We've featured Nvidia's GeForce 9600 GT in our deal posts a couple of times now. As we found in our review, the card delivers performance close to that of the GeForce 8800 GT, and its $179.99 launch price made it a very compelling choice. It became even more attractive when we found a "factory-overclocked" model priced at $174.99.
Today, however, we've stumbled on a far more impressive deal. Newegg is selling ECS's N9600GT-512MX-P GeForce 9600 GT 512MB for only $149.99. Despite its bargain-basement price, this card is factory "overclocked" from the stock 650MHz core and 900MHz memory speeds to a very respectable 680MHz/950MHz. What's more, ECS has traded the stock Nvidia cooler for one of Arctic Cooling's completely passive Accelero S2 heatsinks. That means the higher-than-normal clock speeds should be coupled with complete silence.
On the warranty front, ECS covers the N9600GT-512MX-P for three years. That's not quite as good as the lifetime warranties offered by the likes of eVGA and XFX, but it's still plenty for a budget card—especially for that price. The only downside is that the tall Arctic Cooling heatsink makes using two of these cards in SLI mode a little awkward: you need to purchase a longer, flexible SLI cable to go around the heatsink and plug into the other card. Arctic Cooling sells those cables directly for $5 a pop, though.