Ckorody is correct but failed to address part of your post. As you put it- "slugging it out" is what you won't have to do with a mac. I run both platforms for work, and the macs run way easier and with fewer issues than a pc could ever hope to. Couple that with the macs "plug and play (truly, they are)" and you will discover why they have such product loyalty. On the odd chance that you have an issue, you can bring it in to a mac store and they will walk you through anything- even if you haven't bought it from that store. TAS did their readers a disservice by failing to mention the simplicity of getting great sound out of a mac. In the last issue there were pages on how to set up a pc. With a mac there are about seven items to "set" and that is it. Picture this:
You buy an iMac. It comes with a quiet, fanless quality hard drive. Plop it on the top shelf where your transport used to be. Note that there is no tower. Connect it to DSL or a cable modem- it should find/connect it automatically (try that with a pc). Plug in a firewire or USB Dac, preferably one that goes right to I2S, not spdif (Benchmark comes to mind). Follow the instructions at the Benchmark wiki or at the Wavelength site and you are off. The Imac will come with a remote for "Front Row" (a mac media management program) and you will be able to play iTunes from your chair. If you need a better remote, there are many bluetooth (built into the mac) devices (palm pilots, cell phones) that can control itunes or for $140 or so, there are wireless usb remotes with screens.
Personally, I'd stay away from any of the music servers. The mac is so easy, and ultimately more ergonomic than trying to access your music through a little screen. As for importing cd's, as long as the mac is connected to the internet, you can easily set the machine to automatically import the cd upon insertion. It will even spit it out when it is finished importing. Sounds trivial until you attempt to import hundreds of cd's. I did it while I did other things. Every time I walked by the mac I put a new cd into it. Over the course of a week or two it was done. Frankly, my iMac was the best $1000 audio purchase ever- go figure?