Echo Express III-R
Upgradeable to 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 Icon
Echo Express III-R

Echo Express III-R

3-slot Thunderbolt 2 rackmount expansion system for PCIe cards

Connect Three Full-length PCIe Cards to Computers with Thunderbolt 2 Ports

For pros working in the creative fields, a computer’s processing power alone is not enough to get the job done. Prime examples include modern notebook and all-in-one desktop computers that lack PCIe expansion slots necessary to support specialty cards that connect pro video and audio inputs, transcode data, and connect to high-speed storage and networks. Sonnet’s Echo™ Express III-R is a pro-level, rackmount Thunderbolt™ 2 to PCIe card expansion system solves that issue, enabling you to connect three full-length PCIe cards to you computer at the same time through a single cable.

Echo Express III-R with MacBook Pro
PCIe Card Connected to Thunderbolt Computer

Thunderbolt 2 Connectivity

Through a simple Thunderbolt 2 connection, add professional PCIe cards (three full-height, single-width cards, or one double-width card plus one single-width card) including video capture, audio interface, SAS or SATA HBA, 16Gb or 8Gb Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and RAID controllers.

Media Composer • Pro Tools

The Echo Express III-D is Avid qualified. It has been tested and approved for use with Pro Tools HD 12 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 many current and older Mac computers with Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 2 ports. See the Avid website for details on Pro Tools System Requirements and Compatibility and Media Composer System Requirements.

Key Features

PCIe Card Icon

Connect PCIe Cards

Use multiple high-performance PCIe cards with any computer with a Thunderbolt 2 port.

Number 3 Icon

Three PCIe 2.0 Slots

Supports three full-height, single-width cards, or one double-width card plus one single-width card.

20Gbps Icon

20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 Interface

Full Thunderbolt 2 performance; backward compatible with 10Gbps Thunderbolt.

Performance Icon

Pro Performance

Every Thunderbolt compatible, non-GPU PCIe card supported regardless of length or height.

Thunderbolt 2 Ports Icon

Two Thunderbolt 2 Ports

One port connects to computer; second port supports daisy-chaining of up to five additional Thunderbolt peripheral devices.

Sound Icon

Remarkably Quiet

Two temperature-controlled, variable-speed fans automatically and quietly cool cards.

Energy Saving Icon

Energy Saver Mode

Powers on/off automatically with the computer.

Rugged Icon

Rugged Steel Rackmount Housing + Optional Expansion

Provides robust and secure protection in server and DIT racks; optional expansion available with Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kits.

Power Icon

Pro Power

Integrated 300W power supply with 75W auxiliary power; daisy chain port provides 10W of power to connected peripherals.

Free Lifetime Tech Support

Free Lifetime Tech Support

Sonnet was established in Irvine, California in 1986. Since then, we’ve pioneered and brought to market many innovative and award-winning products that enhance the performance and connectivity of Mac, Windows, and other industry-standard computers. Many of our employees (including engineers) have been with the company for more than 20 years (some have been here since the beginning). We have a wealth of knowledge about our current and past products. Should you ever need technical support on one of our products, contact us; we’ll be around to help you.

PCIe Cards

Every Thunderbolt-Compatible, Non-GPU PCIe Card Supported

The Echo Express III-R 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 3 compatible, non-GPU PCIe 1.1, PCIe 2.0, and PCIe 3.0 card available. Do you have a card in mind but aren’t sure it’s compatible? We’ve put together a list in our supporting PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart (PDF). There you’ll find cards identified as conforming to Thunderbolt technology requirements, and organized by fit and power compatibility with specific expansion system.

Echo Express III-R Icon

All Around Smart Design

Steel Enclosure. Auto Power On/Off. Mobile Rack Device Kit Expansion.

The Echo Express III-R's enclosure is formed of heavy-duty steel to provide secure mounting for the inner assembly and protection for the PCIe cards installed inside, and to support maximum airflow for cooling, regardless of where you install it in a rack. Internal space available to expand system further with optional Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kits. 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.
Echo Express III-R (Thunderbolt 3 Edition) Front View

Three PCIe 3.0 Slots, No Compromise

Sonnet’s Echo Express III-R supports three full-size PCIe cards, up to 12.28 inches (full-length) long. The III-R 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. Even with all that power, the III-R is enviro-friendly; it automatically powers on or off whenever the connected computer powers on (or wakes), or powers off or sleeps, respectively.

Power Icons
x16 and x18 PCIe Cards Icon

Echo Express III-R features one x16 plus two x8 PCIe slots for versatile card support

Echo Express III-R (Thunderbolt 3 Edition) Interior View

1. 300W power supply
2. Three PCIe 3.0 slots
3. 75W auxiliary power connector

Rack Rails
Echo Express III-R (Thunderbolt 3 Edition) In Mobile Rack

Rack Ready

The III-R’s included adjustable rackmount extension rails enable the chassis to be installed securely in a variety of racks from 16 to 24 inches deep (optional, extra-long extension rails that support installation in racks up to 32.5" deep are also available).

Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kit

Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kits

Sonnet’s optional Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kits enable you to add more expansion devices to your rack without taking up additional rack space. The basic Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kit includes an internal 100W power supply inside to power the installed devices, a large internal fan to quietly and efficiently cool the expansion kit, and mounting hardware to secure the devices and the kit itself. Pre-configured kits include the mobile rack peripherals, supporting PCIe card, and necessary cables; you provide drives as necessary.

Echo Express III-R (Thunderbolt 3 Edition) Rear View

Captive thumbscrews enable quick and easy installation of PCIe cards and Mobile Rack Kit expansion devices inside the Echo Express III-R's enclosure

Echo Express III-R with RED ROCKET PCIe Card

RED ROCKET Supporter. Designed for BNC Connector Cables.

Sonnet designed the Echo Express III-R to accommodate the RED ROCKET or RED ROCKET-X and its BNC connector bracket (for HD-SDI output) card/bracket pair in a single slot. This Echo chassis includes two BNC connector mounting holes, enabling the installation of the card in one slot and its BNC connectors in the chassis’ mounting holes, leaving the two remaining slots open without the need to install the BNC connector bracket that would normally occupy a valuable PCIe slot.

Fan Icon

Quiet Operator

The Echo Express III-R is remarkably quiet—comfortably used in noise-sensitive environments, it is one of the quietest Echo systems available. The natural convection of warm air through the PCIe cards is assisted by ultra-quiet, temperature-controlled, variable-speed fans, and vented out of the chassis with reduced air velocity and turbulence, resulting in little fan noise. Because the fans automatically speed up and slow down as needed, you don’t have to guess which speed setting to select, and there’s no need for tools to change settings.
Thunderbolt 2 Cable with ThunderLok

Included at No Extra Charge

Thunderbolt 2 Cable. ThunderLok.

Sonnet includes a 1-meter Thunderbolt 2 cable and a Sonnet ThunderLok Thunderbolt connector retainer clip(1) to prevent accidental cable disconnections—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 remains on the cable so it won’t get lost when not in use.

ThunderLok Connection

20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 Interface

Echo Express III-R features 20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 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 the III-R delivers maximum performance when connected to a computer with Thunderbolt 2 ports, it is also fully compatible with computers with 10Gbps Thunderbolt, supporting most cards at full-performance.

Thunderbolt 2 Port

Thunderbolt 2 – Bandwidth. Performance. Versatility.

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 16Gb Fibre Channel cards, multi-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet cards, and other bandwidth-hungry cards require more than 10Gbps. Thunderbolt 2 removes this barrier by providing double the bandwidth for demanding applications.

Thunderbolt 2 Port
Thunderbolt 2 Speed Comparison Chart

Thunderbolt 3 Upgrade Options

If you already purchased an Echo Express III-R, Sonnet offers a Thunderbolt 3 upgrade card – the upgrade is as simple as switching a PCIe card in the chassis.

If you’re in the market for a Thunderbolt 3 to PCIe card rackmount expansion system, the Echo Express III-R (Thunderbolt 3 Edition) is also available.

Thunderbolt 3 Upgrade Card

Desktop Version Available

The Echo Express III is available in two versions, the III-D (desktop) and III-R (rackmount), to suit your workflow needs. The III-D’s form factor is perfect for users who need their expansion system to support every size of Thunderbolt-compatible card available, and be rugged and transportable.

Echo Express III-D
See Tech Specs for footnotes.
Product specifications and information subject to change without notice. Computer hardware and accessories featured in photos that are not included with product are shown for illustration purposes; items sold separately.

Echo Express III-R