Hmm, Mine is also 945GM.In the interest of making sure there's as much data as possible, here's mine:
Laptop; WinXP SP3; Mobile Intel 945GM Express Chipset w/ 224MB (I believe the graphics memory is shared with system RAM); 2GB memory; Bugged
For those who don't know where to find some of this info, this small, free utility may be of help: http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html
Yes, this is a very old laptop and really does need to be replaced. Unfortunately, I have been out of work for a few months and literally have no money right now so an upgrade isn't even in the same universe as me. That being said, I've always been able to run LOTRO at fairly high setting with no more problems than a lowish framerate (I typically get from the mid teens to the mid 20s). It's a choice I'm willing to live with for the nicer visuals. Rohan has been a trouble spot; I have to step things down almost as low as they go just to get double digits at all.
My theory matches up pretty well with yours, CrashBash. At some point before the update, somebody made a (thought to be) insignificant tweak to the rendering system which broke things for older graphics chipsets. Does anybody know if this problem showed up at all during the Beta? My fear is that unless Turbine has a lot of older computers or laptops lying around (seems somewhat unlikely) we could be in for a wait before they can track down the problem and fix it.
The saddest part is whatever change was made could very well be small enough to not even be noticeable except in a few very special cases other than this bug. Here's hoping that somebody figures out which bit to flip quickly!
(Edited to add) It should also be noted that a couple months ago I did some experimentation and found I was able to run two clients on this computer simultaneously. It wasn't the smoothest operation, but it worked. I tried three, but was warned by the system that I didn't have enough graphics memory available. The LOTRO game engine is (used to be) a lot more forgiving than many people give it credit.