Achaemenid, I agree with the last sentence of you above post, I'm now updating the MSI notebook mentioned above with basically the same specs as yours, and while Linux Mint 18.2 (no VM's) runs like a champ. W10 not so much due to high overhead & partly due to chipset limitations (HM55), cannot use the full 800.0 MHz of the RAM modules, rather 569 MHz (what a waste of dual channel 800 MHz chips with 7-7-7-20 timings!), a huge drop & this is on the best dual core mobile i7 (640M) that'll fit in the socket.
Plus heat is an issue, even on a fast running notebook cooler (CPU 76C, MB 77C) & this is only with W10 running updates as of this moment. with the manual Turbo switch off! Would sizzle in the mid to upper 80C range, which may not harm the CPU, yet bad for the MB. These OEM's performed a poor job at cooling of these notebooks, having a powerful CPU plus discrete GPU requires two fans, minimum, as my Samsung Series 7 notebook has.
This doesn't happen with Mint 18.2, or any prior versions, temps are around the 50-55C range, which would be considered normal for this gen of a notebook, plus having upgraded a couple of times, I keep it clean, not long back, cleaned the heatsink using dish detergent & a brush, allowed to air dry, then used 91% alcohol to clean the CPU & the surface of the heatsink where contact with CPU is made & applied just a rice size of Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste on the CPU side of the chip & dot size on the GPU side & broke in for the recommended 200 hours with Prime95 (two 100 hour runs with 12 hours between these & an hour of idle after each). So there's no reason why it 's running so hot on W10 (now finally dropped to normal temps, 50C CPU, 57C MB, once updates were completed), I don't know what it is about this notebook heating under load with W10 (& 7 Pro prior), runs at low temps with Mint, as long as I don't have two browsers open, or 30+ Chrome pages.
So as you noted above in 'may just have to junk this whole set up', you either need to run LM 18.2, or W7, or dual boot (best option on this hardware & you can still encrypt either) & get a more powerful setup, preferably a PC, new(er) of self-built, for what you're attempting to do & I believe you'll find success.