Very quiet, very flexible and very necessary. Owners of Thunderbolt connected computers can now attach PCI cards externally and add massive functionality to their system. Even large, power-hungry cards are now supported by this top of the range 20Gb/s unit.
"As already written in this review the Sonnet Echo Express III-D is well thought out, beautifully designed and built like a tank. The operational noise is excellent and will perform well even under the most taxing loads. If you are looking for a Thunderbolt Expansion chassis then check out the Sonnet Echo Express III-D, it’s the best one we’ve seen."
Pro Tools Expert
This is the official product overview of the Sonnet Echo Express III-D (desktop) Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe card expansion chassis.
Sonnet Echo Express III-D Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe Card Expansion Chassis Product Overview
Today's ultra-light notebooks, mini, and all-in-one desktop computers now have tremendous processing power–power that many thought would only be possible in full-size workstation or large desktop computers. Smaller in size and more portable, they're very desirable. For pros in the creative fields, processing power alone is not enough. A prime example is the latest Mac Pro®. Proven to be a processing powerhouse and packed with Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0 ports, it lacks the PCIe expansion slots necessary to install specialty cards to connect various video and audio inputs, for transcoding data, and to connect to high-speed storage and networks. With the Echo Express III-D, Sonnet has created a solution that leverages the paradigm shift enabled by Thunderbolt technology, allowing PCIe expansion slots to be connected outside a computer. This desktop Thunderbolt-to-PCIe card expansion chassis makes it possible for you to connect three professional video capture, audio interface, SAS or SATA HBA, 16Gb or 8Gb Fibre Channel, 10Gigabit Ethernet, and RAID controller PCIe cards to any Mac® with a Thunderbolt port.
Featuring 20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 technology that provides sufficient bandwidth to support many of the highest performance and most demanding PCIe cards, the Echo Express III-D delivers maximum performance when connected to a computer with Thunderbolt 2. The III-D is also fully compatible with computers with 10Gbps Thunderbolt technology, supporting the majority of cards at full-performance.
The Echo Express III-D is Avid qualified. It has been tested and approved for use with Pro Tools HD 11 software, and is qualified by the AVID Audio group for use with Pro Tools HDX and HD Native systems and separately qualified by the Avid Video group for use with Media Composer / Symphony with the latest Mac Pro (Late 2013). See the AVID website for details on Pro Tools and Media Composer compatibility.
Sonnet's Echo Express III-D supports three full-size PCIe cards, up to 12.28 inches (full-length). The III-D integrates a universal 300W power supply and includes a 75W PCIe power connector for cards that require supplementary power, such as the Avid® Pro Tools|HDX or the RED® ROCKET-X. Even with all that power, the III-D is enviro-friendly; it automatically powers on or off whenever the connected computer powers on or wakes, or powers off or sleeps, respectively. The use of large, slow-spinning fans in the Echo Express III-D makes it a remarkably quiet operator. Two Thunderbolt ports support daisy chaining of up to six devices to a single port on your computer.
20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 technology-equipped computers are here. The original 10Gbps Thunderbolt interface provided breakthrough bandwidth for external expansion, more than sufficient to support the maximum performance of most PCIe cards. However, some high bandwidth adapters such as the RED ROCKET, 16Gb Fibre Channel cards, multi-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet cards, or other bandwidth-hungry cards requiring more than 10Gbps. Thunderbolt 2 removes this barrier by providing more bandwidth for demanding applications. The Echo Express III-D's Thunderbolt 2 interface takes full advantage of this increased bandwidth to ensure optimum performance from installed cards when the chassis is connected to a Thunderbolt 2-equipped computer. Need to connect to a computer equipped with 10Gbps Thunderbolt? No problem, the Echo Express III-D is fully compatible with earlier generation Thunderbolt computers as well.
Aluminum LogoConstructed of rugged and lightweight aluminum, the outer shell of the Echo Express III-D securely protects the PCIe cards installed inside, yet the chassis is light enough to carry without weighing you down. The fans are variable-speed and temperature-controlled, and the computer-modeled airflow management ensures that even hot-running cards remain reliably cool without the need to install an extra PCIe blower card that would prevent the use of one of the three slots. Because the fans automatically speed up and slow down as needed, there is no guesswork in setting a switch position, and no need for tools to change settings. Since Echo Express products automatically power on and off with your computer, there is no power switch needed on the chassis.
If you're a RED ROCKET, or RED ROCKET-X user, you already know that the card normally takes two PCIe slots—one for the card itself and another for the BNC connector bracket (for HD-SDI output). Sonnet designed the Echo Express III-D to accommodate the card/bracket pair in a single slot. This Echo chassis includes mounting holes designed specifically for the installation of two BNC connectors, enabling you to install the ROCKET card in one slot and its BNC connectors in the Echo chassis' mounting holes, leaving the two remaining slots open. The extra bandwidth afforded by the Thunderbolt 2 interface doubles ROCKET's throughput, too.
The Echo Express III-D was designed to be remarkably quiet so that it can be comfortably used in noise-sensitive environments, and it is one of Sonnet's quietest Echo chassis. Its dual, top-mounted, ultra-quiet, temperature-controlled fans assist the natural convection of warm air through the PCIe cards, and vents it out the top of the chassis through custom Venturi openings with low form-drag grills, resulting in reduced air velocity, turbulence, and consequently, fan noise.
The Echo Express III is available in two versions, the Echo Express III-D (desktop) and Echo Express III-R (rackmount), to suit your workflow needs. The III-D's form factor makes it easy to transport. The III-R mounts in a rack space 2U tall, and is just 16 inchesdeep, making it perfect for use in a wide range of popular mobile racks, carts, and rack cases, and in server rooms as well. The III-R even saves space for other equipment—with the optional Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit, you can install one or two mobile rack devices in the III-R's rack enclosure.
These Sonnet solutions support daisy chaining of additional Thunderbolt technology-enabled peripherals such as an additional Echo Express, the Apple® Thunderbolt Display, video capture devices, and data storage devices. For connected devices requiring extra power, 10 watts is provided through the daisy chain port to peripherals.
The Echo Express III-D supports three single-width, full-length PCIe cards, or one double-width, full-length card plus one single-width card, enabling it to support every Thunderbolt-compatible card available. PCIe 1.1, PCIe 2.0, and PCIe 3.0 cards are supported. Do you have a card in mind but aren't sure it's compatible? We've worked closely with PCIe card manufacturers to provide a list of compatible cards on our supporting PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart. The chart provides an up-to-date list of cards that have been tested to be recognized over a Thunderbolt connection and compatible with Thunderbolt technology requirements.
Sonnet includes a Thunderbolt cable to connect the Echo Express III-D to your computer, and a ThunderLok Thunderbolt connector retainer clip to secure the cable to the Echo chassis. Thunderbolt connectors are held in place by friction, which works well in situations where equipment remains undisturbed while operating. But when there’s a chance of movement nearby, there’s a chance the Thunderbolt cable can be unintentionally unplugged, possibly leading to loss of your work or data. Sonnet’s ThunderLok prevents accidental cable disconnections from the Echo chassis, and is easy to install and use—just slide it over one end of the cable, and then plug in the connector and secure it to the chassis by turning a thumbscrew. Because of its unique design, ThunderLok does not attach to the connector, but remains on the cable so it won’t get lost when not in use.
Whether noisy PCIe card fans make it impractical to use the Echo Express III-D in a noise-sensitive environment, or because securing it in another room is required, you may find it necessary to put some space between the chassis and computer. No problem! Optical Thunderbolt cables, available in lengths up to 60 meters, enable you to locate your equipment where you need and connect the pieces without loss of functionality. Sonnet offers 10-meter Optical Thunderbolt Cables perfect for shorter runs. Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt compatible, these thin, lightweight, and tough fiber optic cables are easy to route, and deliver performance equal to copper Thunderbolt cables.
Thunderbolt 3 Upgrade Card for Echo Express III-D and Echo Express III-R (Thunderbolt 2 Edition)
Graphics cards installed in laptops tend to be low caffeine versions of high power desktop adapters. And some desktop computers have fairly modest graphics cards that are hard-wired and cannot be upgraded in the usual plug and play way. If you’re browsing the Internet or creating spreadsheets, this isn’t a big deal. But if you’re a gamer, video editor, colourist or 3D designer, you’re going to need a much stronger brew.
Sonnet Technologies today announced that its Echo™ Express III-D (desktop), Echo Express III-R (rackmount), and Echo Express SE II (desktop) Thunderbolt™-to-PCI Express® (PCIe®) card expansion chassis are the first devices of their kind to ship with 20 Gb/sec Thunderbolt 2 interfaces. These models, which began shipping this week, are the newest members of Sonnet's award-winning Echo Express family of expansion products that enable any Mac® computer equipped with Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt ports to interface with a wide variety of high-performance PCIe cards originally designed only for use in desktop computers.
The advent of Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 is dramatically changing the shape, size and potential of workstations and professional laptops. With Sonnet expansion systems, these new powerhouse computers can now be adapted to use PCI cards and external systems to make them into the systems users need.
Sonnet Announces Imminent Release of Echo™ Express III Three-Slot Thunderbolt™-to-PCIe® Expansion Chassis and Upcoming Support for Thunderbolt 2 Technology
Three-Slot Chassis Available as Desktop Model or 2U Rackmount Model With Optional Kit to Mount Two Mobile Rack Accessories Inside
Note: PCIe cards sold separately