16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
If speed is what you want then look no further, 3 Jan 2013
I have had a pair of the original Drobo (v2) four bay enclosures for three or four years. Both are equipped with four Western Digital 2Tb Caviar Green drives. Both have performed flawlessly since I got them, although connected to my iMac via Firewire 800, they are not the fastest thing on the planet when it comes to transferring large volumes of data. So I have been eagerly anticipating a Thunderbolt equipped Drobo since the interface first became available.
I've had the Drobo 5D for about a month now. I set it up with five Western Digital 3Tb Caviar Red drives plus a Crucial 256Gb m4 mSATA SSD in the dedicated slot in the underside of the 5D's chassis. Total cost was about £1,450 including VAT. That sounds like quite a lot, but a Pegasus Promise R6 with six 2Tb drives will set you back another £500 and it doesn't have the benefit of an SSD accelerator.
The 5D comes with a Thunderbolt cable which I used to connect it to my iMac. It took just a few minutes to set it up using the Drobo Dashboard software. Although I already had the latest version of the Dashboard software needed for my existing Drobos, I had to download a further update before it would recognise the new 5D. As my data is all backed up elsewhere, I opted for single rather than dual drive redundancy. Formatted capacity available for data is 10.89Tb.
So how fast is it at transferring large amounts of data as compared to the original Drobo? I copied a folder containing 3,087 RAW image files, all between 20Mb and 40Mb in size, totalling 86.47Gb, from my iMac's built-in 256Gb SSD to the 5D. It took just 10 minutes and 35 seconds. I then copied the same folder to one of my original Drobos. It took 55 minutes. So the 5D was approximately five times faster than the original Drobo at handling a largish real world file transfer.
I then used the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test (free from the App Store) to do a few comparisons: -
iMac built-in SSD - Read 215MB/s Write 185MB/s
iMac built-in 1Tb HDD - Read 125MB/s Write 125MB/s
Drobo (v2) Firewire 800 - Read 35MB/s Write 35MB/s
Drobo 5D Thunderbolt - Read 320MB/s Write 235MB/s
I don't suppose the Blackmagic software is the most sophisticated around, but it was all I had access to and I'm sure it gives a pretty good idea as to relative performance.
So in theory the 5D is even faster than the built-in SSD supplied with the iMac. If this is true then it has to be down to the speed of the Thunderbolt interface and the effect of the 5D's built-in mSATA SSD. The mSATA SSD takes the strain of a big data transfer and then, at leisure, transfers the data to the 5D's five built-in HDDs. Well, that's exactly what it's designed to do and the end result is nothing short of amazing; the Drobo 5D is an absolutely brilliantly designed product!
A month later I'm still very happy; the 5D seems to be just as fast with around 5Tb of data on it.
My advice is to just buy it!
PS Don't forget the Drobo 5D also comes with a USB 3 interface and cable for anyone not having access to Thunderbolt.