by Mark Kidd

Drobo Announces Drobo 5D and Drobo Mini

Drobo has announced two new storage appliances that offer dual Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 connectivity. The Drobo 5D and Drobo Mini share a common hardware and firmware platform and similar feature sets, with the key difference being the 5D is intended for stationary use, utilizing 3.5” drives, while the Drobo Mini is designed for portability with a smaller form factor and 2.5” drive bays.

Both the 5D and Mini offer Drobo's BeyondRAID technology with single- or dual-drive redundancy, providing data protection and allowing drives to be added or hot-swapped for storage expansion without downtime. The 5D and Mini are each equipped with dual Thunderbolt ports for daisy chaining, allowing up to six Thunderbolt devices and/or a non-Thunderbolt monitor at the end of the chain with bidirectional 10 Gbps performance.

Data-Aware Tiering technology is also offered on both units, allowing users to add a high-performance mSATA SSD to accelerate the storage array without reducing maximum storage capacity. They also include an integrated rechargeable battery that protects data that has not yet been written to the array in the case of power failure.

Drobo 5D and Mini Common Features

  • 2 x Thunderbolt ports; second port for daisy chaining Thunderbolt devices (Mac OS X only)
  • 1 x USB 3.0 port
  • Drives of any manufacturer, capacity, spindle speed, and/or cache can be used. No carriers or tools required
  • Thin Provisioning
  • Instant Expansion
  • Mixed Drive Size Utilization
  • Automatic Protection Levels
  • Dual Disk Redundancy
  • Virtual Hot Spare
  • Data Aware
  • Drive Re-ordering
  • Carrier-less Drive Bays
  • Power Fail Protection
  • Kensington Lock Port

Drobo 5D Overview
The Drobo 5D is compact due in part to its carrierless drive-bay design, and should be quieter than previous-generation Drobos with a tuned, variable-speed cooling fan. The 5D can spin down drives when they’re not in use for additional noise and power reductions.

  • Up to five (5) 3.5" SATA I / II / III hard disk drives or solid state drives and one (1) mSATA solid state drive
  • Width: 5.9 in (150.3 mm)
  • Height: 7.3 in (185.4 mm)
  • Depth: 10.3 in (262.3 mm)
  • Weight: 8.5 lb without hard drives, power supply, or packaging

Drobo Mini Overview
Weighing in at 3 pounds with drives installed drobo Mini takes four 2.5-inch hot-swappable drives of any capacity.

  • Up to four (4) 2.5" SATA I / II / III hard disk drives or solid state drives that are between 7 mm and 9 mm in height and one (1) mSATA solid state drive
  • Width: 7.3 in (187.2 mm)
  • Height: 1.8 in (44.6 mm)
  • Depth: 7.1 in (180.0 mm)
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs without hard drives or power supply

Pricing, pre-orders, and availability will be announced summer 2012.

UPDATE 7/24/2012 - Pricing Details Released

Drobo has announced pricing for the new Mini and 5D. The Drobo Mini starts at $649 MSRP and the Drobo 5D starts at $849 MSRP. Both products are expected to ship by the end of September. Both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 cables are included in the base price, and an optional carrying case is also offered for $49 MSRP.

Drobo Mini
Drobo 5D

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UPDATE 7/25/2013 - Drobo 5D - REVIEWED