The help me build/buy thread tends to be more desktop oriented, I think. And ths being the place for portable topics, I don't think it is necessarily out of place, but the Help me Build/Buy area gets more traffic. I could be wrong though, it wouldn't be the first time.
$1200 unfortunately won't get you a lot of gaming power in a laptop. Good gaming laptops are also usually large and heavy, making toting them around often somewhat of a pain.
Check out the Asus G1 though. at 15.4" and 6.8 lbs it is still moderately portable and sports an 8600m gpu. On sale at Best Buy for $1500 right now. Asus is a brand often overlooked, and their laptops are pretty nice. There are slight differences between the bestbuy models and the regular models though, so shop around. It's mainly to do with warranty and accessories.
I've seen some 8400m equipped models too, which is better than on board graphics, but nothing spectacular. The various other 'gaming' laptops can be observed at most retailers, you can see what you think of them yourself, so I'll save the screen space.
But one other brand that many aren't ware of is Sager. The 2090 model has an 8600m gpu, 7lbs, and starts at about $1100. It also has lot of options to trick it out too. You can see it at PCTORQUE.
Once you start adding stuff to it, it gets more expensive, of course.