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Hello, computer 'newb' here indeed of graphics card advice

By Synario
Sep 11, 2010
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  1. Hello all. I've been around computers for some time, but just recently got into gaming on the PC which required me to do a bit of amateurish research to find out the basics. Nonetheless, please be patient with me. =D

    I recently purchased Medieval II: Total War. The game is excellent, well the campaign portion of it at least. The campaign runs very smoothly and there are no issues as far as that goes. However, whenever I attempt to fight a battle, against AI or against a human opponent, it's very laggy and slow. I AM able to fight battles, it's just very slow. I'm willing to upgrade so that battles aren't necessarily 'fast', but to the point where they are reasonably smooth enough to actually fight.

    So I went to a site called 'canurunit.com' and it said I passed all the requirements, and even all the recommended requirements, EXCEPT for my graphics card. From common sense, this tells me if I want to fight at least reasonable smooth battles I need a newer graphics card.

    To be very clear, I'm willing to spend between 40-60 dollars mostly, but don't back away from mentioning something above that, though I should note my absolute maximum is 100 dollars.

    I'd like to know which graphics card specifically I should buy. From what I've read and from advertisements, apparently Medieval II plays best with "nVIdia graphics cards" or whoever they are. xD

    I suppose I should now list as many computer "stats" as I can to make this easier:

    Microsoft Windows XP
    Media Center Edition
    Version 2002 (year it was made?)
    Service Pack 3

    Computer:
    Intel(R)

    Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.20 GHz
    1.5GB of RAM

    I went to 'Device Manager' from the control panel and these were listed under Display Adaptors:

    Intel(R) 82915G/910GL Express Chipset Family
    Intel(R) 82915G/910GL Express Chipset Family


    It listed it twice, not sure what that means. I guess I have to 2 graphics cards, and thus graphics cards slots?

    Also after doing some research apparently the width of the card is important too, I have no idea how bit my 'slots' are because I don't even know where they. Some advice on that would be helpful I guess.

    As well, though you probably already know this, apparently the graphics card 'memory' is not always the most important factor, and many other factors are much more important like number of tubes or something? Though to say the least, I'd prefer to buy a card with at least 512MB of memory.

    That's all. Thank you, and I'm appreciative to all who can help me.

    EDIT: I actually just looked up the requirements for Medieval II again and it recommends 256MB of memory in the graphics card, not 512mb. So, correction: I'm looking for anything with at least 256MB of memory. I want the most bang for my buck, basically, a card that I can be sure will run on my computer and have no issues like that. And that's preferably below 50 or 60 dollars. Thanks again.
  2. JMMD

    JMMD TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,177

  3. Synario

    Synario Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    C:\Program Files\Belarc\Advisor\System\tmp\(Roxanne-089b293).html


    What you all said really made no sense to me to be honest but I did what you suggested and here's what I got from belarc. I don't really know how to check for my 'power supply' though.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The license associated with the Belarc Advisor product allows for free personal use only. Use on multiple computers in a corporate, educational, military or government installation is prohibited. See the license agreement for details. The information on this page was created locally on your computer by the Belarc Advisor. Your computer profile was not sent to a web server. Click here for more info.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Computer Profile Summary
    Computer Name: Roxanne-089b293 (in MSHOME) — Jordan's Computer
    Profile Date: Saturday, September 11, 2010 6:23:24 PM
    Advisor Version: 8.1m
    Windows Logon: Administrator


    Plan for your next computer refresh...
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    Operating System System Model
    Windows XP Media Center Edition Service Pack 3 (build 2600)
    Install Language: English (United States)
    System Locale: English (United States) Dell Inc. Dimension 4700
    System Service Tag: 7GVLP81 (support for this PC)
    Chassis Serial Number: 7GVLP81
    Enclosure Type: Mini-Tower
    Processor a Main Circuit Board b
    3.20 gigahertz Intel Pentium 4
    16 kilobyte primary memory cache
    1024 kilobyte secondary memory cache
    Hyper-threaded (2 total) Board: Dell Inc. 0M3918
    Serial Number: ..CN7082156I00Q1.
    Bus Clock: 800 megahertz
    BIOS: Dell Inc. A09 06/22/2005
    Drives Memory Modules c,d
    159.99 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity
    134.80 Gigabytes Hard Drive Free Space

    ST3160023AS [Hard drive] (160.00 GB) -- drive 0, s/n 5MT2NA75, rev 8.12, SMART Status: Healthy 1528 Megabytes Usable Installed Memory

    Slot 'CHANNEL A DIMM 0' has 1024 MB (serial number 7525B49C)
    Slot 'CHANNEL B DIMM 0' is Empty
    Slot 'CHANNEL A DIMM 1' has 256 MB (serial number 7525B49C)
    Slot 'CHANNEL B DIMM 1' has 256 MB
    Local Drive Volumes

    c: (NTFS on drive 0) 104.86 GB 79.76 GB free
    d: (NTFS on drive 0) 55.13 GB 55.04 GB free

    Network Drives
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    HelpAssistant never
    SUPPORT_388945a0 never


    Marks a disabled account; Marks a locked account HP Photosmart C4700 series on HP_192.168.0.102_CN078M21H805HD
    Microsoft Office Document Image Writer Driver on Microsoft Document Imaging Writer Port:

    Controllers Display
    Intel(R) 82801FB Ultra ATA Storage Controllers - 2651
    Primary IDE Channel [Controller] Intel(R) 82915G/GV/910GL Express Chipset Family [Display adapter] (2x)
    DELL E172FP [Monitor] (17.1"vis, s/n J18063BBAAFU, November 2003)
    Bus Adapters Multimedia
    Intel(R) 82801FB/FBM USB Universal Host Controller - 2658
    Intel(R) 82801FB/FBM USB Universal Host Controller - 2659
    Intel(R) 82801FB/FBM USB Universal Host Controller - 265A
    Intel(R) 82801FB/FBM USB Universal Host Controller - 265B
    Intel(R) 82801FB/FBM USB2 Enhanced Host Controller - 265C SoundMAX Integrated Digital Audio
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    None discovered
    Communications Other Devices
    Conexant D850 56K V.9x DFVc Modem


    Intel(R) PRO/100 VE Network Connection
    primary Auto IP Address: 192.168.0.104 / 24
    Gateway: 192.168.0.1
    Dhcp Server: 192.168.0.1
    Physical Address: 00:13:20:6E:AE:C5

    Networking Dns Server: 192.168.0.1
    USB Human Interface Device
    C4700,192.168.0.102
    Standard 101/102-Key or Microsoft Natural PS/2 Keyboard
    HID-compliant mouse
    Photosmart C4700 series
    USB Root Hub (5x)

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    IP Device Type Device Details Device Roles
    192.168.0.1 Router D-Link / Router DHCP Server, Gateway, Domain Name Server, Web Server
    192.168.0.100 Physical Address 00:17:FA:B7:54:D7
    192.168.0.104 Windows XP Workstation Roxanne-089b293 (in MSHOME),
    roxanne-089b293.sd.cox.net Print Server, Browse Master


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    Q973924 - Moderate (details...)


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    Belarc - Advisor 49eed230
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    Microsoft - Internet Explorer 92318-600-0011903-00825
    Microsoft - Office Professional Edition 2003 73931-640-0000106-57112 (Key: GWH28-DGCMP-P6RC4-6J4MT-3HFDY)
    Microsoft - WebFldrs XP 12345-111-1111111-64062
    Microsoft - Windows XP Media Center Edition 76487-OEM-0011903-00825 (Key: P8HY6-D3G46-RVF66-GP7VM-8CFT3)e
    SEGA - Medieval II Total War B0D7-785C-CAB9-E728


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    i Adobe Systems, Inc. - Shockwave Flash Version 10,0,2,54
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    ı i Analog Devices, Inc. - SMax4PNP Application Version 5, 2, 0, 5
    ı i Belarc, Inc. - Advisor Version 8.1m
    ı i CyberLink Corp. - PowerDVD Version 4.00.1813
    i DVD Genie
    i Hewlett-Packard - HP Installer Version 014.0.301.000
    i Hewlett-Packard - HP Update Client Version 5, 0, 9, 0
    ı i Hewlett-Packard - hpwuSchd Application Version 80, 1, 0, 0
    ı i Hewlett-Packard Co. - HP Digital Imaging Version 140.000.000.000
    i Hewlett-Packard Company - Help Viewer Shim Version 140.000.000.000
    i Hewlett-Packard Company - HP Solution Center Version 130.000.999.000
    i Hewlett-Packard Company - WebReg Version 140.000.000.000
    i Hewlett-Packard Development Company L.P. - Shop for HP Supplies Version 130.000.999.000
    ı i Intel(R) Common User Interface Version 7.0.0.4410
    i Macromedia, Inc. - Shockwave Flash Version 6,0,79,0
    i Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware Version 1.41
    ı i McAfee Integrated Security Platform Version 1,5,0,0
    ı i McAfee Online Backup Version 1.16.4.0
    ı i McAfee SecurityCenter Version 10,5,0,0
    ı i McAfee SiteAdvisor Version 3,2,0,0
    ı i McAfee VirusScan Version 14,5,0,0
    ı i McAfee, Inc. - SYSCORE Version 14.2.0.0
    ı i McAfee, Inc. - VSCORE Version 14.2.0.0 ı i Medieval II Total War Version 1.0.2669.20298
    i Microsoft (R) .NET Framework Version 1.1.4322.2032
    i Microsoft (R) Windows Script Host Version 5.7.0.18066
    i Microsoft Clip Organizer Version 11.0.5510
    ı i Microsoft Corporation - Internet Explorer Version 8.00.6001.18702
    ı i Microsoft Corporation - Office Source Engine Version 11.0.5525
    ı i Microsoft Corporation - Windows Installer - Unicode Version 3.1.4001.5512
    i Microsoft Corporation - Windows Movie Maker Version 2.1.4028.0
    i Microsoft Corporation - Windows® NetMeeting® Version 3.01
    i Microsoft Data Access Components Version 3.525.1132.0
    ı i Microsoft Office 2003 Version 11.0.5614
    i Microsoft Office Document Imaging Version 11.0.1897.0
    i Microsoft Office InfoPath Version 11.0.5531
    ıı i Microsoft Office Outlook Version 11.0.5510
    i Microsoft Office Picture Manager Version 11.0.5510
    i Microsoft(R) Windows Media Player Version 10.00.00.3646
    i Microsoft® Schedule+ for Windows 95(TM) Version 7.5
    ı i Microsoft® Visual Studio .NET Version 7.00.9466
    i System Diagnostic
    ıı i The Creative Assembly Ltd - Medieval 2 Total War: Kingdoms Version 1, 3, 0, 0
    ı i The Creative Assembly Ltd - Medieval 2: Total War Version 1, 1, 0, 0
    i UpdateIPR.exe
    i Visan / RocketLife - PhotoProduct.exe Version 1, 0, 0, 2024
    i Wizards to adjust .NET Framework security, assign trust to assemblies, and fix broken .NET applications. Version 1.0.5000.0


    i Mouse over to see details, click to see where software is installed.
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    Unmarked software lacks the data to determine last use.


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    .NETFramework
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    SP3 (Microsoft .NET Framework 1.0 Service Pack 3)
    KB953295 (details...)
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    KB892130 on 9/4/2010 (details...)
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    KB952069_WM9 on 8/28/2010 (details...)
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    Windows XP
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    KB938127-V2-IE7 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
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    KB971961-IE8 on 9/11/2010 (details...)
    KB976662-IE8 on 9/11/2010 (details...)
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    KB982664-IE8 on 9/11/2010 (details...)
    KB2183461-IE7 on 9/6/2010 (details...)
    KB2183461-IE8 on 9/11/2010 (details...)
    SP3
    KB936929[SP] on 9/5/2010 (details...)
    KB971961 on 8/28/2010 (details...)
    KB973768 on 8/28/2010 (details...)
    SP4
    KB923561 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
    KB946648 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
    KB950760 on 8/28/2010 (details...)
    KB950762 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
    KB950974 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
    KB951376-V2 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
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    KB951978 on 9/6/2010 (details...)
    KB952004 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
    KB952287 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
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    KB955069 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
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    KB956572 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
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    KB956802 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
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    Windows XP
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    KB961501 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
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    KB971961 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
    KB972270 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
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    KB973687 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
    KB973815 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
    KB973869 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
    KB973904 on 8/28/2010 (details...)
    KB974112 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
    KB974318 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
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    KB974571 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
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    KB975467 on 9/5/2010 (details...)
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    Windows
    SP1
    IDNMITIGATIONAPIS on 9/4/2010 (Microsoft Internationalized Domain Names Mitigation APIs)
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  4. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 4,265   +41

    Relax, someone will get to you.
  5. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,889   +85

    I think the most you want to invest in the way of a GPU would be along the lines of a ATI...er Radeon HD 5750. The 256MB requirement they state is a bare minimum to run the game on low detail/low resolution, and not going to do you much good.
    If you are really trying to go cheap, and DX 11 is of no value, something like this would work for you. at moderate resolution/detail.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150450&cm_re=hd_4670-_-14-150-450-_-Product

    on the high side of your budget, This would get you 750 Teraflops and high detail on most games to 1680 x 1050.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814129161&cm_re=hd_4850-_-14-129-161-_-Product


    ... and remember Synario, more flies with honey...
  6. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,284   +24

    Everything Greg's suggested looks good, but just to be safe, what kind of power supply do you have Synario? (i.e. amount of power supplied in watts, brand, model number etc.)
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,589   +864

    OK, just as a guess, this computer is about 6 years old. I don't why the double listing occurs for certain, but you have an Intel 915G chipset board, with onboard graphics.

    The Intel 915 chipset carries one PCI-E X 16 expansion slot, so you can use a modern video card with it. Unless this is an Emachines computer. For some reason, Emachines deleted the PCI-E expansion slot on their offerings with the 915GAG boards.

    It's actually sort of hard to find video cards with 256MB of RAM, 512 is the entry point.

    Keep in mind that with the budget constraints you've committed to, you may upgrade to machine to run the game you have in mind, but many other modern games won't run well.

    The Intel 915 / Pentium 4 platform is approaching the geriatric point in its career, and if your gaming penchant grows toward addiction, you may have to think seriously about a more modern machine.
  8. Synario

    Synario Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    I don't know how much power I have, or how to find out.

    captaincranky- no, I'm by far no serious gamer. I'll never play anything more demanding than Medieval II: Total War, much less anything on the level of a console game, like a RTS, etc. I just like RTS/strategy games on the PC, that's all. If anything, I just want a card good enough to play Medieval II.

    Could you suggest a specific card to purchase, though?
  9. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,589   +864

    Would you be kind enough to grace us with the make and model of this machine....?

    Most prebuilt computers with your board shipped with 300 Watt OEM PSUs.
  10. Synario

    Synario Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Sorry, I can't believe I didn't include the make and model. =/

    Windows XP Media Center Edition Service Pack 3 (build 2600)
    Dimension 4700

    And again, I have no idea how much power I have or how to find out. I probably have as much power as my make/model was 'built' with, if thats even how it all works.
  11. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,284   +24

    Looks like you have the standard 305W PSU from Dell, with 22A total on the +12V rails. I recommend an HD 5750.
     
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,589   +864

    If this is indeed the PSU your computer shipped with, it's probably time for a change. PSUs tend to loose capacity as they age, So, what may have been a 300 watt supply a couple of years ago, probably isn't now. This is to protect the motherboard, as sometimes a failed supply can destroy it.

    This Antec would be all you'd ever need, and it's on sale at the moment; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371033&Tpk=Antec EA380D

    As far as the VGA, the others have better insight than I do for that.
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,589   +864

  14. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,889   +85

  15. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,589   +864

    Given that the PSU should be replaced in any case, the GT-240 I'm showing is probably the best value, in that if you were to order tomorrow, (and get the rebate) the card and PSU would net down to 80 bucks. This is about as far as the old P-4 would not "BOTTLENECK" the faster video card. A GT-240 would easily play the game our OP is interested in, and not reach the point of diminishing returns on his old 915 / P-4 combination.

    It's worth sinking 80 bucks into the machine, but not much more, and at that price, you get the PSU, and a decent VGA.
  16. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,889   +85

    I will defer to your 915/P-4 expertise. :), we don't want any 'bottlenecks'....hey wait a minute!
  17. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,589   +864

    The Dell 4700 in question is essentially the same as my T-5026, 32 bit hardware, DDR @ 400Mhz. The PSU and card I linked are both free shipping, so you get cash and carry for $110.00. Gigabyte seems like a company that would honor its rebate commitment.

    I'm thinking that an Nvidia 7600 GT would be pretty much what that machine would have been a contemporary of. The GT 240 approaches an 8800 or 9800 in performance. So, what could go wrong here?
  18. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,889   +85

    That is a good pairing i think. Gee but you're a great shopper as well Cap. :rolleyes:
    Now that you introduced me to MC in St Louis Park...I cant seem to keep my person out of MicroCenter..... for the love of god...I need help!
  19. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,589   +864

    Oh, and there's a 10 dollar rebate on the PSU also. So that nets down to 70 bucks for the whole shebang.
    Ya know, some days I feel the same way about my proclivity for collecting "art" photography....:rolleyes:
  20. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,889   +85

    tomato,tomoto....


    Hmm, I would look at it as more of a propensity for collecting 'art photography'.:rolleyes:


    ...Remember, art is in the eye of the brand new 24" high performance LCD screen beholder.
  21. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,284   +24

    Ah yes, I forgot how old the machine may be. Apologies; a new PSU will be in order then.

    OP, if you want something that you can use in a new machine, consider this PSU as well; it will allow for a decent CPU + GPU combination.
  22. Synario

    Synario Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Can anybody suggest a card thats compatible with my computer, and doesn't use more PSU than I have (somebody said I probably have around 300).

    Like I said, I don't want to spend anymore than about 60 bucks overall, because once I start spending like 80-100 dollars, then I mine as well at that point start saving up for a new computer, you know what I mean? Which I want to avoid though.

    I don't like the idea of upgrading my 'power supply' for some reason. It sounds pretty risky and complicated, plus it seems doing so along with a graphics card would cost at least 80 bucks.


    I apologize for my pickiness in advance. =/ I'd be appreciative to anybody who could find a 40-60 dollar graphics card that's compatible with my computer set-up and doesn't use more than say..250-300 PSU. Thank you.
  23. Synario

    Synario Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    EDIT: Just realized that some of you have already suggested cards that don't require a new PSU, so disregard my last post.

    But anybody who still has a card to suggest, then I guess my post would apply to you.
  24. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,589   +864

    If you buy the parts I linked, then you'll spend 70 dollars, you'll just have to wait for the rebates, and you'll have new PSU. With a new PSU in your computer, you'll extend the life of it, so that even if you save up for a new machine, it would make a great spare or internet machine.

    If you continue using the current PSU, along with the increase of power draw from the new video card, you will hasten its demise, and possibly destroy the motherboard along with it.

    A PSU is not difficult to replace. Just whip out your camera, and take some pictures of the inside of the machine of where the wires go. "Universal Plug and Play" makes the task easyanyway, since the PSU wires will only plug onto the correct device anyway. The CPU plug only goes on the CPU, and so forth.

    The same amount of risk due to damage by static electricity is present whether changing a PSU or video card. Point being, you need to read up on either procedure before you start.

    Normally I don't suggest buying parts that cost too much more than the OP states as a budget. In this case, you would be getting a video card AND a PSU for ten dollars over budget. For this, expect no apologies.
  25. Synario

    Synario Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    If I didn't want to mail-order could I get these at a store like frys or best buy?


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