The Drobo 5D is a very unique five-bay DAS storage solution that encompasses the latest in technology with its Thunderbolt ports and the best in market reliability with USB 3.0. This leads me to the build quality of the unit where I found the 5D rather stout and that is to say while the front panel is plastic the entire frame of the unit including the inside is made from SECC steel that gives the unit a bit of heft. Adding to this the weight of five drives in the 5D and you have yourself quite a piece of desktop art.
Moving onto the performance of the unit where we found the unit rather impressive, even in this day and age. Utilizing our Drobo 5D in its single drive redundancy setup, we were able to touch 300 MB/s read in our Macintosh testing, followed by 230 MB/s write. This is no small feat as many of the DAS solutions I have tested in the past have a hard time touching 300 MB/s, even when using RAID 0.
Windows single client performance was rather impressive as well where we found the 5D capable of 129 MB/s copying data from the DAS. Furthermore, the video playback and records numbers touched heights we haven't seen as of yet with single stream playback touching 170 MB/s and single stream record at 167 MB/s.
There is no doubt the Drobo 5D and many of its counterparts such as the 5N and Drobo Mini carry quite a cult following, and while many of these users are from the Mac side of computing, there is certainly cause for this. On the outside, you wouldn't think the Drobo is anything more than a very well built very good looking DAS storage solution, but on the inside the software and virtualization layer of this solution is really from the future.
As I spoke in the beginning, BeyondRAID is a rather interesting take on storage pooling and it goes way beyond your standard RAID levels. Where standard DAS or NAS units that include many RAID modes offer you the ability to select your array type and drives you want to use, the upgrade path from there is severely limited. With BeyondRAID, the ability to expand your volumes as your data grows is built in, and the best part is, there is always data protection.