I built this system several years ago and it's done extremely well by me. It is starting to show its age in certain games though, so I'm thinking of a low-cost GPU upgrade but I'm a little worried about bottlenecks that might make the new GPU a waste.
I'm thinking that a Radeon 7750 or 7770 would be a decent enough boost in graphics without suffering too much from bottlenecking due to the old PCI-E slot, CPU, or RAM. These cards are also priced pretty much where I want to be (around $100). Anything past that price-point and it becomes less worthwhile to upgrade, me thinks. If spending $100 now gets me some more time out of this setup then I'm ok with that.
Of the two cards, I think I'd prefer the 7770 just for that little extra performance (I'm running 2 monitors at 1920x1080) but if even that would go to waste on this system, the 7750 would be fine. Again, this old 3850 can still handle a lot of things well, but I'm having to lower resolutions more and more and sacrifice other effects to make games play well. I don't need bleeding-edge hardware anymore (hence why I'm not building a whole new system right now) so if I can invest around $100 now and buy myself an extra year, maybe two, before I need to do a complete upgrade, would be really nice.
Thoughts? Should I just get the 7750 or would the 7770 be a safe buy considering my dated PCI-E slot. Thanks!
One follow up question. Would a 7850 be worth it with this setup?
After thinking about it some more, the price difference between the 7770 and the 7850 isn't that big, and the performance gains between the two cards is significant enough I think to warrant thinking about the 7850, but not if it'll suffer on this system.