This video card does produce a good amount of heat, even with the decent all copper factory hsf that it comes with stock. I think a good aftermarket cooler is probably the way to go here. As I stated in a PM i think, I was able to push her to 650MHz core and 740MHz (1480MHz effective) memory with the stock cooler but the fan needs to be at 100% speed (kinda obvious...) and it sounds like a jet plane on a runway (well, not quite that bad but you get the idea). The great thing about the X1650XT is that its low power, single slot, no need for additional power via 6/8 pin and it's on par and in most cases, better than a Geforce 7600GT. As far as the hard drive, it'll come freshly formatted (NTFS) and in an anti-static bag. It's SATA2 capable but I think you have to go to Hitachi's website and dl a small utility thats needed to set the HD in SATA2 mode. I believe it comes default at SATA150. I could be wrong and you might not have to do anything as I haven't used the hard drive in months and can not remember if I needed to do that or not. Anyhow, it's no big deal and a simple operation to perform if it is indeed needed.