The results are in; EVE and ShaderModel support
On March 10th, after the Apocrypha expansion, having a graphics card that supports ShaderModel 2 will be the minimum to run EVE. This means GeForce FX (5 series) or ATI R300 (9500, x300) or compatible. EVE Classic will be replaced with EVE Premium Lite. There are no plans to change the specifications further this year.
Current system requirements for EVE Online can be found here.
Now that the TL;DR crowd is out of the way, here's a little more info on how and why we reached this conclusion.
By now you've probably all read my previous blog about proposed changes to EVE's ShaderModel support as well as the changes to client versions. To quickly sum up we proposed a two step plan:
Step 1: In Apocrypha, March 10th, we discontinue support for ShaderModel 1, making ShaderModel 2 (GeForce FX (5 series) or ATi R300 series cards or compatible) the minimum requirement and discontinue the "Classic client" version of EVE, replacing it with "Premium Lite"
Step 2: In the Winter Expansion 2009 we are considering discontinuing support for ShaderModel 2 and make the minimum specification ShaderModel 3(GeForce 6 class cards or ATi x1300 or compatible)
We then requested that you post any concerns or comments about the plan as that would heavily influence our final decision. You did not disappoint! We had far more feedback than we even hoped for, which has helped us a great deal in reaching our conclusion.
Based on your feedback we are going to commit to making ShaderModel 2 the minimum requirement (graphics wise) in the Apocrypha release, as well as replacing the Classic client with Premium Lite which will contain the same graphics and models as the regular Premium client but downmix the textures to increase performance on lower end computers.
We will however not pursue going to ShaderModel 3 as a minimum, at least for now. It's quite apparent that while an overwhelming majority has no problems with moving to ShaderModel 2, there are still quite a few (mostly laptop) users out there that cannot support ShaderModel 3 yet. We're going to continue monitoring hardware trends closely and will revise our plan on a regular basis.
We've opened a forum thread for commenting and we urge you to post any concerns or comments you have there.