Drobo 5D3

Flex­i­ble stor­age ex­pan­sion with a fast, ca­pa­ble con­nec­tion

Mac|Life - - CONTENTS - Alan Stone­bridge

$694 (en­clo­sure only) From Drobo, drobo.com Fea­tures 2x Thun­der­bolt 3 ports, 1x USB-C (5Gbps) port, mSATA bay for op­tional SSD cache

Drobo makes at­trac­tively flex­i­ble stor­age ar­rays that en­able you to start with just two disks in­stalled, add more on the fly to boost ca­pac­ity, or swap out a failed or in­ad­e­quate disk and au­to­mat­i­cally ad­just to the change.

The stand­out fea­ture of this model is two Thun­der­bolt 3 ports, which pro­vide plenty of band­width for de­mand­ing uses such as video pro­duc­tion. Our re­view unit came with five 3.5-inch Toshiba DT Desk­top Se­ries disks, from 500GB to 2TB in ca­pac­ity. This gave us mean av­er­age trans­fer rates of 547.1 and 325.8MB/sec when read­ing and writ­ing data se­quen­tially, and 180.4 and 124.8MB/sec when read­ing and writ­ing from ran­dom lo­ca­tions. These are good, yet un­spec­tac­u­lar. The peak se­quen­tial read speed we ob­served was 1027.9MB/sec, which is still far be­low Thun­der­bolt 3’s po­ten­tial; faster hard disks or, ide­ally, SSDs is one way to a speed boost.

An­other is to add an mSATA SSD to the Drobo Ac­cel­er­a­tor Bay, where it acts as a cache of fre­quently used data. Us­ing a 64GB Plex­tor M6M, trans­fer­ring a 4GB test file to our MacBook Pro went from 7.4 sec­onds on the first at­tempt to 2.4 once cached. With a 20GB test file the re­duc­tion was slim­mer, yet still ap­pre­cia­ble: 49.9 sec­onds down to 30.8.

Thun­der­bolt 3 also en­ables you to chain two 4K dis­plays or one 5K dis­play from the sec­ond port, keep­ing ex­pan­sion op­tions open if your MacBook Pro it­self has just two ports.

Drobo Dash­board and its com­ple­men­tary menu bar util­ity show ar­ray and disk sta­tus info with clar­ity. De­spite a Kens­ing­ton lock slot to se­cure the 5D3, sadly there’s no way to lock the bay cover in place.

the bot­tom line. Drobo’s flex­i­bil­ity now works over Thun­der­bolt 3, but get­ting best speeds can get costly.

The 5D3’s front panel is mag­net­i­cally at­tached, and pops off eas­ily for a new disk to be in­stalled.

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