The card we were provided with for review purposes is made by Leadtek. As per usual, so early after the launch of a new chip, the card conforms exactly to nVidia's reference design, as will most cards available in the shops right now.
In the box you get a fairly basic bundle starting with two six-pin PCI-Express to two Molex power adapters enabling even legacy power supplies to be used with this card (though it'll still need to be powerful enough to power the card). A DVI-to-VGA adapter is included but there's no combined S-Video to component/composite dongle nor is there a DVI-to-HDMI converter to complete the digital connection arsenal. A copy of the decidely old Neverwinter Nights 2 game is included but there is no other bonus software. Essentially, this is a budget bundle for a, relatively, budget card.
We've liked the recent trend in nVidia's card designs. It started with the GeForce 8800 GTX with its black PCB and heatsink/fan, and gunmetal PCI bracket and has continued, and indeed improved, over the last year resulting in the GTX 280 being our favourite yet. It's therefore nice to see that the GTX 260 is in fact the spitting image of the latter card.
The shroud is the same all encompassing black plastic affair that does a stellar job of funnelling air over the heatsink and protecting the front of the card. On the back is a black painted metal plate that acts as a heat spreader as well as protecting the delicate circuitry beneath from knocks or damage from static shocks (not that you would handle such delicate electronic equipment without properly earthing yourself, of course!).
The fan is as good as ever, remaining essentially silent when doing desktop work and only spinning up when needs be, and even then it's temperature dependent. The noise it creates when going at full pelt is distinctly audible but not so much that it would disturb a neighbour. It also does a good job of exhausting heat out of your case rather than letting all that hot air build up inside.