The Thunderbolt PCIe expansion chassis have been tested and certified by Apple and Intel for Thunderbolt compatibility. However, in order to use this device, a compatible PCIe card must be installed. Also, that card's driver must be compatible with requirements for Thunderbolt technology (e.g. hot-plug support and recovery from sleep).

Please download the latest drivers for your PCIe card from the corresponding manufacturer's website before attempting to use the card in the external Thunderbolt PCIe expansion chassis.

If a card is not on the compatibility list below, that does not necessarily mean that it is incompatible, it just means that we have not had the opportunity to test it in our lab and haven't received any user reports so far. If you would like to send us a card for testing or report a card that you are using yourself, please let us know.

PCIe Cards   Thunder2 PCIe Box
Thunder3 PCIe Box
Node Lite
Node Duo Node Pro
   
  • Half-length
  • Full-height
  • Double-width
  • Max power 25W
  • Max width 2 slots
  • Half-length
  • Full-height
  • Double-width
  • 25-75W per slot
  • Max width 2 slots
  • Full-length
  • Full-height
  • Double-width
  • Max power 400W
  • Max width 2.5 slots
 
Accusys Z2M-G3 ExaSAN 64GB Dual Port QSFP Fibre Channel
-
7
-
 
AJA Kona LHi/LHe Plus Video
-
 
Apogee Symphony 64 PCIe Card Audio
8
-
-
 
Apple Dual/Quad-Channel 4Gb FC Fibre Channel
 
AKiTiO 5-Speed 10GBase-T/NBASE-T™ PCIe Network Card Ethernet Adapter
 
Angelbird Wings MX2 Storage
Angelbird Wings PX1 Storage
3
3
3
Angelbird Wings X2 Storage
 
Apricom Veloctiy Solo x1/x2 Storage
 
Areca ARC-1882x/ARC-1882LP Storage
Areca ARC-1213-4x/ARC-1223-8x Storage
 
Atto Celerity FC-41/42ES, 81/82/84EN Fibre Channel
Atto ExpressSAS H680/644/6F0 Storage
Atto ExpressSAS R680/H644 Storage
Atto FastFrame NT11/12/14 Ethernet Adapter
Atto FastFrame NS11/12/14 Ethernet Adapter
 
Avid Pro Tools HD Native Audio
Avid Pro Tools HDX Audio
1
1
5
 
Blackmagic Design DeckLink Studio/4K/HD/Extreme 3D Video
-
Blackmagic Design DeckLink SDI 4K Video
-
Blackmagic Design DeckLink 4K Extreme Video
-
8
-
Blackmagic Design DeckLink 4K Extreme 12G Video
Blackmagic Design DeckLink 8K Pro Video
 
Bluefish444 Epoch | Neutron, Epoch | 4K Neutron Video
Bluefish444 Epoch | 4K Supernova Video
1
Bluefish444 Epoch | 4K Supernova S+ Video
6
Bluefish444 Epoch | Supernova CG Video
6
 
CalDigit FASTA-2e Storage
CalDigit FASTA-6GU3/FASTA-6GU3 Pro FireWire/USB
CalDigit FASTA-6GU3/FASTA-6GU3 Pro Storage
CalDigit Super-Speed PCI Express Card FireWire/USB
 
Chelsio T520-BT Ethernet Adapter
2
2
2
Chelsio T520-SO-CR Ethernet Adapter
2
2
2
Chelsio T580-SO-CR Ethernet Adapter
2
2
2
Chelsio T6225-SO-CR Ethernet Adapter
2
2
2
 
Emulex OCe12101-DX Ethernet Adapter
Emulex OCe12102-DX Ethernet Adapter
 
FirmTek SeriTek e6G/Q6G Storage
 
Fujitsu Quadro-m PCIe SSD 480GB Storage
 
Fusion I/O ioFX Storage
 
HighPoint RocketRAID 4522 Storage
 
Intel 750 Series PCIe NVMe SSD Storage
3
3
3
Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series Storage
3
3
3
Intel Optane SSD 900P/905P Storage
3
3
3
 
Magewell Pro Capture Quad HDMI Video
4
 
MOTU PCIe-424 Audio
-
-
7
 
Myricom All 10GbE Adapters (except Myri-10G-8A adapters) Ethernet Adapter
 
OWC 2-port Jupiter mini-SAS PCIe HBA Card Storage
OWC MAXPower RAID mini-SAS 6G-2e Storage
OWC Mecury Accelsior E2 120/240/480/960GB Storage
 
RED Rocket-X Video
1
1
 
Small Tree All 10GbE Adapters Ethernet Adapter
 
Solarflare SFN-5122F/5152F/5162F/6122F Ethernet Adapter
Solarflare SFN-5121T/5151T/5161T Ethernet Adapter
 
Solid State Logic MadiXtreme 64/128 Audio
 
Sonnet Tango 3.0 PCIe FireWire/USB
 
Universal Audio UAD-2 Octo Audio
 
Yuan SC542N2-L SDI Video
4
-
Compatible
Not Compatible
- Not Tested / No Reports
  1. Full-length cards are not supported
  2. Chelsio T5 cards require driver version 1.10.11 or later
  3. NVMe drives require macOS 10.13 or later (learn more about NVMe and AHCI)
  4. The connector can physically not be plugged into the last port at the bottom of the PCIe card
  5. The power cable is not compatible
  6. 3/4 length cards are not supported
  7. Akitio has not verified this card but it has been reported as incompatible by the user community.
  8. Akitio has not verified this card but it has been reported as compatible by the user community.

Remarks:

PCIe Card Interface & Speeds

PCIe Interface

The PCIe interface can affect both the compatibility and the speed. If a card requires 8 PCIe lanes, it might not work at all in an enclosure with only 4 PCIe lanes. Check with the PCIe card manufacturer for more information about backwards compatibility. If a PCIe 2.0 x8 card is installed in a PCIe 3.0 x2 enclosure, it might be compatible and work OK but the performance will be limited to PCIe 2.0 x2 (~770 MB/s), due to the limited amount of PCIe lanes.

  • Thunder2 PCIe Box : PCIe 2.0 x4 (~1375 MB/s)
  • Thunder3 PCIe Box : PCIe 3.0 x4 (~2750 MB/s)
  • Node Lite : PCIe 3.0 x4 (~2750 MB/s)
  • Node Duo : PCIe 3.0 x2 per slot (~1375 MB/s per slot)
  • Node Pro : PCIe 3.0 x4 (~2750 MB/s)

Thunderbolt Interface

The speed of the Thunderbolt connection depends on the computer and on the Thunderbolt version. Using multiple devices in a daisy chain simultaneously can also affect the speeds.

  • Thunderbolt 1 : 770 MB/s
  • Thunderbolt 2 : 1375 MB/s
  • Thunderbolt 3 : 2750 MB/s

Some Thunderbolt 3 laptops are designed with only two PCIe lanes for the Thunderbolt interface. To reach the maximum of the Thunderbolt 3 interface at 40Gbps, four PCIe lanes are required, so having only two lanes will effectively cut the speed in half and you will only get 20Gbps. For laptops from Dell, check this page at www.dell.com. For laptops from Lenovo, have a look at this article on www.reddit.com. For other laptops, check your documentation, do a search on Google or contact the manufacturer for more information.

PCIe Card Dimensions

AKiTiO Thunder2 PCIe Box - AKiTiO Thunder3 PCIe Box - Node Lite

akitio thunder2 pcie box card dimensions

Node Duo - Thunderbolt 3 PCIe expansion chassis for two half-length cards

akitio node duo interface

Node Pro - Thunderbolt 3 PCIe expansion chassis for one full-length card

akitio node pro interface

Disclaimer:
Information in this article is subject to change without notice. AKiTiO does not make any representations or warranties (implied or otherwise) regarding the accuracy and completeness of this document and shall in no event be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damage, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. All brand names and product names used in this document are trademarks, or registered trademarks of their respective holders.