GeForce 8800 Needs only slow CPU to hit it´s maximum.
If you buy 8800gtx and run games on maximum image quality. That means 16 -16 AA AF and softshadows on in fear. Why would you run in anything else than max imagequality? Cpu means nothing. In 1280 x 1024 the difference between a 2 ghz amd64 and a 4 ghz core 2 is nothing. The games are gpu bound so the cpu has no work to do.
and this is before you start adding better graphics from the modding scene. Many games look twice as good with mods. But gpu takes a beating. ( oblivion best example)
But if you are one of the eh.. few.. or none. Who buy a 600$-1000$ gpu to run their stuff at low quality settings cpu matters.
With the af and aa set at x16 x16 everything set to max quality on the cards drivers and in game. CPU make in fact almost no difference in the tests made so far on the net and at home. The games are still gpu bound on high quality settings. Performance of a 90$ cpu is the same as a 900$ when the settings go high. You can test this yourself and everyone else can do it at home. Crank down gfx = cpu bound crank up gfx = gpu-bound
If you readers buying 8800 cards read this. Ask yourself do I want 160 fps good quality with a 900$ cpu or 90 fps of the best quality with a 99$ cpu ( or 900$). I would go for the later.
Ps. the new cpu´s are still monsters when it comes to hard work like video editing, encoding and 3d. But as a gamer you don´t need them... and with dx 10 you might end up needing them even less for gaming.
8800 GTX can not run Oblivion with max candy at even 1024 x 800 16af -16aa with beauty mod add ons like 4096 textures ( more is coming) and complete sceen renderings. Even fear will start to struggle above 1280 with softshadows on. why does everyone use 4-8 max when there is 16 -16 max + high quality in the drivers? SoftShadows makes FEAR gpu bound. Why no softshadows? it looks great. I have yet to see a new game that runs better on a 4 ghz core2duo. Please prove me wrong if you can.
Reviewers have to open up their eyes and see the larger picture. What is useful for the customer. (professional fps gamers might be an exception but they are very few. Most ordinary people use ttf-screens instead of huge ugly crt monitors anyway)
guru3d has a great article showing how cpu make no difference at all when running high quality gfx settings. funny thing is they prove cpu doesnt matter then state the oposite. lol.
Take a look how little the difference is between the lowest and highest core2 cpu. Then think about what will happen when you raise the image quality to 16 x 16 and add softshadows in fear.
You would have to run at 640x480 or 600x800 to get any use of a fast core2 cpu. You could lower the image quality to get higher fps but why? when games run far above 60 fps even on the slowest cpu.