If you've ever tried to build your own desktop, you know that matching all of the parts can be a tricky proposition. Building a PC with a pair of high-end 3D cards presents an even greater challenge, what with ensuring you have enough power, a compatible motherboard, etc. If you know what you're doing, you can go on over to NewEgg, ZipZoomFly, or elsewhere (even CNET) and hunt around for the right components, but that still involves a lot of rooting through search results. Enter the SLI Marketplace, a new section on Nvidia's SLI Zone Web page that provides a remarkably easy means by which you can select and purchase nearly all of the requisite components for building a top-notch gaming rig.
We have to give Nvidia credit, the SLI Marketplace makes it remarkably simple to select and acquire the parts to build an SLI desktop. Basically, a compatibility checker combined with a shopping metasearch engine, the SLI Marketplace walks you through selecting the motherboard, graphics cards, the system memory, and the power supply. The steps are organized to ensure that everything works together. For example, once you select a GeForce 8800 GTX graphics card, you will only see the 750 watt and greater power supplies required to power two of them. And once you choose a part, you'll see a list of availability of that particular part from various online retailers. Clicking on the "buy now" link opens a new browser window to the retailers check out page, so at no point do you hand Nvidia your credit card info.
The only thing we think is strange about the SLI Marketplace is that it doesn't let you line up a CPU. It will help you select a motherboard based on the type of CPU you intend to put it in, but you still have to search the various component retailers for the actual system processor. Given Nvidia's motherboard-chipset and graphics-chip rivalries with AMD/ATI and Intel, we're not entirely surprised that Nvidia might leave that step out. Still, when you select a chipset, you're making a de facto CPU choice, at least in terms of vendor and chip type, and it's annoying that Nvidia won't help you with that last step.