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Hardware

During a presentation held in Taiwan, motherboard manufacturer ASRock unveiled their latest HEDT X99 chipset motherboards which include the X99 Extreme 6, X99 Extreme 4 and X99 Killer. XFastest was able to grab shots of these new motherboards which we saw back at Computex where they were displayed in engineering state, while now they have been updated with the final heatsink designs and layout for Intel’s upcoming Haswell-E CPU lineup.ASRock LGA 2011-3 Socket

ASRock’s High-Performance X99 Extreme 6, X99 Extreme 4 and X99 Killer Motherboards

ASRock has showed three high-end desktop motherboard based on the X99 chipset which include the ASRock X99 Extreme 6 and X99 Extreme 4 which were seen back at Computex 2014 and a new addition to the lineup, the X99 Killer which is more of a gaming oriented and feature packed offering. Each motherboard supports its own set of features for overclocking and the latest LGA 2011-3 socket to support Haswell-E processors which will be shipping in the month of September in retail. The latest X99 Express chipset features featuring 14 USB ports (6 USB 3.0 and 8 USB 2.0), 10 SATA 6GBps ports, integrated clock support, 8×1 PCIe 2.0, Clarksville GbE PHY and the Realtek Audio Codec.The chip has a max TDP of 6.5W and measures 23x22mm which is larger than the X79 chipset. The platform would also be the first to support DDR4 memory.

WCCFTech Z97 Motherboard Round-Up OC Top
Hardware

Intel launched their Z97 platform earlier this year which brought new motherboards in the performance platform, aiming support for Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Devil’s Canyon and the upcoming Broadwell CPUs. Intel’s Z97 platform is filled with a variety of boards and each board is targeted towards key segments.WCCFTech Z97 Motherboard Round-Up OC Top

Round-Up of The Best and Top-Tier Overclocking Z97 Motherboards

With such a large list of products that are currently offered in the Z97 chipset based product portfolio, it gets quite frustrating for consumers to find a board that suits their demands. To make it easier for consumers, the board manufacturing companies have separated their products into three categories; Gaming, Overclocking and Mainstream.  Although this helps a bit but even then, the products themselves offer similar specifications, naming schemes and priced equally.  For instance, the MSI Z97 Gaming 3 and Gigabyte GA-Z97X Gaming 3 are both gaming branded motherboards priced at $137.99 US and with “Gaming 3″ in the title, it would more or less confuse the buyer into deciding which product should be bought. While reviews do give a better insight at the products comparing the little details, features and components of products, we couldn’t find a good article which compares these boards against their similar priced counterparts from other manufacturers.

To address this issue and to help ease the process for buyers to get the right product, today we will be doing a round-up of the Z97 “Overclocking” motherboards. We will obviously not be comparing performance based on benchmarks but design schemes, feature set and the components used on these Z97 motherboards which will tell us why they are better than the other similar priced option or why does a $399 US overclocking board is a better option for enthusiasts then a $249 US overclocking board. The products we will be comparing are strictly the flagship overclocking boards from each separate manufacturer so you might see us talk about a XPOWER board and not the MPOWER board so please excuse me but that doesn’t mean that I won’t ever do a similar comparison on the other segment based boards, so stay tuned for that. Regardless, let’s start off these round – up with the beastly, Z97 XPOWER AC from MSI:

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Hardware

Details of Intel’s next generation Skylake-S platform have been revealed by VR-Zone, unveiling that the new processors will be available in 2H of 2015 and a new motherboard series featuring the latest 100-Series chip. Configurations of various Skylake series processors were unveiled not long ago which mentioned that the time span between the launch of Broadwell and Skylake generation would be small and both platforms would be available to consumers by 2015.Intel Skylake-S Desktop Z170 Chipset

Image Courtesy of VR-Zone!

Intel Skylake-S Desktop Platform Detailed – Z170 Chipset Replaces Z97 in 2H 2015

While the current Z97 series motherboards do add support for Broadwell processors, Intel won’t have the chips ready for consumers till at least Q2 of 2015. The first iteration of Broadwell processors which will launch for PCs will be in the form of Intel Core-M and Broadwell Y-Series which will arrive in holiday 2014 and are aimed toward the tablet and laptop market. The actual desktop processors won’t be available till 2015 which is a bit surprising since at the time Intel launches Broadwell-K series, they will be shipping Skylake-S to consumers in the exact same quarter or a bit late (moving in early 2H 2015). This was showcased in the latest Intel Desktop roadmap leak for consumers.

The transition to Z170 chipset will not be a massive upgrade and would be similar to what the Z97 was to Z87 with a little added features such as more PCI-e lanes, Super Speed USB and up to 10 USB ports compared to 6 standard ones found on the current iteration of motherboards. There will be a total of six 100-series chipset SKUs which will include the Z170 (Performance) replacing the Z97, H170 (Mainstream) replacing the H97, H110 (Value) replacing the H81, B150 (Small and medium Business) replacing the B85 and the Q170 plus Q150 chips with Intel vPro / SIPP which will replace the Q87 and Q85. So as you can note, Intel has the entire replacement plan ready which will update the current desktop chipset stack in 2015. Intel is already phasing out their Ivy Bridge-E and Z77/H77/H75/Q75 chipsets in early 2015. This transition won’t eliminate support for Z97 or Z87 in 2015 since there would be a majority of consumers who will still be running Broadwell and Haswell processors since these platforms have spanned a longer shelve-time in the market and will cease to exist along side each other for a couple of years.

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Hardware

Introduction

Founded in 1986, Biostar is one of the prominent hardware manufacturers of the tech industry focusing in the Asian market. What started as a motherboard manufacturing corporation has now expanded into new markets such as add-on-cards and multimedia solutions along with graphics cards (popular in mainland China).

Coming to multimedia, the motherboard we are going to test today has a large focus on the audio system that it features on-board. The Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE comes with an isolated PCB on the motherboard that houses the on-board audio system which other manufacturers have started to offer starting with Haswell generation platform however it should be noted that Biostar was the first to implement this technology back in 2012 prior to Haswell as a part of their Puro Hi-Fi design scheme. So credits for this design scheme have to be given to Biostar in setting a new industry standard.

In addition to the feature, the Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE is also special due to its pricing. The board comes at a very reasonable and budget friendly $124.99 US which is lower than what a motherboard with similar feature set may cost. Whether or not these features are as impressive as the higher quality parts remains to be seen in this review.

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Hardware

Introduction

With over 20 million motherboard shipments over the last year, we are talking about the one and only, Gigabyte. Founded in 1986, Gigabyte has become the pioneer of the motherboard industry with a large lineup of products that not only include boards but All-In-Ones, Laptops, Tablets and Gaming Peripherals. As of 2013, the company matches ASUS as the vendor with most shipments of boards giving an idea of the company’s growth in the current year.

With the launch of Intel’s Haswell platform, Gigabyte launched four tiers of lineups for their motherboards -Gaming/Overclocking/Ultra Durable/Black Edition (BK). Each lineup is built for a specific range of consumers. With the 9-Series chipset, Gigabyte is expanding their motherboard line with new products, one of which will be detailed in this review.

Today, we will be taking a look at the entry level Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 3 motherboard which is part of the G1 Gaming lineup which is aimed towards the gaming and mainstream audience. You will find some useful features like Killer LAN and Audio chipsets on this board due to its line positioning but comes at a low cost of $132.99 US which is the affordable range for any budget user. But before we talk about the board itself, let’s take a look at the new chipset and socket which support the latest Haswell processors.

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Hardware

Taiwanese manufacturer MSI has launched today a new gaming board designed specially for AMD’s socket AM3+ processors. The board is based on AMD’s 970 Chipset. Socket AM3+ is an extension of the AM3 socket and is designed for processors utilizing AMD’s Bulldozer michroarchitecture. Processors utilizing the AM3+ socket include the FX series, the Phenom II and the Athlon II. The board offers many gaming and overclocking capabilities as well.

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MSI 970 A Low Cost Performance Enhancer For AMD’s AM3+ Socket Processors. Can Accommodate Up To 32 GB Of DDR3 2133 RAM

MSI’s latest offering has many features catering to AMD’s socket AM3+ and that too at a low cost. The board is based on the comapny’s (AMD) 970 or RX980 chipset architecture and features four memory banks. The board has two PCI Express 2.0 x16 and two PCI Express 2.0 1x. In addition to this,it also has two classic PCI slots. Apart from the PCI lanes, the MSI 970 can also accommodate up to 32 GB of 2133 MHz DDR3. Support for crossfire is also included. Coming towards the internal composition of the MSI 970, the board has six SATA 3.0 ports. The MSI 970 also has two USB 3.0 and another six USB 2.0 ports. Externally, the board has a PS2 and an Ethernet ports. These are in addition to another two USB 3.0 and eight USB 2.0 ports. These are coupled with several audio jacks as well.

ASRock logo
Hardware

ASRock has launched two new motherboards today – The Z97 Anniversary and the Z97M. As the name suggests, the boards have been designed specially for Intel’s Pentium Anniversary edition processor, the Intel Pentium G3258. The Intel Pentium G3258 comes with a special free multiplier, which primes the processor for overclocking. Well, Taiwanese manufacturer ASRock has now further facilitated overclocking on the processor through introducing its special 9 series boards which feature special OC features.

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ASRock’s Z97 Anniversary and Z97M Boards Arrive With Exclusive ‘Pentium Anniversary Boost’ Technology. Offer Easy Overclocking For Beginners And Pros Alike.

ASRock’s latest offering allow increasing the frequency of your Pentium G3258 at only a couple of keystrokes. The board differs from other manufacturers offering by not only offering a simple BIOS update. The ASRock Z97 Anniversary and Z97M boards when coupled with a Intel Pentium G3258 now allow users and enthusiasts to manually select their desired frequency levels. This can be done by pressing the ‘P’ key after turning on the CPU and choosing the desired frequency levels. The ‘Pentium Anniversary Boost’ feature on the board will then automatically overclock the respective CPU components. The maximum frequency that can be achieved through this function is 4.2 GHz. This is a 1Ghz frequency gain from the stock core frequency of the dual core processor. The stock frequency limit on the Pentium G3258 is 3.2GHz. For higher overclocking however, detour through the BIOS will be required.

Intel Devil's Canyon Logo
Hardware

Two weeks back Intel launched its Devil’s Canyon line of processors. The two processors launched, the Intel Core i7-4790K and the Core i5-4690K feature an openly upward multiplier and feature an impressive overclocking potential. This is also made possible through an improved heat transfer between the chip and the heat spreader. The Core i7-4790K is also the first consumer processor to feature a base frequency of 4.4 GHz. So it was only a matter of time before overclockers and enthusiasts managed to get their hands on the latest offering by Intel and push its limits even further. Taiwanese enthusiast NickShih has done just that.

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Intel Devil’s Canyon Core i7-4790K Overclocked To A Massive 7003.38 MHz. ASRock’s Z97 OC Formula Used.

The overclocking of the Core i7-4790K puts NickShih in first place in HWBOT rankings. The enthusiast has managed to get a score of 2.0 points on the Hardware Points (UHP) rankings and a score of 5.5 on the Hardware Team Power Points (HTPP) list. He has managed to top the previous record for Devil’s Canyon Core i7-4790K. This record was held by another Taiwanese enthusiast Toppc. Toppc managed to overclock the processor to an impressive 6842 MHz. But NickShih is the first enthusiast to cross the 7000MHz mark for the Core i7-4790K.

1188592NickShih’s run also earns him the first position globally for overclockers running the Devil’s Canyon Core i7-4790K. However, the list is very small presently, with only four contenders present. With time we hope that the number of contenders increases and they manage to further push the processor.

The motherboard used by the Taiwanese enthusiast was ASRock’s Z97 OC Formula. The board comes with a 12 phase power design and two 8-pin EPS connectors. As with all the Z boards manufactured, it is specially primed for overclocking attempts. No other hardware details are available except for memory and cooling details. The memory employed by the enthusiast was DDR3 SDRAM. Cooling, as expected was done through liquid nitrogen which allows for stable compressor operation. Thats all the news we have for you today regarding Devil’s Canyon overclocking today folks. Stay tuned for more impressive runs, which we should hopefully see a lot of in the future. Cheers.

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Hardware

Alright, I will say this once. ASUS is on fire. They are literally taking Capitalistic norms and shoving them you-know-where. They have just allowed full overclocking of Intel’s K Series processors specifically the Haswell, Haswell Refresh and Pentium 20th Anniversary families. Normally you would need a motherboard that supports overclocking such as the Z97 but now, ASUS H97, H87, H81 and B85 Motherboards will do just as well.

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ASUS H97, H87, H81 and B85 Motherboards  Now Support Overclocking of Certain ‘K’ Series Unlocked Intel CPUs

You can now very cheaply and at great value reproduce the golden overclocking era by buying a Pentium Anniversary CPU and coupling it with a supported ASUS non-Z motherboard. Ofcourse this capability comes from an unlocked UEFI BIOS which you will need to download if you already have said motherboard. So make sure you download the correct version that corresponds to your ASUS Motherboards. Also those of you who are on a budget, now would be a good idea to buy a Devil’s Canyon and couple it with a non-z ASUS mobo. Ofcourse you will only get access to the multiplier ratio but that should suffice for a 100 – 200 Mhz above the stock turbo boost.

However as always, there is a catch. For one thing, ASUS says that it does not guarantee that the “Haswell Refresh K’ Series will be overclockable on ASUS H97, H87, B85 and H81 Series motherboards and that “ASUS does not guarantee that Intel new Pentium processor and Core K Series (‘Haswell’ and ‘Haswell Refresh’) processors will be overclockable on ASUS H97, H87, B85 and H81 Series motherboards in the event that Intel issues software and firmware updates that result in function changes”. Now this has very interesting implications. Intel has so far turned a blind eye to ASUS’ robin hood antics but in the event Blue decides this is going too far, ASUS wants to make sure you know the implications.

Intel Logo
Hardware

So we just got word from the Chinese VR-Zone.com about Intel’s HEDT Haswell-E Platform and the supporting X99 Chipset. Basically the Haswell-E based Core i7-5820K will be around 20% more expensive than its predecessor (as the heading would have told you no doubt).

Intel Broadwell and Haswell Refresh Platform

Intel Haswell-E Core i7-5820K to be ~20% More Expensive than its Predecessor – No Change for the other 2 SKUs

The X99 ‘Wellsburg’ Chipset Motherboards were shown at Computex, although not in too much detail. Similarly very little was officially revealed about the Haswell-E HEDT Platform and Intel is expected to reveal some info soon. However thanks to leaks we now know nearly all there is to know about the High End platform and the LGA 2011-3 Based Motherboards. We have also learned details of the pricing of Haswell-E. Basically the Core i7-5960X and Core i7-5930K will be priced about the same as their Ivy Bridge-E counterparts. However the last one, and coincidentally at the lower end of the spectrum, the Core i7-5820K will be around 20% more expensive than the Core i7-4820K. That is primarily because of two reasons, 1) Intel does not want the i7-5820K to affect the Ivy Bridge-E markets 2) The Haswell-E part is a Hexa Core while the Core i7-4820K is a Quad Core.

Intel X99 Chipsets will come out sometime in September and offer DDR4 among other thins. They will be priced relatively higher than what the average consumer is willing to dish out for a motherboard but thats the price you have to pay be at the very high end. Ofcourse the complimentary chips will only be 3 namely the Haswell-E platform, atleast untill Broadwell-E arrives which we have reason to believe will be supported on the same Wellsburg chipset. This means support for 3 More SKUs which would be Broadwell-E on the 14nm Node, namely the Core i7-6960X, i7-6930K and i7-6820K which will probably scale up to either 8 or 10 cores with 2400Mhz DDR4 Memory.

MSI Z97 XPOWER AC Featured
Hardware

Introduction

Last year, MSI introduced two distinct motherboards in their OC lineup, the Z87 MPOWER and Z87 XPOWER. With the launch of Intel’s 9-Series platform, MSI launched a new category of motherboards which are more powerful then ever and include tons of features built for a wide range of users that may include gamers, enthusiasts, overclockers and casual users.

With the launch of Intel’s Haswell Refresh platform, MSI introduced their second generation XPOWER board for the mainstream LGA 1150 socketed lineup known as the MSI Z97 XPOWER AC. The MSI Z97 XPOWER AC has been designed specifically for enthusiasts and overclockers and being the most feature packed motherboard of all the MSI Z97 product lineup. The motherboard is first an overclocking board which will let users overclock with no limits as indicated by the marketing team behind the XPOWER. The design speaks for itself with the amazing X scheme back in action and an E-ATX form factor size along with some cool new features that make it stand out from the rest of the Z97 motherboard crowd.

The other boards such as the MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX follow up which we reviewed last month has the same DNA at a lower cost of $259.99 US while the XPOWER AC retails at a hefty price of $399.99 US which is quite a lot asking price for it and enters in the more HEDT range of Intel’s X79 motherboards. So we are going to see if the MSI Z97 XPOWER AC is worth its price or not.

Intel-Devils-Canyon-Logo-635x635
Hardware

As we all know Intel launched the Devil’s Canyon processors last week. The SKUs launched have several impressive features and performance enhancements. The flagship processor of the series, the Intel Devil’s Canyon Core i7-4790K is to be the first 22nm consumer CPU to obtain a clock frequency of 4 GHz and a boost frequency of 4.4 GHz. It is to come with 4 cores and 8 threads and will allow consumers to overclock it past the limits set by Intel due to improved thermal design and packaging materials. The next processor on the list, the Core i5-4690K featuring 4 cores and 4 threads with a boost frequency of 3.9 GHz. The 4690K features similar overclocking capabilities as the i7-4790K.

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Intel Lists Compatible Motherboards For Devil’s Canyon. 8 Series Boards Also Included.

After all the NDA drama surrounding the official release of Intel’s Z97 architecture boards, we had also began to see some related to board compatibility issues with Intel Devil’s Canyon Processors. Although previously it was learned that Devil’s Canyon would not be including support for 8 Series boards, some motherboard manufactures decided to ‘think differently’. We began to receive contradictory news in the form of ASUS posting a BIOS update for it’s Maximus VI Extreme. This update made the board support the Core i7-4790K. There was no official word from up top at Intel. Well, we now finally have a list of compatible motherboards for both the Devil’s Canyon Cor i7-4790K and Core i5-4690K.

The lists released by Intel are quite extensive and feature a large array of boards from a variety of manufacturers using different chipsets. The list of manufacturers includes ASUS, Gigabyte, ASRock and MSI. The SKUs are said to be good to work with the Z87, H87 and H81 boards. This is in addition to the current variants of the 9 Series Chipsets as well. A complete list of specifications for the Devil’s Canyon processors can be found below:

Intel Logo
Hardware

The specifications and platform details for Intel’s Skylake processors have been leaked by Sweclockers only a day after the launch of the high-performance Devil’s Canyon processors. Its become a norm that whenever an Intel launch takes place, it is followed by a leak of the upcoming generation of processors as it has been happening for a few years now. Last time during Haswell’s launch, Broadwell details were leaked on the web instantly and the same has happened today.Intel Skylake Processors

Intel Skylake Processors To Launch in 2H 2015 - Compatible With LGA 1151 Socket and Z170 Chipset

There are a handful of details which were previously confirmed such as Intel Skylake processors featuring support on 100-Series chipset and will feature socketed design. The most interesting rumor came up last week which was regarding the co-existence of both Broadwell and Skylake processors in the year 2015. While Intel launched their 22nm Haswell processors last year (Tock), they were supposed to introduce Broadwell early this year however due to issues in 14nm production, the launch was halted till late 2014. Hence, this year, we have only seen an updated Haswell lineup in the form of the Haswell Refresh along with the 9-Series chipset platform. The 9-Series chipset was prepared specifically for Broadwell but due to launch delays, Intel tried into convincing their desktop users with new Refresh and the Devil’s Canyon processors.

With first round of Broadwell chips aimed towards mobility platforms such as AIOs, Ultrabooks, Notebooks, etc, Intel would release their Broadwell socketed processors not until Q1 or even Q2 2015. This only means that the Broadwell launch has been disrupted by the initial 14nm production delays but Intel’s roadmap still sticks to its core plans with Skylake launching in 2H 2015. The Co-existence of both Broadwell and Skylake processors in 2015 will sound a bit weird since it will create confusion on consumers end for whom it’ll be hard to decide between the new platforms.

GALAXY GeForce GTX 780 Ti HOF V20 World Record
Hardware

Galaxy, the leading Chinese graphics card manufacturer’s has shown an army of their latest HOF “Hall of Fame” products such as the triple fan GeForce GTX 780 Ti HOF and the triple fan GeForce GTX 750 Ti HOF. You can call me a fan of Galaxy Tech graphics cards judging from my previous posts but in all seriousness, their cards adopting the white PCB look stunning from the rest of the offerings from GPU companies and their custom PCB designs are some of the best in the tech industry.Galaxy GeForce GTX 780 Ti HOF

Galaxy Displays Their Impressive Triple-Fan GeForce GTX 780 Ti HOF

I’ll start this post by detailing one of my personal favorite graphics card based on the GK110 core, the GeForce GTX 780 Ti HOF. The GeForce GTX 780 Ti HOF comes with a pure white PCB which features absolute high-grade and quality components such as a 8+2 Phase digital power design equipped with Premium POSCAP and MLCC capacitors, Voltage read points, KEMET tantalum capacitors with a capacity of 330uF. On the back, six MDU3606 MOSFETs from Magnachip can also be spotted. To deliver high-speed under overclocked specs, the memory is equipped with its own heat spreader for better heat dissipation resulting in higher clock speeds not only on the core but memory too.

The card features the GK110 core featuring 2880 CUDA cores, 224 TMUs and 48 ROPs followed by a 3 GB GDDR5 memory which runs across a 384-bit wide memory interface, clocked at 7.0 GHz churning out 336.0 GB/s memor bandwidth which is insane. There’s an exclusive hyper boost function which boosts the clock speeds to a limit that is pre-defined by the manufacturer for easier performance increase however users can still manually overclock it as they seem fit and make use of the beefy VRM design.

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Hardware

We recently posted an article detailing how an ASRock X99 motherboard was spotted over at ADATA’s booth equipped with the latest XPG Z1 DDR4 memory. Thanks to VR-Zone, we know have full details on ASRock’s upcoming high-performance HEDT boards which include the X99 Extreme 6 and X99 Extreme 4.ASRock X99 Extreme 6

ASRock X99 Extreme 6 and X99 Extreme 4 Motherboards With Super Alloy Power

ASRock, just like other manufacturer’s don’t have actual retail samples ready since the Haswell-E platform launch is still a few months away. The Haswell-E platform is supposed to launch in September 2014 so it might take some time before we get to see retail designs but it’s a good sight that X99 is being shown off even in prototype stage giving a hint at the various features we should expect from the HEDT motherboards. All motherboards will have a few things in common such as the LGA 2011-3 socket which will support Haswell-E processors and the X99 chipset which will allow compatibility and act as the main PCH of the platform. ASRock has two X99 motherboards in line for their Extreme lineup, X99 Extreme 6 and X99 Extreme 4. The third board which was showcased at ADATA’s booth is possibly the OC oriented board or a more latter revision of the Extreme motherboard we are looking at.

ASRock X99 Extreme 6

The ASRock X99 Extreme 6 would be a high-end offering from the company in the X99 product lineup. The board will fall below the X99 Extreme 9 that would be offered later. ASRock hasn’t confirmed whether they will use the blue and black color scheme or something else. But judging from the DIMM slots, its possible that the design will be similar to the ASRock Z97 Extreme 6 motherboard which offers a new blue and black color scheme.



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