Since I'm also hoping to learn more Shader Model 3.0 stuff, I'm forced to go with a specific graphics card and thus my choices are limited. I shopped around, and strangely, Alienware is giving the best deal (strange because they're usually more expensive). Anyway, here's the laptop I ordered - I'm pretty pleased with the price for what it offers.
Alienware MJ-12m 7700
Case: Alienware(R) MJ12m 7700 Case with 17" WideSXGA+ 1680 x 1050 LCD Display with Built-in Camera - Xeno Grey
Motherboard: Intel(R) 915P Chipset Supporting PCI-Express
Processor: Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 Processor 550 w/ HT Technology 3.4GHz 800MHz FSB 1MB Cache
Memory: 1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SO-DIMM at 533MHz - 2 x 512MB (2 slots unused)
Graphics Accelerator: Alienware(R) MJ12m 7700 NVIDIA Quadro FX Go 1400 with 256MB of DDR memory
Hard Drive: Dual Drive Configuration - Non RAID - 120GB (60GB x 2) 7200 RPM ATA100 - Hitachi
Primary Optical Drive: 8X Dual Layer DVD+/-RW / 24X CD-RW Combo w/Software
Floppy Drive: USB Floppy Drive
Modem: 56K Modem with V.92 Technology
Ethernet NIC: Integrated 10/1000Mb Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Wireless Network: Internal Wireless 802.11b/g miniPCI Card
Digital Audio Hardware: Intel(R) High-Definition Audio (24-bit, 192Khz) with 7.1 surround sound
Additional AC Adapter: Alienware(R) 7700 series 180 Watt Auto-switch AC Adapter
Free Alienware Mousepad: Free Alienware(R) Mousepad (isn't that special, I get a FREE mousepad!)
It should ship on Mon 9th, so I'll only be a few days without a computer, and that makes me happy.
No computer == suck.