Sonnet Echo Express III-R (New!)


Thunderbolt 2 expansion chassis for PCIe cards.

20 in stock

SKU: ECHO-EXP3FR. Categories: , .

Product Description

Use PCIe Expansion Cards with Computers Lacking Slots

Echo Express III-R with Mac ProToday’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 new 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-R, 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 rackmount 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, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and RAID controller PCIe cards to any Mac® with a Thunderbolt port.

PCIe Cards

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-R delivers maximum performance when connected to a computer with Thunderbolt 2. The III-R is also fully compatible with computers with 10Gbps Thunderbolt technology, supporting the majority of cards at full-performance.

Key Features

Use PCIe Expansion Cards with Computers Lacking PCIe Slots—Use high-performance PCIe cards with Thunderbolt-equipped computers

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

Three PCIe Slots—Supports three full-length, full-height, single-width cards, or one double-width card plus one single-width card

Remarkably Quiet—Large, temperature-controlled, variable-speed fans that automatically cool the cards, plus computer-modeled design that reduces airflow turbulence and velocity, combine to provide quieter cooling for all cards

Integrated Universal Power Supply—Built-in 300W power supply with 75W auxiliary power connector

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

Every Thunderbolt-Compatible Card Supported—Works with every Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe card, regardless of length or height

5-Year Warranty Included at No Extra Cost—No extra charge for full 5-year warranty


3 PCIe SlotsThree Slots, No Compromise

Sonnet’s Echo Express III-R supports three full-size PCIe cards, up to 12.28″ (full-length). 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 or the new RED® ROCKET-X. 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. The use of large, slow-spinning fans in the Echo Express III-R makes it a remarkably quiet operator. Two Thunderbolt ports support daisy chaining of up to six devices to a single port on your computer.

Thunderbolt 20Gbps IconBuilt for Speed

Mac Pro and MacBook Pro20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 technology-equipped computers are here. The original 10Gbps Thunderbolt interface has provided breakthrough bandwidth for external expansion, more than sufficient to support the maximum performance of most PCIe cards. However, some high bandwidth cards such as the RED ROCKET, 16Gb Fibre Channel, multi-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet cards, or the use of other bandwidth-hungry cards require more than 10Gbps. Thunderbolt 2 removes this barrier by providing more bandwidth for demanding applications. The Echo Express III-R’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-R is fully compatible with earlier generation Thunderbolt computers as well.

Smart Design Inside and Out

Steel IconConstructed of heavy-duty steel, the Echo Express III-R’s enclosure not only provides secure mounting for the inner assembly and protection for the PCIe cards installed inside, but it supports maximum airflow for cooling, regardless of where it is installed in a rack. The fans are variable-speed and temperature-controlled, and the computer-modeled airflow management ensures that even hot-running cards and the chassis’ components 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 fan speed settings. Since Echo Express products automatically power on and off with your computer, there is no power switch needed on the chassis. The III-R includes adjustable and removable rackmount extension rails that allow the chassis to be installed securely in a variety of racks from 16″ to 24″ deep. The III-R provides space for other equipment, too. Utilizing the optional Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit, you can install two 5.25-inch form factor mobile rack devices (sold separately) in the III-R’s enclosure without taking up additional rack space.

Quiet, Please

Fan AirflowThe Echo Express III-R was designed to be remarkably quiet so that it can be comfortably used in noise-sensitive environments and it is indeed the quietest Echo chassis yet. Its dual, ultra-quiet, temperature-controlled fans assist the natural convection of warm air through the PCIe cards. Echo Express III-R’s fans vent warm air through custom Venturi openings with low form-drag grills, resulting in reduced air velocity, turbulence, and, consequently, fan noise.

PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart

Every Thunderbolt-Compatible Card Supported

The Echo Express III-R supports three standard 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 PCIe cards on our supporting PCIeCard 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.

AVID Pro Tools HDX and RED ROCKET-X PCIe Cards

RED ROCKET Supporter

If you’re a RED ROCKET user, you already know that the card normally takes up 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-R 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 RED 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 significantly doubles the ROCKET’s throughput, too.

Echo Express III BNC Connector Mounting Holes

Designed for BNC Connector Cables—Echo Express III-R’s back panel has two mounting holes for BNC connectors, allowing the use of a RED ROCKET card without the need for the BNC connector bracket that would normally occupy a valuable PCIe slot.

Thunderbolt Cable LockThunderbolt Cable Lock Included

Sonnet includes a lock that secures Thunderbolt connectors(3) in place plugged into the Echo chassis. It is easy to install and prevents accidental cable disconnections.

Desktop Version Available

Echo Express III-DThe 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″ deep, making it perfect for use in a wide range of popular mobile racks, carts, and rack cases, and server rooms as well.

5-Year Warranty Logo5-Year Warranty Included at No Extra Cost

There’s no need for you to pay an additional 10–15% on top of the purchase price to extend the warranty period beyond one year—Sonnet backs the Echo Express III-R with its Pro 5-year warranty.

Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit
Add Two 5.25″ Mobile Rack Peripherals to Your Echo Express III-R Expansion Chassis

Using the mobile rack mounting kit, you can install two 5.25-inch mobile rack devices inside the III-R’s enclosure and easily connect them to cards installed in the chassis. Connected to a 6Gb/s SAS host controller card, you could add an internal LTO 6 tape drive for backups plus an enclosure for four swappable 2.5-inch SSDs for fast storage. An alternate configuration might include a Sonnet Qio™ MR pro universal media reader (with its interface card installed in one of the chassis’ PCIe slots) for quick ingests of files from SxS™, P2, and CF™ memory cards. Or, install a 6Gb/s eSATA host controller in one of the chassis’ slots and connect one full-height mobile rack enclosure for three swappable 3.5-inch hard disk drives—you can migrate your old Mac Pro’s drives to your new system. The Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit includes an internal 250W power supply inside to power the installed devices, a large internal fan to cool the installed devices, and mounting hardware to secure the devices and the kit itself. No matter what you choose, the Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit enables you to add more devices to your rack without taking up additional rack space.

Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit for Added Versatility—
Add two 5.25″ moble rack peripherals to your Echo Express III-R. Install one full-height or two half-height mobile rack devices (such as an LTO tape drive and a Sonnet Qio MR pro media reader) using the optional Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit.


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




 PCIe cards and computer hardware shown in photos for illustration purposes; items sold separately.

Part No.  
ECHO-EXP3FR Echo Express III-R Rackmount Thunderbolt 2 Expansion Chassis for PCIe Cards(1)
EXP3FR-MRM Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit
Warranty 5-year
Dimensions WxDxH: 19 x 16 x 3.48 in. (48.26 x 40.6 x 8.85 cm)

19 lbs. (8.6 kg)

Form Factor Rackmount
External Connectors Two Thunderbolt
Internal Connector 6-pin Mini-Fit Jr (same type as on legacy Mac Pro motherboard; provides up to 75W of power for PCIe cards that require supplemental power)
Expansion Slots
  • One x8 mechanical (x8 electrical) PCIe 2.0
  • One x16 mechanical (x8 electrical) PCIe 2.0
  • One x8 mechanical (x4 electrical) PCIe 2.0
PCIe Cards Supported(1)
  • One full length, full-height, double-width PCIe card, plus one single-width card


  • Three full length, full-height, single-width PCIe cards
Compatible PCIe Cards(2) Up-to-date PCIe cards listed on our supporting PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart
Power Supply Universal 300W, 115-230V AC, 50-60 Hz
Operating Temperature

0? C to 35? C (32? F to 95? F)

RoHS Compliant Yes
Package Contents
  • Echo Express III-R chassis(1)
  • Power cord
  • Thunderbolt cable lock(3)
  • Documentation

Note: PCIe cards and Thunderbolt cable sold separately









Any Mac with a Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 port

Any Windows 8 or 7 computer with a Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt port(4)

PCIe Card Compatibility

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

Technical Notes

  1. PCIe cards sold separately; requires Thunderbolt cable, available at the Sonnet Online Store or the Apple Store.
  2. 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.
  3. Thunderbolt cable lock not compatible with optical Thunderbolt cables.
  4. 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.

Specifications subject to change without notice.

Mac LogoWindows Logo PCI Express LogoroHS Logo

Migrate Your Old Mac Pro to a Mac mini Migrate Your Old Mac Pro to a New Mac Pro AVID Pro Tools|HDX 3 Record Rig

Mac Pro to Mac mini Configuration

You’ve had your Mac Pro for a while and it’s served you well. It’s time for a new computer, but you’re reluctant to invest in the new Mac Pro. You’d consider a new Mac mini (they’re quite powerful), but what about the assorted PCIe cards and 3.5″ hard drives you’ve invested in over the years and installed in your existing Mac Pro? Sonnet’s RackMac mini, Echo Express III-R, and its sidekick Mobile Rack Kit loaded with a 3-bay drive enclosure will make the Mac mini work for you. Just mount your Mac mini and a SuperDrive into the RackMac mini; with your PCIe cards installed, connect an Echo Express III-R via Thunderbolt cable; transfer your 3.5″ hard drives to the mobile rack drive enclosure and—voilà!

Old Mac Pro to a New Mac Pro Configuration

Now that the new Mac Pro has been announced, your decision about which computer to purchase to replace your existing Mac Pro may not be any easier. The new Mac Pro is powerful, beautiful, small, and very unlike previous models. With no space to install PCI Express cards or 3.5″ hard drives, you can’t just move things from one computer to the next…what to do? Sonnet’s Echo Express III-R and its sidekick Mobile Rack Kit loaded with a 3-bay drive enclosure enables you to harness all the power the new Mac Pro offers while regaining the lost PCIe slots and drive bays. Just install your PCIe cards into the Echo Express III-R, connect the chassis to the Mac Pro via a single Thunderbolt cable, and then transfer your 3.5″ hard drives to the mobile rack drive enclosure—your computer choice just became simpler!

AVID Pro Tools|HDX 3 Configuration

For many audio professionals, when it comes to multitrack recording at 96K, there’s nothing like a Pro Tools|HDX (1, 2 or 3) setup. Until now, the workflow always required a PC or Mac Pro—big, bulky, and sometimes very loud. Change the game and utilize a streamlined system with a new MacBook Pro (with Retina Display) as your DAW and directly connect it to Sonnet’s Echo Express III-R with Mobile Rack Kit. If you have a lot of tracks to record and an HDX 3 setup is required, the Echo Express III has plenty of power (including an internal aux power cable) and cooling to support all three cards. Or, if you only need an HDX 2 set up, fill the third slot with a Sonnet Tempo SSD PCIe drive card (holds up to two SSDs) to deploy super fast Thunderbolt SSD storage right inside the Echo Express III-R. Mount additional back up storage in the Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack kit and do it all in a very small 3U 16″ deep rack bag if required.

Configuration Setup

Mac mini

Sonnet xMac mini Server

Sonnet Echo Express III-R with Mobile Rack Kit

LTO-6 tape drive

Four 2.5″ SATA shuttle drives in enclosure

Sonnet Presto 10GbE card or 8Gb

Fibre card

Sonnet Tempo SATA Pro 6Gb 4-Port card

Sonnet Tempo SSD Pro PCIe drive card with SSDs

ATTO ExpressSAS H680 (one SAS
port connects to LTO & the second SAS port is available to connect up to four RED Mag Readers)

RED Rocket

Divider Configuration Setup

New Mac Pro

Sonnet Echo Express III-R

Sonnet Echo Express III-R with Mobile Rack Kit

Sonnet Tempo SATA Pro 6Gb 4-Port card (for connecting 3.5″ drives)

3-bay mobile rack 3.5″ drive enclosure

Other PCIe cards such as 10Gb Ethernet or multi-port FireWire 800

Divider Configuration Setup

DAW of choice – MacBook Pro,
configured the way you like it

Echo Express III-R

Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit

3-bay (3.5″) or 4-bay 2.5″ mobile rack
drive enclosure

Pro Tools|HDX card(s) 1, 2 or 3

Sonnet Tempo SSD PCIe drive card with high-speed 2.5″ SSD drives

Super DIT Mobile Rackmount System
Divider Configuration Setup

Mac mini

Sonnet xMac mini Server

Sonnet Echo Express III-R with Mobile Rack Kit

LTO-6 tape drive

Four 2.5″ SATA shuttle drives in enclosure

Sonnet Presto 10GbE card or 8Gb

Fibre card

Sonnet Tempo SATA Pro 6Gb 4-Port card

Sonnet Tempo SSD Pro PCIe drive card with SSDs

ATTO ExpressSAS H680 (one SAS
port connects to LTO & the second SAS port is available to connect up to four RED Mag Readers)

RED Rocket

Super DIT Configuration

Mobile DIT carts carry everything from card readers and transcoding cards like the popular Red Rocket, to high-speed mezzanine storage, RAID arrays and LTO tape backup, but they are also large and cumbersome to transport. Our suggested alternative uses a Mac mini installed into an xMac mini Server, and racks it together with the Echo Express III-R and companion Mobile Rack Kit. With five PCIe cards connected to the computer, and space to install four shuttle drives or a Qio universal media reader plus an LTO-6 tape backup, you’ll have fully loaded DIT station, all in a system that takes up just 3U of rack space.