no matter what set up I've had (admittedly I haven't had amazing hardware but I'm always WAY behind the curve in relation to what should be a reasonable frame rate) my viewports have always been immensely slow above 1m polys. And ugly too.
Current set up is 2012 using Nvidia GTX 660. So yeah, not the best but in my current scene for example, I've got all my large-poly-count object set to view as box and if I move my vray camera I get what seems like less than 1 fps.
Now, if I max a viewport and orbit around in perspective mode, the frames SHOOT up. I also have degradation on but it's almost like this doesn't count when not in single viewport mode.
I also get this thing where everything is super bright and each time I switch back to a viewport I have to set to default lights. Every time. Because it's trying to use scene lighting.
Anyway, without getting bogged down in to too many specifics. I gather 2014 is the first version of max that really uses GPU power for viewports, is this the case? and if so, what's not so much the BEST GPU but one that's affordable, and most importantly, talks well to 3ds max.