Choice of 280 if you're still running a 1280x1024 monitor
Some comments from my experience so far with the 280. I have not yet joined the widescreen ultra resolution crowd. Simply put, I have no reason to do so as my 19" monitor does everything I want it to and my gaming experience is great with it (for me). I am not a casual gamer, I'm probably one who plays games more than most. I have always gone with the best video card, whatever model came out I got the top of the line. 7900 came out I got the GTX, 8800 came out I got the GTX, 260/280 came out I got the 280, etc. I always spent a little extra to get the best one.
I got this card for a couple of reasons. One, I read some reviews that had the 1280x1024 comparison (most did not as the reviews seems to assume no one is gaming with this res anymore). Those reviews still showed some very good performance increases from the 8800 GTX at that res. Two, my daughter has my previous 7900 GTX (she's a hard core gamer too, my gaming genes apparently got passed down to her, heh). That card is a little long in the tooth now and games I played at max settings with my previous 8800 GTX, I had to turn them way down on hers. So I figured I would be getting a nice performance increase and so would she (getting my old 8800 GTX to replace her 7900 GTX).
As for the two of us, so far my daughter has got the best deal as far as the differences playing games. For her, playing those same games are like playing them new again because of the differences in eye candy she gets now that she couldn't play at before.
My experience (switching from 8800 GTX to 280) has not been enhanced. So far I have not been able to feel a difference (and no I do not use FPS counters, they are a waste of my time and focus). As a matter of fact, some games the performance is actually decreased. Quake 4 is an example (still one of my favorite game to play, it's just fun). With the 8800 GTX I could play this game at "enhanced FSAA" at 16x and supersampling Transparency FSAA with no performance decrease. With the 280 I can't play it at that to get the same performance. I have to play it at straight 4x FSAA with no supersampling Transparency FSAA for it to play with the same smoothness. I am blaming this on the drivers right now (I hope that's the case) as I just don't think Nvidia has got it down to get all the performance out of this card yet. I've played quite a few games with the 280 and haven't seen one yet where I went "yeah this is what I'm talkin about" like I did going from the 7900 GTX to the 8800 GTX. At this time I haven't felt a difference. Hopefully this will change as the driver matures and newer games come out that can put the potential of this card to use.
Do I regret buying this card? No, mainly because of my daughter's situation. Am I overly impressed? Not at this time. Dunno what other's experiences of this card are playing at the same res I am and going from what I had. This is just my experiences so far. I also had to RMA the first one I got because it was bad so this is my second one (same card).
Hopefully as I play more games, my impressions will change.
I7 3770 @ 4.4 gig (Noctua NH-U14S Heatsink), ASRock Z77 Extreme6, 16 Gigs (2x8) Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600, EVGA GTX 680 Signature 2, Acer P236H 23" (1920x1080), X-Fi Xtreme Gamer Pro, 2 WD 640 gig SATA HDDs, WD 750 gig HDD (eSata), WD 1TB Black HDD, Sandisk 32 GB ReadyCache SSD, 2 SATA DVD Burners, Logitech Z-5500 5.1 Speaker System, Corsair TX750w PSU, HSPC Top Deck Tech Station, Windows 7 Pro x64