Hands on: Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Pro has a lot of bang for the buck

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in Current Mac Hardware edited July 19
A couple of days ago, Apple refreshed the base model 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and killed off the 12-inch MacBook. So let's take a look at what's new, and how the base model MacBook Pro performs.

Base 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro
Base 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro

Familiar design with new internals

In terms of overall design, it's the same looking MacBook Pro we've seen since its 2016 debut, but with the addition of Apple's T2 chip, True Tone display, and it's also now equipped with Apple's updated third-generation butterfly keyboard. We're not going to dive too deep into these new keyboards since we've already covered them in the past.

Whether the replacement of function keys by the Touch Bar is good or not is left as an exercise for the reader.






The new base model 13-inch MacBook Pro has a 1.4GHz quad-core 8th-generation i5 Processor that turbo boosts up to 3.9GHz. Alternatively, it can be upgraded at purchase to a 1.7GHz quad-core 8th-generation i7 Processor that turbo boosts up to 4.5GHz.

The one we have here is the base configuration model equipped with the 1.4GHz quad-core i5 Processor, 128GB SSD, 8GB of RAM and the Intel Iris Plus 645 Graphics. This 13-inch MacBook Pro retails for $1299 before taxes.

13-inch MacBook Pro in Space Gray
13-inch MacBook Pro in Space Gray

Geekbench 4 single and multi-core scores

Starting off with Geekbench, you can see that our machine got a single thread score of 4761 and a multi-core score of 16932. Comparing that score to the $1799 13-inch MacBook Pro with a quad-core i5 processor, that machine got a single core score of 4993 and a multi-core score of 18283.

Geekbench score for 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro
Geekbench score for 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro

Cinebench R20 CPU score

Moving on to Cinebench R20, in our testing, the 13-inch MacBook Pro posted a CPU score of 1583 which is not bad at all at this price point. For comparison, the $1799 13-inch MacBook Pro with four Thunderbolt 3 ports posted a CPU score of 1779.

Cinebench R20 score on 13-inch MacBook Pro
Cinebench R20 score on 13-inch MacBook Pro

Unigine Heaven results

With everything set to default, we decided to run Unigine Heaven several times to find out how the Intel Iris Plus 655 graphics performs under load. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro got a score of 784, and an average frames per second of 31.1 with a max frames per second of 66.7.

If you're looking to game on your Mac or if you rely heavily on the graphics card, we recommend picking up an external graphics solution -- and we have some suggestions for enclosures if you go this way.

Unigine Heaven benchmark
Unigine Heaven benchmark

SSD is slower, but not the slowest

Moving on to BlackMagic's Disk Speed Test, the $1299 base model 13-inch MacBook Pro tops out at around 495MB/s for its write speeds and around 1350MB/s for its read speeds. Not the fastest drive the Apple offers, but it's still leagues better than a spinning hard drive.

Black Magic Disk Speed Test on base model 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro
Black Magic Disk Speed Test on base model 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro

Final Cut Pro

If you're a video creator and you're curious about Final Cut Pro X's performance, we compiled five minutes of 4K H.264 footage, we then added color grading, and exported the same timeline several times with background rendering on and off. And with it on, we got an exported file at just 2 minutes and 45 seconds and with background rendering off, it exported the video at 10 minutes and 26 seconds.

2019 MacBook Pro running Final Cut Pro X
2019 MacBook Pro running Final Cut Pro X


The T2 chip helps with some encoding jobs. We've discussed this before, but given that the 2017 model has the T1 chip, there will be notable differences in encode times versus the old model. We'll be looking at this in more depth for our full review.

Like its $1799 counterpart we personally wouldn't recommend editing anything higher than 1080p on this base model MacBook Pro because 4K playback stutters from time to time. But, if you're patient, it is still capable of editing 4K, so long as your optimize your media beforehand or edit with proxy files. Doing that can take up extra storage space and if you're planning on editing 4K videos, we would highly recommend picking up an external storage solution, especially with this base 128GB SSD configuration.

Base 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro
Base 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro


The new base model 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro is a much cheaper entry to Apple's Pro line of laptops, and it now offers Apple's T2 chip, Touch Bar, True Tone, and Apple's updated third generation butterfly keyboard.

Is the 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro competitive with Apple's now mid-tier spec with four Thunderbolt 3 ports? The new model is powerful enough for basic tasks, and running multiple programs at once, as well as some light video editing and Photoshop work.

If you're OK with sacrificing two extra Thunderbolt 3 ports, a very slight decrease in performance not proportionate to the difference in cost, and a smaller and slower SSD, then Apple's newest base model MacBook Pro is the way to go. If not, you have plenty of options to choose from with their new lineup of laptops.

We'll be looking closer at the machine in the days to come.

How to save

Coupon deals are available on Apple's new 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, with no interesting financing offers available to help spread out the payments over time.

Available savings can be found 24/7 in our 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar Price Guide.

Meanwhile, closeout savings are also in effect on 2018 13-inch MacBook Pro models, saving shoppers hundreds of dollars on remaining inventory.

Keep up with AppleInsider by downloading the AppleInsider app for iOS, and follow us on YouTube, Twitter @appleinsider and Facebook for live, late-breaking coverage. You can also check out our official Instagram account for exclusive photos.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 52
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 274member
    Based on iFixit's teardown, the 128 GB SSD is implemented as two 64 GB chips with empty spots for two more. I suspect the 256 GB and higher SSDs would perform significantly better.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 52
    scottw2scottw2 Posts: 18member
    Look like a good fit for my use case. I need a new machine for Lightroom and some coding. I'm going to slap a hub on it (because the Dongle Life is real) so 2 Thunderbolt ports doesn't really hamper it much. $1899 for 16GB RAM + 512GB SSD is pretty reasonable.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 52
    irelandireland Posts: 17,660member
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    deminsdrotateleftbytewilliamlondonGeorgeBMacanantksundaram
  • Reply 4 of 52
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    Exactly.  These minuscule SSDs are almost offensive.

    Given claims the larger drives are faster, I'd like to see a comparison of the read/write speeds for all the available drives.
    entropyswilliamlondonGeorgeBMacanantksundaram
  • Reply 5 of 52
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,208member
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    SweeTango said:
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    Exactly.  These minuscule SSDs are almost offensive.
    Then it's a good thing for you two that this is neither the only nor largest capacity SSD available. Personally, I don't that much capacity on my portable Mac so I'm glad Apple doesn't force buyers to go for capacities they won't need. I take that back. Since I'm a 15" MBP user it does mean that I do have to get the 256 GB MBP at the entry level capacity when 128 GB would be more than enough for my portable needs. But instead of complaining about Apple is raping me or forcing me to do something against my will, I instead look at all vendor products, determine which fits my needs best, and then move on with my decision.
    dedgeckoStrangeDaysuraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 52
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,811member
    I wonder if a larger SSD would have improved SSD write speeds?
  • Reply 7 of 52
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,208member
    entropys said:
    I wonder if a larger SSD would have improved SSD write speeds?
    Maybe not specifically a larger capacity, but as Zimmie notes, there is space for 4 NAND models on the board so I assume we'll see that larger capacity MBPs that are usually 4 modules instead of two will offer faster speeds. Because these are the high-end of the product line Apple may also incorporate some faster components if they're having to source from multiple vendors. I assume it won't be long before we see copious results posted online.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 52
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 610member
    Soli said:
    entropys said:
    I wonder if a larger SSD would have improved SSD write speeds?
    Maybe not specifically a larger capacity, but as Zimmie notes, there is space for 4 NAND models on the board so I assume we'll see that larger capacity MBPs that are usually 4 modules instead of two will offer faster speeds. Because these are the high-end of the product line Apple may also incorporate some faster components if they're having to source from multiple vendors. I assume it won't be long before we see copious results posted online.
    Theoretically you could upgrade them by soldering new NAND chips on, but it’s also possible that Apple could use similar slots as iMac Pro’s & Mac Pros in their laptops.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 52
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,208member
    DuhSesame said:
    Soli said:
    entropys said:
    I wonder if a larger SSD would have improved SSD write speeds?
    Maybe not specifically a larger capacity, but as Zimmie notes, there is space for 4 NAND models on the board so I assume we'll see that larger capacity MBPs that are usually 4 modules instead of two will offer faster speeds. Because these are the high-end of the product line Apple may also incorporate some faster components if they're having to source from multiple vendors. I assume it won't be long before we see copious results posted online.
    Theoretically you could upgrade them by soldering new NAND chips on, but it’s also possible that Apple could use similar slots as iMac Pro’s & Mac Pros in their laptops.
    I wonder if the T2 or another chips will know that you've replaced the NAND. If not, then you a nefarious outfit could replace NAND with there own containing a rootkit. If my MBP stopped working and I had to reinstall macOS and restore from a Time Machine backup that would be an inconvenience but I don't think I'd assume my machine was compromised.

    Does any vendor's motherboards still come with system-board switches or jumpers? Did Apple ever offer those?
    edited July 12 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 52
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 610member
    Soli said:
    DuhSesame said:
    Soli said:
    entropys said:
    I wonder if a larger SSD would have improved SSD write speeds?
    Maybe not specifically a larger capacity, but as Zimmie notes, there is space for 4 NAND models on the board so I assume we'll see that larger capacity MBPs that are usually 4 modules instead of two will offer faster speeds. Because these are the high-end of the product line Apple may also incorporate some faster components if they're having to source from multiple vendors. I assume it won't be long before we see copious results posted online.
    Theoretically you could upgrade them by soldering new NAND chips on, but it’s also possible that Apple could use similar slots as iMac Pro’s & Mac Pros in their laptops.
    I wonder if the T2 or another chips will know that you've replaced the NAND. If not, then you a nefarious outfit could replace NAND with there own containing a rootkit. If my MBP stopped working and I had to reinstall macOS and restore from a Time Machine backup that would be an inconvenience but I don't think I'd assume my machine was compromised.

    Does any vendor's motherboards still come with system-board switches or jumpers? Did Apple ever offer those?
    I’m sure you have to give to Apple for upgrading, or void your warranty.

    switches and jumpers - like solder pads for power on the board?  There are a few on the Mac.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 52
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 610member
    Here’s the thing about the performance: back then I said T2 would obsolete soon, making the SSD performance not competitive, now I think that Apple is actually using the T2 to set various speeds on their Macs.  I think the T2 could be much faster if we can unlock to their fullest potential, especially their CPU cores are way more powerful than any of the SSD controllers.  However, there are different requirements to balance the performance and consumption on different Macs, so whatever the performance we get has been set, making benchmarks and comparisons somewhat meaningless.
    edited July 13 watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 52
    tomhayestomhayes Posts: 128member
    Yeah, the screen and processor speed seem good.

    The RAM is low. The SSD is too small AND slow!

    If you want to expand the RAM you have to go BTO which adds 12 days to delivery time.

    Configured "correctly" they're changing $1700 for the machine - and you only have to wait around 2 weeks to get it.

    I bought one today but I have not opened it, I think I'm going to return it and sit on the money until Apple delivers a entry level machine with 256GB (the bare bare minimum needed to install Mac OS X, some basic productivity programs, a small music library and maybe a small Bootcamp partition.) But on 128 that's nearly impossible.

    128GB on a $1300 laptop turned out to be a deal breaker for me, frankly it should be embarrassing to Apple.  128GB SSD with these write speeds cost less than $30 dollars, and a 240GB version is less than $45.
    williamlondonireland
  • Reply 13 of 52
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,071member
    Soli said:
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    SweeTango said:
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    Exactly.  These minuscule SSDs are almost offensive.
    Then it's a good thing for you two that this is neither the only nor largest capacity SSD available. Personally, I don't that much capacity on my portable Mac so I'm glad Apple doesn't force buyers to go for capacities they won't need. I take that back. Since I'm a 15" MBP user it does mean that I do have to get the 256 GB MBP at the entry level capacity when 128 GB would be more than enough for my portable needs. But instead of complaining about Apple is raping me or forcing me to do something against my will, I instead look at all vendor products, determine which fits my needs best, and then move on with my decision.
    But if you have a long term investment in MacOS your options aren't really options at all.

    What would be nice is an 'old style' Mac. Upgradeable RAM, SSD, removeable battery, no Touch Bar, scissor mechanism etc and let market forces decide who is 'forcing' who, because if such a machine were to prove a wild success (IMO it would) it would essentially mean that users are being forced to buy what they don't want. Just one model. That is all it would take.

    Ehem, 'Courage'. Too much to ask?
    irelandGeorgeBMacMplsP
  • Reply 14 of 52
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,309member
    avon b7 said:
    Soli said:
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    SweeTango said:
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    Exactly.  These minuscule SSDs are almost offensive.
    Then it's a good thing for you two that this is neither the only nor largest capacity SSD available. Personally, I don't that much capacity on my portable Mac so I'm glad Apple doesn't force buyers to go for capacities they won't need. I take that back. Since I'm a 15" MBP user it does mean that I do have to get the 256 GB MBP at the entry level capacity when 128 GB would be more than enough for my portable needs. But instead of complaining about Apple is raping me or forcing me to do something against my will, I instead look at all vendor products, determine which fits my needs best, and then move on with my decision.
    But if you have a long term investment in MacOS your options aren't really options at all.

    What would be nice is an 'old style' Mac. Upgradeable RAM, SSD, removeable battery, no Touch Bar, scissor mechanism etc and let market forces decide who is 'forcing' who, because if such a machine were to prove a wild success (IMO it would) it would essentially mean that users are being forced to buy what they don't want. Just one model. That is all it would take.

    Ehem, 'Courage'. Too much to ask?
    Your thinking is so flawed it’s hot even funny. The market is already speaking — because these are the products Apple offers in a very healthy marketplace, and people buy them. Normals do not care about the things you pretend they do. The number of people who upgrade their machines are small. Techies are not normals. The attributes of what makes MacsBooks attractive are the things you want them to eliminate — sleek, lightweight appliance computing machines. Get a junky Dell if you want removable everything. Which you will since you wouldn’t even buy a MBP to begin with. 

    You’re confusing courage “But but but these are the things *I* want Apple to do!” Apple does what Apple wants to do, which the vast majority of normal people are fine with. There are alternatives for people like you.    
    chiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 52
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,071member
    avon b7 said:
    Soli said:
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    SweeTango said:
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    Exactly.  These minuscule SSDs are almost offensive.
    Then it's a good thing for you two that this is neither the only nor largest capacity SSD available. Personally, I don't that much capacity on my portable Mac so I'm glad Apple doesn't force buyers to go for capacities they won't need. I take that back. Since I'm a 15" MBP user it does mean that I do have to get the 256 GB MBP at the entry level capacity when 128 GB would be more than enough for my portable needs. But instead of complaining about Apple is raping me or forcing me to do something against my will, I instead look at all vendor products, determine which fits my needs best, and then move on with my decision.
    But if you have a long term investment in MacOS your options aren't really options at all.

    What would be nice is an 'old style' Mac. Upgradeable RAM, SSD, removeable battery, no Touch Bar, scissor mechanism etc and let market forces decide who is 'forcing' who, because if such a machine were to prove a wild success (IMO it would) it would essentially mean that users are being forced to buy what they don't want. Just one model. That is all it would take.

    Ehem, 'Courage'. Too much to ask?
    Your thinking is so flawed it’s hot even funny. The market is already speaking — because these are the products Apple offers in a very healthy marketplace, and people buy them. Normals do not care about the things you pretend they do. The number of people who upgrade their machines are small. Techies are not normals. The attributes of what makes MacsBooks attractive are the things you want them to eliminate — sleek, lightweight appliance computing machines. Get a junky Dell if you want removable everything. Which you will since you wouldn’t even buy a MBP to begin with. 

    You’re confusing courage “But but but these are the things *I* want Apple to do!” Apple does what Apple wants to do, which the vast majority of normal people are fine with. There are alternatives for people like you.    
    That is a very short sighted viewpoint. You completely ignore what could have been, to declare the market has spoken. It hasn't because Apple has never allowed two machines of opposing design philosophies to stand centre stage at the same time.

    It's why the iMac also has no headless option along the same lines that I mentioned for the MBP.

    I am not confusing anything. There is nothing flawed in my thinking. It is simply an opinion.

    Given the choice, which laptop (my proposal or the current MBP) would be the preferred option?

    I don't have to 'get a Dell'. There's a throwaway statement if ever there was one, and completely worthless, to boot.

    Apple has a long history of making such machines. All it takes is a change in design philosophy.

    And don't say it will never happen as you've got your fingers burnt enough already. It could happen.

    In the meantime I will stay away from this design - and for the exact same reasons as I gave in 2016.

    Those 2016 machines will soon be coming out of AppleCare. Anyone who runs into issues may get a wake up call on repairability. We'll see how far those people are willing to go when it's time upgrade.




    edited July 13
  • Reply 16 of 52
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,963member
    avon b7 said:
    Soli said:
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    SweeTango said:
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    Exactly.  These minuscule SSDs are almost offensive.
    Then it's a good thing for you two that this is neither the only nor largest capacity SSD available. Personally, I don't that much capacity on my portable Mac so I'm glad Apple doesn't force buyers to go for capacities they won't need. I take that back. Since I'm a 15" MBP user it does mean that I do have to get the 256 GB MBP at the entry level capacity when 128 GB would be more than enough for my portable needs. But instead of complaining about Apple is raping me or forcing me to do something against my will, I instead look at all vendor products, determine which fits my needs best, and then move on with my decision.
    But if you have a long term investment in MacOS your options aren't really options at all.

    What would be nice is an 'old style' Mac. Upgradeable RAM, SSD, removeable battery, no Touch Bar, scissor mechanism etc and let market forces decide who is 'forcing' who, because if such a machine were to prove a wild success (IMO it would) it would essentially mean that users are being forced to buy what they don't want. Just one model. That is all it would take.

    Ehem, 'Courage'. Too much to ask?
    In many ways the Mac Line has become everything Jobs objected to -- essentially the immutable IBM "Do it my way or no way" behemoth.  True, the IBM PC was big, bulky and white while the MacBooks are thin, light and silver.   But really they are simply pushing against the opposite wall and both are prisons.

    Undoubtedly that "old Style" that you propose would have drawbacks -- mostly it would be thicker and heavier and less sleek than the current line-up.  And for some that would be unacceptable.   But others would welcome its increased functionality, durability, expandability, repairability, and upgreadeability.

    I suspect that (or similar) is why Apple is cutting back on offering so many models in its Mac line:   They were all essentially minor variations of the same theme.  I know Macs fairly better than most, but in an Apple showroom I would have to ask a salesman which one I was looking at because I couldn't tell them apart.

    I am looking forward to Apple introducing new innovative models -- even if some of them are "old style".  I see one or more (or maybe some combination) of the following coming out in the next few years:
    --  An "old style" Mac with as you say "Upgradeable RAM, SSD, removeable battery, no Touch Bar, scissor mechanism" keyboard -- and more ports.
    --  An "A Series" processor model
    --  An iPad with a full external keyboard and a mouse / trackpad for use when needed.

    Actually, what I think will drive it will be the iPad gaining external peripherals of quality keyboard, mouse/trackpad, external display and storage.   That will take the place (for many) of the simple, easy to use, highly portable, thin, light, sleek MacBook --  which is why so many Mac loyalists fear it.  That simple and highly portable yet functional device will push the MacBook line to become more the rugged, flexible, workhorse that can be repaired, upgraded and expanded as needed.

    It's coming time when the MacBook line has to give up competing with the iPad line.   So far, Apple has been supporting it by holding back on the possible functioning of the iPad.  But, I'm not sure how much longer they will coddle their MacBook line and instead make it stand on its own.
    canukstormentropys
  • Reply 17 of 52
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,169member
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    128GB is perfectly fine for the vast majority of normal users. Start thinking outside that techie spec box you live in. Most people don’t have a 100,000 song music library. Most don’t have 50GB of archived emails and 100GB photo libraries. Most don’t use FCP or Photoshop or hoard hundreds of purchased/pirated/ripped movies. I am in that “most” camp and 128GB of storage would be adequate. Then there’s the external storage option.
    macplusplusRayz2016uraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 52
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,963member
    lkrupp said:
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    128GB is perfectly fine for the vast majority of normal users. Start thinking outside that techie spec box you live in. Most people don’t have a 100,000 song music library. Most don’t have 50GB of archived emails and 100GB photo libraries. Most don’t use FCP or Photoshop or hoard hundreds of purchased/pirated/ripped movies. I am in that “most” camp and 128GB of storage would be adequate. Then there’s the external storage option.
    It hasn't been adequate for me since the 90's.  I would only consider it if I planned on using the laptop in Chromebook mode with data stored in the cloud instead of locally.  But, If I'm doing that, then why not buy a Chromebook?
  • Reply 19 of 52
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,307member
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    Heck, 128GB isn’t good enough for an iPad these days. 

    The fact that Apple produces this as their base model is a bit embarrassing. But they obviously don’t see it that way. 
  • Reply 20 of 52
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,307member
    lkrupp said:
    ireland said:
    Seeing as 128 GB isn’t big enough for most people, this computer is no bang for your buck.
    128GB is perfectly fine for the vast majority of normal users. Start thinking outside that techie spec box you live in. Most people don’t have a 100,000 song music library. Most don’t have 50GB of archived emails and 100GB photo libraries. Most don’t use FCP or Photoshop or hoard hundreds of purchased/pirated/ripped movies. I am in that “most” camp and 128GB of storage would be adequate. Then there’s the external storage option.
    You know that “128GB is perfectly fine” for most users how? That’s a bit vacuous. All you know is that Apple offers them: you have no idea how many they sell. 

    I’ll bet very few people have 100,000 songs in their library. I have ~10,000 — I am a music fanatic, and I’ve built my iTunes collection over two decades — and that alone takes up >100GB.
    edited July 13 GeorgeBMac
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