An Ivy Bridge i5, 8GB RAM, cheaper 120GB SSD and a modern ATI or Nvidia card - I’m very happy with my R7850. (Any modern card above the VERY bottom end will handle 2 monitors, no worries - I also really do prefer ATI’s multi-monitor handling to Nvidia’s, but if you’re good with theirs…)
edit: looks at the article. Oh hey, yea, pretty much spot on :P (The alternative for me, anyway - I have an ATI and two of the 2TB hard drives…)
I really do recommend ASUS motherboards, incidentally - the build quality is excellent and I’ve had no issues with them for a long time now.
I recently put together a decent rig for about a thousand that seems quite capable of handling all current games I throw at it.
Ivy bridge i5 CPU
250 GB Samsung SSD
2 TB seagate spinny hard drive for media
ATI 6950 video card
16GB of the cheap corsair RAM
Asrock Z75 motherboard
Corsair case/power supply.
I actually splurged a bit on the case and PSU since I like my PCs ultra quiet. I also added the 2 TB extra HD which is totally unncessary for someone who isn’t using their main PC as a media server like me, so that’s optional as well. With my optional extras I went a bit over $1000 but anyone willing to forego those extras could save a few bucks and get the same PC for $700-$800. Maybe even a bit cheaper if they keep an eye out for newegg sales.
You could do the upgrade in pieces.
Step 1, get a new video card and possibly a new power supply.
Step 2, get a new CPU cooler (that will work on your current one and a future one) and overclock a bit.
Step 3, SSD
Step 4, new CPU/mobo/RAM.