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Dell/Alienware Area 51

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November 15, 2009 12:27:56 PM

What do people think of the new Area 51? Sounds ludicrously powerful:

Microsoft Operating System
Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64bit- English

1.8GB NVIDIA® GeForce™ GTX260 graphics card

Memory
6GB 1066MHz (3x2GB) Tri Channel Memory

Hard Drive
640 GB Serial ATA non Raid (7200 Rpm)


But would all applications/games etc work on the 64-bit windows?

More about : dell alienware area

November 16, 2009 12:12:46 AM

xmrb2003x said:
What do people think of the new Area 51? Sounds ludicrously powerful:

Microsoft Operating System
Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64bit- English

1.8GB NVIDIA® GeForce™ GTX260 graphics card

Memory
6GB 1066MHz (3x2GB) Tri Channel Memory

Hard Drive
640 GB Serial ATA non Raid (7200 Rpm)


But would all applications/games etc work on the 64-bit windows?


I would not call it "ludicroulsy" powerful.
The 64 bit OS is mainstream today.
The GTX 260 graphics card is about 2 years old and there are many much more powerful ones - nVdia has about 4 more powerful ones itself - each more powerful than the other. And since you did not mention SLI or Crossfire - I assume it does not have that which makes many more systems more powerful.
You did not say what CPU but with tri-channel memory I am guess i7-XXX.
Probably is a very fast system for most applications and fair at the upper end of mainstream gaming.

Most games and applications have 64-bit versions now, you just need to make sure you have one of those later versions and not the earlier 32- bit only ones.
November 16, 2009 4:24:33 AM

Whenever I hear or see someone talk about Alienware, I immediately think OVERPRICED! They are very powerful once you get start getting into their customizations, but think about this: I got a more powerful computer than the one you mentioned in Canada (where computer cost like 10%+ more) for $1800. And that's one built by a local PC retailer, so it includes their payment to put it all together too. The profit Alienware takes on their systems gets even larger as you add on features. For instance getting an additional 1tb hard drive costs $125 for that system you mentioned, and on newegg.com you can find ones for around $90.

I would recommend going out and seeing if there are any reputable PC builders in your area and getting them to build one for you if you aren't a person who likes to build your own (which is what I am assuming because you were talking about Alienware). Also, you will likely get a motherboard which is higher quality along with RAM which is a lot faster.

And for your question about the 64-bit OS: Everything will work except maybe computer accessories like printers and scanners you have lying around from more than 5 years ago.
Related resources
November 16, 2009 1:10:29 PM

jrocks84 said:
And for your question about the 64-bit OS: Everything will work except maybe computer accessories like printers and scanners you have lying around from more than 5 years ago.


That is not true about software. One application I used, Dragon Naturally Speaking, only came out with 64-bit compatible software about a year ago and Final Draft a little more. Earlier versions of their software is not compatible. It would not surprise me if such was the case with other software.
November 18, 2009 2:16:28 AM

I'd imagine that a program like that has it's own drivers because of the sound component. Still, most programs will run properly with 64 bit operating systems. Oh and you need 64 bit to use more than 3.25 GB of RAM, and any new gaming computer should have 4GB+.
a b } Memory
November 18, 2009 4:08:30 AM

jrocks84 said:
I'd imagine that a program like that has it's own drivers because of the sound component. Still, most programs will run properly with 64 bit operating systems. Oh and you need 64 bit to use more than 3.25 GB of RAM, and any new gaming computer should have 4GB+.


You're correct. You do need a 64 bit OS to use more than 3.25GB of RAM. However, you'll be hard pressed to use more than 3GB of RAM.

I'll agree with Alienware being overpriced though. You're paying for the name. By the way, Dell now owns Alienware, so you're paying for Dell parts disguised as Alienware.
November 22, 2009 6:39:48 PM

Alienware/Dell - don't do it!!
There are plenty of real easy threads just on this forum to enable you to built something much better, much cheaper, and much more upgradeable. Just think of it like high tech meccano.
November 22, 2009 7:55:09 PM

jrocks84 said:
I'd imagine that a program like that has it's own drivers because of the sound component. Still, most programs will run properly with 64 bit operating systems. Oh and you need 64 bit to use more than 3.25 GB of RAM, and any new gaming computer should have 4GB+.


Yes Dragon Naturally Speaking has a "sound" component - but Final Draft does not. And how is that different than any other softeare that interacts with hardware - like backup programs, music programs, DVD burning programs, etc. People should not so cavalierly assume their operating system will work with a 64 bid operating system unless the application states the compatibility. I give you specific examples proving your advice wrong - so you come back and say it still is valid except for the case I gave and explained it away with an explanation that only applied to one.

I posed the compatibility question to Google and these are the top two responses turned up in Google. They are a little dated but the concept has not changed. They also point out another consideration you neglected - some 32 bit software has 16 bit code that is not compatible with a 64 bit OS.

http://www.dansdata.com/askdan00001.htm
http://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/1426/vista_64_bit_or_32_...

Want some more links that talk about problems - such as 32 bit applications including 16 bit code:
http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/32-bit-and-64-b...
http://topnews.us/content/21532-computer-helper-64-bit-...

Bottom line - check your programs don't assume.
December 8, 2009 2:44:42 AM

I don't intend to hijack the thread, but I feel it is relevant. I do apologize for the long post, but I could really use some help.

<optional history>
A little background: I have always built my own systems, relying on tomshardware and similar sites, usually newegg for my parts. 2 years ago I decided I wanted a mobile gaming platform, so I could "be in the same room as the wife" and it count as quality time. I purchased a Dell XPS m1730. Yes it was overpriced, but I got a Dell credit account and 18 months no interest, so I did it. I generally liked the system, but had some issues with overheating and system lockups. After some horrible customer service issues, I got a replacement, gaining a +2 GB memory, faster processor (T8300), and larger hard drive, which was a nice bonus. It has been fine since, just not overwhelming. However, I starting to regret the purchase, and wished I had chosen a desktop, so I could upgrade components. This time I wanted to build, but with 2 new children since the XPS, and budgets and such tight, I opted to use my Dell credit account.
</optional history>

I must say, the Alienware Area-51 is beautiful. Yes I could build one cheaper, heck, even cyberpowerpc has the same build for $1k less. But the Dell warranty is worth it. The people you talk to might challenge your patience, but if you can get past that, having full system replacement as an option (they replace with something equivalent at the time) years later really makes it worth it, should you need it.

Ok, that said, the Alienware just came in, and I have already had some issues. First, the Creative Labs Titanium X-Fi when a mic is connected to the front-panel is causing weird feedback issues, to the point I had to literally rip the headphones off my head for fear of bursting my ear drums. The system, card, and headset were ordered from Dell/Alienware. I also had a few bluescreens within the first few days. Usually I wouldn't care, and just chalk it up to Windows. Checking the event logs, it was getting tons of "bad block" errors. I did notice drive performance was slower than I expected.

Then, I happened to check a new Area 51, and noticed they just released the ATI 5970, of course, just after I got mine with a 5870, so I was a bit upset. I called Dell to have my issues addressed, and got the typical "The Dell Experience." (I know it is busy with the season and all). I finally got somenoe to log the issues, and say he would replace the drive and sound card. He said the mic issue was known. After asking, he confirmed they would send refurbished parts - "that's the Dell system" as he said it.

So I finally called customer care to discuss a return - I was still within 21 days. I did not want to regret another purchase. They offered a replacement system completely instead, but could not replace any components. Even though I offered to pay any difference, they would not upgrade the video card. I know hardware sometimes has issues, it was the no-upgrade and support issues that drove me over the edge.

I spent the next 3 hours of my life on hold and re-dialing. Details available here if interested: http://twitter.com/ogreinside

In the end, I am returning the system. I still have my credit account, so I am open to re-purchasing one. I know it might be stupid, given the issues I have had, but I know the system is solid. It is really fast, and has nice touches like "scales" on top that move as the CPU usage increases. Very impressive.

So, I would love nothing more than to build it myself, but deferring payment is #1 priority to the wife, so if I get a system it has to be Dell.

From what I read, the ATI 5970 is actually clocked slower than the 5870, should I worry about this? I'm sure by the time I'm ready to drop in a 2nd 5970, there will be something better altogether.

As far as drives, I never ran any specific tests, but games loaded about the same speed as on my XPS. The "Windows 7" x64 experience was as follows:

Processor (i7 920): 7.4
Memory (6GB 1333 DDR3): 7.7
Graphics: 7.8
Gaming graphics: (ATI 5870): 7.8
Hard disk (fake-raid 0 2x 7200 rpm SATA-II 1TB): 5.9

My XPS has 2x 500 GB 7200 rpm drives also using fake-raid, which also scores 5.9.

I want to get the ATI 5970, which is another $250. I can also replace the 2 drives with 1x SATA-II 10k rpm 300GB drive for the same price, or spend a couple hundred more for the 256GB SSD. I don't know any specifics about the SSD, unless anyone else does? I think the 300 GB drive is the Raptor, not sure though.

My budget is around $3000, and with that this is what I got a month ago. However, I did get the 18 months no interest, which I would only get 12 months if I re-order. Also, a manager called me back from Dell after revewing my account, and is desperate to get me to re-order. He is offering to expedite the return, and offer several hundred (no hard number yet) discount. I would love to upgrade the CPU, but the 960 is $500 more. I figure just replacing the CPU with a next gen one would be the smart thing to do.

I use this system primarily for gaming, games like Left 4 Dead 2, Modern Warfare 2, Dragon's Age, WoW, and anything else Steam puts out. I also do a bit of video editing, and encoding (though typically overnight batch runs). I'm not usually one for overclocking, but I'm open to any options. I'd like the fastest I can get with as much future-proof as possible.

Many thanks in advance.

Vinny

Edit: spelling, added history tag, and slightly changed language about Dell support to not bash as much :) 
December 8, 2009 9:57:56 PM

Looks like the SSD they offer is the Samsung PM800. I'm having trouble finding a direct comparison to a 10K rpm drive. They are both roughly the same size, but the SSD is about double the price. I'm OK with that, as long as this model performs better than a 10k in real-world gaming. Anybody using that drive?
December 8, 2009 10:17:50 PM

My other option would be getting 2x 10k rpm 300 GB drives, and using Win7 x64 software raid. Think that would work around any on-board raid controller issues, if any?

I'm going to test single drive and software raid on my existing rig, it is going back tomorrow.
December 11, 2009 8:29:18 AM

Well, you probably know that I don't like the prices of Alienwares, but if you have to buy there, I suggest you stick with an i7 920 if you are ever considering overclocking. The 960 is exactly the same cpu, just binned higher (although it is a pretty significant amount). But since you probably don't want the warranty to be voided, this may be a good upgrade.

As for the video card, unless you are playing Crysis or have a 2560x1600 monitor, the 5870 is good for almost everything. That said, for $250 more, you get a significantly faster card.

As for the SSD, since it's Samsung, it likely won't give near the performance of SSD's such as Intel's. For double the price of a Velociraptor, I'd say it isn't worth it. Here's a good link for info about Samsung SSD's: http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3631&p=...
December 12, 2009 12:25:04 AM

Good points, thank you. I can't believe Alienware would use such a bad drive, I'm glad I didn't just grab it impulsively. I'm definitely going to wait on an SSD until they are more mature.

I'm also not going with any onboard ICH raid for now. It may just be me and my friend, but this machine, my previous XPS m1730 and his XPS all using ICH raid have had boot issues. Just rebooting several times in a row it would happen to me, requiring a Windows repair boot (bootrec /fixboot and /fixmbr). Anyway, I'm going with a 10k drive, I'm pretty sure it is the WD VR. For storage, I have a WD 1 TB MyBook with eSata that is probably good enough, otherwise they have some large drives to choose from. I posted here too in the Storage section if anyone was interested, with some benchmarks between ICH raid 0 and single drive: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/253906-32-samsung-pm8...

I agree on the video card, I'd like to future proof as much as possible, funny statement as that is (damn you, Moore!).

Last thing I'm considering is a new option I saw recently. They offer an i7 920 overclock option for $200 more, taking it to 3.2 GHz. Nice option since they would warranty it, and I'd get roughly 960 speeds for $300 cheaper.
December 12, 2009 2:02:36 AM

I unfortunately don't know enough about raid to comment on that, but it's such a shame that the OEM's use such a low performance SSD. I'm assuming it's so that the customers don't gasp at the rather small capacity of the far more speedy drives or simply their cost.

That overclocking option looks quite nice. It might run a slight bit hotter with a bit higher voltages than a 960, but for $300 less, go for it. If you're starting to run out of budget though, the video card upgrade should take precedence.
December 14, 2009 5:57:15 PM

Well I have to thank you once again for that anandtech link. I had come across a couple of articles in my search, but since I was only looking for "Samsung PM800", that article never came up since he is actually covering the OCZ Summit - which is an OEM'd Samsung PM800 it seems.

I spent all weekend reading that entire article, and the 2 previous ones he did on SSDs. Very informative and interesting stuff. The comments in that article also mention some people in a similar situation - (have to get an SSD through Dell due to purchasing), and those that did report really bad performance-over-time. He used a WD VR for all his tests, though I wish he would have included 2x WD VR in RAID0 - roughly the same cost as some of the SSDs for comparison.

So anybody reading this for help with a Dell/Alienware choice, stay fully clear of the Samsung SSD for now. Aside from the random r/w performance and issues when the drive is nearly full, any firmware updates are pretty much non-accessible to consumers, even the OEMs have to go back to Samsung for that. TRIM does address some of these issues, but there is no TRIM support in sight for RAID, so I'm definitely waiting. A single WD VR was close to and even as fast as or faster than some SSDs in certain tests. Overall the right SSD would certainly blow it away, but it seems I don't have that choice through Dell. Either way, the first upgrade for this system is absolutely an SSD in about a year.

Here is some more supporting information:

http://lh3.ggpht.com/_pTy2xto-ivU/ShfSDHjnKYI/AAAAAAAAA...[5].jpg

http://www.samsung.com/global/business/semiconductor/pr...

http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals/954524
December 15, 2009 9:24:47 PM

Final system build:

1 224-6948 BASE,PHOBOS,ANW-DT,AREA 51
1 317-3616 Overclocked Intel Core i7 920 (3.2GHz, 8MB Cache)
1 317-2498 6GB Triple Channel 1333MHz DDR3
1 320-8782 Single ATI Radeon HD 5970, 2GB GDDR5
1 342-0273 300GB - SATA-II, 3Gb/s, 10k RPM, 16MB Cache HDD
1 421-2064 Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium, 64bit, English
1 313-9200 24X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW)
1 950-3338 2 Year Limited Warranty
1 330-5817 Alienware High-Performance Liquid Cooling

Total was over $3k, but not much. Wife will kill me, but I have a few lives left.
a b } Memory
December 15, 2009 10:00:36 PM

Nice system. A little overpriced, but very nice.

Just let your wife play on it a little bit, she'll forget about the $$.
December 16, 2009 12:40:03 AM

aford10 said:

Just let your wife play on it a little bit, she'll forget about the $$.


But what if she does fall in love with it and demands equal time? Or worse, wants another $3000 PC just like it. Or the worst, finds all his links to chat sights, his emails to female friends, and his date book.
a b } Memory
December 16, 2009 8:38:55 AM

Then it might be cheaper to buy a new wife.
December 16, 2009 4:08:07 PM

ogreinside said:
Final system build:

1 224-6948 BASE,PHOBOS,ANW-DT,AREA 51
1 317-3616 Overclocked Intel Core i7 920 (3.2GHz, 8MB Cache)
1 317-2498 6GB Triple Channel 1333MHz DDR3
1 320-8782 Single ATI Radeon HD 5970, 2GB GDDR5
1 342-0273 300GB - SATA-II, 3Gb/s, 10k RPM, 16MB Cache HDD
1 421-2064 Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium, 64bit, English
1 313-9200 24X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW)
1 950-3338 2 Year Limited Warranty
1 330-5817 Alienware High-Performance Liquid Cooling

Total was over $3k, but not much. Wife will kill me, but I have a few lives left.



Hi there, I was looking at your build. you have the i7 920 as OC to 3.2. In fact the i7 920 is 2.66. The new BIOS that just came out will let you oc that 920 from 2.66 to 3.2 for free. The i7 960 is 3.2 and cost $500. Dell will OC the i7 920 from 2.66 to 3.2 for $200.Do it for free.
December 16, 2009 4:30:29 PM

rockyjohn said:
Or the worst, finds all his links to chat sights, his emails to female friends, and his date book.

That's what Linux is for, she'll never figure out how to log in :) 

aford10 said:
Then it might be cheaper to buy a new wife.

I hear it is very expensive to change wives. But then, I hear it may be worth it, YMMV. :) 

geno777 said:
Do it for free.

I completely understand where you are coming from. My thinking was that I had $200 left on my budget (this is on a Dell Financial account, I haven't paid a cent yet), so that meant either another WD VR to run RAID0 on the ICH controller that I don't fully trust, rebranded keyboard and mouse (their mouse looks like a Logitech G9, which I have), or having the factory OC the CPU so if I have any issues in the future it will be under warranty. Since I don't normally OC things myself because of the warranty, this seemed like my best choice. I can always add drives and peripherals as needed.
December 16, 2009 6:16:41 PM

ogreinside said:
That's what Linux is for, she'll never figure out how to log in :) 


I hear it is very expensive to change wives. But then, I hear it may be worth it, YMMV. :) 


I completely understand where you are coming from. My thinking was that I had $200 left on my budget (this is on a Dell Financial account, I haven't paid a cent yet), so that meant either another WD VR to run RAID0 on the ICH controller that I don't fully trust, rebranded keyboard and mouse (their mouse looks like a Logitech G9, which I have), or having the factory OC the CPU so if I have any issues in the future it will be under warranty. Since I don't normally OC things myself because of the warranty, this seemed like my best choice. I can always add drives and peripherals as needed.



I myself have bought Dell PC for years. And have a DFA. I am currently building my own ( slow process+$$$ ).I am a member of the Dell forums also. OC the AW will not void the warranty. Something you might want to do,what I did is buy some of your parts from Dell. I have did this. I bought some OCZ ram from them and a stick went out,after talking will support and telling them I bought it from Dell they replaced it and had a guy put it in. My XPS 710 is still under warranty..


Good luck and let us know how you like the AW PC.
December 16, 2009 6:30:01 PM

Good to know, I could never get a straight answer when asking sales about OC support, but he was clear that anything from the factory is supported. I suppose I should have posted in the Dell forums first. Oh well, I'm not going to loose TOO much sleep thinking about it, I've done that enough already :) 

Thanks.
December 16, 2009 6:55:37 PM

But you could have applied that $200 towards the new PC for your wife.
December 16, 2009 10:59:21 PM

rockyjohn said:
But you could have applied that $200 towards the new PC for your wife.


If you put it that way, she may chose to trade ME in. I can hear it now: "you'd rather pay someone to flip a BIOS setting than buy me a pink compact camera??".

One more thing to lose sleep over :) 

December 29, 2009 4:37:16 PM

It is only cheaper if you assign little value to your own time. If you place any reasonable value on all the hours spent learning about components, configuring the PC, ordering and inspecting parts, assemblying the PC, installing the OS, and testing the system, then it is not cheaper. And I can't beleive you say it is easier. How in the world do you figure that?
a b } Memory
December 29, 2009 5:34:44 PM

It depends on if you know what you're doing, and are familiar with the good deals.

It may not necessarily have value in dollars, but the value would be in the better price/performance build.

It's obviously not easier than buying one though. It's pretty easy to pull out a card and hand it to a cashier. Though, it's just as painful.
January 1, 2010 4:19:46 PM

And if I had the cash, I would definitely do it myself. As I stated, I'm using a Dell Financial credit account, also used a 17% EPP coupon (it is nice to know people, employees can give them out to family/friends, as I am not an employee), using 12-month no-interest, and because of the issues I had with before, they actually gave me $150 credit - not a lot, but still shows they wanted to keep me as a customer. I will happily upgrade my own parts, add an Intel SSD soon (working on wife for that one, wish me luck).

If you go to spec out the same system I got now at alienware.com, it is right at $2500 without any discounts, with the standard warranty, and before tax/shipping. I just went to NewEgg and pieced together as similar a system as I could. The only difference is the case I chose comes with a 750W PSU, whereas my Alienware has a 1100W. Here is my public wishlist, though I believe you have to login to see it: https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.as...

Current price is just under $2300, and that's with some instant rebates, but before tax/shipping. So that's roughly $200 difference for having a reputable company build, test and support the system. I added 2 year warranty to mine, so that's another $229. After my 17% discount, and considering the difference in PSU, I'd say there isn't much of a price difference. I certainly don't see how it is "much cheaper and easier".
January 1, 2010 4:26:00 PM

By the way, I absolutely love the system. I pulled out the 5970 so I could hug it (I used an ESD strap, I promise!). Here it is next to my iPhone:
http://img707.yfrog.com/i/ati5970andiphone.png/

I'm running at 3840x1200 with 24" and 27" monitors using an ATI Eyefinity group. I wish I had similar monitors, or even a 3rd one, but this is still amazing. Street Fighter, Burnout, RE5 - all play at 60 FPS with every effect turned up. Ok, enough typing, time to enjoy my system!
May 12, 2010 9:27:20 AM

hey what is cpu binning
June 4, 2010 8:22:39 PM

Just my 3 cents...I have always built my pcs and upgraded them along the way and was pricing everything to do it again after a motherboard died. I was scheming building a higher end system with the ASUS Rampage III, 12gb corsair RAM, Corsair 1000w PSU, 2X5870 Crossfire (1 now, 1 later), i7-930 maybe the 6-core 980x, 80gb ssd, Corsair Obsidian 800d case, etc. -- the usual suspects.
I found a refurbished Alienware Area-51 ALX on eBay but a lesser video card and no SSD. I asked if he could swap out the video card for a 5870 and I paid the difference. It came with full Dell warranty and I bougth it thru Bing and got 8% off. I went to MicroCenter and bought an OCZ Vertex 2 100gb SSD for a little over $400, bringing my cost up to only $2100. My personal build would have been quite a bit more and I wouldn't have done anything more than a Corsair H50 cpu coller in terms of liquid cooling.
This pc is a work of art, inside and out. Sure it has the lights on the sides and front and top that can easily be changed to any color individually using the AlienFX sw, and the motorized fins on the top. It is ridiculously huge and heavy but I'm not moving it. Both side panels are hinged at the front and open with a pull on the back fin. The internal design is what I'm impressed with: when you open a side, internal work lights come on (powered by their own batteries). On one side there are 6 hd bays and I simply slide some of my SATA hds into the slots and closed the door. Genius design, similar to looking in a Mac G5 the first time.
On the motherboard side, they've done a great clean job of hiding cables, there's more bays for other hds and opticals (I put my SSD in one), a separation between the PSU and the mb, plenty of room and power for another 5870, and a openable cable sleeve to peel out sata and power connectors. It is really been designed by people that have been there in countless frustrating cramped builds. Came with the XiFi Titanium sound card and 6gb RAM (I'[ll add 6gb more).
Win7 was installed on a 640gb partioned sata drive and everything worked after I coneected it my two monitors. I reinstalled the os onto the ssd, did updates, installed the AW sw and was back to life in about an hour. I didn't use it long enough with booting from the hd vs the ssd, but it is fantastic as it is now, booting off the SSD, I put the games and programs I care most about on the SSD, all my downloads and temp files (like for Win and photoshop, browsers, etc.) are located on two 400gb WD drives in RAID1. I will probably add the 6gb RAM, then another 5870 and maybe another OCZ SSD (RAID0) in that order over time, but for now I am ecstatic with what I've ended up with for the $$.
Just wanted to say that I NEVER thought I'd be happy with a system put together by someone else, but if you look around you can sometimes find some sweet deals that bring you close to where you dreamt of going. This system rocks!
September 8, 2010 8:24:24 PM

I just bought a refurbished Area 51 from the dell outlet for 1557 with tax

Core i7 920
6gb ddr3 1333
2 x hd5870 in Xfire
2 x 640 gb in "RAID 0"
plus warranty and "support" for a year.

You can definately get god deal on a prebuilt that is cheaper than a DYI if you look about
September 21, 2010 4:34:23 AM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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