The GeForce 9600 GT proved to be quiet (like the great majority of the GeForce 8800s, we should point out), being silent in 2D once the driver is loaded, and accelerating only slightly in 3D under our test conditions (with no case but in a room at a temperature of 30°C/ 86°F).
We should note that if the 8800 GT 256 MB and Radeon HD 3850 512 MB we tested seem noisy, it's because they're from Gigabyte and use the Zalman VF700 cooler, which (needlessly) runs at top speed all the time.
As for overclocking, the 9600 GT held no surprises. Despite its high GPU frequencies - 650 MHz (and 1625 MHz for the stream processors) - we reached the same limits as with the G92 on the 8800 GTS 512 MB and 8800 GT 256 MB, namely 768 MHz, which would appear to be the current limit for Nvidia 65 nm chips. That works out to a fairly encouraging overclocking rate of 18%.
We were able to push the 512 MB of GDDR3 from 900 MHz to 1120 MHz, or 24%, which is good. Age of Empires III, running at 1680x1050, showed a 16% performance gain with the boost. That's similar to the results we got with the Radeon HD 3850, but better than the HD 3870, which only gained 9% on the same test.
I see the lowest priced 9600GT at $90, %65 after rebate, with free Far Cry 2.
Not bad at all.