I saw mentioned in another question that a 741 is one of the worst designs. An LM324 is also pretty low-end.
Is there a better low-end operational amplifier for the money? I would just appreciate knowing a hierarchy of people's favorites. Obviously, if I can get LM324 for 0.18, it's not comparable to a higher end opamp costing $4. I think the fact that the LM324 is a quad is very useful for class because we can use one chip to build a positive feedback amp, then a negative feedback with a source follower front end, and finally a differential amplifier, all with a single chip. So all things being equal I guess I would tend to prefer quad packages over others for that reason.
So I'm looking for the best opamp/$ in 3 categories:
low noise/higher speed (say, in the 10Mhz range rather than 1Mhz)
Power (10W or thereabouts)
In addition, after reading a question here about differential amplifiers I looked on Avnet to see what I could get in a single package. I found some really nice ones, but only in surface mount packages. Is there anyone selling differential amplifiers in PDIP format so they can be used in class? They are pricier as well, of course.