The Palit 9600GT Sonic is a sharp-looking card, completely covered with a plastic fan shroud, orange in color. The graphics include a well-armed and armored frog named Frobo, Palit's mascot.
The card is 9" long, much longer than the 8600 series of cards, but 1.5" shorter than the 8800s, and should easily fit in most mid towers. The fan shroud stretches the length of the card, which makes the entire card a two expansion slot size. It is well vented, with cooling slots throughout the shroud.
On the working side of the card, we see some heatpipes peeking out. Also of note, the small white connector to the left of the heatpipes, it is an S/PDIF connector to enable HDMI sound, connect the small included cable from this connector to the internal S/PDIF connector on your motherboard. More on that later.
Though not advertised as such, the Palit 9600GT Sonic is factory overclocked, the stock clocks for a 9600GT are 650mHz/1800mHz, the Palit is clocked at 700/2000.
Remove the shroud and we see that Palit has utilized a rather large twin-heatpipe cooling solution for the 9600GT Sonic. The aluminum cooler does add considerable weight to the card, but it is in no way heavy. With it's twin-slot PCI expansion bracket, the card is light enough to be sufficiently held into place with tool-free case solutions, though on a rig constantly moved around or carried to LAN parties I'd probably recommend using screws, just for that extra measure of protection.
Looking at that PCI expansion bracket, we see that the rear of the Palit 9600GT Sonic is not your typical reference version. Besides a small vent for exhausting some of the cooling air out of the rear of the case, and the atypical positioned twin DVI ports, Palit has also thoughtfully added an HDMI port, an optical S/PDIF out port, and a DisplayPort port. This is the first video card with a DisplayPort that I've seen. If you didn't know, DisplayPort is the next generation interface from the video card to the monitor or HDTV. Looks like Palit is definitely looking towards the future.
As the reference model, the Palit 9600GT Sonic uses one 6-pin PCI-E power connector.
Looking at the rear of the card, we see that the backing plate for the cooler also serves as a heatsink for the memory there. There is also a heatsink for the memory on the front of the card, you can see it looking below the cooler from the side. There are a lot of memory chips here for a video card, and I expect these heatsinks to get pretty warm, especially with the higher clock.
Bundled with the 9600GT Sonic is a DVI-sub-15 adapter, optical S/PDIF cable, S/PDIF out cable to connect to motherboard for HDMI out sound, 4-pin Molex to PCI-E power adapter, driver disk, and an instruction booklet with the barest of instructions. Also included is an anniversary edition of Laura Croft:Tomb Raider. Tomb Raider was bundled with my very first video card. I didn't play it then either.