Installation was very simple, this was a new build, so I popped in the card, plugged in the power connector, installed Vista, and the drivers were automatically installed. Vista usually automatically installs the latest nVidia drivers even when not a clean install.
When first booting up the rig, the fan ramps up fairly loud, but within a second or so, it quietens down to silence. I never heard it during any of the testing.
Testing - Benchmarks
I spent longer than I ever have mulling over what cards to compare the Palit 9800GT to. The only cards priced close to $130 were 9600GTs and Radeon HD 3850s that were still in stock. Both cards would do ok in artificial benchmarks, but there was no need to consider running AA on the 3850. There are still some 8800GTs for sale, along with HD 3870s, both in the $150-$170 range, but I had neither available. The most available card in the $130-$150 range is the 9600GT 1GB, and I do happen to have one, so that is what I decided to use. I have to admit, I feel pretty strange comparing a 9800GT and a 9600GT that cost the same, to consider which is the better value.
For artificial benchmark testing I used the Graphics test suite from PCMark05, the still popular 3DMark06, and the DX10 benchmark, 3DMark Vantage.
No surprises here, each card performed pretty much exactly how I thought it would, the 9800GT performs about midways between a 9600GT and a 9800GTX.