You know threads like this pull me both ways. I'm a HUGE supporter of backwards compatibility (within reason). But I'm also personally someone that makes sure to have at least the last gens card if not current gen.
You and your friend need to look at it this way.
If he had saved just $10.00 a month, which is $2.50 a week, which is
0.32 cents a day give or take. (you can save a child.... wait no wrong commercial!!)
He could have bought a 5670 or a 4850 for under a hundred bucks. Both of which would run circles, were talking HUGE CIRCLES around a x1950.
Now lets look at this closer, since his last build was back in 2006 and he's doing a new machine, if he were to stick to the 10 bucks a month not counting whatever he's saving for a new MB and CPU and what not, he's got around 360 bucks to play with. Now your looking at a 6970 or maybe a 5870 both of which could easily last him another 3 years.
Seriously people i know money is tight these days, but if you simply didn't eat at some fast food place once a week, or didn't buy those cookies or the gallon of ice cream at the store on your grocery run you'd be set. It's not like you have to switch to Top Roman for a month or two just to afford a new card.