Originally Posted by Achilles
I have no experience with PNY. Should I take this as an endorsement?
Yes. The build quality on my card is good. I haven't gotten my rebate yet, but I just checked their site today and it has gone through and the check is on its way. Several other people at Anandtech forums have bought this card and all have gotten their rebates. This card is immensely popular over there because of cheap SLI and it's usefulness with Folding@home (Nvidia cards are better at folding). I can't believe that there are any left. So yeah, I endorse this card wholeheartedly. I think that it would perfect for your needs since you don't require native res, and it's extremely cheap to boot.
Originally Posted by Achilles
EDIT: Also, I have no experience with overclocking. How does one go about doing this and what other considerations do I need to take into account (aside from voiding warranties, potentially shortening lifespan...). You mentioned that this card runs fairly cool. Will I need to purchase additional cooling equipment?
No. I'm doing my O/C with the standard cooler, which is quite good for a single-slot job. Overclocking is perfectly safe with the right utilities. Download and install RivaTuner
from Guru3D and use it to adjust your fan speed up from the woefully inadequate stock settings (where it was idling in the 70s) to a level where the noise is as loud as you can stand. I only have mine turned up to 58%, which is the highest I can set it before I can hear it over my case fans, and you'd probably want to do the same. At 100% it sounds like a blow-dryer.
When overclocked to 653/1633/950 over the stock speed of 575/1438/850 at 58% fan speed, the GPU idles at 52° C and doesn't go over 60° C when playing VtMB, which is sadly the most demanding I have ATM. Modern games would be way more demanding, but GPUs are built to function at 90+° C if you can believe it, so there is really no danger of damaging it as long as you're sensible. Anything under 80° C is totally safe. The card will start to display artifacts onscreen or start to CTD when you've reached the limits of it's clockspeed, and that will usually happen well within its thermal envelope.
And you don't have to operate it overclocked 24/7 like you would a CPU. Once you learn your card's limits you can put it back to its factory settings for everyday operation, open RivaTuner and overclock it before starting up your game, then return it to factory settings when you're done.
So let's go over the card details, shall we? This card used to be known as the 8800GS (yes, more Nvidia turd-polishing). Basically, it's a cut-down version of the 9800GT (8800GT), which is itself a cut-down version of the 9800GTX (8800GTS 512). This 9600GSO has the same GPU as the 9800GT and the 9800GTX (the G92), only it has 96 stream processors compared to 112 for the 9800GT and 128 for the 9800GTX, and its memory bus has been cut down from 256 bits to 192 bits. It's performance is roughly equal to the 9600GT when it's been mildly overclocked, and comes close to the 9800GT when heavily (but still safely) overclocked. You can expect roughly double the performance of your 8600GTS from it.
At half the cost of a 9800GT and little more than a third of the cost of a GTS 250 it's easily the best bang for the buck out there ATM. Your power supply will have no problems with it, because it only requires 26 amps on the +12v rail and one 6-pin PCIe plug. The card is 9 inches long, so if Astro can fit an 8800GTS in his Shuttle, you should have little trouble fitting it in yours. Just measure from the back of your case 9 inches towards the front and see if you run into anything. Since the card is no longer than a micro-ATX motherboard, the most likely obstruction that you're going to encounter are cables that are plugged into your motherboard, so in a worst-case scenario you'd have to buy a flat-plugged cable to fit under it.
*returns to hunting down a cheap SLI motherboard*
"They should rename the team to the Washington Government Sucks. Put Obama on the helmet. Line the entire walls of the stadium with the actual text of the ACA.
Fix their home team score on the board to the debt clock, they can win every game 17,000,000,000,000 to 24. Losing team gets taxed by the IRS 100%, then droned."