for the long term, im sure the 9800 pro will serve u well. 9800 pro is much faster than the 9800 SE, 8 pipelines versus 4 in the SE. the SE is comparable to the 9600 pro. There are also many new deals out on the 9800 pro. I just saw a post in here listing a 9800 pro for 239? at microcenter. if thats too much, some retail stores like circuit city i believe have the 9800 non-pro (which can be flashed to pro speeds if using the samsung ram) for 199. and if thats still too much, list wat ur budget is and ill try to help.
edit- didnt see that it said 9600 SE. if that is the case, its junk! its a 9600 with slower speeds and half the memory bus, which makes it comparable to the really low end cards. spend more and get a lot more performance.
take a look at the nVidia 5900 non ultras. not the SE's or XT's, those are actually slower. they can be had for less than 200 dollars, and the 8 pipelines mean theyre gonna be much faster than any 9600. good bargain buy, or the 9700 pro's for ~220.
Well i'm really in the $120 or less kind of situation looking at 9600 series because of price they r about same price 9600se and 9600pro about $80 on price watch.I would consider a Nvidia card if there is 1 about the same performance and price.
Forget the 9600SE. It's basically a castrated 9600, and for $120 you can get much better. For example, you can get a 9600 (lower than a Pro, but higher than the SE) for $115 @ Newegg. Newegg is also one of the highest rated vendors on the net, so you wont have to worry about getting shafted.
If you want to find an even better deal, check Newegg's refurbs. Every so often, they post a really good deal on a refurb video card. In most cases, the refurbs work like retail cards, but in some cases they are also duds. Be wary when buying refurbs.
The XT of nVidia is the same as the SE of ATI. The nVidia XT cards are castrated versions of the normal version of the card. Besides that, the 5600 will not do DX9 games as well as comparable ATI cards will. Your better off with the 9600.