You can build the absolute best system for your money by going with AMD instead of intel. All of my rigs have been AMD and they have all done me well.
Yeah I usually buy my stuff from a few different companies. Newegg, tigerdirect, Canada Computers, and Wintronic... I'm sure there are places in the states that have better prices than I can get up here in the far North.
Now as for AMD vs. Intel:
PassMark Intel vs AMD CPU Benchmarks - High End
Now that is just one particular benchmark, but it does show prices alongside performance. There are several Intel CPUs available faster than the fastest AMD, for the same price as the fastest AMD.
PassMark CPU Value Chart - Performance / Price of available CPUs
AMD clearly has the corner of the budget market in sub 10000 point CPUs (with the exception of a few Intels).
Guess it all depends on what you're going for. When I built my HTPC a few years back I used a Core i5-750 which was way up the charts at the time, it's still a decent CPU although Intel has changed sockets again...