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The performance of an inductor is often significantly compromised by the combined effects of series resistance and distributed capacitance. For a given inductance value and coil configuration, it is always possible to vary the absolute size and/or turns count so as to reduce one residual parameter at the expense of an increase in the other. The ratio M = L/RC2is unaffected by these transformations and is proposed as a figure of merit characterizing the particular coil design. Measurements of M for sample coils of a number of commonly used types are given; they provide lower limits to the performance attainable with available magnetic materials.