I know these are like a dime a dozen here, but I am build my first system, and I know about what a I want here... I early on budgeted about 450 for graphic card(s) I have 4 options, but if you can think of a fifth, and I go with that, I will send you I helped a noob tshirt.
First off I picked up an XFX 680lt motherboard at a good deal about a week ago. I have used xfx cards in the past and have always liked the brand, but I am never sure how much that matters.
Option 1, Cheap off brand 8800GT 512(I would order two right off the bat and SLI them up) Card Cost $248 Solution Cost 596
Option 2 XFX Alpha Dog 8800GT (Still would likely order 2, although this puts me over budget, I am getting a better brand name for what thats worth, and its the same brand as my mobo) Card cost 272, solution cost 540
Option 3 BFG 8800 GTS (I know GTS are not much better then GT's but its the G92 set, and still only 300) Card cost 300, Solution cost 600. (maybe just one and wait for the price to drop?) Cost 308
Memory Clock 1940MHz
Core clock 675MHz
Option 4 XFX 8800 GTX 768meg, 364 bit (never really considered this while laying out my build, but with the recent price drop it warrents consideration, I wouldnt sli it right now, but maybe in the future?) Cost 440
Memory Clock 1900MHz
Core clock 600MH
I am leaning towards eitiher the two cheap cards, or getting 1 GTS for now and waiting for price drop, but I am open to your ideas and suggestions.
the question is: what have ye now? will it get you through until we see what these dual gpu offerings from ati and nvidia will deliver? if it will, wait a month. if you can't wait that long, get two gt's and enjoy. just make sure that if you get the cheepos, they have a good warranty in case of failure.
If you are getting a GTS I would suggest the EVGA version with Crysis. On newegg it is currently only $20 more than that BFG at the same clocks with the game. If you don't want Crysis, the BFG should serve you well.
Honestly... Unless you're planning to run resolutions of 1920x1200 or higher, I'd suggest you get a single GT or GTS and see how it works for the games that you want to play, if it's not enough then buy a second. If I had to choose between a GT or a GTS, I'd pay the premium for the GTS just for the extra shaders and the better cooler.
I'd hang in a couple of weeks for more details/benchies/prices on the new 3870 x2, then make an informed decision. Initial benchies suggest that it's pretty hot. Certainly better than the GTX single card.