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Examples of PCIe Cards Installed in Echo Express Chassis

PCIe 2.0 Cards Over Thunderbolt

Today's ultra-light notebooks, mini, and all-in-one desktop computers now have tremendous processing power, power that many people thought would only be possible in full-size desktop computers. Smaller in size and portable, they're very desirable. For professionals in the creative fields, this processing power alone is not enough. You need expansion slots to install specialty cards to connect various video and audio inputs, for processing data, and to connect to high-speed storage and networks. The problem is, only desktop computers (which aren't very portable) have expansion slots, and currently available PCIe expansion for notebook computers has been very limited in performance—until now. If you've got a computer with Thunderbolt technology, then an Echo™ Express, Echo Express II, or Echo Express Pro Thunderbolt™ Expansion Chassis for PCIe cards is exactly what you need.

Echo Express Chassis With Open Lid

Sonnet's Echo Express Pro, Echo Express II, and Echo Express enable you to use high-performance PCI Express® adapter cards (sold separately) with any computer with a Thunderbolt port. Imagine using compatible full-size professional video capture, audio interface, SAS & SATA HBA, 8Gb Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and RAID controller cards with your iMac®, Mac® mini, MacBook® Air or MacBook Pro; these Sonnet products make it possible to expand outside the box.

Thunderbolt LogoExpanding Outside the Box

Sonnet harnessed the potential of Thunderbolt technology to enable you to connect high performance expansion cards to computers without expansion slots. Developed by Intel® and brought to market with technical collaboration from Apple®, Thunderbolt technology supports high-performance data services and high-resolution displays through a single, compact port. Based on PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort technologies, Thunderbolt provides support for two channels on the same connector with 10 Gb/s of throughput per channel in both directions. Connected via a Thunderbolt cable (not included, sold at the Apple Store), an Echo Expansion Chassis carries the computer's PCIe channel to the PCIe slot(s) and passes both PCIe and DisplayPort data through a second Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining other devices.


Aluminum Element SymbolSmart Design Inside and Out

Constructed of rugged extruded aluminum, the Echo Express' outer shell helps transfer heat away from the cards and securely protects them inside. The top cover slides off to offer quick access to the PCIe slots and enable easy installation of cards. Ventilated front and back panels plus quiet, temperature-controlled fans (with no switches or jumpers to configure) automatically help keep even the very hottest cards cool;when not needed, the fans slow down to a whisper so you can work Echo Express II Chassiswithout a lot of noise in the background. Echo Express products are enviro-friendly, automatically powering onand off with your computer.To keeps things as compact as possible, universal power supplies are integrated inside the chassis so there're no dangling power bricks.




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PCIe cards and Thunderbolt cable shown in photos for illustration purposes; items not included with chassis

Key Features

Connect Professional PCIe Cards—Use high-performance PCIe cards with Thunderbolt-equipped Mac desktop and notebook computers

Adds Expansion Card Slots to Any Computer with a Thunderbolt Port:

Echo Express Pro – Supports two standard width, full-length x16(1) PCIe 2.0 cards, or one double-width, full-length card

Echo Express II – Supports two half-length (up to 7.25˝ long), full-height, single-width, x16(1) PCIe 2.0 cards (or one double-width card) New

Echo Express – Supports one half-length (up to 7.75˝ long), full-height, double-width, x16(1) PCIe 2.0 card

High Bandwidth—With Thunderbolt’s PCI Express performance and 10Gb/s of throughput on each of the two channels in both directions, Echo Express Expansion Chassis are perfect for special-purpose PCIe cards for video capture, audio interface, 8Gb Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, digital audio, RAID control, and more

Power for Powerful Cards—Integrated 100W power supply (150W in Pro model)

Two Thunderbolt Ports—Daisy chain up to six devices to a single port on the host computer

Temperature-Controlled, Variable-Speed Fans—Operate slow and quiet with cooler cards, better cooling for hot cards

Energy Saver Mode—Powers on/off automatically with the computer

Integrated Universal Power Supply—Built-in power supply means no external power brick to dangle or loose

Rugged Aluminum Housing—Portable protection for any environment


PCIe CardStandard or Pro

One or two cards, different lengths, different requirements—there's an Echo Express to meet your needs. The Echo Express (ECHO-EXP1H) supports one half-length (up to 7.75" long), full-height, double-width, x16(1) PCIe 2.0 card. The Echo Express II (ECHO-EXP2H) supports two half-length (up to 7.25" long), full-height, single-width, x16(1) PCIe 2.0 cards (or one double-width card), while the Pro model (ECHO-EXP2F) supports two standard width, full-length cards, or one double-width, full-length card. All three models support an I/O bracket.

Echo Express Chassis Family Comparison Learn more about Echo Express SE

The Echo Express and Echo Express II include a built-in 100W universal power supply; the Pro model includes an integrated 150W universal power supply. Do you have a card in mind but aren't sure which Echo Express you need? We've worked closely with expansion card manufacturers to provide a list of compatible PCIe 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.

PCe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart

Strong Link in the Chain

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.


Echo Express Chassis Back Panels

Sonnet Thunderbolt Expansion Partners

Sonnet works closely with the following partners to ensure Thunderbolt compatibility for their products. See the PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart for an up-to-date list of products that have passed Thunderbolt compatibility testing with Sonnet products.

AdobeAJAAppleATTOAvidBlack Magic DesignBlueFish 444CalDigitExaSANFocusriteFusion ioLynx Studio TechnologyMatroxMyricomREDRMESiennaSmall TreeSoftron Media ServicesSolid State LogicStorageDNATandberg DataTolis GroupTools On AirUniversal Audio



See Technical Specifications Tab for footnotes
Part No.  
ECHO-EXP2F Echo Express Pro Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis for PCIe Cards(2)
ECHO-EXP2H Echo Express II Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis for PCIe Cards(2)
ECHO-EXP1H Echo Express Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis for PCIe Cards(2)
Warranty 5-year
Echo Express Pro
Dimensions (WxDxH) 2.8 x 15.3 x 9.1 in. (7.1 x 37.9 x 23.1 cm)
Weight        7.3 lbs (3.31 kg)
Expansion Slots Two x16 PCIe 2.0
PCIe Cards Supported(1)
  • Two full-length, single-width, full-height x16 PCIe 2.0 cards
  • One full-length, double-width, x16 PCIe 2.0 card
Power Supply Universal 150W, 100-240V AC, 50-60 Hz
Echo Express II
Dimensions (WxDxH) 2.8 x 9.9 x 9.1 in. (7.1 x 23.7 x 23.1 cm)
Weight 5.2 lbs (2.45 kg)
Expansion Slots Two x16 PCIe 2.0
PCIe Cards Supported(1)
  • Two half-length, single-width, full-height x16 PCIe 2.0 cards
  • One half-length (up to 7.25" long), double-width, x16 PCIe 2.0 card
Power Supply Universal 100W, 100-240V AC, 50-60 Hz
Echo Express
Dimensions (WxDxH)

2.8 x 9.9 x 9.1 in. (7.1 x 23.7 x 23.1 cm)


5.0 lbs (2.27 kg)

Expansion Slots
  • One x16 PCIe 2.0
  • One additional opening for connector plate or double-width card
PCIe Cards Supported(1) One half-length (up to 7.75" long), double-width, full-height x16 PCIe 2.0 card
Power Supply Universal 100W, 100-240V AC, 50-60 Hz
Universal Features
External Connectors Two Thunderbolt
Compatible PCIe Cards(4) Up-to-date PCIe cards listed on our supporting PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart
Operating Temperature

0º C to 35º C (32º F to 95º F)

RoHS Compliant Yes
Package Contents
  • Echo Express Pro, Echo Express II, or Echo Express Chassis(2)
  • Power cord
  • Documentation

Note: PCIe cards and Thunderbolt cable sold separately

PDF Icon
Product Spec Sheet








iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro with a Thunderbolt port

OS X 10.6.8+

OS X Server 10.6.8+

OS X Server and OS X Mountain Lion compatible

PCIe Card Compatibility

For up-to-date PCIe card compatibility see our PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart

Technical Notes

  1. The PCIe slot will physically accommodate up to a x16 PCIe card, however the actual electrical bandwidth of Thunderbolt is x4.
  2. PCIe cards sold separately; requires Thunderbolt cable, available at the Apple Store.
  3. Compatibility requires the installation of Thunderbolt technology-aware drivers, available from the manufacturer. See our supporting PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart for a list of up-to-date compatible PCIe cards.

Specifications subject to change without notice.

Mac Logo PCI Express LogoroHS Logo

Tom's Hardware Review

Echo Express Pro: Desktop Graphics In a Thunderbolt Chassis
"I've been using Sonnet Technologies' Echo Express Pro with a Sandy Bridge-based MacBook Pro and my MSI Z77A-GD80-based desktop PC for more than two weeks. The entire experience is completely plug-and-play. Install the card, the appropriate drivers, and the combination simply works

Sonnet Technologies deserves considerable praise for introducing us to the first Thunderbolt-based expansion chassis for PCI Express add-in cards. Almost one year has passed since we first saw MSI's GUS II, but that company still hasn't set a shipping date. There's a three-slot Magma ExpressBox 3T available with a bigger power supply, but it's twin x8 and single x4 slot configuration doesn't handle graphics cards well. Moreover, a nearly $1000 price tag makes the Echo Express look like a comparative bargain at $600."

SoundProLive Review

Echo Express Pro Review: AES50 via Thunderbolt via Sonnet
"The Echo Express Pro is an external I/O box that adds 2 PCIe slots to a computer via Thunderbolt connectivity. Upon receiving my first Echo Express Pro, I immediately noticed that the product has a well-thought-out, extremely well-built chassis…

After beta testing the Sonnet solutions at RPM Dynamics for several months and putting them to the test on the Blondie/Devo tour, I’m sold on their reliability, high quality, and versatility. After the success we’ve seen with these products for on-location audio download and playback, I’d say the Sonnet Thunderbolt solutions are sure to prove successful for many other applications as well. "

Awards & Case Studies
Quote BubbleSee what reviewers and customers have to say about other Sonnet products in our News section under Product Reviews and Case Studies.