Ok this is what I want to know. I play a lot of games. Most of thim play well with what I have but I can not turn all the I candy on @1280x1024. I want to keep my HP for now but max it out on what I can do with it. I can not overclock because of the motherboard so I was going the route of faster cpu &ram or one of the two. I thank I can do this for less than 200. but is my card going to hurt me. If I push up the power in these two areas. Or just get a better card. In other words is it the stuff that is pushing the card or is it the card.
Your card is not horrible, but it's not good enough for what you want to do. Im assuming what you mean by 4200+ is an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ and not an HP Computer model (I have no knowledge of how they name their computer models), Im assuming you're saying that you have DDR400 ram and it is a Socket 939 PC.
The only real upgrade worthwhile would be to the graphics card. The single best upgrade you can do for less than $200 is a X1950XT for about $170 on newegg which is about 15% faster than your X1800XT. The next decent upgrade would be the 8800GTS 320MB for about $260 after rebates, which is what I would recommend you do. This is of course if you have a PCI-E x16 mobo, because I can't tell from your specs if you do, however the idea would be the same if you had AGP, only that you would have to look for a GeCube X1950XT AGP card instead.
Also you might need a bigger PSU than the stock from HP.
If you have a PCIe slot, go for the 8800GTS 320MB. I have an Athlon64 X2 4200+ mated to an 8800GTS at 1440x900 with maxed out settings (except AA) on all the recent games I've played, and so far I'm quite happy with it.
The CPU will definitely limit your performance (compared to a Core2 Duo) but it's not unbearable.