The Gigabyte GA-M56S-S3 is compatible with AMD processors with the Socket AM2 socket.
It has 16 GB DDR2 maximum RAM and conforms to the ATX form factor standard.
|CPU Socket||Socket AM2||SLI Support||1 graphics cards|
|CPU Compatible Make||AMD||Crossfire Support||1 graphics cards|
|CPU Chipset||nForce 560||Onboard GPU||no|
|Form Factor||ATX||PCI Slots|
|Max RAM||16 GB DDR2||SATA 1.0||0|
|RAM Slots||4 x DDR2||SATA 2.0||0|
|Memory Channels||2||SATA 3.0||0|
|Compatible RAM Speeds||RAID Support||yes|
|USB 2.0 Internal Slots||6||Internal I/O|
|USB 2.0 Rear||4||Back Panel I/O|
|Graphics Card Interface||PCIe v2.x|
The Gigabyte GA-M56S-S3 uses the AMD Socket AM2 CPU socket. Any compatible AMD CPU will have the same socket entry. It uses the aging DDR2 memory type, with maximum speeds of up to 800 MHz, and 4 DDR2 slots allowing for a maximum total of 16 GB RAM. DDR2 memory is exceptionally out of date, and considering how cheap DDR3 RAM is, using a motherboard with only DDR2 compatibility in a modern system build would be a very bad idea.
Conforming to the ATX standard, the Gigabyte GA-M56S-S3 should fit into the majority of cases. ATX is the most common form factor, and as such has a high degree of compatibility with other components while providing a decent number of slots to widen your expansion options.
The Gigabyte GA-M56S-S3 has 4 SATA 3.0 hard drive slots. These allow for theoretical data transfer speeds of up to 6GB/s, as opposed to the 3GB/s of SATA 2.0. Generally speaking, only high performance hard drives, specifically solid-state drives, will be able to take advantage of the bandwidth potential of SATA 3.0 ports, though it is backwards compatible, so you do not have to take advantage.
The Gigabyte GA-M56S-S3 does not support onboard graphics. Any system build that uses this motherboard therefore requires a separate graphics card, or a processor that has a GPU on the same die, such as AMD APU processors. There are 1 PCIe x16 slots on this motherboard. This means it is perfectly capable of accommodating the latest graphics cards, although it is important to try and use a graphics card with the same graphics card interface of PCIe v2.x, as anything below will not reach the motherboard's potential, and anything above will have its performance slashed to the bandwidth maximum of the Gigabyte GA-M56S-S3's PCIe v2.x. The Gigabyte GA-M56S-S3 does not support multiple graphics cards via Nvidia SLI or AMD Crossfire.
The Gigabyte GA-M56S-S3 has 10 USB 2.0 slots but no USB 3.0 slots. While USB 3.0 slots are so far by no means necessary, and with a plethora of USB 2.0 peripherals to choose from, the USB functionality on this motherboard should be fine. If planning on building a new system, a motherboard with USB 3.0 is likely to have a longer life cycle, however.