It got waaaaay to expensive. I'd like to stay around $1200 for the total tower (no peripherals in price). Anyone have a critique on how I could carve away this sytem? I think the tower and the sound card might be the first place... I don't necessarily need a sound card, but I may want to play a game or 2 at some point
Well, you may want to pull back your graphics card a bit...
Especially for 3D modelling, Nvidia cards can be more capable with cuda cores and Physx. A 670 would be plenty, perhaps a gigabyte.
Sound cards don't make much different to gaming and probably isn't worth it so much. Motherboards have very good integrated sound unless you were doing lots of high quality video editing and recording you could afford not to have it.
You could slip to a cheaper case. CM 690 II Advanced is cheaper and still fits ATX well and long graphics cards.
Finally, unless overclockign the CPU, you could get the hyper 212 EVO cooler which is a bit cheaper.