I say scrape together $115 and get a GeForce 6600GT. I have this card and can play HL2, Painkiller, etc with pretty good settings. The 6600GTs are good cards for the money and more mid range than anything else for that money. I consider the $200 price range more midrange...although that's still expensive I know!
As another posted suggested I'm assuming you have an agp slot in your PC so if I was you I would try to scrape together another 20-30 and pick up a 6600 geforce they run abou 115-130 they all have 8 pipes (9600 has 4 I believe been awhile) and have a 128bit memory.
Another option maybe a refurbished 9800pro if they honor full warrentee, since those are better than 9600xt and still in AGP form.
It depends on what games you plan on playing or what you are doing with your graphics. I have a 9600SE which I believe is 64bit that I've had for a few years now. It works ...ok for Unreal Tournament 2004, but I've been considering an upgrade because it's just barely "good enough". I'm sure the 9600XT is a much better card than mine, especially if it's the 128bit edition. Just wanted to give you a reference point, if you plan to play newer games than UT2k4 you might want to look at the 6600GT that was suggested earlier.
The nice thing about 9600XT's is that honest companies maintain the memory speed regardless of memory size.
OK, so here's the deal: The factory specification for 9600 Pros is DDR600 on the 128MB card, DDR400 on the 256MB card. The 128MB card was generally faster because it used faster memory. Some dishonest companies put the slower RAM on their 128MB cards however.
The 9600XT is specified to have DDR600 for both 128MB and 256MB cards. So as long as the company isn't cheating, you'll get full speed.
But you might find an old 9700 Pro for a similar price, and that's a better card. Or you might find an 6600GT for a few dollars more.
The 9800SE isn't even a 9800, it's a 9500 non-pro. The SE means everything is cut in half with this card, that means half the pipelines, half the memory bus width, etc. So don't be confused about the "9800" in 9800SE, it's not really a 9800 at all.
Sure, the 9600XT is a newer version, it's clocked higher. The original card was the 9600 Pro, 400MHz core 300MHz RAM (DDR600). The 256MB 9600 Pro got slower RAM (DDR400) so it would be closer in price to the 128MB version. Then the 9600XT came out, with a 500MHz core and 300MHz RAM (DDR600) for both 128MB and 256MB versions.
The 9800 Pro has twice as many pixel pipelines as the 9600 series, but is clocked slower. Having twice as many pixel pipelines, it's still a better performer.
The 9800SE uses a 9800 Pro chip with half the pipelines disabled. This is the same thing that was done to make a 9700 into a 9500 non-pro.
Then there's memory variations for the 9800 series too: The 9800 Pro originally had a 256-bit memory interface, but a cheaper version was introduced with a 128-bit memory interface. This was done intentionally, to trick people into buying lower-performance cards.