I had an 8800 GTX, and I absolutely loved it!
The 8800 GTX was a phenomenal product. It produced jaw dropping numbers and had an incredible feature set. Yes, for the time, it used a lot of juice and produced heat. Nvidia has always been known to push the envelope, and unfortunately, high heat and power usage is usually a product of such aspirations. You forget, though, that the 8800 GTX did NOT have a monolithic cooler on it and its fan was also nearly inaudible at full speed. The 8800 GTX did run hot, but it could afford to. The 480 GTX unfortunately runs hot and has an incredible cooling solution already on it leaving virtually no room to put a better solution on it other than WC.
I mean, are we seriously going to compare the 8800 GTX to the GTX 480? Nvidia had their ducks in a line for the 8xxx series. No one on here is going to say that the 8800 GTX wasn't an incredible piece of engineering (bar the fact that nearly all of them died in the first several years on market) However, things have changed dramatically since then. ATI now has a card in the form of the HD 5870 that is virtually twice as powerful, uses roughly the same amount of power, and gives off less heat. Nvidia, on the other hand, has a card that's also roughly twice as powerful, but it gives off an extreme amount of heat and uses a ton of power. What's wrong with this picture?
The 8800 GTX beat the 2900 XT. We all know that. During this generation, it's far closer. This GTX 490 could be a step in the right direction, or it could be a total failure. We'll have to wait and see.... and dear god I hope nvidia corrects the power/heat issues with their next gen of Fermi architecture.