neilhart's ASRock M8 BareBones with a Z87-M8 motherboard.

Discussion in 'Retail Cases' started by neilhart, Apr 29, 2015.

  1. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Apr 29, 2015 at 12:52 AM #1
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
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    This is a rewrite of the original post:

    [​IMG]

    ASRock M8 Barebones Z87-M8 Mini ITX Gaming PC into a full blown OS X system dual booting Win 8 Pro

    I found this machine on Newegg listed for $ 249.99 and could not resist. Later I found that Newegg had reduced the price even more to $ 199.99. I assume the price reduction is because of old inventory and ASRock released a Z97 version of the same machine. I have price protection on my CC and have applied for the $ 50 refund.

    In my humble opinion (have I ever been humble?) this is a great value; a unique case, motherboard, slot loading DVD drive, PSU, GPU riser card, 4 70mm fans, case LEDs, etc.

    I have purchased an i3-4170 that Fry's had on sale this week and will swap this CPU into the Doodle so that I can free up the i7-4770T for use in the M8.

    All of the other parts used in this build are already owned and laying in my inventory of used parts. The one exception is that I borrowed the SoDIMM memory from my G4 Cube project machine.

    The mods to the ASRock design are fairly small and you will find the detail if you have the patience to read through the following posts. The photo above is of the modded left side.

    More to follow,
    neil
     
  2. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    May 5, 2015 at 9:29 PM #2
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    1st Update - 05-05-2015 at 1:15 pm

    OnTrack delivered the ASRock M8 just now! I ordered on Saturday. Newegg sent me an email with shipping confirmation on Monday and on Tuesday it is here. And this is free shipping to boot.

    [​IMG]

    More to follow; the un-boxing.

    Good modding,
    neil
     
  3. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    May 6, 2015 at 4:57 PM #3
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    The ASRock M8 un-boxing:

    The M8 is packaged in a printed black background box with colored graphics as seen here.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    There is this small accessory box just inside on the top.
    [​IMG]
    The system is captured by wrap-around foam end pieces and is covered by a heavy duty plastic bag.
    [​IMG]
    The accessory box.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Documents include this fold out pictorial assembly guide.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    And a very well done User Manual (good quality paper and high quality print and artwork, 212 pages).
    [​IMG]
    The included tools; the blue-green driver has dual blade insert at both ends.
    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]
    And here is a comparison of the M8 to the Prodigy.
    [​IMG]

    The system is out of the box and at this point in time it appears to be a class act.

    The labeling on the shipping box would indicate that the system has been in inventory for some time with a manufacturing date of November 2013.

    I also noted last night that Newegg no longer is offering these at $250 USD.

    More to follow.

    Good modding,
    neil
     
  4. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    May 7, 2015 at 4:39 PM #4
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    M8 Covers:

    There is a locking mechanism mounted in the top cover. The key set provided actuates a sliding plate that releases the left and right side covers.

    [​IMG]

    The side covers remain in place when the lock is released. Each side cover has 8 magnets attached which align with 8 magnets that are attached to the side frame (total of 32 magnets for the side covers).

    [​IMG]

    Note in the above photo, I have inserted a marker pen between the frame and the cover to hold it open against the pull of the magnets.

    [​IMG]

    In the above photo the two locking arms are seen entering the cut-outs in the frame; notice the raised lip on the arms. The sliding lock mechanism engages with these to lock the covers in place.

    [​IMG]

    Also note the cross section thickness of the side cover is 2.5 mm. The finish on the side covers is a semi-gloss grey and appears to be anodized aluminum. The left and right covers appear to be identical parts with differing window detail. Found on the inside of the side cover is an injection molded multipurpose plastic piece that serves as a window frame and has the top latch arms and bottom retaining arms.

    [​IMG]

    And in this side view the 8 magnets are seen on the frame and a better view of the cut-outs at the top frame area used for the cover latch arms.

    [​IMG]

    A photo of the inside of the right side cover.

    [​IMG]

    And view of the left side of the case with a cable management piece in place. The red cross metal work is interesting. I am unsure that what purpose it serves other then decorative.

    That is it for now.

    Good modding,
    neil
     
  5. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    May 9, 2015 at 2:47 PM #5
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    The Z87-M8 Motherboard removal:

    The motherboard has to be removed from the case to install the CPU cooler bracket.

    [​IMG]

    To accomplish this one must follow a disassembly order similar to a complex box puzzle with sliding panels. The key part here is the upper right corner piece.

    [​IMG]

    Then sliding the top panel to the right, disconnecting the fan cable harness and lifting the top panel out of the system.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    Then the GPU bracket with two screws.

    [​IMG]

    Followed by the riser card bracket with two screws.

    [​IMG]

    This reveals the drive mounting bracket assembly which is secured in place by one screw.

    [​IMG]

    The drive mounting bracket will hold either one 3.5 inch hard drive or unto 4 2.5 inch drives.

    [​IMG]

    This then clears way for the PSU removal and then the motherboard removal.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This mini-ITX motherboard is unique with features not found on other socket 1150 mini-ITX MBs: 6 SATA ports for one and the other is the vertically mounted SoDIMM sockets.

    More to follow.

    Good modding
    neil
     
  6. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    May 9, 2015 at 10:52 PM #6
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    ASRock M8 Software Installation:


    ASRock mini-ITX Z87 M8 motherboard (this MB is normally only found in a barebones ASRock M8 system). My software install was completed on the bench where I had the MB out of the case (for the first time) to install the CPU and CPU cooler.

    Note that I did modify the mounting brackets of the CPU cooler so that it was oriented to clear the memory, the 24 pin power connector and the 12V CPU power connector and to clear the AC wiring found in the case.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    CPU - Intel i7-4770T (45W)
    CPU Cooler - Thermalright AXP-100 R (red fan blades)
    Memory - 8 GB (2x 4GB) SoDiMM DDR3 1333MHz
    WiFi/BT - AzureWave AW-CE123H model BCM94352HMB
    HDD - 500GB 3.5 inch Seagate (using 4 partitions made with Disk Utility App).
    GPU - ASUS GTX 760 2GB

    Motherboard - ASRock Z87-M8
    UEFI Version - Z87-M8 L1:64
    Microcode Update - 306C3/19

    [​IMG]

    I started with a USB Mavericks 10.9.5 installer created using UniBeast 5.0. This device was made up some time ago and has been used on several machines previously.

    I found by trial an error (three tries) that I needed to use this set of boot arguments to load the installer:

    -v -x -no-zp IGPEnabler=Yes

    I was able to install Mavericks and get through the account setup, however the system was throwing a “DRMStatus” error. A quick search and read on Tony’s site revealed the sure fix was to use a GPU. This was not a problem as I had intended to install my previously purchased and used ASUS GTX 760 2GB GPU card.

    I ran MultiBeast 6.5.0 with DSDT Free, FakeSMC plugins and Hardware Monitor, AppleIntelE_1000E, and iMac,14,2 selected. This results in Chimera 3.x something being installed.

    And I installed VoodooHDA 2.8.0 for audio support of the Creative Core 3D sound. This gives me both audio on the front headphone port and the rear green audio out port also provides HDMI audio. The other audio features have not been tested.

    For WiFi I pulled over the toledaARPT.kext and used Kext Wizard to install… WiFi works. This leaves Bluetooth to worry on at some later date.

    I cloned this working Mavericks installation to the second partition.

    I then downloaded the latest Chimera 4.1.0 and updated both partitions so that Mavericks would be using the latest as I am going to install Yosemite next which will benefit from this new version of the boot loader.

    While in the Download directory, I downloaded MultiBeast - Yosemite 7.3.0 and UniBeast 5.1.0 and made up a new USB Yosemite installer stick per Tony’s guide. Again I pulled over MultiBeast, Kext Wizard, Show All Files, and SuperDuper! and put these files in the root of the installer USB.

    I was able to boot into the Yosemite installer first try using the same arguments as I used on Mavericks (see above).

    Ran the installation. A non-event as it was mostly a repeat of the Mavericks install. I updated from the App Store so everything is current and the cloned the new Yosemite installation which is on partition # 3 to partition # 4. Then installed the boot loader to partition # 4.

    So I am now running this newly assembled set up parts to see if it is a dependable system. I figure a few days on the bench may save some skinned knuckles of trying to do the same with everything inside this small case.

    A little change in the plan…

    I decided to short cut my OS set-up tasks and booted into a cloned copy of Mavericks from my main workstation (from the White One). The boot was okay and the expected items did not work (Ethernet and audio which are easy to configure).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I assembled the drives that I intend to use in the system into the drive bracket, photos above, and proceeded to cloned Mavericks and Yosemite to partitions on one of the two 500GB 2.5” HDDs. Then booted into the newly cloned Mavericks drive and proceeded with the set-up “My Way”.

    Next I created a RAID zero drive set using the two 120GB SSDs and cloned Mavericks onto the new RAID set. A quick trip through the terminal session to set-up the RAID boot environment. I can almost do this by memory but there is my RAID setup guide that you find using search.

    More to follow.


    Good modding,
    neil
     
  7. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    May 10, 2015 at 2:39 PM #7
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Not home free!

    A slow Saturday so I went ahead and reassembled the system.

    This does take some time and it is very tight in some places. For example the when facing the rear of the machine with it laying with the right side up, the left front motherboard mounting screw is blocked by the 12VDC CPU power connector which is blocked by a ferrite core on the power cord and the CPU Fan connector.

    [​IMG]

    At the moment the only modding that I have completed is that on the CPU cooler.

    On the list for the next time that have the system apart, I will cut off the 8 pin CPU power connector from the harness and re-terminate it with a 4 pin one to match the 4 pin connector on the motherboard. A nice to do item.

    Then running the system as a system for the first time I am asking myself about the front panel knob. It is multifunction with a digital display that seems to rotate between the time, an M8 logo and a "Light On" and "Light Off". It is also the power switch with push for on. Then there is a lighted ring of red that is apparently the power on indicator which also pulses with drive activity. A quick scan through the paper documentation did not reveal any detail about the multifunction knob.

    Then I found problems with the sound system:

    The first problem was that I had no sound at the front or rear ports. The HDMI sound still worked. At the moment I have the HD-Audio cable disconnected at the MB which restored the sound at the rear port.

    The second problem that I noticed is that the sound control via the top menu slider and the sound preference panel appears to work. What I mean is the feed back works and sound preference panel output test works (with the "rear Green port" selected). But changing the sound volume or using the left/right slider does not change the audio stream out of the port when the audio stream is from iTunes of a media player. This is very high on the list to understand and resolve.

    Three cables from the power supply (two are SATA power and the third is GPU power) are routed up the left side (over the red X) and captured by M8 logo piece in the center of the panel. I intend to redo these cables for better function and appearance.

    The routing of the 4 SATA data cables from the drive bracket to the motherboard is left to the user and not shown in the assembly documentation. More opportunity to innovate.

    Then the DVD drive tray does not open... more sorting out required.
    Edit: it is a slot loader... my bad. Now does it work?

    Aside from these issues the system is very quiet with the covers installed.

    More to follow.

    Good modding,
    neil
     
  8. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    May 13, 2015 at 2:30 AM #8
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    All is not good with the ASRock M8 system. I experienced freezes in both Mavericks and Yosemite. The cause it not known yet.

    I am doing a structured troubling shooting process to identify what is causing the problem.

    I have reduced the number of drives to one test drive and pulled the GTX 760 out of the system.

    Then I modded the front panel circuit, the round knob dial is cute but not very functional (in my mind) so I made up a standard power switch, reset switch along with power LED and HDD activity LED and installed it in parallel with the existing circuit.

    [​IMG]

    A reset switch is really missed when it is not there and needed.

    So I have reinstalled Mavericks 10.9.5 using Unibeast built USB stick. Then only installed a sub-set of configuration files where I intentionally left off audio and WiFi. I am using two partitions so that I have a way back to the freshly installed system without having to reinstall.

    I am now running a base line to see if the system is stable. This will take at least 24 hours with no freezes before I make a change. I have my notebook open and taking notes.

    So when I find the cause I will share the details here. It may take a while (a week or two).

    Good modding,
    neil
     
  9. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    May 14, 2015 at 5:08 AM #9
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    An minor update or progress report.

    The system is running well with 10.9.5 and seems to be booting or rebooting reliability now.

    I have the ASUS GTX 760 2GB card installed and have found that the system boots fast without hangs when i have the AppleIntelHD* and AppleIntelF* kext moved off to a backup folder.

    I decided to try the FakePCIID kext set for the WiFi and it seems to be working well... and no freezes. This is a very desire-able thing because the system sees the AzureWave AW-CE123H model BCM94352HMB as an Apple Broadcom BCM43XX and the AirPortBrcm4360 v8.4.2 is loading.

    Bluetooth is not loading and I need to sort that out sometime (not high my list).

    The audio is a interesting problem. It is the "Creative Core Sound 3D" and I found several late versions of VoodooHDA that activate audio. However the system volume slider and the mute function don't work. In my case were I pipe audio out to an stereo amplifier this is not a show stopper. I would like it to work and will continue to seek a solution. Note some have had success with edits the VoodooHDA info.plist file that contains some soft fix switches which I have not had success on this problem.

    [​IMG]

    Then I am amused that I put the covers on the system and the CPU temps jumped up about 10 to 15 degrees. There is not a lot of air flowing through this case and those that are running high power CPUs will be having a toaster on their hands. My i7-4770T at 45W was running idle in the low 40s with the closed up system and in the mid to high 20s with the right side cover off. Lots of opportunity to improve the air flow through this thing.

    So that it for now... freezes seem to have gone away with the change in kexts for the WiFi and Audio is a still and issue.

    I love having problems... it gives me something to solve.

    Good modding,
    neil

    Edit: The red LEDs inside the case frame are ASRock M8 design and are controlled by the front multifunction switch.
     
  10. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    May 14, 2015 at 11:52 PM #10
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

    Joined:
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    Mobo:
    ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming - ITX/ac
    CPU:
    Intel i7-7700T (TDP: 35W)
    Graphics:
    Gigabyte GTX960 2GB, ITX
    Mac:
    MacBook, MacBook Pro
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    More progress… some not so good.

    In my effort to resolve the audio issue (slider and mute not working correctly), I decided to update to latest ASRock UEFI bios… which is version 160 or 1.60.

    This may have been a mistake as I could no longer boot Chimera into my Mavericks partitions (2). So I got out my Clover Test Drive USB stick and booted in the exiting partitions. The boot problem with Chimera was the immediate reboot loop which made me think of locked MSR issue.

    I could not discern any change in the previous status as everything seemed the same with only difference being not able to boot using Chimera.

    So I went back to the ASRock support web site and could not find the original bios that I had documented as
    “Motherboard - ASRock Z87-M8 UEFI Version - Z87-M8 L1:64”

    The 1.60 bios has a filename of “Z87M81.60” and installed the on screen ID is “Z87-M8 P1.60”
    And the original bios is not listed. The one other earlier version is listed as 1.20 which I downloaded and installed.

    Again I can see no change in function and the 1.20 version is also not Chimera friendly.

    So to keep moving foreword, I set out to install Clover on the HDD that I was working on. I found that an UEFI Clover install (see Tony’s guide) would not be recognized as boot able… I had to install Clover with the legacy boot setup.

    Now this experience is strange in several ways. The shipping bios not being available in the support pages for one. Then as a comparison with ASUS and Gigabyte UEFI bios’s that give you the choice of Legacy and/or UEFI drive modes, the ASRock acts like Legacy with no UEFI choice… strange… to say the least.

    But then I may be missing something.

    More to follow.

    Good modding,
    neil
     

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