So instead of putting $1600 into a gaming laptop, I decided to begin a new hobby (with the plus side of getting an inarguably better machine than I would have ended up with.)
The build process itself went smoothly until my previous GPU, an EVGA 970 ACX 2.0, decided not to work at all. Knowing nothing about building computers beforehand, this minor misstep ended up taking the better part of a day to solve. It ended up being completely dead - I sent back to Amazon and picked up the 770 the next day at a brick and mortar store, figuring the older GPU would be more stable. Viola, it worked immediately and with no hassle at all!
This computer is awesome. I sprung for some bells and whistles - the mechanical keyboard, a nice pair of headphones (not included here) and the mouse, considering I do a lot of gaming and will get good wear out of these parts for a long time. I used the Newegg tutorial video, really helpful except when it came connecting my monitor (which proved troublesome compounded with the GPU issues).
In the future I'll look to upgrade the graphics card first, the monitor second, and potentially the storage when SSD prices drop further. I'm really happy with how the build turned out. The 770 was not quite and impulse buy, but definitely a "I want to get this thing working right NOW," buy, as I didn't want all of the computer parts/boxes laying out in my room while the next 970 shipped. For now the 770 is great, but in two years time I'll probably go for a 980 or whatever is the best option in the 300-450 price range at that time, as I'm pretty confident in the longevity of the mobo and cpu.
For my next build I would look toward building in a smaller case - though the Thermaltake case is beautiful and is quite the centerpiece of my room now, it is a monolith and I didn't need all of its space.