts that could be moved later, but getting the ones I've listed you wouldn't move, leaving this system as a hand-me-down or working backup system.



My PC currently has an Nvidia card, I don't really know the differences between that and the Radeon card you recommended, but a friend of mine has told me that if my machine had an Nvida card on it, I should stick with Nvidia. I don't really know either way.

and I appreciate all the input in this thread, I'm gonna try and order the parts tonight, I will update you guys on my final choices
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a c 376 U Graphics card
March 2, 2012 5:53:30 PM

There is no reason you cannot switch to an AMD card. Iwouldn't take any more tech advice from that friend.
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March 2, 2012 6:04:31 PM

jyjjy said:
There is no reason you cannot switch to an AMD card. Iwouldn't take any more tech advice from that friend.


ok, thanks for the clarification
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a c 191 U Graphics card
March 2, 2012 7:11:31 PM

GPU vendor power supply "requirements" are a vain attempt on their part to account for all the crappy PSU-shaped objects out there, that can only provide a fraction of what's on their labels. Some of them, like Diablotek, Logisys, and Apevia, should not be connected to computer equipment if there is any chance they may be accidentally plugged into an A/C power outlet at the same time.
A better reference to GPU power usage is at http://forums.atomicmpc.com.au/index.php?showtopic=264 where you can see that a single HD6870 has been measured to need only 155W (13A) running flat out. With a 95W CPU, you'll still need another 130W (mobo, drives, fans, and RAM) to reach the capacity of the 380W Earthwatts. Of course you'd only hit that load when benchmarking; even a demanding game would pull a lot less than the maximum.
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a b U Graphics card
March 2, 2012 9:59:03 PM

jyjjy said:
Thanks for the spelling lesson but checkout the "expert" under my name. I know what I'm talking about. Someone who quotes AMD's recommendations as if the matter does not, no offense. You have yet to say what card your friend was attempting to install and what the rest of the system consisted of so I cannot tell you if a new power supply was actually necessary but everything I have said is true.


Yeah, don't follow the recommendations of the manufacturers because they are vain. They don't have expert under their names, just PhD's in electrical engineering. I'm sure your qualifications over-ride any PhD. :ange: 
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a c 376 U Graphics card
March 2, 2012 10:13:06 PM

No, I'm certain anyone at AMD with half a brain knows that their recommendations are vast overkill. You'll often see Nvidia cards that use more power than their AMD counterparts have PSU recommendations 100w lower. The HD6870 uses 130w under normal gaming conditions. Where do they come up with the 500w number? They make it up by assuming a worst case scenerio: a fully decked out system with a high TDP processor and a no name junk PSU marketed under unreliable peak ratings rather than continuous usage like you'll find on quality brands.
As I said AMD's power recommendations can and should be ignored and I do not need a PHD to know that. I'll bet you also didn't go to jerk school and yet you've still managed to develop a quality level of disrespect for the advice of those who know better than you do. :p 
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a c 191 U Graphics card
March 2, 2012 10:23:03 PM

egilbe, your best interests might be served by refraining from posting until you have read a lot more threads, have learned more about the people around here, and can contribute useful information to a discussion. As things are, I don't believe I am the only one who does not believe you know what you're talking about. That can be a serious liability on a technical forum.
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a b U Graphics card
March 2, 2012 11:02:55 PM

Onus said:
egilbe, your best interests might be served by refraining from posting until you have read a lot more threads, have learned more about the people around here, and can contribute useful information to a discussion. As things are, I don't believe I am the only one who does not believe you know what you're talking about. That can be a serious liability on a technical forum.


Plan for the max power consumption of the PSU, add 30% for capacitor aging and you want the PSU to run between 60% and 85% of rated capacity for max efficiency. A 380 watt psu is inadequate for a modern video card. They were designed for integrated graphics. The HD6770 is designed to draw 150 watts of power through the PCI 2.0 bus and another 75watts from the PCI-e PEG connector. I'll agree it's probably not going to draw that much power all the time, but any engineer plans for the worst and hopes for the best. You two recommending such a low wattage for the OP is just absurd.
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a c 376 U Graphics card
March 2, 2012 11:39:24 PM

No, you are absurd. You simply don't know what you are talking about. Stop searching the web for anything you can find that you can use to question the facts we are explaining to you because you don't like being corrected. You don't understand what you are reading or how it relates to the question at hand. Here are some numbers for ACTUAL full system power usage with an HD6870, and by full system I mean the tech site's test systems, usually running an overclocked i7 using much more power than the OPs 89w TDP processor and under stress testing which pushes the system to as much power as possible AND the power readings are recorded from the wall, not the actual power output of the PSU so any inefficiency of the PSU(usually 85% or so) is included in these numbers when it is NOT included in the power output ratings of the EA-380D;









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a c 191 U Graphics card
March 2, 2012 11:49:13 PM

Hmmm, I think we've found the daily drone...

A HD5770 has been measured to draw 100W max, running flat out. It can get up to 75W of that from the PCIE slot.
Here's that link again: http://forums.atomicmpc.com.au/index.php?showtopic=264

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March 13, 2012 12:53:54 PM

Best answer selected by tcamp52.
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March 13, 2012 1:04:03 PM

hotthree said:
TBH your computer as is will be fine with a minor psu upgrade and graphics upgrade.

Anything else and your pretty much building a new pc. Which you might want to do down the road.

Overclocking = its like modding a car to go faster in the simpliest definition. You would in turn be modding your computer parts (graphics card/cpu/ram) to go faster and process information quicker. This in turns means more heat but better performance.

For now get a corsair 430watt builder series psu. these can be had for $30-$60. Then I'd look into buying an AMD 7750, 7770, or 7800 series card when they come out. The 7770 will be able to play most anything but you will have problems on BF3 with only 3gb of memory and that card. But sc2 and old republic will be fine. Those are not very demanding games. BF3 would almost require you to build a new system. Its pretty demanding on systems.

Do not upgrade to 64bit until you have at least 4-8gb + of memory..Basically 32bit limits the amount of memory your system will use to 3gb's...So if you have 8gb you can still only use 3gb etc.

Stay with 32bit unless you plan to upgrade your ram. Like I said you start adding all these parts you might as well build another computer.


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total = $190 (7750 will be cheaper but imo I'd stay at the 7770 and above. This will be a decent card if you ever do buy a new pc/upgrade)



I'm gonna go with this PSU and card, thanks for the help.
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a c 271 U Graphics card
March 13, 2012 8:02:00 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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