I think I would also consider selling the 9650 and looking into a phenom II if his board will take it, even an Athlon II quad core would be ok because of the higher clock speed. You can go to a better video card, but I think that if he jumps to a better video card, that he's going to possibly bottleneck a newer card. I had an older Athlon 2.8 ghz processor, and upgraded to a GTS 450 a year or two ago, my processor bottlenecked that card BADLY when trying to play battlefield bad company 2. Thankfully my board took an Athlon II quad core, which I overclocked to 3.3 ghz, and no more stuttering. Even at the stock speed of 3ghz on the Athlon II quad everything ran great, but just overclocked just because I could.
Other thing you could see how much can you overclock the 9650, if you can get it to even like 2.7 ghz, you might be able to put a better video card in and have it run ok.