Upgrading from 7950 GT - how far can I go on PCIe 1.1?

I've been slowly upgrading my four-year old computer piece by piece into something that can hopefully last me a few more years. I'm basing it on whatever my motherboard (a Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 rev. 1.33) will allow.

So far I've got a core 2 Quad Q6600, upgraded from an E4300, which is close to the fastest I can get in this motherboard, along with 8 GB DDR2 running at 800 MHz, which IS the fastest I can get with this motherboard.

Now my Steam library is telling me that it's time for my old GeForce 7950 to go.

However, my motherboard is a PCI-Express 1.1. I've read notes that PCI-e 2.1 cards are backwards compatible with 2.0 slots, and 2.0 cards are backwards compatible with 1.1 slots, but 2.1 cards are NOT compatible with 1.1 slots without a BIOS update, and I don't see a BIOS update for my board. So I'd rather not chance it.

I've ALSO read that the Radeon HD 5000 and 6000 series are all PCIe 2.1, but sometimes get listed as PCIe 2.0s. Nvidia just lists all their cards as 2.0s. Given this, I've been focusing on Nvidias, but I'm still not sure what is what.

First question: which generations of Nvidia graphics cards are TRUE PCIe 2.0? Will I be able to run a 400 or 500 series in this machine?

Second: at what point am I likely to hit a bottleneck due to my older system? I'm looking at the 550 and 460 - will my system be able to feed either of these cards, or should I be looking to save a few bucks by looking at the 450? 260? 250?

I don't play a lot of super-high-end games, but ideally this card would travel into my next computer if I was feeling cheap at the time.
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  1. I have an Asus P5K-SE that has a pci-e 1.1 slot and I was able to drop in a GTX460 1GB without issue. That GPU may be the best choice.

    I wouldn't reccomend getting a GPU much stronger than that since you'll start getting too off balanced between the CPU/GPU.
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