The best budget laptops in 2022
The best budget laptops are good enough for basic work and play. They don't cost an arm and a leg but they also don't feel cheap, offering decent performance, nice screens and battery life that's good enough.
They aren't all stodgy grey clamshell laptops, either. Many of the best laptops under $500 are Chromebooks or tablets with detachable keyboards, and if you're willing to spend a bit more you can get an affordable premium laptop from the likes of Asus or Apple.
We've tested and reviewed dozens and dozens of laptops from the top manufacturers to find the best options for those on a budget. What follows is our latest list of the best budget laptops on the market right now.
The best budget laptops you can buy
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1. Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 The best budget laptop overall Specifications CPU: Intel Celeron | Core i3 processors RAM: 4GB, 8GB Storage: 64GB, 128GB Display: 13.3-inch QLED (1080p) Dimensions: 12 x 8 x 0.6 inches Weight: 2.7 pounds Today's Best Deals View at Samsung (opens in new tab) View at Best Buy (opens in new tab) Check Amazon (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Beautiful design + Gorgeous QLED display + Improved battery life Reasons to avoid - Key travel could be better - Touchscreen input can be inconsistent
The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 is a budget laptop that doesn't feel like one, with a slick ultraportable design, a sharp-looking QLED touchscreen, and solid 8-hour battery life. It's also going to sound great, plus its Core i3 configuration provides a ton of speed for Chrome OS.
We weren't as happy with the vertical travel in its keyboard, which is a bit shallow. This creates a slight learning curve you'll adapt to over time. But to get a Chromebook that looks this good (the Fiesta Red color option stands out in a sea of silver and black laptops) and feels this premium for under $500 is a great deal.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 review.
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2. Lenovo Duet 3 The best budget Chrome tablet Specifications CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 RAM: 4-8GB Storage: 64-128GB eMMC Display: 11 inches, 2,000 x 1,200 pixels Dimensions: 10.16 x 6.48 x 0.31 inches Weight: 1.2/2.1 lbs (tablet only/tablet + cover) Today's Best Deals View at Best Buy (opens in new tab) View at Lenovo USA (opens in new tab) View at Microsoft US (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Bright, sharp display + 10+ hours of battery life + Packed-in keyboard cover is decent + Surprisingly loud for a Chrome tablet Reasons to avoid - Still no headphone jack - Lackluster cameras - Keyboard cover uncomfortable for sustained typing
The list of great budget laptops is dominated by Chrome devices, and the Lenovo Duet 3 (or Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3, depending on where you buy it) is the best Chrome tablet that can be yours for as low as $359. This is effectively a bigger, more expensive follow-up to the Chromebook Duet Lenovo released in 2020, a surprisingly capable and inexpensive Chrome tablet that's still on this list.
We loved the original Duet for its great battery life, solid performance and decent packed-in keyboard cover, all of which could be had for roughly $250. Lenovo's new 11-inch Duet 3 costs a bit more, but it also delivers a bigger, brighter display, more ports, and the added power of a beefier Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 chip. It's one of the best Chrome tablets you can buy, and the fact that Lenovo includes the keyboard cover at no extra cost helps it double as a surprisingly effective 2-in-1 Chromebook.
While the original Duet further down this list is a better buy if you're short on cash, those who can afford it will be well-served by this excellent Chromebook.
Read our full Lenovo Duet 3 Chromebook review.
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3. Microsoft Surface Go 2 The best budget Windows 2-in-1 Specifications Display: 10.5-inches, 1920 x 1280 CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 615 RAM: 4GB Storage: 64GB eMMC Weight: 1.22 pounds (1.75 pounds with type cover) Today's Best Deals View at Walmart (opens in new tab) View at Amazon (opens in new tab) View at AT&T Mobility (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Much improved battery life + Bright, colorful (and bigger) screen + Excellent webcam Reasons to avoid - Performance doesn't impress - Type Cover has a learning curve
The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is a remarkably capable Windows 10 tablet that does double duty as a budget laptop replacement. On its own its a solid Windows tablet, with enough power for basic browsing and battery life that won't leave you always hunting for a charger.
But the tablet really comes into its own when the optional Type-Cover accessory is added into the mix. That takes the entry-level $299 Surface Go 2 up to $359, but in the process turns it into a dinky laptop that’s surprisingly capable. But to keep things below $500, you have to put up with an Intel Pentium Gold processor, only 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage. That’s hardly a mighty set of specs, but it should be enough for people who want a 2-in-1 device for reasonably lightweight productivity tasks — think web browsing, word processing, and firing out a healthy batch of emails.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Go 2 review.
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4. Lenovo Chromebook Duet Best cheap Chromebook Specifications Display: 10.1 inches, 1920 x 1200 CPU: MediaTek Helio P60T GPU: ARM G72 MP3 RAM: 4GB Storage: 64GB eMMC Weight: 2 pounds (docked) Today's Best Deals View at Best Buy (opens in new tab) View at Amazon (opens in new tab) View at Walmart (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Sharp, colorful screen + Excellent battery life + ChromeOS tablet optimizations Reasons to avoid - Flimsy hinge - Cramped keyboard
If you're looking for a good budget laptop and don't mind the idea of a hybrid tablet/Chromebook, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet could be for you. Currently on sale for $189, you can get both the tablet and the detachable keyboard, rather than needing to pay for them separately as is the case with the Microsoft Surface Go — though that hybrid Windows 10 machine does offer a more premium experience.
The Duet isn't as powerful as its larger sibling the Duet 3, but it's enough for most of what you can do on a Chromebook these days. Plus. the low spec means it won’t chew through battery power. It also has an impressively sharp and bright 1920 x 1080 display that works just as well for binge-watching YouTube as it does for zipping through emails and browsing the web.
Read our full Lenovo Chromebook Duet review.
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5. Acer Chromebook Spin 311 The best cheap, durable clamshell Chromebook Specifications Display: 11.6 inches, 1366 x 768 CPU: 2.0GHz octa-core MediaTek MT8183 GPU: ARM Mali-G72 MP3 RAM: 4GB Storage: 32 or 64 GB eMMC Weight: 2.65 pounds Today's Best Deals View at Amazon (opens in new tab) View at Amazon (opens in new tab) View at Walmart (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Solid battery life + Exceptional keyboard + Tough Gorilla Glass screen Reasons to avoid - Dim, low-resolution screen - No USB 3.0 Type A port
Acer’s Spin 311 is exactly what many people expect of a Chromebook: Small, inexpensive, and capable enough to handle work and light play every day. The keyboard is excellent for a Chromebook of this size and price; the battery life is solid, too, and although performance isn’t great, it’s enough to handle light, day-to-day tasks.
For students, children, or anyone looking for an extremely portable machine that gets the essentials right, the Spin 311 is one of the best Chromebooks for kids that can also compete with some of the best Chromebooks of comparable price.
Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 311 review.
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6. Apple iPad 2021 with Smart Keyboard The closest thing you can get to an Apple laptop under $500 Specifications Display: 10.2 inches (2160 x 1620 pixels) CPU: A13 Bionic GPU: A13 Bionic RAM: 3GB Storage: 64GB, 256GB Weight: 1.07 - 1.09 lbs Today's Best Deals View at Apple (opens in new tab) View at Amazon (opens in new tab) View at Walmart (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Bright and colorful display + Superb battery life + Fast chip Reasons to avoid - Design a bit dated - iPadOS limitations
OK, the iPad isn’t really a laptop. But for roughly $449 it can be equipped with an optional Apple Smart Keyboard that turns the tablet into a form of hybrid laptop for under $500. In that way, it’s a little like the Microsoft Surface Go.
If you need to do some email work, draft up a word document, or do some light photo and video editing, this iPad is reasonably capable. Granted it’s not a powerhouse machine but few laptops on this list are. And while iPadOS has its limitations, it’s still capable of getting through a good suite of everyday tasks. And then you’ve got the rich curated ecosystem of apps to pick from in the Apple App Store, making the basic iPad a solid device for light work and serious play -- even if it looks a little dated compared to the more expensive iPad Air 5.
Read our full Apple iPad 2021 review.
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7. Acer Aspire 5 The best budget laptop when battery life isn't important Specifications Display: CPU: GPU: Intel Core i5 RAM: 8GB RAM Storage: 256GB SSD Weight: 3.7 pounds Today's Best Deals View at Amazon (opens in new tab) View at Acer (opens in new tab) View at Walmart (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Affordable + Full keyboard layout + Upgradeable hardware + Ample port selection Reasons to avoid - Poor battery life - Slippery trackpad
The Acer Aspire 5 is a full laptop for under $500, and it's a great little machine as long as you don't plan on unplugging it very often. It offers a good port selection, a nice 15.6-inch 1080p display, and a keyboard that's comfy to type on. However, it isn't the budget all-star its predecessor was thanks to its disappointing battery life: it lasted less than 7 hours in our lab testing, and under real-world conditions, it regularly started to run low after just a few hours of streaming video.
While the Acer Aspire 5 is a good deal if you need a new laptop now for not a lot of money, many of its quirks may be hard to ignore — particularly its poor battery life. That being said, it hits all the points for your basic computing needs, including steady performance and a wealth of ports.
Read our full Acer Aspire 5 review.
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8. Asus Zenbook 13 OLED The best cheap OLED Windows laptop Specifications Display: 13.3-inch 1080p OLED CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5700U GPU: Integrated Radeon graphics RAM: 8 GB Storage: 512 GB Weight: 2.5 pounds Today's Best Deals Check Amazon (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Stellar battery life + Beautiful 1080p OLED display + Great performance Reasons to avoid - Middling sound quality - Inconsistent webcam - No headphone jack
The AMD-equipped Asus Zenbook 13 OLED is an excellent value, offering an eye-catching 1080p OLED display and exceptional battery life in a slim, lightweight package for less than a thousand bucks.
Sure, the speakers aren't amazing, the webcam leaves something to be desired, and there's no headphone jack, but these are stumbling blocks you can work around. If you need a zippy little Windows ultraportable with a great screen that will last you all day long, you can't do better than the OLED-equipped Asus Zenbook 13 at this price.
Read our full Asus Zenbook 13 OLED review.
How to choose the best laptop for you
It can be tricky to weigh up how much one can expect from a cheap laptop. You’re not going to get bleeding-edge performance or a super premium design. And you might have to make a few compromises on the display, such as how well it handles colors and how bright it gets. But that doesn’t mean you have to make do with a laptop that feels cheap; rather, you’re looking for one that's affordable. So here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a laptop.
Chrome or Windows? Unless you have a budget of $1,000 or more, even the cheapest MacBook Air 2020 will be way out of your price range. As such you’ll probably need to decide whether a Windows laptop or Chromebook better fits your needs.
Chrome OS offers a lightweight operating system that will run on even the most basic hardware, yet still offers a comprehensive suite of abilities and web-based apps to get a lot of day-to-day computing tasks done. Furthermore, it now supports Android apps.
Windows, on the other hand, requires a little more power to ensure it runs smoothly. But it supports a huge range of software, far more than Chrome OS can currently dream of. And Windows is being improved upon on a regular basis, meaning you’ll be able to get the best software Microsoft can offer years after you’ve bought your laptop.
Clamshell or convertible: Budget laptops generally come in two varieties — traditional clamshell laptops or dynamic 2-in-1 convertibles. Clamshells are usually the cheaper of the bunch, and provide a traditional laptop experience with a keyboard and a non-touch screen. But if you want a touchscreen device that can also double as a tablet, convertibles (or detachables, like the Surface Go), are worth considering.
Don't settle for less than 1080p: Unless you're truly strapped for cash, you shouldn't settle for most laptops with a 1366 x 768 display. These days plenty of affordable notebooks start with a display resolution of 1080p, which will make a difference when it comes to streaming Netflix shows or staring at webpages for hours on end.
How we test laptops
To find the best laptop, we run every machine through a rigorous suite of benchmarks and real-world tests to gauge how it will perform during everyday use.
We measure the average brightness and color quality of each laptop's display using our in-house light meter and colorimeter. For general performance, we run our machines through tests that include Geekbench 5 (CPU performance), as well as various 3DMark tests to measure graphics capabilities. We also run a file transfer test to measure how fast a machine's hard drive is, and a custom battery test that has the machine browse the internet over Wi-Fi until it runs out of juice.
When testing dedicated gaming laptops, we run benchmarks for popular games such as Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Far Cry 6 and Red Dead Redemption 2.
The best cheap laptop for 2022
The best cheap laptops are getting better and better. The question to ask is: what’s most important, and what are you willing to sacrifice? Even the best cheap laptops aren’t perfect in every area — they have some strengths but cut corners to achieve their price tags. You can almost certainly find a budget laptop with a touchscreen, a premium-looking chassis, an HDMI port, a backlit keyboard, or stylus support, but you may need to consider which of those features you want the most, and which you can go without.
Many of our picks for the best cheap laptops are currently Chromebooks. We believe that Chromebooks are, in many cases, the best-value option for shoppers seeking a laptop under $500 and tend to offer better specs, features, and build quality than most Windows laptops at that price point. We hope to add more Windows laptops under $500 to this page in the future and are keeping a close eye on those releases.
Best Cheap Laptops 2022
The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 is the best cheap laptop of 2022. Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales
The best cheap laptop of 2022
The Chromebook Flip CX5 really is that good. It’s sturdy enough to withstand all kinds of jolts and jostles in a backpack or briefcase, and has a unique velvety texture that’s very pleasant to hold. Add a wide port selection, a smooth and comfortable keyboard, and a vivid display, and you’ve got a chassis that can hold its own against plenty of midrange Windows laptops.
Performance is equally impressive. We never once heard its fan in our testing, even when pushing a workload that slowed most devices down. Battery life is quite satisfactory, easily lasting us a day. And the speakers delivered some of the best audio we’ve ever heard from a Chromebook. While the CX5 isn’t a perfect device, it’s one of the best ones we’ve ever tested under $700. Overall, budget shoppers who don’t mind Chrome OS won’t be disappointed in this machine.
Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 $ 399 $ 649 39 % off $ 399 The Asus Chromebook CX5 offers a great package for a bit of a steep price. $399 at Best Buy
The Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 is the best cheap laptop with a built-in stylus. Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge
The best cheap detachable
If you like the Duet’s size and detachable form factor but are willing to spend on something a bit more upscale, you may find the Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 to be a better choice. Like the Duet, the CM3 is a 10.5-inch 16:10 Chrome OS tablet with a fabric cover, kickstand, and detachable screen. But the CM3’s kickstand folds multiple ways: you can crease it lengthwise to stand the tablet up like a laptop or fold it the short way and stand the tablet up horizontally. Plus, it comes with a built-in USI stylus and roomy keys with a surprising amount of travel. Battery life was also quite impressive: we averaged close to 13 hours of continuous work.
Where the CM3 lags a bit behind the Duet (and other cheap laptops you may try) is the power. Its MediaTek processor can be a bit sluggish compared to more pricier offerings. But the CM3 still offers a surprising number of perks for its sub-$400 price and makes a great student driver or secondary device.
Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 $ 230 $ 370 38 % off $ 230 The Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 is the best detachable laptop with a built-in pen and detachable screen. It offers a unique dual-folding kickstand, making it possible to fold the tablet so it stands up like a laptop or stands up horizontally. $230 at Asus
The HP Pavilion Aero 13 is a 13-inch powerhouse that weighs almost nothing. Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge
The best budget Windows laptop
If you’re looking for a budget Windows laptop that’s thinner and lighter than the Envy x360 while delivering similar category-topping performance, the $669 HP Pavilion Aero 13 is a good choice for you. It has a powerful eight-core Ryzen processor, which is one of the fastest processors for thin and light laptops that you can get. Not only does it perform well, but it’s also unbelievably light at just 2.1 pounds, and it comes with a blindingly bright 16:10 screen. It’s a standout in battery life, too — I averaged almost 11 hours of continuous work.
HP did have to cut a few corners to achieve those benefits at this price point. The audio on our model wasn’t great, and the device shipped with some cheap bloatware installed. But the Pavilion Aero 13 is excellent in almost every other way, and it won’t disappoint if you’re looking for a functional, cheap Windows PC.
HP Pavilion Aero 13 $ 630 $ 890 29 % off $ 630 Similar in many ways to the more expensive Envy x360 13, the HP Pavilion Aero 13 is a high-quality budget laptop that’s both incredibly light and powerful. $630 at HP
The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 is the reddest Chromebook you can buy and one of the best cheap laptops under $800. Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge
An affordable laptop with a bold look
If you’re looking for an affordable Chromebook that stands out from the crowd, the $549 Galaxy Chromebook 2 should be on your list. It comes in a bold “fiesta red” color (as well as a regular gray, if you prefer to blend in). It’s a touchscreen convertible with stylus support (though the stylus isn’t included).
On top of the design, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 includes an excellent QLED panel, which is one of the best displays we’ve ever seen on a Chromebook. You also get a solid keyboard, decent battery life (we averaged 7 hours and 21 minutes of continuous work), and a port selection that includes two USB-C ports, a microSD slot, and a headphone jack. It’s easily one of the best Chromebooks you can buy and one of the best cheap laptops as well.
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 is the best cheap laptop under $500. Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge
The best laptop under $500
If you’re looking for an absurdly cheap Chromebook that absolutely gets the job done, you should definitely be looking at the Duet 3. This is a great, tiny laptop for budget shoppers with a magnetic detachable keyboard and kickstand. The screen even supports USI styluses, though a stylus is not included in this price. The keyboard is included, however, as are the keyboard and kickstand, which makes for a pretty solid package for a sub-$400 price.
While we don’t recommend the Duet 3 for work use, we found it quite usable for social media use, leisure, and multimedia viewing. It has a sharp, bright, 11-inch screen, and the keyboard and touchpad are surprisingly comfortable. As a bonus, it’s just 2.09 pounds, which makes it great for carrying around in a backpack or a purse.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 $ 199 $ 379 47 % off $ 199 The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 is an excellent 11-inch budget device. The price includes the keyboard and kickstand. $199 at Best Buy
The Lenovo ThinkBook 13S is the best cheap business laptop, and one of the best cheap laptops under $900. Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge
The best budget laptop for business
The Lenovo ThinkBook 13S looks a lot like Lenovo’s high-end ThinkPad laptops. But it’s much more affordable than those ThinkPads, with models currently starting under $900. We were pleasantly surprised by its sharp 16:10 display and its generous port selection, which includes Thunderbolt 4. The audio is loud and clear. The device lacks some of the artistry of the ThinkPad line, but brings the same functionality and high-quality build. If you’re looking for a sub-$900 Windows laptop for business, the ThinkBook should be on your list.
Lenovo ThinkBook 13S $ 648 $ 1310 51 % off $ 648 The Lenovo ThinkBook 13S is great for business users who want a sturdy, reliable machine. $648 at Lenovo
The HP Victus 15 is one of the best gaming laptops you can buy, and one of the best cheap laptops under $700. Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge
An affordable gaming laptop
Gaming laptops are known to be fairly expensive, but the HP Victus 15 offers surprisingly good frame rates for a sub-$700 price. The base model is available with a GTX 1650, while those who want to run the most demanding titles and don’t mind spending a bit more can go for an RTX 3050, which adds $90 to the price. (There are even RTX 3050 Ti models, if you’re really a frame-rate perfectionist.)
We tested the GTX 1650 model, and it had no problem with lighter esports titles. The 144Hz screen, which is a huge bonus at this price point, was a joy to watch. You should expect to bump some settings down if you want modern AAA titles to fully take advantage of the display. On the outside, the Victus has a nice, unobtrusive look, and a decently portable five-pound chassis.
The Pavilion Plus 14 is one of the best cheap laptops under $800 for 2022. Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge
A (relatively) cheap OLED laptop
The HP Pavilion Plus 14, currently available for $799, is a 14-inch laptop with a luxurious OLED, 2.8K, 90Hz display that far outclasses its price. It’s also the thinnest Pavilion HP has ever built, and at just 3.09 pounds, it’s quite easy to carry around in a backpack or briefcase.
The webcam also offers a few unique (and at times hilarious features). Auto-framing keeps you centered as you move around your conference area, backlight and low-light adjustments keep you looking sharp, and “BRB Mode” can freeze your feed and stick a “BRB” sign on the bottom to let your coworkers know you’ll be right back. The main downside to consider is that battery life isn’t great – we got just under five hours to a charge out of our test unit.
Pavilion Plus 14 $ 800 HP’s Pavilion Plus 14 laptop has a 90Hz, 2.8k OLED screen. It’s also very thin and light, and has an excellent webcam with AI features. $800 at HP
The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is the clamshell Chromebook to buy, and one of the best cheap laptops under $800. Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge
The best cheap 14-inch Chromebook
If you’d prefer a more traditional Chromebook with a clamshell form factor, the $479 Acer Chromebook Spin 714 is an affordable option that’s all-around excellent. It has a gorgeous 16:10 display, compatible with a garaged stylus, that delivers a sharp picture and bright, vibrant colors with plenty of vertical space. The screen alone would make the Chromebook Spin 714 a standout, but it has a number of other strengths as well, including a great keyboard, all-day battery life, and a comprehensive port selection, including an HDMI, in addition to Thunderbolt 4. It’s an especially good buy at a discount (which you can often find).
The 5 Best Budget And Cheap Laptops - Fall 2022 Reviews
The best budget laptop we've tested is the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021), an ultraportable Windows laptop designed for general productivity tasks like text processing, web browsing, and video playback. It has a sturdy build, a thin and light design, and a battery that lasts around nine hours of light use. You can configure it with an AMD Ryzen 5 or 7 CPU and up to 16GB of memory and 1TB of storage. There are two 1080p display options, an IPS and a TN panel; we recommend getting the IPS display as it has better color reproduction and gets brighter to combat glare.
As it's a budget model, there are some compromises to consider. The first is that while the keyboard feels spacious and provides satisfying tactile feedback, it can cause fatigue over time as the keys require a fair amount of force to actuate. Second, you can't charge the laptop via USB-C, meaning you'll have to carry the charger with you. Some models have a fingerprint sensor, so it's best to check the specs before buying if it's a feature you want.
If you can complete your assignments or work through a Chrome browser, you might want to consider a Chromebook instead. We recommend the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2020), a 13.3-inch model with an exceptionally long battery life. It has a sharp and bright QHD display, a comfortable keyboard, and a good port selection, including an HDMI and two USB-Cs. Its Intel Core i3 CPU is fast enough to run Chrome OS smoothly, but with only 4GB of memory, you might experience occasional stutters if you run too many things at the same time. Overall, it's a great device; you just need to make sure you don't need to install any x86 Windows applications.
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