If possible, download all patches and updates from every piece of software you would use in your XP machine. Then find out exactly which hardware is in your system (for example, harddisk, video, sound, wifi etc.) and download the latest (but foremost greatest) XP drivers for your equipment.
Download now a tool called: nLite
With this software you create a new installation cd, containing all the updates, patches and drivers you have downloaded. The wizard from nLite does a very good job of guiding you through the necessary steps.
As a result you have created a fine-tuned installation cd that is ideal for your laptop. You should also automatize the installation process (again, nLite's wizard will guide you) so you can do an unsupervised re-installation whenever you deem it necessary. Shaves easily 10 to 15 minutes of a re-installation.
You could even create an installation DVD that includes all installation/setup files from every piece of software you find essential. That way you have all important software in one place and again saves you a lot of time recreating your ideal Windows environment using a fresh Windows installation.
For the true tweak-animals amongst us, find a freeware version from the tool: xq-setup
Not only can you make every tweak known to man/woman, this software can also store all these tweaks in a file. If this file is also stored on your installation DVD, you have in a flash your super tweaked system back as well.
As long as your hardware will be useful to you, that disk will prove a lifesaver and a serious alternative for imaging software, because a total re-installation will take some two hours at most. Why spend money on such software when a total re-installation only takes such a (relativity) short time.
The disadvantage from this method is that it will take quite some time to create such a DVD.
However, I did this once for an elderly client of mine (when I was doing PC repairs). That client was so happy with that DVD, it didn't take long for the word of mouth to spread, increasing my client base in a major way (he had a big family ;-))