In UK we have sites like PCspecialist. you basically build your own laptop on their website. there is one suggested and you swap parts for better ones for a fee. I bet You have got similar services in USA.
I would bet on any laptop with the simple rule: more cores the better. as you will be running many demanding programs at the same time. get yourself 256 gb SSD for system and another drive for storage(even games)
you will be able to choose 17inch display and everything else.