Yes, they were very quick back in the day. I had 754 systems back then. For a long time, my primary rig was a Newcastle 3000+ on a DFI NF3 motherboard. I got that thing up to about 2.4 and used it for a long time. After I upgraded (switched to C2D because AMD didn't have anything competitive at the time), the 754 mobo and chip went into a system for a friend, and was in service until less than a year ago. At about the same time, I also built another 754 rig based on the same Sempron 3100+, which was also used to upgrade someone from Athlon XP.
I'm just not used to anything that doesn't perform anymore. Whenever what I have lags in the slightest bit, I go for an upgrade. The Newcastle gave way to a C2D E4300, which gave way to a Athlon II X4, which gave way to a Phenom II X4, which gave way to an X6. An eight-core Piledriver will be up next.