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[Bundymania User Review] 6 Fullcover Waterblocks for HD7970 - Roundup

Discussion in 'Overclocking & Cooling' started by bundymania, May 10, 2012.

  1. bundymania

    bundymania

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    Hello guys,

    In this review I would like to give you a broad overview concerning the current watercooling-solutions for the beloved HD 7970 graphic card from AMD. Some of the coolers might fit to the smaller brother card 7950. You will find the information about the compatibility to this card in the well-known web shops. If you might have noticed (maybe not yet ;)) the summer is coming and your graphic card might need a fresh, cool breeze. Another positive aspect of a watercooling-solution is the very low noise level or - depending from your radiator and fan layout – the full silence.
    As you might know my reviews, all popular producers with their current cooling-solutions are tested here. I will as well update this review, if a producer will release a new version of his cooler. A quite good information for the disassembly of the stock air-cooler: Run Furmark for at least 10 minutes. The produced heat contributes to the softening of the thermal grease and thermal pads, which makes the disassembly quite easier.

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    So let us take a closer look at the testing candidates:




    EK Water Blocks EK-FC7970 - EN (Nickel)

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    The cooler from EK Waterblocks comes with slight re-desgin of its successful watercooling-solutions for graphic cards. The bottom of the cooler is in comparison to the older version is a little bit thinner and the cooling-structure is quite more filigree. The top is as well re-designed (which I like much more than the older design). Another feature, which is meanwhile a standard of EK Waterblocks, is the production of different designs of the EK-FC7970. In this review I will test the version with nickel-plated bottom and an acrylic-glass top.
    The processing quality is on a good level, but you might find some little scratches in the inside from the milling. Some of them are as well on the bottom side of the cooler. You will find beside the installation manual in English language and the common installation material a small allen key for the assembly of the screw plugs.
    The cooler comes well proteced in the well-known and nicely desgined orange-black coloured retail box.
    The installation is as well for untrained constructors quite handsome. The customer just has to cut the thermal pads by himself for all chips except the GPU, for which you have to use thermal grease.
    The re-design of the cooling-structure results in tight fins and catapults the cooler to the top positions in my charts (but not the first place ;-)).
    The voltage controller are as well actively cooled by water and you can purchase an optional backplate for around 25 Euros.



    Technical Details:

    Material: Acrylic glass, copper (nickel-plated)
    Threads: 4 x G 1/4"

    To compatibilty-configuration

    Click here for the englisch installation Manual.

    Scope of supply:

    Cooler without Fittings (G1/4 Threads)
    Installation material
    Thermal pads

    Price: ca. 94 Euro







    Aquacomputer aquagrATIx für HD 7970 (Tahiti XT)

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    The aquagraATIx from Aquacomputer fort he HD 7970 looks quite elegant and shiny. The outward appearance shows overall the usage of metal as a robust material. Only the connection port is made of delrin. The processing quality is – as the cooling performance - on a very high level. The parts of the cooler which have direct contact to the graphic card are polished to maximize the heat transmission. The cooler comes well protected to the customer in a nicely designed retail box with the common installation material and installation manual. The assembly of the cooler is very easy, which means you just need a few minutes for the whole procedure.
    You can watch below the whole installation procedure in a video on youtube:
    aquagratix HD7970 Installation - YouTube

    The voltage controllers are actively cooled with water like the EK (Aquacomputer named this feature “3D Flow”). The cooler from Aquacomputer is the only candidate in this review, where you have to apply thermal grease on the RAM-Chips (thermal grease is not part of the scope of supply). An additional backplate can be bought for around 25 Euros. The cooler has no deficits and convinced me concerning all aspects. You have to pay around 90 Euros for the cooler (regular price I guess).



    Technical Details:

    Materials:

    Body: Copper
    Top: Stainless-steel
    Conncetion port: Delrin

    Scope of supply:

    Cooler without Fittings (G 1/4" Threats)
    Installation material including thermal pads
    Two screw plugs

    Price: ca. 89 Euro







    Koolance VID-AR797

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    Let us take a closer look at the Koolance VID-AR797 which is designed in the USA and produced in Korea. The well-known company uses mixed materials for their coolers (dark nickel-plated copper for the bottom and delrin and stainless-steel for the top). The VID-AR797 cooler has a solid appearance and is very well processed. It comes in decent black retail package and is as the other coolers crossfire-compatible. The scope of supply contains the common installation manual and the installation material (including thermal grease for the GPU). You have to apply two different sorts of thermal pads to the RAM and the voltage controllers, which you will have to cut by yourself. The size of the pads is very well calculated, so you have enough material to assemble the cooler a second time. The voltage controllers are directly cooled by water. A special feature of the cooler is the usage of the fourside backplate including screws and springs from the stock air-cooler. You cannot purchase an additional backplate for this cooler. The installation procedure is easy, but a multilanguage installation guide would be helpful. The VID-AR797 is well processed, convinces with its cooling performance and the scope of supply is as well very good. You can buy this cooler for around 123 Euros.




    Technical Details:

    Material: Nickle-plated copper, Acetal
    Threat Size: G 1/4"
    Sizes (LxBxH): 15,9cm x 14,6cm x 1,6cm
    Weight: 680g

    Scope of supply:

    Koolance VID-AR797 Cooler
    Thermal grease
    Installation material

    Price: ca. 123 Euro







    XSPC Razor 7970

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    The next cooler in my comparison is the Razor 7970 from XSPC. This cooler is quite thin and lightweight. The bottom is made of copper. The top is made of stainless-steel. On the sides of the cooler you will find cooling-elements, which are made of aluminum and fulfill the function to cool the voltage controllers passively. The Razor 7970 comes in a black retail package with an XPSC Logo on the front. The cooler is well protected from any damage, because it is wrapped in bubble-foil. The scope of supply contains the common installation material and an installation manual in English language. The cooler comes as well with thermal grease and thermal pads, which are already cut in the correct sizes, so you can just start the assembly of the cooler out of the box (quite nice ).
    I think the crossfire-compatibilty is in this days a standard-feature. You cannot purchase an additional backplate for this cooler. The processing quality of the cooler is on a good level and the installation is quite easy. The cooler performs well but does not show the best results (but is still much better than the air-cooler). You can buy this cooler for around 93 Euros.

    Technical Details:

    Material: Bottom = copper, Top = stainless-steel
    Threats: G 1/4"
    CNC milled copper
    Sizes: 220 x 142 x 9mm
    Crossfire-ready with 4x G1/4" threats


    Scope of supply:

    1x XSPC Razor 7970
    1x thermal grease
    2x screw plugs
    Thermal pads
    Installation material

    Price: ca. 93 Euro






    Watercool HEATKILLER® GPU-X³ 79X0

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    The Heatkiller for the HD 7970 comes from the northern company Watercool. The cooler comes well stuffed in a nice retail package to the customer. The scope of supply contains, besides the cooler, the common installation material and an installation manual in German language. Unfortunately there is no thermal grease, which should be applied only to the GPU. Nevertheless the thermal pads are already cut in the correct sizes (nice!). The cooler looks quite elegant and has a copper bottom with a polished stainless-steel top. The installation of the very well processed cooler is quite easy and done without any problems. The voltage controllers are actively cooled by water. You can purchase an additional backplate for the Heatkiller for around 25 Euros, which contributes to the nice look. The price is on a standard level and the cooler shows the best cooling performance in this comparison!



    Technical Details:

    Material: Copper, Stainless-steel, POM
    Sizes: (LxBxH) 184 x 117 x 14,2mm
    Weight: 1000g
    Threads: 4x G ¼ Zoll (DIN ISO 228-1)
    Pressure tested: 5 bar
    Compatible with: AMD Radeon HD 7970 (reference design)

    Scope of supply:

    1x HEATKILLER® GPU-X³ 79X0
    1x Installation material
    1x Installation manual

    Price: ca. 94 Euro







    Swiftech Komodo™ HD7970 Fullcover Waterblock

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    Swiftech, the well-kown pioneer for watercooling-solutions has as well released a new cooler for the AMD 7970. The Komodo HD 7970 Fullcover watercooler comes in a simple white package and is well wrapped in bubble-foul. Therefore the cooler is very well protected from any damage. The scope of supply contains besides the cooler the common installation material and a Multilanguage installation manual. The cooler comes as well with a nice black backplate and black coloured single-slot-cover. There are as well the needed thermal grease and two black screw plugs.
    Another nice feature of the Swiftech cooler is, that the thermal pads are already applied to the cooler, so the customer just has to remove the protection-foil and apply thermal grease to the GPU to get ready for the assembly. The bottom of the cooler is chrome-plated and the top is made of black Acetal and shows a nicely designed patch. An second special feature is the additional led in the connection port, which enlightens the Swiftech Logo in red. The Led receives the power from the Fan Header of the graphic card.
    The Swiftech Komodo is very well processed and has a very flashy design. The scope of supply is as well very nice, but the cooler could not reach the absolute top position for its cooling performance (but the difference to the top levels is still very small).
    There is as well a certain feature concerning the assembly of the cooler: Swiftech uses the small backplate of the stock air-cooler. If you do not want to use the small backplate, you can as well install the cooler with four screws, that are a little bit longer than the other ones. Therefore the scope of supply is quite perfect, but it would have been completed with a small screwdriver, which is needed for the installation.

    The cooler cannot be purchased in germany, but hopefully this will be possible in the further future. The price is with 155 US Dollar quite high, but if you take back in mind that the scope of supply is quite big, the height of the price is quite relative (Scope of supply contains additional backplate around 20-30€ and a single-cover).




    Technical Details:

    Threats: G 1/4"

    Top: POM Acetal
    Bottom: chrome-plated copper
    Backplate Material: Aluminum
    Sizes: Länge: 269mm x Breite: 120mm x Höhe 14,9mm
    Weight: 1059 g

    Price: ca. 155 US Dollar / ca. 118 EUR (current price)







    Testing system:


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    Banchetto 101 Bench Station
    Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 Mainboard
    Kingston HyperX DIMM Kit 12GB
    Watercool Heatkiller 3.0 LT
    i7 920 @4Ghz @1.40V (lief IDLE!)
    Cougar GX 1050 power supply
    Magicool Slim 280 Radiator + 2x Noiseblocker Black Silent PK2 Lüfter (600 U/Min.)
    Aquaero 4 VFD control unit
    Laing Ultra with Alphacool Acetal Top
    Alphacool Cyclone Reservoir
    Aquacomputer Flow-rate-sensor "High Flow"
    Koolance VL3N Quick-connection-coupling & CPC Metall Quick-connection-coupling
    Masterkleer 16/10mm Tube + 13mm Fittings
    Waterfilter from Aquacomputer
    3x Sensors for watertemperature (2x T-Line, 1x Reservoir)
    Thermal Grease: Phobya HeGrease
    Additional Water-mixture Innovatek Protect
    ArctiClean was used to clean the GPU and the Rams



    Testing procedure:


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    I used Furmark v.1.8.2 for stress-testing the GPU in order to reach a high temperature (settings: 1280x1024, 8x MSAA). The stress-test ran for thirty minutes. To quantify the maximum temperature of the GPU I used GPU-Z. CPU ran in idle status.

    I used the Phobya Hegrease thermal grease. Every cooler was assembled for three times and the best result took part in my statistics. I controlled the correct fit of the coolers and every cooler was flushed before testing in order to remove certain rest from the production









    Testing results:


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    Delta-T / Difference GPU to Water temperature. – lower is better









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    Liter / h.









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    Price in Euro









    Scope of supply:


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    Awards:

    The Bundymania Gold Award goes to the coolers from Watercool, Koolance and Aquacomputer for the very good processing quality and cooling performance.

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    The Silver Award goes to the coolers from Swiftech and EK for the well cooling performance and the big scope of supply.

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    The Bronze Award goes to the XSPC Razor 7970 for a solid processing quality and cooling performance and the good scope of supply.


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    Conclusion:

    In my opinion the most important result of my review is, that all coolers do not differ very much from each other concerning the cooling performance. Because mostly all of the coolers use the same cooling structure I cannot give any advises for the “ultimate-cooler”, but you should take additional details like the price, optics and scope of supply in mind, if you like to buy a cooler. One thing is for sure: Every Fullcover-watercooler fulfills his job better than the stock air-cooler! The Swiftech Komodo takes up a special position, because it cannot be bought at this time in Germany (the scope of supply is great!). All in all, it will be a nice feature, if every producer applies thermal grease and screw drivers or allen-keys to their scope of supply. I think this parts are quite low-price options, which can be expected from the customer, if you pay up to 120€ for a fullcover-cooling-solution.






    Thanks:

    I would like to thank the following companies for supporting my reviews:
    Aquatuning, Aquacomputer, Phobya, Watercool, EK Waterblocks, Swiftech, Koolance, XSPC, Noiseblocker, Gigabyte, Alphacool, Cougar, Microcool and Kingston
    Liquid Cool and radrok say thanks.
  2. radrok

    radrok

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    Thank you for your review Bundymania, there is very little information about watercooling around and people like you, martins and skinnee make the choice easier for us.

    On the review topic, awesome performance there for Watercool and excellent flow rate on the EK block, I really like low restriction design.

    Still the difference isn't that much unless you go with a 4way setup which will probably need a serial pump configuration so the choice boils down to aesthetic, atleast for me.

    Any words by Swiftech on availability for Europe? I cannot find the block here, would love to purchase em.
  3. bundymania

    bundymania

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  4. radrok

    radrok

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    I see, thanks!, crossing fingers for aquatuning availability.
  5. bundymania

    bundymania

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    I was asking Aquatuning already and they´re not sure, if they will list the block, because swiftech sells not very good in EU.
  6. bundymania

    bundymania

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    UPDATE 09.07.12: 3 new watercoolers from Liquid Extasy, Alphacool and Danger Den were added !


    Alphacool NexXxoS ATXP ATI 7970/50 Serie

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    Alphacool strikes back again ! In the last years there were not many complete new watercooling products from Alphacool, but the company from Braunschweig / Germany did a great job in their development and shows up with five different versions of the NexXxoS ATXP Fullcover watercooler. In this review I am going to test the two version with high-glossy finish (silver and black top), which are quite thin (6mm), light-weight (ca. 750g). The coolers look very nicely and come in a retail-box, which offers everything you might need for the installation including thermal grease. A slight negative aspect is, that you do not find any installation-manual, which you will have to download from the Alphacool Website. The ATXP is accurately processed and is in a few minutes installed. The thermal pads (excluding the pads for the voltage controllers) are as well accurately cut for the RAM. As the cooler follows the common operation mode, you have to apply thermal grease to the GPU. The cooler is well wrapped in bubble-foil and is delivered vacuum-packed to the customer. Especially the vacuum-packaging is a quite good idea, because it protects the copper bottom of the coolers from wetness and ugly blurs. The ground-plate is around 1mm thick and the cooling structure is 8mm broad (according to this sizes, the cooling capacity is on a good level). The Alphacool ATXP fullcover watercooler is crossfire compatible and can be as well used with a single-slot-blend, because of ist ultra-thin build. You can purchase for around 17 Euros a black aluminum backplate, which looks quite good .

    The cooler does not reach the top temperature-values, but performs nevertheless good in relation to the waterflow-values. The price is another good aspect of the product, because it is the cheapest product with 80 Euros in my review. The polished tops look very flashy and the stainless-steel silver and black tops are well processed. Overall the Alphacool ATXP cooler is a nice product and i think everyone will find a design version out of the five, which you will like.


    Technical Details:

    Material: Copper, Stainless-steel
    Size (L x B x H): 185 x 124 x 6 mm (see 17mm at the fittings)
    Weight: ca. 757g
    Fittings: 4x G ¼ Zoll SLI/Crossfire compatible
    Compatible to ATI 7970 and 7950 graphic cards in reference layout

    Scope of supply:

    1x Cooler
    Thermal pads
    Thermal grease
    Installation material
    2x G ¼ Zoll Screw plugs

    Price: ca. 79 EUR

    Optional Backplate for ca. 17 EUR





    Liquid Extasy Narrow Line ATI HD 7970 Referenz Plexi

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    Liquid Extasy is a producer from East-Germany, which is responsible for their current full-cover watercooler Narrow Line HD7970 with acrylic-glass top. An alternative version can be purchased with an acetal top. The cooler is well packed in a neutral box with the common installation material and a manual in German language. I am happy to tell you that the scope of supply contains as well thermal grease. The innovative Speedchannel-System (SCS) was adapted to the GPU Series in order to eliminate emission losses. The whole installation procedure is done with thermal grease, so the amount of thermal grease could have been quite more.
    The cooler is nicely designed, if you take in mind that only a few companies produce watercoolers with acrylic-glass tops. Overall the processing quality is not on such a high level as the other candidates, but is still good. So please respect that Liquid Extasy is a very small company, which does not own expensive high-end machines for their production. Not surprisingly but as well important to name: The cooler is SLI-ready and can be used for Multi-GPU-Operating-Systems.
    Temperature and waterflow values are on an adequate level, but do not reach the top five charts. The screws, which you will need for the assembly of the cooler, should have been a little bit shorter. Do not use high pressure and assemble at first the middle screws in the direction of a cross.
    The cooler can be bought for a price of 90,00 Euros (= standard price level). The cooler is produced in Germany.


    GPU - Cooler - Specifications:

    Scope of supply GPU - cooler

    1x Narrow Line GPU including bracket
    1x Installation material
    1x Thermal grease
    Installation manual

    GPU – cooler bracket: Mountingholes
    Material GPU – cooler bottom: Copper
    Threats GPU - cooler: G 1/4

    Price: ca. 89 EUR




    Danger Den DD-7970 Fullcover Wasserkühler

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    The company Danger Den is one of the greatest pioneers on the watercooling sector in the USA. The company produces for many years in the nicely Astoria/Oregon watercoolers and acrylic-glass PC cases in many versions and varieties. The design of the Fullcover GPU coolers does not subject to any great modifications. The producer focuses the functionality of high water-flow values in order to reach the lowest GPU temperatures. I suppose that someone might not like the bold design, but as well some other customer prefer that design. The bold design is definitely a unique feature of the company.
    The cooler is well packed in foil and comes to you in a neutral white box.
    The scope of supply contains the common installation material and the installation manual in English language. You will find as well two tubes of thermal grease, which you will definitely need, because Danger Den abdicates from thermal pads except the area of the voltage controllers.
    A special feature: The cooler comes with an additional four-sided backplate of acrylic-glas with a centered DD Logo. The assembly of the backplate is done with longer screws and springs in order to regulate the contact pressure. A small part of foam is used to isolate the backplate from the graphic-card.
    The processing quality of the cooler is on a good level, but the bottom of the cooler shows some slight scratches from the production procedure. The DD-7979 consists of blast cleaned copper and has an acrylic-glass top. There are no other designs planned yet. The cooler is quite massive, robust and heavy. The cooler fits very good to the graphic-card, therefore the assembly is done without any problems. Unfortunately the cooler can be not purchased in Germany yet. If you like the cooler try to check the shop www.highflow.nl. The cooler can be bought for around 90,00 Euros. If you like to have a cooler, which is optimized for high water-flow values, here you go! Customers who might focus the lowest GPU-temperatures should choose another cooler.


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    Delta-T / Difference GPU to Watertemp. - lower Result is better









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    Liter / hour









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    Price in Euro









    Scope of supply:


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    Awards


    Bundymania Gold Award goes to Watercool, Koolance und Aquacomputer for the High Performance and superb build quality

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    Silver Award goes to Swiftech and EK Waterblocks, for a good performance, and for the swiftech block for a huge amount of supply parts !

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    Bronze Award goes to XSPC Razor 7970 & Alphacool ATXP Kühler for a good scope of supply and good performance


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    The Best-Buy-for-the-Money-Award goes to the Alphacool ATXP Cooler for the best Price

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    Update of the conclusion:

    The new coolers from Alphacool could convince me with their nice desgin and the great scope of supply. The cooler from Danger Den could reach the top position of the water-flow-rates and the cooler from Liquid Extasy showed off with a good cooling performance and nice outward apperance. Unfortunately the L.E. cooler could not reach an award, because of its processing quality and the overlong screws.
    INSTG8R and Liquid Cool say thanks.
  7. Liquid Cool

    Liquid Cool

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    Thanks for the reviews Bundy...and the pretty pictures...:)

    Best,

    LC
    bundymania says thanks.
  8. radrok

    radrok

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    Thank you again for the update, much appreciated.

    Aquatuning listed the Komodo but it is always out of stock, I'll probably buy the AC one :)
    INSTG8R says thanks.
  9. bundymania

    bundymania

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  10. INSTG8R

    INSTG8R

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    Can't go wrong with AC. I still got my 2 X1950 blocks from way back when(They were great) I run an AC Kryos CPU block now again great stuff.
  11. bundymania

    bundymania

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    That´s for sure, you never make a mistake, when buying blocks which are made in germany :D
    INSTG8R says thanks.
  12. radrok

    radrok

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  13. bundymania

    bundymania

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    Yep, Build Quality and performance from the german brands like watercool and aquacomputer are always on highest niveau.
    radrok says thanks.

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