I went the MAC min direction instead of the PC. Make sure your first requirement is a laptop that the cooling fans are QUIET. Many can run you out of the room.
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I have done a couple of laptops for customers in the past month, an hp Pavilion ($1850) and a Toshiba Satellite ($1000). I like the Toshiba the best. Easy to set-up, great ergonomics (touch-pad and screen) and good functionality for ripping (fast and accurate). Also has great packing for re-shipping it.
Given the investment you've got, I'd be looking at something like an Apogee Mini - USB based - plus a laptop similar to Audioengr's recommendation.
Right now, I'm using a Dell Inspiron 6000 with a separate PCMCIA Firewire adapter into a Presonus Firepod that drives my McIntosh C2200/HK Citation II/UREI 813s quite nicely.
The biggest problem I've encountered in using this for CD playback is that the laptop has a nasty problem with the disk drive's power consumption bleeding into the grounding system and causing all sorts of gremlins that result in digital artifacts in the audio - even when there's no audio.
The other problem is that this gear clearly radiates sufficient RF so as to create hash into my tuners, too.
I'm pretty sure there's a ground loop somewhere in the laptop/PCMCIA gear that's the root cause.
Outside of that, this is an excellent way to go - especially for the price.
Hope that helps.