The i3 cpus, with a little overclocking, can perform as well as (or even much better than, depending on the overclock) an i7.
They are 32nm, the newest manufacturing process, and many stories show the chips being able to consistently hit 4.5GHZ on Air cooling.
AMD's lineup is value oriented and has some great choices, but the chips are aging and AMD is going to release new chips and motherboards soon that will make an AMD setup pretty much un-upgradeable. (Thuban, 890 chipset, the newer cpus i forgot the codename)
An h55 or h57 motherboard will be enough to house an i3 and GF100 card when they are released, which will be all you need for gaming. You could even drop in an i5 or i7 8xx later if you have the cash. Even if the 1156 socket is dead (which, believe me, intel has plans for it) then you can still get an i7 and by the time that chip is slow we'll be discussing this on mars.