First Thoughts - Sonnet Echo ExpressCard ThunderboltAdapter

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by KPOM, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. KPOM, Dec 19, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011

    KPOM macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #1
    I just received the Sonnet Echo ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt Adapter that I order last week, as well as a third party eSATA card and tested it today with my external hard drive. My initial impressions are mixed.

    1. My first impression is that the box is much bigger than it looks in the pictures. It's about 4" x 3" x 1.5". Particularly next to my 11" MacBook Air, it looks huge, and with the 6' cord (unfortunately not included) it is a fairly kludgy way to add expandability to the MacBook Air (or 13" or 15" Pro that lacks an ExpressCard/34 slot).
    2. It shipped in one of those difficult to open plastic packages. It doesn't make for a great early impression.
    3. Given the size, it would be nice if it supported daisy chaining, but since it has only a single Thunderbolt port, this will need to be at the end of the chain (or your only Thunderbolt device.
    4. The list of "officially" supported cards is pretty small for now. Apparently certain cards need new drivers to work properly with Thunderbolt. My ExpressCard/34 eSATA card wasn't on the "official" list, but the driver installed, and it worked with the adapter.
    5. Once I got it set up, the ExpressCard eSATA port worked well, and I got similar speeds reading and writing to my external SSD (in the 120MB/S read, 75MB/S write range) in OS X on my Mac and Windows on my work PC. I attribute the speed to the cheap eSATA controller that I'm using, since the drive itself is capable of much faster speeds.

    Overall, I'd give the adapter a B. At minimum, it should be about half as thick (or thinner), and should have a second Thunderbolt port to allow for daisy chaining. Nonetheless, it is easy to set up (just plug it into the Thunderbolt port), and it appears rugged and well-built.
     
  2. Richdmoore macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

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    #2
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    I think the lack of 2 ports is a HUGE disadvantage. The majority of macs sold only have 1 port, their decision to save a couple of dollars by leaving out the chain ability is strange.
     
  3. Richdmoore macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

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    #3
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

    I think the lack of 2 ports is a HUGE disadvantage. The majority of macs sold only have 1 port, their decision to save a couple of dollars by leaving out the chain ability is strange.
     
  4. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Location:
    Poole, England
    #4
    Thanks for the info. Do you have any other adaptors that you could try? Sonnet do not list their own USB 3 adaptors as being compatible and I am curious if that will work.
     
  5. Macman45 macrumors demi-god

    Macman45

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
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    #5
    I Have The

    Original 21 in 1 card in my MBP....Fit's flush and is fast enough to write to in real time.

    This looks a little "Rushed Out" to me, but I like the company and their products.

    Given time they will get it right....The lack of Thunderbolt peripherals is a sticking point for the ports at the moment, the more the merrier I say.
     
  6. KPOM thread starter macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #6
    Unfortunately, I do not.
     
  7. AntoBo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2011
    #7
    what card

    I was thinking about doing this same setup with my imac. I already have the Rosewill RC-605 SATAII ExpressCard and was wondering if it is compatible. Is this by any chance the card that you used?
     
  8. Eccles6 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2011
    #8
    To add my experiences for the Sonnet Expresscard adapter...

    I now have three eSata express card, and they all work with the Sonnet Echo ExpressCard/34 Thunderbolt Adapter. Two use the built in AHCI driver from Apple (improved in 10.7.2), one a Sata II single port and the other a Sata III dual port (new just for this). For the raid capable Silicon Image 3132 card, I had to install the Sonnet driver for their version of the adapter with that chipset.

    I ordered my device back at the end of October when the shipping date was mid November. At that time the device displayed had a black plastic casing and two thunderbolt ports, also I'm sure that the specs were as a PCIE Express 2.0x1, not the PCIE Express 1.1 in the finally shipping product. At the same time I ordered the Sonnet USB 3.0 adapter as that was on the compatible list then (and even states so on the shipping packaging for the adapter). Sonnet technical Support have advised that the USB 3.0 adapter support is work in progress, their response was quick so a plus for that.

    My experience is a B also, it connects quickly and have had no issues yet. I've been able to boot to attached drives and hot swap worked fine. The device is bus powered from the thunderbolt cable.

    My disappointment comes from the performance. Even using the Sata III adapter with either a Corsair Force3 240Gb SSD or an Intel 510 120Gb SSD, sequential write speeds only managed 70MB/s and read speeds of 130MB/s. It appears as the read/write speeds are capped at that. Admittedly the 130MB/s read would be limited by the WD Black in the iMac as it's max write speed.

    Atleast now I have eSata out of the iMac without having to crack it open and mod it.
     
  9. KPOM, Dec 21, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012

    KPOM thread starter macrumors G5

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    #9
    I used a Best Connectivity card, which is essentially rebranded card from a generic OEM (the one-page "manual" directed me to an unbranded website to download the OS X driver). It may well be the same as the card you used.

    I think driver support may be the most difficult. Since the only Mac with an Expresscard slot is the 17" MacBook Pro, some cheaper cards might not have OS X support.
     
  10. clnilsen macrumors newbie

    clnilsen

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    #10
    I also have one of these that I ordered in the early pre-order stage for my MacMini Server to use with two esata enclosures.

    Despite having an expresscard esata adapter already, I went ahead and got the Sonnet Esata pro card to minimize conflicts when I finally got the adapter.

    Overall, the speed have been robust - when it's worked. I have had issues with HD's dropping off the array, causing some serious system instability. I am thinking that it may be my esata enclosures (Rosewill 5 bay enclosure) so I picked up a new Sans Digital enclosure from NewEgg and will try that out. If it fixes the issue, I will attribute that to the enclosures.

    I can overlook the packaging issues, but I would have liked to see a thunderbolt passthough on this as well. I don't like the fact that I am limited to this device being on the end of a chain.

    Also, mine runs HOT when under load. I moved 458GB of data, and the box was almost untouchable. I was contemplating putting an additional heatsink or a small CPU fan on it even if the situation continues. I did go ahead an put four big rubber feet on the bottom to give it some additional height for air flow and to give it some more stability, as with the combination of the TB cable out the back and the esata cables out the front it's has a tendency to roll one way or the other.
     
  11. slimenta macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    #11
    Help

    I am really confused. I bought the express card 34 and the thunderbolt adapter. Connected both to my new MBP. They are both recognized. I put a CF card in but it does not show up on my computer. Any thoughts? I did install the drivers.
     
  12. Flash SWT macrumors 6502

    Flash SWT

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    Houston, TX
  13. KPOM thread starter macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #13
    It's possible that the drivers will need to be updated. Sonnet has mentioned this is the case for some Sony devices.

    On the other hand, if the CF reader uses the USB 2.0 standard to interface with the Expresscard slot, then it won't work. Here is from Sonnet's FAQ (emphasis added):

     
  14. KPOM thread starter macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #14
    I got my eSATA card working with the Echo ExpressCard 34 adapter in Windows 7 today (Boot Camp), but it took a little bit of effort. Specifically, Windows would freeze at the login screen if I tried to start it with the eSATA card inserted into the Echo ExpressCard adapter. I got it to work following these steps:
    • Plug the Echo ExpressCard adapter into the TB port
    • Boot into Windows 7
    • Insert the eSATA card
    • Go into Control Panel and manually scan for new hardware (for some reason it didn't recognize it automatically)
    • Let the standard Windows driver install
    • Download and install the Windows 7 driver for the eSATA card
    • Reboot with everything plugged in

    Once I got it started, it worked like a charm, though the transfer speeds were slower than in OS X (perhaps it's because Boot Camp won't start up AHCI).

    Anyway, my main point is that the adapter works in Windows 7, but don't be surprised if it takes some work to get it working.
     

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