So I haven't ordered it yet, but here's the what I'm planning on ordering from Dell:
Vostro 1500 (with some upgrades)
PROCESSOR: Intel Core 2 Duo T5470 (1.6GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB)
OPERATING SYSTEM: Genuine Windows® XP Home Edition
LCD PANEL: 15.4 inch Wide Screen XGA LCD Display with TrueLife
MEMORY 2GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz, 2 DIMM
VIDEO CARD 128MB NVIDIA® GeForce™ 8400M GS
HARD DRIVE 120GB 5400RPM Hard Drive
WI-FI WIRELESS CARD Dell Wireless 1395 802.11g Wi-Fi Internal Card
I specifically sought out laptops that still have XP on them (I know Brent says it's nothing to be scared of, but he's also getting a doctorate in CS). It's marketed as a small business laptop, but there's not much difference between it and the one they market to consumers (Inspiron 1520). It's a little bit cheaper because it doesn't come with extras like Webcam (I figure I can buy a cheap one if I need it) or software that I wouldn't use anyway.
Once I start school, I can upgrade to XP Professional for very cheap (although I think that would wipe out everything I put on it before I start school).
I can also purchase the software I need very cheaply.
The two splurges (and I'm still not sure if I need them) are with the GHz (1.4 to 1.6, and it costs a whopping $75) and graphics card (Intel Integrated 3100 to Nvidia 8400, and also $75).
To those who know, are the splurge worth it?
Total cost (with splurges):$669.00