Finally at 8 PM the game was unlocked for the east coast and I was able to start playing (it had pre-loaded a few days before). The graphics detection application this time around set me at Low, which going into the game seemed that it would be quite disappointing. I had for the past day or two been scouting out a GPU upgrade, and even thinking about getting a new gaming rig altogether.
This is what the original game looked like for me with the graphics settings at Ultra, the high resolution texture pack, and several mods.
This is what the new game looks like for me today on Low settings and no mods. The frame rate is liquid smooth (so far), and the visuals are actually much better than the original game on Ultra settings. Plus with the total absence of any mods, the game is extremely stable and the various save mechanics all function quickly and as expected (gone are the five minute long quick saves and fast travel saves).
Save times may increase as the size of the save file bloats, however that is to be expected. The key for me is that my video card (which is below minimum specifications) runs this game better than it did the original game that was set to Ultra.
To say that I am impressed with Skyrim Special Edition would be an understatement.