Connect a Low-Profile PCIe Card to Computers Without Expansion Slots
Shopping for a new computer? Small and thin is in—the latest ultra-light notebooks, small form factor, and all-in-one desktops are slender marvels of engineering. But, thinness comes with a cost—there’s nowhere to install PCIe cards that provide additional connectivity and processing capabilities beyond a computer’s standard ports. Thin Mac® and Windows®(1) computers with Thunderbolt™ 3 ports still offer tremendous processing power, but for many, such as pros in the creative fields, onboard processing power alone is not enough. Fortunately, you don’t have to limit your choices to desktop workstations—think external. Sonnet’s Echo Express SEL – Thunderbolt 3 Edition enables you to connect a single low-profile PCIe card outside of the computer. Through its x8 PCIe 3.0 slot, this little Thunderbolt 3-to-PCIe card expansion chassis supports many Thunderbolt-compatible 16Gb and 8Gb Fibre Channel, 40Gb and 10 Gigabit Ethernet, video capture and processing, SAS and SATA host bus adapters, and RAID controller cards.
The Echo Express SEL – Thunderbolt 3 Edition features 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3, which offers double the speed and connectivity of Thunderbolt 2, and yields up to 2750 MB/s of PCIe bandwidth, enabling it to support 4K video capture and processing cards at high frame rates, and 16Gb FC cards and dual-port 10GbE cards at full performance(2)(3). With the ability to handle the most demanding, highest performance PCIe cards, support for connecting two 4K displays @ 60Hz or one 5K display @ 60Hz(4), and support for a vast array of Thunderbolt(5) and USB(6) peripheral devices, Thunderbolt 3 is a leap forward in every way.
Small Package, Full Performance
Measuring just 4 inches wide by 8.4 inches long by 2.8 inches tall, the Echo Express SEL – Thunderbolt 3 Edition is ideal for use in circumstances where connecting a single low-profile PCIe card is required. Many of the most popular Thunderbolt-compatible high-speed networking and storage controller cards are a perfect fit, and even the BlueFish 444 Epoch 4K Neutron video card can be accommodated.
Thunderbolt 3 — The USB C That Does It All
The Echo Express SEL – Thunderbolt 3 Edition includes two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports; the first connects it to your computer, while the second supports daisy chaining of up to five additional Thunderbolt peripheral devices to a single port on your computer. The SEL includes 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 support, meaning you can connect a USB device to the second port using the proper cable or adapter. The SEL also provides full support for connecting two 4K displays @ 60Hz or one 5K display @ 60Hz(4). For connected devices requiring extra power, 15 watts is provided to connected bus-powered devices(7).
Connect computer to one port on the Echo Express SEL – Thunderbolt 3 Edition and daisy chain up to 5 additional Thunderbolt devices (plus two 4K monitors, one 5K display, or one USB 3.0 device)
Smart Design, Inside and Out
Constructed of rugged and lightweight aluminum, the outer shell of the Echo Express SEL – Thunderbolt 3 Edition securely protects the installed PCIe card. The card is protected inside, too—the Echo SEL employs a variable-speed, temperature-controlled fan to ensure the card and chassis’ components remain reliably cool. The fan automatically speeds up as necessary to cool the installed card when it’s hot, and slows down when it’s cool. Since Echo Express products automatically power on and off with your computer, there is no power switch on the chassis, ensuring you don’t waste energy by forgetting to turn it off.
The Echo Express SEL – Thunderbolt 3 Edition was designed to be ultra-quiet so that it can be comfortably used in noise-sensitive environments. The airflow path within the chassis has been specially designed to enable the fan to quietly and efficiently cool the installed card at all times, even during peak operation.
Designed for Low-Profile PCIe Cards
The Echo Express SEL – Thunderbolt 3 Edition supports one half-length (up to 6.6 inches long), low-profile, single-width PCIe card; 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 a list of cards that have been tested to be recognized over a Thunderbolt connection and compatible with Thunderbolt technology requirements.
Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) Cable and ThunderLok 3 Included
Sonnet includes a 0.5-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable to connect the Echo Express SEL – Thunderbolt 3 Edition to your computer, and a Sonnet ThunderLok 3 Thunderbolt connector retainer clip(8) to secure the cable to the Echo chassis. Accidental cable disconnect can lead to data loss. Sonnet’s ThunderLok 3 secures the Thunderbolt cable to 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.
- Windows computers require the latest firmware (BIOS) and other drivers to support this product. Not all Mac-compatible PCIe cards are also compatible with Windows. See the PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart for details.
- While the Echo Express SE I – Thunderbolt 3 Edition features a 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 interface, some computers equipped with Thunderbolt 3, such as the Dell Precision 3510 and the Alienware 13 R2, use an implementation of Thunderbolt 3 technology that limits PCIe performance to 20Gbps. The MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports) also has this limitation in the two right-hand Thunderbolt 3 ports, while offering full performance from the left-hand ports.
- Full performance requires the use of the included Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) cable, or other Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) cables; look for the Thunderbolt icon AND the number 3 on the connector housings to identify these cables.
- One 4K monitor directly supported. Two 4K monitors requires either a 4K monitor with multi-stream transport support (DP out), or a Thunderbolt 3-to-Dual DisplayPort adapter. 5K monitor requires a Thunderbolt 3-to-Dual DisplayPort adapter.
- Second Thunderbolt 3 port supports Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 devices on Macs used with the Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter, sold separately.
- Second Thunderbolt 3 port supports USB 3 Gen 1 (5Gb) or Gen 2 (10Gb) devices when connected with proper cable or adapter (sold separately).
- The Echo Express SE I – Thunderbolt 3 Edition is designed to provide only 15 watts of upstream power, typically insufficient to charge a connected computer.
- ThunderLok 3 compatible with all 0.5m Thunderbolt 3 cables, but with only 20Gbps 1-2 meter Thunderbolt 3 cables.
- PCIe cards sold separately.
- Compatibility requires the installation of Thunderbolt technology-aware drivers, available from the manufacturer. See our supporting PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart for a partial list of compatible PCIe cards. Check with card manufacturers for the latest Thunderbolt compatibility information.
- 1.0-meter Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) cable may slightly reduce performance of cards that depend on very high-bandwidth, and is not compatible with ThunderLok 3.