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165 posts

Master Geek
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Topic # 25798 2-Sep-2008 09:15
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Hi folks!


I've been readin' the forums, and doing homework, and now it's time for my virgin post...


Me:
I'm quite noobish - especially when talking about PC Specs - I dont know the diff between pci/pci-e/pci-x, and I get horribly lost knowing the difference between mobo's / PSU's etc...

I manage some people who know all this suff... but it's been a long long time since I had my hands on...

I'm tempted to build my HTPC myself, but I will probably get a shop to do it so they can take some responsibility for making sure all the parts are copmatabile and what not...
I would also be really tempted to just get a box from promax, or the like, but the forums suggest I'll get a much better outcome by spec 'n build myself(ish).

I feel like, what I really need, is a partner in crime... I think you lot will get sick of my noobish ways... we will see.


The Purpose:

 - Storage & playback of media (HD TV, Photos, Music)
 - Recording TV (HD)
 - Games... Yes, I guess I have to spec it to handle some gaming - BF2, Command & Conquer, etc
 - I do NOT need a high spec uber-machine that will handle max'd out graphics on every game.


I already have:

    - Panasonic 5.2 Surround sound system with bluray player (SC-BT105)
    - Freeview Encoder
    - 37 Inch Panasonic TV


I hope to be able to build something in the vague vicinity of $1000...

Case:      Silverstone LC16M

Motherboard: I have no idea!? So many choices, and no experience to tell which to choose... ?

CPU:     AMD Dual Core... ?

PSU:    ???

RAM:    2GB ?

OS:     Windows XP or Vista  (not especially fussed)

S/w:     Media Portal (probably).  (I'm running GB-PVR at the mo, but want to move to M-Portal)

Graphics:    NVidia GF 8600GT!??

Tuner:    Hauppauge HVR2200

HDD:    500GB SATA - Not fussy...

Periperals:    Wireless keyboard & Mouse

CD Player:    Very Basic CD/DVD reader. (write not essential - I can do it on my laptop)

Networking:    Ethernet + 802.11g/n (N not essential, but preferable).



I know I haven't given you much to go on... but if anyone can help me spec an appropriate case, mobo, etc, I'd be stoked!



Ed.

edit: I just made a decision on the case, and edited it into the list

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  Reply # 161636 2-Sep-2008 17:43
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Heres a build from C1, since they have a wide range of products to choose from and pretty cheap prices, but i get Computerlounge to price match it because i want good service.

Last two items, tuner card and Wireless N adapter were out of stock so i couldn't add to cart, so i tacked them on the bottom. I tried hard to stick to your $1000 budget though things like the wifi card pushed it over, not sure how flexible your budget is with so many parts.

Notes:
-RAM: Corsair make nice ram, theres all of $5 difference between 2gb ram prices.
-Power Supply: Pretty good quality one, 400w should easily power everything you need.
-Video card: 9600GT is a very good bang for buck card. It will play many older games on high settings and new games on medium settings. Its $80 more than a 8600GT with a lot more performance. The one i picked was just a random silent one, no idea on how reliable that cooler will be though, if you can allow one with a fan it keeps your options open and give you a cooler card.
-Hard drive: This one is fast, decent capacity and pretty quiet.
-CPU: e7200 is a pretty good processor, should run nice and cool.
-Case: I have the Silverstone Grandia GD-01 at the same price point which has a card reader also, but it was out of stock to list. Both are full ATX meaning they are quite large cases, about the size of a receiver/amp. Make sure you choose your case well ensuring it will fit where you put it with good airflow. Make measurements and check dimensions. Smaller cases use Micro ATX meaning you would need to get a MATX motherboard to ensure it fits, which isnt a problem if you choose to. The motherboard i listed is ATX.
-KB/Mouse: random cheap combo, you might prefer another
-Motherboard: As mentioned, its an ATX board meaning it will have plenty of slots for expansion. Has Gigabit LAN onboard and 8 channel audio. 4 SATA ports meaning you can connect 4 hard drives/dvd drives, you could get 6 with a more expensive board.
-Tuner Card: well you already know about this.
-Wireless Card: Cheapest PCI Wireless N card on the site, has a nice big antenna and linksys make good products.


Hope that helps.
*breathes*



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 161648 2-Sep-2008 18:27
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eXDee - you, are a champion!

My budget just got a little more flexible... :).  I'll spend what I need to, to get what I need...  :).  I'll work with your spec, and compare to similar build I'm looking at (like Kiwijunglist's).


 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 161676 2-Sep-2008 20:03
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No prob.

I advise you don't try and rush it, try and plan out what you want it to do, where it will be, how things will connect up etc so you dont run into hassles later on.
I suggest you start with the case since that limits what goes in it. You can go for a big one like the one i have or go for a smaller MATX one if you prefer, which isnt an issue, you can get MATX motherboards easily. Theres a wide range from $100 up to $500 for ones with built in IR receivers, volume knobs and LCD screens. I figured i wasnt going to pay much attention to what was on the case so i went with a good $150 one.
Take a look at the follow case manufactuer websites, looking into the ones labelled HTPC or Desktop.
http://www.silverstonetek.com/
http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Category.aspx?C=1147
http://www.antec.com/us/pro_enclosures.php



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 161679 2-Sep-2008 20:17
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Ok, Sorry eXDee - I should have explained earlier - I've decided to go for the popular Silverstone LC16...

 

For anyone else following the thread… here’s the current spec:

 

Case

Silverstone LC16-M

$332

PSU

Silverlight ST400

$75

MOBO

Gigabyte GA-EP31-DS3L

$120

CPU

Intel e7200

$200

RAM

Corsair Twin 2x2048-6400

$73

HDD

Caviar SE16 640GB

$133

Tuner

HVR-2200

$144

Video

9600GT Silent Heatpipe

$201

 

  edit: Total cost is $1480 including a couple of bits I didnt bother listing.  (Told you my budget got an upgrade :) )

 

I re-iterate… I really don’t know what I’m talking about, but I’ve done some research – looking at reviews, and talking to a couple of bods, and here are some questions / comments…

 

 

Motherboard –This mobo has no RAID controller – so only one disk?  Should I go for a RAID capable mobo for future possibilities?

 

CPU – e7200 – I have read that Intel is more expensive, and runs hotter than AMD… Am I happy with Intel?

 

Graphics: - No HDMI ‘converter’ on the 9600GT  – Do I need HDMI on my graphics card for recording HD properly?  Also, the reviews say you still need pretty good cooling to get the heat out of the case…

 

C1 – I figured out a way to add it to your cart (on backorder)… you just click on the link again on the ‘out of stock’ page.

 

Assembly – I see that C1 will assemble and install OS etc for $70 – sounds good to me! Do I trust them to do the build?

 

Budget - Finally, if I was going to spend another $100 - $200 - where should I spend it?

 

 

I'm starving - I must go home, eat, and log back on...

 

 

Edwood.


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  Reply # 161687 2-Sep-2008 21:21
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No no, my fault, i didnt read the part of your post which said which case you'd chosen.

Motherboard - RAID is where you combine hard disks together, either to create one large drive or mirroring eachother for redundancy. The wikipedia article on RAID is a good read. Combing them together isnt really a good idea unless you're also running them mirrored otherwise if one dies then you loose everything that was on both. It can get pretty complicated, i'd say just stick with hard drives as they are, and yes you can run multiple drives with no raid controller, they will just appear as seperate driver letters, which is what most people do anyway.

CPU - I went with intel because they are faster on the medium-high range for price. AMD are good on the Medium-Low. I'll admit that because you mentioned gaming i went with medium-high, probably due to my own gaming habits. I also chose intel because i originally i picked the e8200 but then realised this was over budget, so dropped it to an e7200 becase i already picked out an intel compatible motherboard. Same goes with the 9600GT suggestion, its bettter for gaming. When you said Command and Conquer i assumed you meant C&C3 which runs very nice on my 9600GT, would probably run at medium-lowish on the 8600GT, theres a pretty big difference. All these decisions all happened within the space of about 30s though, hope it makes sense.
You could probably go for AMD instead eg the 6000+, might be a better suggestion since games would still run perfectly fine, and you did say some gaming, not heaps. AMD does run cooler than intel, though the e7200 does run pretty cool for an intel processor.

So after that thinking out loud and me rambling pointlessly above, perhaps swap out the CPU for an AMD one, the 6000 perhaps, and the motherboard for something like the [GIGABYTE] GA-MA78G-DS3H  which has 6 sata ports and a couple of other features that intel compatible one didnt have, though its a bit more expensive.

*breathes*

Graphics - HDMI is essentially DVI with audio, so you could simply use a DVI-HDMI converter which ships with most video cards anyway. HDMI isn't needed for recording HD.
That galaxy brandc ard doesn't look all that great, if you still want silent then you could get this asus one but it might be a bit expensive, not sure who sells them here. I have this one in one of my main PCs which has a fan but it seems to make less noise than the CPU fan.

C1 - Cheers for the tip

Assembly - No idea what C1 are like on assembly, they are popular meaning they are quite busy. I like computerlounge personally, when they do assembly they do a 48 hour 'burn in' test to make sure that everything is setup correctly and stable. I plug them often because for my build they upgraded a couple of things for free and arranged price matches, and have given very good after sales service, such as replacing my tuner card which i broke for free

Budget - Argh you had to say this last. Nah, my first thoughts for a normal PC build would be to upgrade the processor and probably go with intel, but since its a HTPC you might want to go for luxuries or things that help with ease of use like a universal logitech harmony remote or perhaps even a Blu-ray drive instead ($280 minus 40 for the listed dvd drive). You might want another hard drive perhaps. Might want to use this for software budget even, the operating system?

Sorry for the wall of text, im getting a bit carried away here and writing way more than is necessary, i should really start doing some work or someting.



165 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 161709 2-Sep-2008 23:15
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OK, if we swap out the mobo and CPU as per your suggestion, the price remains exactly the same... I'm a little torn now between the two options, but maybe lets stick with AMD for now.

Ive also added a silent ASUS 9600GT card, and a universal remote, which I trust will operate my panasonic gear.

So...
Case Silverstone LC16-M $332
PSU Silverlight ST400 $75
MOBO Gigabyte GA-MA78G-DS3H   $150
CPU AMD ATHLON64 X2 6000+ WINDSOR 3.0GHZ $171
RAM Corsair Twin 2x2048-6400 $73
HDD Caviar SE16 640GB $133
Tuner HVR-2200 $144
Video EN9600GT/SILENT/HTDI/512M $240
Remote Logitech 525 Universal $83
  
CD/DVD/B-Ray DRW 2014S1T Black $43
  
802.11g/n WMP300N 115
  

KB & Mouse Wireless KB & Mouse $46

Total price currently around $1600 - about right.

OS: Pro's and Cons both ways. I'll prolly use MediaPortal, so dont HAVE to go Vista... which OS should I pick?


If we get 'happy' with these specs, I'll do a bit more research, and maybe start a new thread to solicit a last round of feedback.


Thoughts?



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  Reply # 161715 2-Sep-2008 23:54
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Oh C1 do sell that asus one, must have missed it.

The e7200 beats the 6000 for performance by a fair bit, and it runs pretty cool, it has to otherwise people wouldnt be overclocking it on stock cooling!
You pretty much have to choose between a faster cpu and a mobo with a couple less features (2 less sata ports and no firewire were what i noticed), and the slower CPU and a couple more features. Or you could get a slightly better motherboard with the e7200 and then the decision is a no brainer.

The lc16 case comes with a remote (imon made?) which mediaportal i think supports, and the logitech universal should be able to emulate the case remote as well as any other remotes you have. I think the only ones it has issues with are the ones using very short pulses, eg the Mysky HDi boxes.

I chose XP because i already had it, and i know it. However vista has its advantages with EVR, though hardware acceleration still works under VMR9 under XP perfectly fine.

Maybe you should start a new thread once you've decided with less of me posting a big wall of text which will surely put anyone off reading it and helping.

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  Reply # 161733 3-Sep-2008 06:52
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Wow eXDee you been drinking too much coffee or something? lol

OK have to thow up a red flag here.

The LC16-M is a great case BUT it will not fit a 9600GT or in fact currently any of the 9XXX series cards. This is because the video card is in line with the optical drive. It is IMHO the cases only down side but it is a big one for long video cards.

A 8600GT would be fine.







Media centre PC - Case Silverstone LC16M with 2 X 80mm AcoustiFan DustPROOF, MOBO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H, CPU AMD X2 240 under volted, RAM 4 Gig DDR3 1033, HDD 120Gig System/512Gig data, Tuners 2 X Hauppauge HVR-3000, 1 X HVR-2200, Video Palit GT 220, Sound Realtek 886A HD (onboard), Optical LiteOn DH-401S Blue-ray using TotalMedia Theatre Power Corsair VX Series, 450W ATX PSU OS Windows 7 x64



165 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 161743 3-Sep-2008 08:27
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Ahh... you have got to love the forums!

Thanks for the red flag Nety!

Consider me swapped to an 8600GT...  Oh my... there are like 25 different 8600GT's to choose from.  Do I need a silent one?  I think, yes... at least that limits my choices a bit...

8600GT or 8600GTS...

OK - GTS is faster, but I guess it's overkill.

Done... I'll swap out the 9600 for this Asus EN8600GT


Note: The AMD 6000+ CPU is the only thing I cant get (or get on backorder) from C1... anyone know how long it takes them to get more stock like this?
I want to get C1 to build the box for me, so I really need to get everything from them.
I have also compared prices, and Computer Lounge are about 5%-10% more expensive, and ascent are 15% (40% more for the case).  Also, neither Computer Lounge or Ascent have all the parts.


Did I ask about OS already?  Someone told me MediaPortal needs MCE under it... surely not!


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  Reply # 161830 3-Sep-2008 13:04
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The GTS is faster for games but is an older chip which does not fully support hardware decoding so correct choice going with the 8600GT. That card will be fine just make sure you have good airflow in the case. ie put fans on the two rear ports as a minimum.

Don't forget that Ascent and I think now computerlounge have free shipping which brings the price down.

I would check that the web sites are correct for stock. Acsent are the most reliable for this but even they have been wrong for me in the past. You would have to check when the next lot of 6000+ CPU's will be in with C1. Also if you are getting it put together how does that cost compare between the different places? Hmm looks like Ascent have stopped doing this now.







Media centre PC - Case Silverstone LC16M with 2 X 80mm AcoustiFan DustPROOF, MOBO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H, CPU AMD X2 240 under volted, RAM 4 Gig DDR3 1033, HDD 120Gig System/512Gig data, Tuners 2 X Hauppauge HVR-3000, 1 X HVR-2200, Video Palit GT 220, Sound Realtek 886A HD (onboard), Optical LiteOn DH-401S Blue-ray using TotalMedia Theatre Power Corsair VX Series, 450W ATX PSU OS Windows 7 x64



165 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 161858 3-Sep-2008 14:36
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The specs on the LC16 case say:
Cooling System 
lntemal 2 x 92mm or 80mm fan slots
Rear 2 x 80mm exhaust fan, 2050rpm, 21dBA
Front 1 x 80mm fan slots

I believe the two rear fans are 'provided' with the case.

Q1 - Am I happy with these fans? ie. I don't need to replace 'em with 'silent' fans?

Q2 - OS... I'm still labouring over it, but I think I might take Windows Vista Ultimate - do i need more memory?

Q3 - CPU Alternative? Apart from going back to the Intel Mobo/CPU, is there a better (maybe available) CPU I could choose?



Thanks guys... you are flippin wonder-lads (safe gender assumption).


Here's how it's lookin...
Case Silverstone LC16-M $332
PSU Silverlight ST400 75
MOBO Gigabyte GA-MA78G-DS3H   $150
CPU AMD ATHLON64 X2 6000+ WINDSOR 3.0GHZ $171
RAM Corsair Twin 2x2048-6400 $73
HDD Caviar SE16 640GB 133
Tuner HVR-2200 $144
http://www.c1com.co.nz/shop/images/wishcart.gif
Video
EN8600GT SILENT/HTDP/512M $139
Sound 8-Channel audio on board $0
OS / S/W Vista Ultimate $291
EPG MediaPortal + Whatever
 
KB & Mouse Wireless KB & Mouse $46
802.11g/n WMP300N $115
CD/DVD/B-Ray DRW 2014S1T Black 43
Remote Logitech 525 Universal $83
Assembly & OS    $70
Delivery   $0
Total $$$   $1,865





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  Reply # 161864 3-Sep-2008 14:53
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Edwood:
I believe the two rear fans are 'provided' with the case.

Q1 - Am I happy with these fans? ie. I don't need to replace 'em with 'silent' fans?

Q2 - OS... I'm still labouring over it, but I think I might take Windows Vista Ultimate - do i need more memory?

Q3 - CPU Alternative? Apart from going back to the Intel Mobo/CPU, is there a better (maybe available) CPU I could choose?


I purchased after market fans as per my sig but then noise is a real thing for me. I wanted to be sure that the media centre would be as quiet as possable.
At 21db  those fans should  be fine. You can always turn on whatever the motherboard has to manage the fan speed. I have my fans running at half speed and they still push though enough air to keep everything cool.

Nope Vista runs just fine on 2 gig.

I think you could drop down a speed on the CPU and still be fine. I am running on a 3800+ and can play 1080 HD using software decoding so anything over 3800+ should be fine. I also could play COD4 with most things on high when the hardware was in my gaming PC (different video card though).







Media centre PC - Case Silverstone LC16M with 2 X 80mm AcoustiFan DustPROOF, MOBO Gigabyte MA785GT-UD3H, CPU AMD X2 240 under volted, RAM 4 Gig DDR3 1033, HDD 120Gig System/512Gig data, Tuners 2 X Hauppauge HVR-3000, 1 X HVR-2200, Video Palit GT 220, Sound Realtek 886A HD (onboard), Optical LiteOn DH-401S Blue-ray using TotalMedia Theatre Power Corsair VX Series, 450W ATX PSU OS Windows 7 x64

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  Reply # 161914 3-Sep-2008 17:24
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Nety: Wow eXDee you been drinking too much coffee or something? lol

OK have to thow up a red flag here.

The LC16-M is a great case BUT it will not fit a 9600GT or in fact currently any of the 9XXX series cards. This is because the video card is in line with the optical drive. It is IMHO the cases only down side but it is a big one for long video cards.

A 8600GT would be fine.

Nah i don't actually drink coffee. Just got carried away i spose, procrastination does that to ya.

Edwood: I have also compared prices, and Computer Lounge are about 5%-10% more expensive, and ascent are 15% (40% more for the case).  Also, neither Computer Lounge or Ascent have all the parts.


Did I ask about OS already?  Someone told me MediaPortal needs MCE under it... surely not!


With computerlounge they don't list absolutely every part on earth on their site like C1 does. What i did was spec it up with C1 and sent off the list to computerlounge who price matched it as well as upgrading my chosen 8400GS to a 8500GT due to the next NZ shipment being a week off, and upgraded my 400w power supply to a 500w (same brand/series). Free shipping + no credit card fee was a bonus.

Mediaportal doesn't need to run on MCE. You can run it on XP home if you wanted (some do). Vista ultimate i think would be excessive for a HTPC, since i can't think what features it offers that you'd need for a dedicated HTPC box, unless you're connecting to some corporate domain or something. I think the extra $100 or whatever could be spent on something better.

RE: 8600GT, i picked out the 9600GT because you mentioned occasional gaming, the 8600GT has considerable less performance for gaming but is easily enough for video decoding. You should be able to play games on it on medium/low though at a guess.



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Master Geek
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  Reply # 161949 3-Sep-2008 20:20
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OK, I'll try getting directly in touch with ComputerLounge, and see how I go... they don't even list the case, but we shall see.

I'd love a sweet graphics card for my occasional gaming, but the 9600GT wont fit in the case, so I'm stuck with the 8600GT.

OS... I'm still labouring over this one. I will probably connect over a VPN to my work... but maybe not, maybe I'll just keep using my laptop for that.  I'm nervous about not having MCE as a backup... but at least I know it's not a critical decision...

Question: What should I do with the extra money (say $100 - $200)?  More memory? More CPU? Is there another graphics card I could/should upgrade to?


Oh - I've been thinking about adding another disk to make backups of the data... if I have all my music and photos etc... then maybe.... I guess the best way to do this is with Raid-0?  (Mirroring)... but would this add too much heat/noise?  It doesn't seem to be a very popular option.


Oh - I checked the measurements of my new cabinet today (gets delivered in 3 weeks) - the LC16M fits nicely, so there's nothing stopping me going ahead now!  I can't wait to post my photo's up to the show 'n tell forum... you guys will have to get rolling credits :)

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  Reply # 161973 3-Sep-2008 21:38
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Computerlounge might be able to check if any models of the 9600GT will fit if you ask nicely, they checked that my tuner card would fit the replacement motherboard when it didnt fit my original one i chose.

Home premium comes with MCE so you could go for that if you're worried about it.

RAID 0 gives redundancy and a speed boost too. You'd probably want a motherboard with a good RAID controller, many have them but i don't know what they are like so cant reccommend a specific one.
As for sound/heat, hard drives aren't usually an issue for heat but as for sound you shouldnt have much of an increase, most fans will be louder than it unless they are all 120mm i think.

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