As you can see modern laptops have more interfaces, unified under a single standard. Instead, the abundance of different ports are increasingly found only in the form of a USB Type C, which can simultaneously support and Thunderbolt. If you use a laptop to work on the go or on the desktop, you can not do without the docking station. In our test lab arrived dock Sonnet Echo 15+ Thunderbolt 2 Dock with support for Thunderbolt, which we are testing in this review.
Thunderbolt interface remains a niche, but the demand for products Thunderbolt is quite high, because the owners of Apple systems available at hand, at least one Thunderbolt port. The advantages are obvious Thunderbolt, but disadvantages are also available, which can be seen at the same price.
Now it is the turn Sonnet Echo 15+ Thunderbolt 2 Dock. Docking Station is available in five variants, they are all enclosed in the same case, but different hardware stuffing. There are models with a DVD drive or a Blu-Ray, no optical drive and hard drives and 4TB HDD 1TB SSD. We received the most well-equipped model with a Blu-Ray drive and two SSD in RAID 0.
First, a few words about the case. Sonnet packed Dock aluminum body, fully painted black. On the two sidewalls and the cover can be seen low ribs to help dissipate heat to the environment. Dimensions of the housing is 225 x 200 x 84 mm (W x D x H). Especially beautiful Sonnet Echo 15+ can not be named Thunderbolt 2 Dock, but the functionality is very decent.
In front you can see the two ports USB 3.0, audio input and output. Both ports can use USB for charging mobile devices due to the current up to 1.5 A. To the left of the two ports are two LED. Right turns green after the Thunderbolt Dock. The second LED indicates drive activity.
Above the port is located the optical drive tray in notebook format. Tray by pressing the button a little pushed, then it should pull out by hand. Apple has long refused to optical drives, but they are still relevant for some users. Built-in drive can burn Blu-ray discs at speeds of 4x, DVD drives – with 8x speed.
On the rear panel handed down the two port USB 3.0 (again with the current 1,5 A), 2x eSATA, 1x FireWire 800, 1x Gigabit Ethernet, one more audio inputs and outputs, 2x Thunderbolt. Since the two ports Thunderbolt docking station can be included in the chain of devices.
Some are skeptical, we reacted to the small 40-mm fan. This size does not allow to expect a low noise level. However, in the case of a desktop install Sonnet Echo 15+ Thunderbolt 2 Dock it could not be heard. So that the level of observations there is no noise. However, in the case of built-in hard disk will dissipate more heat is needed.
One of the biggest complaints docking station Thunderbolt – plug in a mini-DisplayPort. It has a small mechanical resistance, but still suitable for professional scenarios are not so good. Transgressed connector during data transmission via the Thunderbolt SSD is unlikely to please the users.
Sonnet Thunderbolt cable adds to mounting, using a small screw plug can be securely fastened to the dock, then you can not worry about accidental disconnection. For mobile use, this approach is hardly relevant, but if you use a docking station permanently on the desktop version of the good.
The Sonnet Echo 15+ Thunderbolt 2 Dock has two SSD in RAID 0. mode they are set in the appropriate compartments. In our case, Sonnet has established two drives Crucial BX100 512 GB. About the performance, we’ll talk later.
Unfortunately, in the case Sonnet Echo 15+ Thunderbolt 2 Dock is no room for the power supply. Therefore, Sonnet has made quite a bulky external power adapter. In stationary scenarios, there is no problem with it – the power supply can be hidden under the table. In any case, it would be far better if the power supply is integrated into the housing.
We proceed to the tests of two SSD, set in a RAID 0 array.
The docking station is connected via Thunderbolt 2, there are two SSD Crucial BX100 performance recording 654 MB / s read and 722 MB / s. As you can see, the speed of the SSD exceeds the level of normal, connected via the SATA, because in this case there are two SATA SSD array in RAID 0. With a similar level of performance Sonnet Echo 15+ Thunderbolt 2 Dock can be used, for example, to work with a large archive of photographs. Yes, and installation of video is realistic. In the case of Echo 15+ with a hard disk the main scenario – data storage.
We connect another Thunderbolt-2 SSD chain. He showed record speed of nearly 300 MB / s reading speed – 362 MB / s. However, here the reason lies in the SSD, since Thunderbolt 2 gives a bandwidth of 20 Gb / s, a considerable part of which remains accessible.
In addition to SSD tests and other devices, we decided to test the Thunderbolt and other interfaces. In particular, USB 3.0 ports, which should provide a high level of performance with a USB-compatible devices. Of course, USB-drives the speed depends on the storage medium. In the case of fast USB 3.0 drive, we were able to achieve 265 MB / s for reading and 230 MB / s for writing. Even Gigabit Ethernet ports we have the capacity of 110 MB / s in both directions, which is close to the theoretical maximum.
We conducted an additional test, the maximum load all interfaces, but faced with the limitation on the data rate. All interfaces have worked on the above rates, yet the capacity of Thunderbolt 2 is quite high, it is problematic to exhaust.
Sonnet aims Echo 15+ Thunderbolt 2 Dock to a specific audience. MacBook now has many users, but only a small fraction of them are thinking of purchasing a docking station. The Echo 15+ Thunderbolt 2 Dock integrated optical drive – an innovation among the docks Thunderbolt.
Feature not any limitations. Present ports Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet and a FireWire, they work on the bandwidth, which is close to the maximum, but it all depends on the connected devices.
Of course, the desired interfaces and their number depends on the needs of users. Not everyone need FireWire or eSATA ports. USB ports are certainly useful to everyone, through them, you can connect a mouse and keyboard, and the same goes for Gigabit Ethernet ports. Add to this the ability to connect an external monitor to the Sonnet Echo 15+ Thunderbolt 2 Dock port Mini-DisplayPort, or an appropriate adapter. Thunderbolt 2 support DisplayPort 1.2 standard, that is, resolution up to 4K with a refresh rate of 60 Hz. Other manufacturers sometimes docks set the HDMI port, but it is usually limited to Full-HD resolution, which is not that interesting.
From a technical point of view Sonnet Echo 15+ Thunderbolt 2 Dock no complaints. Of course, the docking station design is not the most elegant or beautiful, but you get all the expected features. If you do not need two SSD in RAID 0, you can buy a barebone version, and then choose to install the HDD or SSD.
Finally, there is the question of price. Depending on the equipment (Blu-ray drive, SSD / HDD), it ranges from 400 to 800 euro. In Russia, the dock we have not yet discovered.
Should I recommend Sonnet Echo 15+ Thunderbolt 2 Dock to purchase? It seems to us, the docking station will be interesting for those users who need an optical drive. Can be installed inside the drive (SSD or HDD) will also be useful to many. But it is difficult to say whether the Thunderbolt perspectives capture the mass market, or the interface will take a small niche, like FireWire. Today the market is already out new Thunderbolt standard 3, but many professionals believe Thunderbolt 2 is still relevant and active use of the standard equipment.