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Sonnet Technology Packs M.2, USB-C and 10 Gb Ethernet into a PCIe Add-in Card

Render for Sonnet's MCFiver PCIe card
(Image credit: Sonnet Technologies)

Sonnet Technologies, a California-based connectivity focused company, looks to be about ready to bring its McFiver PCIe add-in card to market. Spotted by PC Watch, the expansion card makes use a motherboard PCIe x16 shlot (though actual bandwidth tops out at PCIe 3.0 x8), increasing connectivity and storage expansion options by adding two M.2 NVMe slots, two USB 3.2 (10Gbps) Type-C ports and a single 10 Gigabit Ethernet port.

This is an interesting mix of ports that seemingly aims to cater to the enthusiast and content-creator crowds. While we've seen other PCIe expansion cards in the past, these have mostly settled for either storage, networking, or USB connectivity. The McFiver board from Sonnet, however, extends its usability through all three mediums. We could see this add-in board being particularly useful for creators, doubling down not only on fast, responsive storage -- with integrated, fined heatsinks to keep the SSD's temperatures in check -- but also by bolstering the number of USB Type-C ports, since all but the highest-tier motherboards today tend to have just one or possibly two.

Sonnet's McFiver add-in board is compatible with Windows, Linux, and MacOS, including support for Apple Silicon. It supports RAID 0 on both its M.2 slots to nearly double SSD speeds up to 6,600 MB/s (a maximum throughput of 3,400 MB/s is quoted for non-RAID SSD operations). Each M.2 slot supports an M.2 2280 SSD with up to 8 TB density (16 TB possible in total).

The board has been made as "drop-in" an upgrade as possible, and only pulls power from the PCIe slot itself (which is capable of delivering up to 75 W). Perhaps due to this, Sonnet did limit the USB 3.2 ports with only 7.5 W (5V @ 1.5A) of possible power delivery. So take that into account when considering this expansion card. Further, these USB-C ports don't support Thunderbolt.

The Sonnet McFiver's jack-of-all-trades design philosophy does mean there's added board and controller complexity, however: Besides using an as-yet unknown PCIe 3.0 x8 bridge, the expansion card integrates a 10GbE controller from Marvell (AQC113S) and a USB-C 3.2 controller from an undisclosed manufacturer.

While it won't please everyone, the Sonnet McFiver certainly brings a diverse and interesting set of features for a single expansion card. For those who need fast wired networking, more USB-C and M.2 storage, the $399 price may be quite appealing.

Francisco Pires is a freelance news writer for Tom's Hardware with a soft side for quantum computing.

  • Krotow
    As extension card for older SFF type cases seems useful.

    shlot is interesting term for PCIe slot. Maybe he did mean the schlong?
    Reply
  • Johnpombrio
    A strange mix of ports. The 10Gb Ethernet port is top of the heap while having PCI 3.0 M.2 slots instead of USB 4.0 M.2 and only USB 3.2 instead of USB 3.2X2 is good for an older rig. Bring the ethernet port down to 2.5Gb/s and drop the price by half and you have a very decent card for older machines.
    Reply
  • Scott Kay
    Krotow said:
    As extension card for older SFF type cases seems useful.

    shlot is interesting term for PCIe slot. Maybe he did mean the schlong?
    I hope that schlep's shlong doesn't get caught in the shlot.
    Reply
  • garylcamp
    'Sonnet Techynology is in the finishing stages of launching its "McFiver" PCIe add-in card, featuring expansion support for two M.2 SSDs, two USB 3.2 Type-C ports, and a single 10Gb Ethernet port.'

    $399 is the cost of a good new MOBO that likely has all these features. $100 I might consider upgrading my older computer but not $400.
    Reply
  • bmtphoenix
    PCI-E cards are almost always crappy and failure-prone. Just because it's expensive doesn't mean it'll be reliable at all.
    Reply
  • olaf
    Krotow said:
    As extension card for older SFF type cases seems useful.

    It's not always possible to make a low profile card. And as SFF cases have both a height and length restriction that could get tricky , and ventilation on those is miserable most of the time.
    Reply
  • kyzarvs
    Scott Kay said:
    I hope that schlep's shlong doesn't get caught in the shlot.

    Don't forget the law-breaking fins have been fined for being finned...
    Reply
  • rasetsu9
    Hell, at that price point you could buy a motherboard with better support and a PCIE NIC. 8 lane PCIE slots are becoming rather scarce. Agreed, there are some valid uses, but not many that will coax $400 out of someone's wallet.
    Reply
  • Olle P
    rasetsu9 said:
    Hell, at that price point you could buy a motherboard with better support...
    A bit of my reaction also.
    The card itself seems nice, but the price point is way off.
    Reply