Does Hardware Matter?

Analog dude here looking to stream online radio stations into my rig. Basic and probably stupid question:

What difference in sound quality will it make if I just get a $200 notebook vs a $3000 uberMac?

Just going to go out of the mic output (splitting into 2 RCAs) into the back of the amp. Have done this successfully with our MacBook Pro and it sounds pretty fine - just don't want to dump another bunch of $$$ into another MacBook to use exclusively for the rig if it's not going to really significantly upgrade the sound.

Isn't the sound quality more dependent on the bit rate of the source and not necessarily the "quality" of the machine you're using to stream with? But WTF do I know...

Thanks all.
If it sounds fine to you,don't worry too much about it. You will find yourself falling into the endless money pit!!!!
You don't even need another computer for streaming online radio stations- Logitech Squeezebox Touch will do the trick for less money- and much better sound.
You will most likely not discern a difference in computers for streaming radio, and all you really need is a streaming device. E.g.:the Squeeze Box, Airport Express, Apple TV and a host of others will be just fine. If anything, I would consider a separate DAC after those devices as it will make more of a difference than the computer or the streaming device. Just make sure that whatever device you choose is capable of streaming what you want to play.

But do do it, it is a big world out there with a lot to hear!
You need a good soundcard on board the computer to do the A2D conversion if going out from the headphone jack. That is the main thing in regards to sound quality. I used this approach when I first started with computer audio and it can work pretty well. I have CDs I made off internet radio sources using this approach and they still sound pretty good.

Then I moved to Roku Soundbridge and recently Logitech Squeezebox network players with external DAC via wireless network connection. This is the way I would recommend ultimately assuming you have a Wifi network to start with.
Just a thought: If you like the sound you are getting from your Macbook Pro, then keep it. I'd forgo the headphone output and go USB to a Centrance DACport LX and then the headphone out split to 2 RCAs and by all means, try Bitperfect ($5.00).
I use the same setup except that I use the Centrance DACmini, which uses the same DAC and I listen to radio streaming all the time.
You'll be amazed by the Centrance and floored by Bitperfect, especially when you remember that Bitperfect only set you back $5.00.
Thanks for the timely responses and great info contained therein...this should keep me going for a while.

Oh, and I'm way down into the endless money pit...might as well keep going!

And I don't care what the rest of the analoggies ones and zeros guys are alright!

Thanks again.
Unfortunately, it does, unless the computer is streaming to Sonos or Logitech Touch. Then only the device matters.

Macbook pro is a good choice, however iTunes is not. Use Amarra or Pure Music.

To minimize sound quality issues, use Async USB interface, either in the DAC or with a USB converter. The master clock is the most important aspect of any digital audio system. This is in the CD Player or computer interface of the device.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I have been researching and testing the Mac Mini has been the best the bigger mac actually is money wasted the laptops not as good and can't be modded as much. Look at what martch2music does. ANyhow the Dac makes a big difference as well.

Also as mentioned above don't use itunes.