I was seriously considering an Alienware, but settled with a gaming laptop from Gateway. I did my homework beforehand.
Gateway laptops are some of the most reliable out there. Toshiba laptops are highly desired, but run hot and break down fairly quickly as noted in the customer reviews at BestBuy.com. Alienware...You are buying the brand name, which has been tarnished ever since they sold out to Dell. As for HP, I could not tell you but they are getting mighty trendy. Sony is nice, but too generic.
Core 2 Duo? Really? There's been three generations of Intel CPUs since then.