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RME HDSPE MADI PCIe CardUse One PCIe Expansion Card With Computers Lacking Slots

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. For pros in the creative fields, processing power alone is not enough. Take the latest Mac Pro®. Reviewers love its performance, but make a point of mentioning its lack of internal expansion capabilities compared to the old towers the new model replaces. If you want to add more capabilities, think external—the latest Pro is loaded with Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0 ports, but it lacks the PCIe expansion slots necessary for you to install specialty audio, video, networking, and storage controller interface cards. With the Echo Express SE I, 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 2-to-PCIe card expansion system is ideal for connecting one professional video capture, audio interface, SAS or SATA HBA, 16Gb or 8Gb Fibre Channel, 10Gigabit Ethernet, or RAID controller PCIe card to any Mac® or Windows® PC(1) with a Thunderbolt port.

Full Performance in a Small and Light Package

The Echo Express SE I is small, light, and perfect for use in situations where connecting only a single PCIe card is needed. Measuring a compact 5.6 inches wide by 8.6 inches long by 3.5 inches tall, the SE I was designed to have a small footprint, yet large enough to support the vast majority of Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe cards. The SE I’s small size doesn’t limit its performance; installed in this system, a card will perform the same as when installed in an Echo Express SE II, Echo Express III-D, or Echo Express III-R.

Supports 4K Video Badge

The SE I features Thunderbolt 2 technology, which provides ample bandwidth for many of the most demanding, highest performance PCIe cards, and incorporates support for the DisplayPort 1.2 protocol, which enables video streaming to a 4K video monitor. While delivering maximum performance when connected to a computer with Thunderbolt 2 ports, the SE I is also fully compatible with computers with 10Gbps Thunderbolt technology, supporting most cards at full-performance. And like the other Echo Express models, the SE I includes two Thunderbolt ports to support daisy chaining of up to six devices from a single port on your computer.

Key Features

Use a PCIe Expansion Card with Computers Lacking Slots—Use high-performance PCIe cards with any Mac or Windows PC with a Thunderbolt port

Compact and Light—Take up little space on the desktop, but large enough to accommodate most Thunderbolt-compatible cards

Thunderbolt 2 Interface—Maximum performance with computers with Thunderbolt 2 technology, backward compatible with host computers and other devices equipped with 10Gbps Thunderbolt technology

Upgradeable—When available, upgrade to 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 Technology with a replacement Thunderbolt interface card

One PCIe Slot—Supports one half-length+ (up to 7.75 inches long), full-height, single-width PCIe card (plus one daughter card)

Two Thunderbolt 2 Ports—Daisy chain up to six devices to a single port on the host computer

Remarkably Quiet—Temperature-controlled, variable-speed fan automatically and quietly cools the card  

Rugged Aluminum Housing—Provides robust and secure protection for any environment

New Thunderbolt Cable & ThunderLok Included—Includes Thunderbolt cable and ThunderLok Thunderbolt connector retainer clip to secure cable from accidental disconnections


Nearly Every Thunderbolt-Compatible PCIe
Card Supported

Able to accommodate cards up to 7.75 inches long, Sonnet's Echo Express SE I supports nearly 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.

PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart Badge

Auto IconSmart Design Inside and Out

Constructed of rugged and lightweight aluminum, the outer shell of the Echo Express SE I securely protects the installed PCIe card. The card is protected inside, too. Instead of using a fixed speed fan that may not reliably cool a hot-running card, or a fan with a switch that leaves it up to you to guess the correct speed, the SE I employs a variable-speed, temperature-controlled fan to ensure the card and chassis’ components remain reliably cool. The SE I’s 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.

One PCIe 2.0 Slot Plus Space for a Daughter Card

The Echo Express SE I’s PCIe 2.0 slot supports one half-length+, full-height, single- or double-width PCIe card. Double-width? Some specialty cards, such as RME’s HDSPe MADI FX card, Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink 4K Extreme, and the Lynx AES16e 50, include a daughter card that mates with and provides additional external connections to the main card. The daughter card occupies the adjacent space without filling a PCIe slot.

PCIe Card + Daughter Card Sizes

Ultra Quiet IconQuiet, Please

The Echo Express SE I 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 temperature-controlled, variable speed fan to quietly and efficiently cool the installed card at all times, even during peak operation.

Strong Link in the Chain

This Sonnet solution supports daisy chaining of additional Thunderbolt technology-enabled peripherals such as an additional Echo Express chassis, 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.

Thunderbolt Cable & ThunderLokThunderbolt Cable and ThunderLok™ Included

Sonnet includes a Thunderbolt cable to connect the Echo Express SE I to your computer, and a ThunderLok Thunderbolt connector retainer clip(4) 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.

Sonnet Optical Thunderbolt Cables BadgeGet Full Thunderbolt Performance, At a Distance

Whether noisy PCIe card fans make it impractical to use the Echo Express SE I 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!


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.

AdobeAJAAppleApogeeArecaATTOAudinateAvidBlack Magic DesignBlueFish 444CalDigitDeltacastExaSANFocusriteFusion ioHigh PointLynx Studio TechnologyMatroxMyricomNewer TechOWCREDRMESiennaSmall Tree Softron Media ServicesSolid State LogicStorageDNATandberg DataTolis GroupTools On AirUniversal Audio

 PCIe cards and computer hardware shown in photos for illustration purposes; items sold separately.
See Tech Specs Tab for footnotes
Part No.  


Echo Express SE I Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIE Card Expansion System(2)
Warranty 1-year
Form Factor Desktop Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe card expansion system
External Connectors
  • Two Thunderbolt 2 ports
  • 12V power
Expansion Slot One x8 mechanical (x4 electrical) PCIe 2.0
PCIe Cards Supported(2) One half-length (up to 7.75 inches long), single-width, full-height x8 PCIe card plus one daughter card
Compatible PCIe Cards(3) Up-to-date PCIe cards listed on our supporting PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart
Power Adapter Universal 80W, 100-240V, 50-60 Hz
Operating Temperature

0º C to 35º C (32º F to 95º F)

Dimensions (WxDxH) 5.63 x 8.63 x 3.5 in. (14.29 x 22.01 x 8.85 cm)
Weight 2.6 lbs (1.18 kg)
RoHS Compliant Yes
Package Contents
  • Echo Express SE I Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe Card Expansion System(2)
  • Universal power adapter
  • Power cord
  • Thunderbolt cable
  • ThunderLok Thunderbolt Connector Retainer Clip(4)
  • Documentation

Note: PCIe cards sold separately


Specifications subject to change without notice.






Mac Compatibility

Mac with a Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 port

OS X® 10.8.5+

OS X El Capitan compatible

PC Compatibility

PC with a Thunderbolt  or Thunderbolt 2 port(1)

Windows® 10, 8, 7

PCIe Card Compatibility

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

Technical Notes

  1. Windows requires a Thunderbolt 2 interface in the computer and in the expansion chassis to support more than two PCIe controllers. Note that some PCIe cards have a bridge to multiple controllers, so it is possible for a single dual-controller PCIe card to reach the limit if not connected via Thunderbolt 2. Not all Mac-compatible PCIe cards are also compatible with Windows. See the PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart for details.
  2. PCIe cards sold separately.
  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.
  4. ThunderLok compatible with all copper Thunderbolt cables. Not yet compatible with optical Thunderbolt cables.

Mac LogoWindows Logo PCI Express LogoroHS Logo

Echo Express SE I Accessories Part No. Description
ThunderLok ThunderLok Thunderbolt Connector Retainer Clip TB-LOK1 Secures copper Thunderbolt cables with ThunderLok-compatible products
ThunderLok (2-Pack) ThunderLok Thunderbolt Connector Retainer Clip (2-Pack) TB-LOK2 Secures copper Thunderbolt cables with ThunderLok-compatible products
Thunderbolt Cable Thunderbolt Cable TCB-TB-05M 0.5-meter copper Thunderbolt cable
Thunderbolt Cable Thunderbolt Cable TCB-TB-1M 1-meter copper Thunderbolt cable
Optical Thunderbolt Cable Optical Thunderbolt Cable TCB-TB-OPT-10M 10-meter optical Thunderbolt cable*
Power Adapter Power Adapter (12V, 7A) PWR-7A-12V Spare power adapter (for Echo Express SE I)


*Not compatible with ThunderLok




Product Overview Slide Show - Featuring Echo Thunderbolt 2 Expansion Systems | Time: 4:25

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