If you want a top performing rig with a good upgrade path, I advice you to use and Intel CPU.
While I happen to prefer Intel too, obtaining top performance and a good upgrade path is just as easy with AMD. And AMD is just as reliable. It really has come down to personal choice, just as it is with the model and color of your next car. No one CPU brand or model is the best in every single category. And if not best, it is a close second.
amd, almost the same speed and much cheaper.
And that makes good sense. But do understand, the CPU is only one component on your list. Once you factor in the price of a good motherboard (and Gigabyte is my preferred board - then ASUS), RAM, graphics card, speakers, drives (optical, HD and SSD), a solid case with excellent and (hopefully) filtered cooling, a monitor (or two), keyboard, mouse, the 64-bit OS, and of course a quality 80+ certified power supply from a reputable maker, the price difference between Intel and AMD CPUs becomes pretty insignificant.
So while I prefer Intel, I generally find a motherboard that will support all the ins and outs - literally with all the I/0 interfaces and ports that I need and want, then visit the motherboard's webpage to find the QVL (qualified vendors list) of CPUs supported by that board. Yeah, if two similar boards, I take the one that supports Intels, but I would not be disappointed if I was "stuck"
with AMD. Nor should you if get "stuck" with Intel.
And BTW, once you get out of the budget/entry level motherboards, on-board sound turns to excellent and with more and more I/O options. Remember, many of these boards are used in HTPCs and integrated into many audiophile-quality home theater systems.
While there is no reason to not expect a computer to last 5 years or longer, there are 1000s of devices in a computer system, and any one could fail prematurely. Especially if taxed for much of its time. If your primary
goal is to have a reliable machine for college that also supports pretty good gaming (one of the most demanding task we can ask of our systems) I would wait as long as you can before buying and building. Then you can save up your money and help ensure this valuable resource for college (its primary job, right?) will carry you trouble free all the way through school.
Finally, while I am not really a fan of notebooks (because you are pretty much stuck with factory built and proprietary parts), if you will taking classes at school (as opposed to on-line) a notebook may be a better choice - at least for school, not for gaming. Therefore, my advice is two computers; a notebook for school only, and a PC for gaming, and backing up the notebook.