well since everyone is spouting off their opinions right and left then here's mine.
I am an avid reader of rage3d and I hear almost as many good things as bad things about the 9700. And this is a card that is nary a month old. But one has to remember that the the people posting with problems are a tiny piece of the consumer pie. So, I believe that most people that are buying 9700s are simply enjoying their card and don't have any problems to post about. This is speculation but at least it's a touch deductive.
Also, I've owned about 5 nvidia cards in my life and one ati. Here are the nv cards: tnt2, G2GTS, G2mx400, G4Ti4200, and G4Ti4400. Both of the g4s had problems with a few games, namely dungeon siege and nascar2002. The others were basically trouble free. But I have never ever liked the nv control panel, and rivatuner was just a pain in the butt.
The one ati card I purchased was an LE850064mb that I've had in my system for over a year. I bought the card the first month it came out and never really had any problems with it. So, I really do like ati and their hardware, and now their software is becoming better and better with performance increases from driver to driver. I'm still running this card today and have since sold all the nv cards I owned
. Plus the 8500 was only $180 a year ago and I've recouped my money from all the other cards by selling on ebay.
My point is this: that one should really try out a card in his system before he makes the decision to buy or not to buy. It's the only objective way to pick out the card that best suites your proclivities.
sorry for the longwind post