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Ryhadar
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Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:46 am

Been preparing to make the jump to ATX from mATX since there's been a lot of nice compact ATX cases coming out that aren't much bigger (if at all) than my Phanteks Evolv. It'll happen when I upgrade my aging 2600K build.

It got me thinking that, out of all the hardware out there I probably spend the most researching cases. There's so many subtle differences that I really enjoy spending time picking the (almost) perfect one. In this instance, I've settled on the Fractal Design Define C TG. Hoping maybe Prime Day yields a good deal on one.

So what about you? What hardware do you focus your attention most on? Why?
 
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:55 am

Monitors, because their listed/advertised specifications bear little or no resemblance to the actual image quality.
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:05 am

For me probably the motherboard. Assuming your other components aren't complete junk, it's the piece which has the biggest potential impact on system stability.

FWIW I had switched to mATX about 10 years ago, but switched back to ATX during the Socket AM3+ generation due to the total lack of decent mATX AM3+ boards.
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:10 am

I look a lot at everything since I only build a system once every 6-7 years. If there is one component I scrutinize more than the others,though, it's the power supply. Not all Watts are created equal and a bad PSU that's over stressed can make systems unstable (especially when overclocked) and, in rare or extreme cases, cause damage to other stuff.
 
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:16 am

Whatever I'm going to buy next... I try to keep abreast of most components and because I tend to replace video cards every 2 or so years I spend more time on them. I pay a lot of attention to monitors, as well. Hard drives and memory get the least although with my drive failing recently that will change a bit.
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Ryhadar
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:28 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
Monitors, because their listed/advertised specifications bear little or no resemblance to the actual image quality.

Ooooh, that's a good one. I buy them so infrequently, but you're right. Especially something as easy as Freesync range can be difficult to find out if the manufacturer never posts the info. But then there's stuff like the level of anti-glare coating which you're basically rolling the dice on. Or when your 1440p monitor is actually a 4K monitor: https://www.techpowerup.com/245367/your ... a-4k-panel

I actually hate buying monitors because of how much variability there is even among the same make and model, haha. Glad they tend to last the longest in a build. :)
 
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:39 am

Ryhadar wrote:
Or when your 1440p monitor is actually a 4K monitor: https://www.techpowerup.com/245367/your-1440p-monitor-could-be-using-a-4k-panel

Well that is really wild. I had no idea that was happening. Would be cool if you could "overclock" the resolution to get it up to 4K/60+Hz.
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:58 am

Motherboards. There are so many iterations and form factors out there. I weigh price against components of the mobo.

For instance I jumped on the mATX bandwagon awhile back. I felt that, why pay for slots that I wouldn't use. Sure I could future proof a bit but in reality everything turns over in six months so why kid myself. Also at that time I was going to ditch my tried an true Asus Xonar that I had for my earlier two builds. I thought that with the advancement of onboard sound that it would be just as good.

Anyways, I couldn't be anymore more wrong about my assumptions. I got a Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5. And while it hasn't completely failed me and still runs today I would classify it as junk.

The creative on-board sound with Exclusive Upgradable OP-AMP is garbage.

The Killer E2200 NIC is garbage. Never again will I turn away from a good Intel NIC.
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:00 am

derFunkenstein wrote:
Ryhadar wrote:
Or when your 1440p monitor is actually a 4K monitor: https://www.techpowerup.com/245367/your-1440p-monitor-could-be-using-a-4k-panel

Well that is really wild. I had no idea that was happening. Would be cool if you could "overclock" the resolution to get it up to 4K/60+Hz.

That's nuts. I'll bet it is due at least in part to people figuring out that 27" 4K is problematic because of DPI scaling issues in Windows (and Linux too, but there aren't enough of us to affect the market for desktop monitors :lol:), which has resulted in weak demand for native 27" 4K. The market for 27" 4K is probably limited to people with better than 20/20 eyesight, Mac users, and people who just don't know any better. :lol:
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:09 am

Monitor reviews are something that always catches my interest as well, but the primary interest is probably with SSDs. Not sure why as most of them are quite identical, but I do like to follow that market and perhaps I keep hoping to see some major breakthrough - like Intel's Optane tech was when it was announced.

With monitors I am looking forward to seeing a review of a 32"+ 4k OLED/mLED monitor with adaptive sync and 120+Hz frame rates. When I click on a new monitor review, I usually get disappointed since it is generally the same as the last review I looked at, perhaps just with a few RGB lights added in the back but at some point something awesome is bound to come along. :-)
 
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:09 am

Ryhadar wrote:
Chrispy_ wrote:
Monitors, because their listed/advertised specifications bear little or no resemblance to the actual image quality.

Ooooh, that's a good one. I buy them so infrequently, but you're right. Especially something as easy as Freesync range can be difficult to find out if the manufacturer never posts the info. But then there's stuff like the level of anti-glare coating which you're basically rolling the dice on. Or when your 1440p monitor is actually a 4K monitor: https://www.techpowerup.com/245367/your ... a-4k-panel

I actually hate buying monitors because of how much variability there is even among the same make and model, haha. Glad they tend to last the longest in a build. :)


To name just a few, because this is in no way a comprehensive list of things I need to know about:

  • Freesync: Does it even have VRR? if so, what's the VRR range and what's it's native desktop refresh rate?
  • Contrast ratio 5000:1: Is the stated contrast ratio static or dymanic? Is the claimed constrast ratio realistic without searing your retinas?
  • Panel type: wide-view: Gee, thanks, but that term is used so indiscriminately that all I really know is that it's not TN.
  • LED: Well duh, it's obviously not OLED at this price. Is it edge lit or backlit? WLED or B+RGLED?
  • HDR 10: Nice. Which inputs support it, can HDR 10 be enabled independently, or must one suffer a poorly-chosen preset to enable this feature? Local dimming is probably out, but is it so hard to just mention that as a yes/no feature?
  • Anti Glare: Comfyview: What in the devil's anus is this supposed to mean?! professional-grade AG, matte, semi-matte, almost glossy? I'll just roll the dice, shall I?
  • 99% sRGB Gamut coverage: What's the DeltaE? Is it factory-calibrated? Is it really 10-bit or is it just 8-bit with FRC lies? At least we have a gamut percentage I guess, it's normally just says "16.7m colours"
  • 178/178 degree viewing angles: Well that's obviously not true. How about telling us what angle you start to see a 10% contrast/colour/gamma deviation instead?
  • 5ms response time: When it says 5ms response time, what about those 35ms transitions you failed to mention? Can we at least get a range of response times, please?
  • Game Mode: What's the input lag and why isn't that ever listed? Does it have a scaler? Can I get low latency without game mode (which is a horrible image-quality preset)?
  • Truebright, BlackEnhance, Magicolor: Can this horrible post-processing be disabled entirely? It's gonna fail calibration if it can't, and it look like crap either way.
  • Displayport 1.4/HDMI 2.0: Does the EDID include presets between 60 and 120Hz to avoid frameskipping on Nvidia cards?
  • VESA mountable: Yes: Why isn't the VESA mount adapter included in the box? Where can I buy the VESA mount adapter? Why is it not sold in my region?
  • Speakers: 5W+5W Does it have an Audio DAC or 3.5mm passthrough? what is the DAC, i.e. What are the specs? can that DAC accept a microphone or is it only a playback device?
  • USB Hub: Is it USB2.0 or 3.0 and is it powered or passive? Does it support 1000Hz polling for a gaming mouse or not?

:(
Last edited by Chrispy_ on Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:12 am

I spend the most time researching components that are idiosyncratic and judged on non-objective criteria. You can quickly eyeball benchmarks between CPUs and GPUs, with choices between options limited to two vendors. Once you understand the broad strengths and weaknesses of a CPU or GPU architecture, everything after that is comparing gradients of price and performance.

The most difficult computing thing to research is laptops. The specs on these are only one element of their performance "in the wild" and your subjective ownership experience. Two laptops with identical CPU and GPU could perform completely differently due to thermal throttling or power system limits. Build quality doesn't follow any single metric, and noise is very subjective. Manufacturer battery life numbers are wildly inflated. Few sites test all components of a laptop well, and often you need to scour forums and reviews to learn the real strengths and weaknesses of a laptop. There are quirky issues like some Gigabyte laptops that fail to register simultaneous keystrokes or some MSI laptops whose monitor cables would become loose over time. I put tons of research into my current laptop and didn't realize that its power subsystem can't handle the CPU and GPU at full load until a Youtube reviewer posted a follow-up months later.

The most challenging homebuilt PC component for me is the case, as the quality of feature implementation, acoustics, and build quality will never be clear from a spec sheet. You really need to hope a dedicated testing site like SPCR has taken a crack at that particular SKU.
 
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:14 am

Chrispy_ you forgot strobing and luminescence! :)
 
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:22 am

I forgot loads.

TL:DR - The manufacturer's claims are bull****, you need to find an in-depth, third party review.

Cases are definitely hard to gauge from reviews. A review can even make a case seem like it fits the bill and then you get one delivered and discover something disappointing that means you have to compromise.
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:24 am

For motherboards and GPUs, most of my research is on the general chip/chipset. I typically know which brands/form factor/product tier I'm going to be looking in beforehand, so figuring out the details doesn't take long. For time spent researching a specific model, I'd also say monitor.
 
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:52 am

just brew it! wrote:
FWIW I had switched to mATX about 10 years ago, but switched back to ATX during the Socket AM3+ generation due to the total lack of decent mATX AM3+ boards.

Yeah, AM3+ mATX support was an embarrassment. There's next to 0 support for performance/enthusiast tier boards in general from motherboard manufacturers to case manufacturers (with the former trending worse and the latter trending better, in my opinion). In almost every instance, mATX = budget. I'm just tired of the dumb compromises and lack of options, so I'm making the switch. Compact ATX cases have really gotten a lot smaller and smarter with their space lately so the size advantage only really happens in height, with the exception of Silverstone's stellar lineup.

Ironically, while I still do think mATX is good for almost everybody my board only has 3 slots instead of the standard 4. Recently, my USB 3.0 onboard has failed (which I corrected with an add on card) and now I have run out of room to fix any further failures.
Last edited by Ryhadar on Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:01 am

I'm with JBI on this one. The motherboard is the least predictable primary component on the computer. Many of the other choices are well filtered by price and performance targets.
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:10 am

Motherboards aren't very high up on my research list. Buy from a mainstream vendor, pick based on the features/price point, then filter by how little RGB crap it comes with (or can be disabled).

Monitors are way up there because there are so many variables that aren't truthfully reflected in the spec sheet. Cases, mostly because I keep them forever and I see them every day. Power supplies I ensure I get a good one - but I don't do deep research. I trust JonnyGuru for the most part.
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:58 am

How many of you saying "motherboard" are running Linux?

I've found minimal issues with Asus/Asrock/Gigabyte/MSI boards in Windows over the last decade. Maybe that's because I refuse to buy high-end, bleeding edge gamer boards with all the ancilliary tat, and just keep things simple.
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:35 am

I agree. Mobo is right at the bottom of my list, barely edging out RAM.

Monitor is the most researched by a long shot for all reasons Chrispy mentioned.

Kretschmer's laptop suggestion is also very true. But I interpreted the OP comment as which "component" in a computer.

In order (some things are easier to choose based on stalwart manufacturers):
1) Monitor
2) Case
3) Speakers/Headphones
4) GPU
5) PSU
6) SSD/HDD
7) CPU
8 ) Keyboard
9) Mobo
10) RAM

Mouse - need to hold it in my hand before I buy. Hard to research that.
Last edited by DPete27 on Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:02 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:53 am

Probably GPUs for me.
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:42 am

tanker27 wrote:
The creative on-board sound with Exclusive Upgradable OP-AMP is garbage.

Well, it's Creative... :wink:

I've always questioned the value of replaceable op-amps for onboard audio, and (to a lesser extent) for internal discrete soundcards as well. "Replaceable" means a socketed 8-pin DIP package, which in turn means that there's nearly a quarter inch of analog signal pin exposed (and unshielded). In a high EMI environment like the inside of a PC case, that can't be good.

They make more sense for external DACs, where the friendlier EMI environment means the tradeoffs are different.

tanker27 wrote:
The Killer E2200 NIC is garbage. Never again will I turn away from a good Intel NIC.

To me, calling any component "Killer" screams "over-hyped tech of questionable value marketed to adolescent gamers".

Chrispy_ wrote:
How many of you saying "motherboard" are running Linux?

Heh. Good point! (And guilty as charged.)

Chrispy_ wrote:
I've found minimal issues with Asus/Asrock/Gigabyte/MSI boards in Windows over the last decade. Maybe that's because I refuse to buy high-end, bleeding edge gamer boards with all the ancilliary tat, and just keep things simple.

Same. I tend to stick to Asus, and go for something in the middle tier (not budget, but not a tricked out gamer board either).
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:52 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
Ryhadar wrote:
Chrispy_ wrote:
Monitors, because their listed/advertised specifications bear little or no resemblance to the actual image quality.

Ooooh, that's a good one. I buy them so infrequently, but you're right. Especially something as easy as Freesync range can be difficult to find out if the manufacturer never posts the info. But then there's stuff like the level of anti-glare coating which you're basically rolling the dice on. Or when your 1440p monitor is actually a 4K monitor: https://www.techpowerup.com/245367/your ... a-4k-panel

I actually hate buying monitors because of how much variability there is even among the same make and model, haha. Glad they tend to last the longest in a build. :)


To name just a few, because this is in no way a comprehensive list of things I need to know about:

  • Freesync: Does it even have VRR? if so, what's the VRR range and what's it's native desktop refresh rate?
  • Contrast ratio 5000:1: Is the stated contrast ratio static or dymanic? Is the claimed constrast ratio realistic without searing your retinas?
  • Panel type: wide-view: Gee, thanks, but that term is used so indiscriminately that all I really know is that it's not TN.
  • LED: Well duh, it's obviously not OLED at this price. Is it edge lit or backlit? WLED or B+RGLED?
  • HDR 10: Nice. Which inputs support it, can HDR 10 be enabled independently, or must one suffer a poorly-chosen preset to enable this feature? Local dimming is probably out, but is it so hard to just mention that as a yes/no feature?
  • Anti Glare: Comfyview: What in the devil's anus is this supposed to mean?! professional-grade AG, matte, semi-matte, almost glossy? I'll just roll the dice, shall I?
  • 99% sRGB Gamut coverage: What's the DeltaE? Is it factory-calibrated? Is it really 10-bit or is it just 8-bit with FRC lies? At least we have a gamut percentage I guess, it's normally just says "16.7m colours"
  • 178/178 degree viewing angles: Well that's obviously not true. How about telling us what angle you start to see a 10% contrast/colour/gamma deviation instead?
  • 5ms response time: When it says 5ms response time, what about those 35ms transitions you failed to mention? Can we at least get a range of response times, please?
  • Game Mode: What's the input lag and why isn't that ever listed? Does it have a scaler? Can I get low latency without game mode (which is a horrible image-quality preset)?
  • Truebright, BlackEnhance, Magicolor: Can this horrible post-processing be disabled entirely? It's gonna fail calibration if it can't, and it look like crap either way.
  • Displayport 1.4/HDMI 2.0: Does the EDID include presets between 60 and 120Hz to avoid frameskipping on Nvidia cards?
  • VESA mountable: Yes: Why isn't the VESA mount adapter included in the box? Where can I buy the VESA mount adapter? Why is it not sold in my region?
  • Speakers: 5W+5W Does it have an Audio DAC or 3.5mm passthrough? what is the DAC, i.e. What are the specs? can that DAC accept a microphone or is it only a playback device?
  • USB Hub: Is it USB2.0 or 3.0 and is it powered or passive? Does it support 1000Hz polling for a gaming mouse or not?

:(


Wow...that's a lot of details. How about you just tell us which ones pass the bar for you and I'll buy that one?
 
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:20 pm

emvath79 wrote:
How about you just tell us which ones pass the bar for you and I'll buy that one?

Depends on budget and usage needs.
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:12 pm

When speccing out a specific build, the motherboard is the troublesome one. There's altogether too much junk out there.

Overall, right now it's CPUs by far. That mostly isn't about choosing the right one to buy, though, it's about understanding performance for development reasons (and before that it was because I was all kinds of fed up with my CPUs dying all the time despite mild conditions by most people's standards).
 
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:27 pm

emvath79 wrote:

Wow...that's a lot of details. How about you just tell us which ones pass the bar for you and I'll buy that one?


None pass the bar for all of those things simultaneously - some of those things are mutually-exclusive.

It's just that each item on a listed "spec" is usually useless because it's not detailed enough to be meaningful and a lot of it is either blatant lies or a marketing name to obfuscate something undesirable; For example "Brightview technology" to cover a panel with poor black-depth or just to avoid saying "TN", or "Trueblack optimiser" for something that requires gamma manipulation to be usable because it's dark gamut reproduction is awful and unable to produce an even gamma curve without heavy postprocessing.

If you want to get proper info on monitors, there are two sites I support because I believe the content is worthy:
tftcentral.co.uk
prad.de
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:41 pm

I second TFT Central. I refuse to buy a monitor that they don't review (though I'm out of the market for a while with an X34).
 
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:56 pm

Monitors, definitely.
Want one for years now but all I read is, contradictory BS, horrible QA Lottery and obscene pricing for compromise-products.

So here I am, still honkin' around with my 8yr old 1080p 60Hz TN panel, b/c so far, the industry has failed to make a product that makes me want to throw money at my screen and I am afraid that I would spent tons of cash only to end up with a worse product. <_<
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:43 am

Ifalna wrote:
Monitors, definitely.
Want one for years now but all I read is, contradictory BS, horrible QA Lottery and obscene pricing for compromise-products.

So here I am, still honkin' around with my 8yr old 1080p 60Hz TN panel, b/c so far, the industry has failed to make a product that makes me want to throw money at my screen and I am afraid that I would spent tons of cash only to end up with a worse product. <_<


Well, there are a number of affordable 1440p IPS and VA options that would be a significant upgrade for you then. You almost can't go wrong!

The disappointment that you read about is people then wanting more than the affordable 1440p IPS and VA options, only to discover that spending triple, or even quadruple results in a sidegrade with compromises.
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Re: Which piece of hardware do you research the most? Why?

Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:15 am

Ifalna wrote:
Monitors, definitely.
Want one for years now but all I read is, contradictory BS, horrible QA Lottery and obscene pricing for compromise-products.

So here I am, still honkin' around with my 8yr old 1080p 60Hz TN panel, b/c so far, the industry has failed to make a product that makes me want to throw money at my screen and I am afraid that I would spent tons of cash only to end up with a worse product. <_<

I hear ya. Sometimes I feel like I know too much about the performance metrics of monitors for my own good. When researching TONS of reviews for my first IPS monitor, I came across problems like ghosting, overdrive, gradient banding, back light bleed... Honestly, probably wouldn't have even noticed if it had not been pointed out to me. That said, while the specific product I have isn't perfect I've been very happy with my Acer XF270HUA IPS. This particular model is a bit of a black sheep to Acer as you you can't even find it on their site. 1440p, IPS, 144Hz, 40-144Hz freesync range.

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