After a few weeks of research and careful consideration, I finally decided on getting the Dell Inspiron 7447 over the Acer Aspire V Nitro or the Macbook Pro.
First impressions are good. The screen is a 1080p IPS panel with a matte finish, and it's bright with consistent colors and good viewing angles. It's got an i7 processor and an Nvidia graphics card, which would really help not only with gaming but also with working on 3D projects. Sound quality is very nice, as there's also a subwoofer built in to the bottom of the unit. Linux mint also worked well when I tested a live USB at the shop (checked beforehand, this Inspiron model is Ubuntu certified).
This past weekend, I finally got the notebook all set up to dual-boot between Windows 8.1 and Linux Mint 17.1 (for gaming and productivity, respectively). And spent some more time downloading updates, installing what I need and personalizing the settings for each OS. There's still a few things to look out for, like making sure Nvidia Optimus/Bumblebee was set up correctly in Linux for power efficiency and that future updates/changes to Windows wouldn't mess with the boot loader. But so far, everything is working really well and I'm happy with the current set up.