Honestly, it sounds like your budget is up in the air, maybe ride a couple and see what you think(think of someone showing up in the 41 and asking if they should get a Raleigh with Tiagra or a Giant with Ultegra and all carbon fork; it's really a personal choice. The Raleigh would do the job, but the Giant is a nicer bike.)
I just finished up shopping for my first mountain bike a little bit ago. I went through a similar dilemma with NOS bikes, 2010 Spec Hard Rock Sport for $400 or 2009 Trek 6000 for $650.
For instance, I could feel a difference between Tektro Novela and BB5s; and a Suntour XCM and Dart 3. You may see similar differences between the Raleigh and the Giant. It's up to you what you want to spend in the end. Will the Giant probably be more enjoyable? Yes. Will it be twice as enjoyable? Probably not.
In my experience, I've been happy I went with the Trek. No upgraditis. It's performed great.