SWTOR is rather poorly optimized right now in terms of player models. I'm running a 3960X (yes, the $1,050 Extreme Edition Sandy Bridge E-Series processor) with 16GB of PC2133 RAM in quad channel and even with two 5870s in Crossfire, my FPS can hit 15-17 for a moment while riding my speeder around Imperial Fleet when it has 250+ people in it.
Basically, they really need to have the client lower the polygon counts on player models when a lot of people are around is what it seems like. At least make the "low" character graphics setting actually work/do something. It makes no difference for me whether it's set to low or high, and I have a very beastly rig.
Actually having the game client use my computer's resources effectively would be a large bump I'm guessing, too. FPS sitting in the 30s or 40s in the busier parts of Imperial Fleet with CPU use averaging 15-20% and GPU use 20-30%? My system is yawning, yet the client's performing horribly. I can start up BF3 and see 40% CPU use and 80%+ GPU use, why are there such big restrictions on the SWTOR client, BioWare?
I realize you want the game to be able to run on machines people paid $500 for six years ago, (which is annoying to those of us that aren't total cheapskates, but whatever, I get it) but there needs to be a "high performance mode" toggle or something. I *WANT* SWTOR to try and rip my machine apart. I use a 120hz 2D mode monitor, (a.k.a., a 3D monitor running in 2D mode @ 120hz) and I'm trying to push a triple-digit frame rate consistently. My rig can more than handle it, but the client is purposely bottlenecking it from what I can tell.
It's like RIFT all over again. lol