I was looking at something like this for college http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
To run with ubuntu and maybe a dual boot in case I can't get windows games to run nice with it. I don't know if this is the place to ask questions about linux compatibility, but I hear that nvidia cards play nice with linux. But besides that, the most graphically intensive game i play is team fortress 2 which I play just fine on my 1.8 ghz stock c2duo (not sure what the commercial name is) with a gigabyte mobo and a 7600 gt on a 22 inch monitor (not sure what resolution is, not maxed, but it looks nice and fast).
Can anyone suggest a different laptop that might be more price effective? 17 inch monitor would be cool but 15.4 inch monitor will do.
PS The first thing I plan on doing is getting rid of vista. I'll dual boot xp and ubuntu.
You are going to want a computer with at least an 8600m gt is you are wanting to game at decent settings. The 15" XPS 1530 is a really nice machine, and there are plenty of other models that sell for under $1000 with an 8600m gt.