I have a Fatality Professional Z77 mobo and an I5 3570K that I built for the sole purpose of actually testing Intel firsthand to see what I was missing, if anything. It was a full custom watercooled system, with a dual 140 and triple 120 rads, aquero pump controller with poweradjust 2, mcp 350 pump connected to a maelstrom res, 16 gb of 2133 memory, dual 7850's in C/F as well as an ADATA 60 gb sata 3 ssd -- and 4 80gb velociraptor hdd's in raid 0. It was snappy, but my head didn't spin as much as it should have, well except for the cost... I am not saying that there is not faster cpu's it's that they are not nearly as cost-effective as the less expensive ones. I am not living or dying with a Sempron processor, I have just been surprised that a 35 dollar processor is doing (right now actually) basically what the I5 did at 1/7 th of the cost. The hdd's do make a difference to a point, but if you do some research, many if not most systems don't load up enough to use sata 3 speeds continuously. Most can utilize sata 2 and not see any improvement.
I am sure that there are tons of applications where having a huge cpu is needed, but isn't the entire system responsible for how quickly that it runs? The more parity that the rig has, the smoother it will run.Putting a I7 with a sata 3 mechanical hdd won't be able to utilize it's power fully, but if you put the same cpu with a good chipset, memory, and a couple of fgast ssd's in raid 0 will right? I have this crappy Semp 145 unlocked and overclocked, running on a adata ssd, 3 mechanicals, (wd black 500gb 64mb cache) on a gigabyte 970 mobo, with 2x2 gb sticks of Hyper-X 1866 memory and the WEI looks like this:
Now, that doesn't wow anybody, although it is performing very smoothly. The cost benefit is much higher in my opinion than the I5 that rated a 7.4 for 200 bucks. I respect the people that do the things that utilize those pricey CPU's I just think that there are a lot of people that could spend some of their budgets on other goodies that they'd like to include in their builds and still get good performance from their machines. For gaming's sake, I built all 4 of my kids' rigs for the same price range as an X-BOX 360 would be and they have much better graphics and performance.
I'm sure that you'd agree that saving $$$ is a good thing, and that many ppl wouldn't see much performance loss by going with less expensive chips, as you had said, the performance comes from other places as well.