Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Dock review: Port expansion and storage for your desktop Mac

0

Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Docking Station


AppleInsider may earn an affiliate commission on purchases made through links on our site.

The Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock promises fast storage and extensive connectivity for your Mac, but a lack of power for the host computer reduces overall usefulness a bit.

Thunderbolt 3 is great, but most modern Macs just don’t have enough ports, and that’s made worse on the low end of the product line. And, if your Mac is in the center of your desk for aesthetic reasons, the cables meandering in five different directions look cluttered.

To try and reduce the number of larger items you might need to connect directly to your Mac, the latest response from longtime Mac upgrade vendor Sonnet is to combine additional storage with ports, into a single easily concealable aluminum dock. .

Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock

Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock

Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock – Specifications

Features Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock
Starting price $349.99
Dimensions (inches) 6.8×3.4×1.8
Weight (pounds) 2.2
Ports 2 x thunderbolt
2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C,
Two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
output power 15W via Thunderbolt 3 to host,
7.5W to other ports
Storage locations 2x single or double sided M.2 2280 NVMe PCIe SSD,

16TB capacity

Data transfers Up to 1500 MB/s for a single SSD,
Up to 3000 MB/s for a RAID 0 set

a bit square

The Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Dock is best described as utilitarian, boxy, even. It doesn’t have the aesthetics to ideally be a visible device for your Mac, as it consists of a nondescript metal casing with a bunch of ventilation holes and a small internal fan.

The top bears a gray Sonnet logo, with the front and back sides taken up by its various ports and connections. Phillips head screws are clearly visible from the front, two at the bottom and one at the back. Four Torx screws secure the rear panel to the motherboard.

The Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock and Power Supply.  Apple products for scale.

The Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock and Power Supply. Apple products for scale.

To us, it feels like the design is less meant to be seen on an open desk, and more something to hide, strategically placed for access but out of sight.

As a nondescript box, it’s 6.8 inches long by 3.4 inches wide and 1.8 inches deep, so it’s quite easily concealed. The PSU is pretty big on its own, at 4.9 inches by 2.8 inches by 1 inch, but not so big that it can’t be tucked away.

At 2.2 pounds for the box and its all-important AC adapter, it’s not a heavy system either.

At one end is a fan. It is a temperature controlled unit that normally operates quietly, but speeds up as the air inside warms. We didn’t hear any hissing or whining from the fan while hammering it to test drive speed, when used in a normal desktop environment.

Any port in a storm

The dock element of the device is serviced by a reasonable selection of ports on the front and rear of the main unit.

On the front is a quartet of ports, consisting of a Thunderbolt peripheral port, two USB Type-C ports and one USB Type-A port, as well as an LED indicator. On the back is a Thunderbolt computer port for the host, another USB Type-A port, the power connector, and a Kensington lock slot.

Since it is intended for single location use, the Thunderbolt port to connect to your Mac has a ThunderLok 3 hole with the included strain relief. The clasp wraps around the end of the cable and a screw will hold the connection secure, so it won’t suddenly come unplugged if moved during use.

The host’s Thunderbolt port facilitates connectivity up to 40 Gbps. We’re always glad there are basic cables that come with a device, but the actual usefulness is somewhat limited with the included 18-inch cable. Expect to pay a bit more for a longer cable.

The front and rear ports of the Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock

The front and rear ports of the Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock

The dock’s primary audience is the Mac, and that’s clear. We tested it on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and you can connect to a Windows PC if you want. You’re really only limited here on the format of the drive – but more on the storage aspect in a moment.

Minus the Thunderbolt port on the rear host computer and the one on the front of the case, all USB Type-C and Type-A ports are USB 3.2 Gen 2. They are all capable of 10Gbps data transfer rates. s with full UASP support, delivering up to 7.5W of power per port.

The front Thunderbolt 3 port can also handle USB 4 and slower connections. It can also be used to deliver video to a Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C monitor, or to DisplayPort or HDMI monitors when used with an adapter.

Don’t adapt, though. Avoid dongles. Instead, go native and get a USB-C to HDMI or DisplayPort cable, if you don’t have a native USB-C monitor. You won’t be sorry.

Sonnet says it can support an Apple Pro Display XDR, 5K display at 60Hz, 4K display at 75Hz, 1440p at 165Hz, or 1080p display at 240Hz, assuming proper system support. operation.

All of this power is provided by the adapter, which is a 96W unit. However, its 15W power delivery is a little underwhelming, and nowhere near what’s needed to charge a tethered MacBook Pro, or sustain anything but a low-charged MacBook Air.

MagSafe to the rescue with new machines here, but we still prefer a single-cable approach to data and charging.

Internal storage

First of all, do not remove the torx screws on the back of the case. Access is granted by the removal of seven Phillips screwdriver screws. When the back is removed, the unit includes a motherboard with a pair of ports designed for M.2 2280 NVMe PCIe SSDs.

Two SSDs can be installed, one per slot, with a single screw and rod holding each key in place.

Inside the Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock

Inside the Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock

According to Sonnet, installable storage can be single-sided or double-sided, and come equipped with or without a heatsink. Heatsinks are cheap and sometimes already installed in your drive of choice.

According to Sonnet, it is possible to achieve data transfer speeds of up to 1,500 megabytes per second for a single SSD, or up to 3,000 megabytes per second for a RAID 0 array with disk utility. Figures depend on the speeds of the installed storage, as well as the performance of the connected host.

With a pair of matched 2TB NVMe SSDs, we got around 2600 megabytes per second read and write from the docking station with drives without heat sinks directly attached to a 16-inch MacBook Pro M1 Max, a Mac Studio or a 2018 Mac Intel. mini, and about 2700 megabytes per second with heat sinks. A single drive achieves almost exactly the 1500 megabytes per second promised by Sonnet.

It is also possible to boot the Mac from the dock, but only from an individual SSD that has not been configured in a RAID configuration. And, there are a few steps you should take on your Mac before attempting to boot from any external drive, which are beyond the scope of this review – but we have the link text “> discussed somewhere else and we will do it again soon.

Useful and efficient

The Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock is not a travel dock, nor one of those docks that will give you every port under the sun.

Instead, it’s laser-focused on a few common ports, as well as storage, all wrapped up in a relatively compact body that easily hides on your desk. We think it’s ideal for a Mac mini stuck next to a desk, or a Mac Studio perhaps on a rack near a desk, with a handy desktop port extender provided by the Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock.

We are not going to dwell too much on the profitability of the wharf. In addition to the $299 for the dock, which is reasonable for Thunderbolt docks, NVMe storage prices fluctuate dramatically at retail, depending not only on market vagaries, but also commodity prices.

And then there’s the price of a longer Thunderbolt cable. Given the introduction of USB4, a long cable is cheaper than it used to be, but it’s still not what you’d call free.

All things considered, we really like the Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock, and it does exactly what it says on the box. But, like the rash of other 15W Thunderbolt docking stations we’ve seen recently, we do wish it provided a bit more power to the host computer. Otherwise, it’s basically limited to desktop Macs if a one-cable solution is desired.

We are intrigued to see what this concept, combined with gallium nitride, could bring in the not too distant future.

Advantages of Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock

  • High-speed storage in a small package
  • Good speeds with two NVMe drives
  • Easy access
  • metal case

Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Thunderbolt Dock vs.

  • The storage needed by the device isn’t cheap, and the really huge capacities get sky-high, fast
  • 15W of charging power to the host computer is way too low for the MacBook Pro or anything from Intel
  • 18-inch cables are good to have included, but not practical for everyday use for most

Where to Buy Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe Docking Station

The Sonnet Echo Dual NVMe docking station is available from Sonnet for $299. It is also available on Amazon for $349.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.