if you have a costco membership, you can customize a HP through them, or buy a premade dell or toshiba. The custom HP's are cheeper through costco that through HP directly, fairly reasonable prices.
On another note, I am(was) in your same situation. Im about to graduate and was looking for a computer for college. First I was looking into notebooks, but for the price/perfomance tradeoff, I decided to go with a desktop. The main reason I wanted a notebook was for portablilty reasons, but face it, HOW often are you going to be moving your computer?? Probably not that much realistically. For someone thats into games such as yourself, and probably spend quite a bit of time on a computer, make sure its one that you're gonna get the most out of. Im not trying to talk you out of it or anything, but take into consideration what you're gonna get for your money.
Cons: Smaller screen, weak sound support (not that important though), limited upgradablity, weak graphics cards, weaker processors, expensive repairs, and the higher possibility of theft (especially at college)
Pros: Light, small, compact, easy to take to library or class, move from one place to another, less space
I guess it really depends on what you'll be doing with it. If its just typing, web browsing, listening to music, movies (to an extent), you'll be fine with a notebook.
Here's what I got (build myself) for $1250
Athlon X2 3800+
20.1inch spectre widescreen
wireless keyboard and mouse
(soon to get logitech z5500's)