I would say that you must not have had higher end AMDs then because, but for a few very expensive exceptions, the top end AMDs and the top Intels have always been so close, you would have to have a side by side comparison to tell the difference - which is exactly what I have been doing for years. I currently am using an Intel P4HT 3.06GHz on system 1, and an AMD Athlon XP3000+ on system 2, the Intel with 1GB RDRAM and the AMD with 1Gb DDR. They both turn in similar benchmarks, 1 slightly better here, the other slightly better there - neither blowing away the other, both blowing away lesser CPUs. Note the AMD3000+ is really 2.23GHz. I use them both all day long and I notice no difference in performace as I move back and forth.
yea, I hate amd for the sheer reason that every time I got an amd pc, it sucked. but yea, I think you should build your own pc. i am 16yrs old and I have built my own. all I have to do now is install my xp when I get it through the mail and boom I am done. Its not that difficult just teeny tiny steps but its fun. and most people here have knowledge about computers and I also had a little bit and I made one. and I would go wit intel, wow 64-bit. big deal, the next os will also support 32-bit since there will be different versions (from what I have read). so no biggie and I also researched and found out that there are few things that actually use the 64-bit processing as of now. everything is mostly 32-bit.
It is important to note that big differences on paper for specific tests or benchmarks do not always translate to perceptible differences.
As far as 64-bit, all personal system (those I build for family and friends) will be 64-bit from now on - Why? Because why build a computer that could easily last several years with technology that is on the verge of becoming obsolete? Windows XP Pro x64 is out now and available to PC makers and folks with 64-bit computers. AMD 64s are a year old and have a proven track record. Intel is almost there for the home users (Intel has 64-bit extensions - not the same thing but allows running 64-bit code). So for true 64-bit CPUs now, AMD is it.
If you expect you will replace your whole computer in a year or two, then stick with 32-bit. But if you are like me, and will upgrade bits and pieces for MANY years, then it only makes sense to buy what you can now so you don't have to just a year later. It would be a drag if a new 64-bit version of your favorite program comes out next year and your still brand new 32-bit PC can't run it.
The important stuff is on the drives and backed up elsewhere (it is backed up, right?), making it easy to upgrade drives, or even a new CPU later - that is if you were smart enough to get a good current motherboard, case and power supply - those three thing will allow for upgrades for a long time.