Here is link on getting started in computer audio: http://thewelltemperedcomputer.com/HW/Connect/Digital_connect.htm. You might want to read the entire list of topics.
As for speakers which is what you originally asked. If I were you, I would get the Dayton setup that Destroysall mentioned. I used to own the Swan M200s and was not that impressed. There are a lot better passive speakers with amps in the lower price ranges than active.
A few other things you should consider: What is the brand of laptop, how are you going to get the signal out, analog or digital?, what is your player, what type files do you play, are you going to get a dac down the road, how much do you have budgeted for that? How loud? Where are the speakers going to be placed, how far away are you going to be from speakers when listening, how big is the room, etc.
My laptop is the HP Envy 14inch. I don't know how I'm going to get the signal out. My files are .mp3 but I plan on upgrading to FLAC sometime, I've just been too lazy to do it. As for a dac we'll have to see and loudness I would say it won't be booming but pretty loud, medium volume. As for speaker placement sub under my desk and bookshelfs on my desk. I will probably be about a foot to a a foot and a half from the speakers at most times.
I like destroyall's setup but that totals to around $200 (with a bigger sub) and I could spend about $50 more on the amp or the bookshelfs so I'm wondering which one I should upgrade and to what.