This is part of a multi-part review of the Data Robotics Drobo 5C.
See also: Introduction, part 1 and part 2.
After having a Drobo 5C for a week, I’ve decided there are a few changes that I do not like, and one that I do like…
Enclosure. As previously mentioned, the enclosure is now more of an outside shell that is no longer flush against the front of the device (when the removable face plate is on). Now, when the face plate is installed, there is a small gap running all around it. It just doesn’t seem as polished of a design. Also, when my laptop is set in front of the Drobo, if I open the lid too far, it now makes contact with the metal strip at the top rather than more gently rubbing against the plastic cover as it did with the previous 2nd and 3rd generation modules.
Power Supply. For some reason, the round power connector that goes in to the Drobo 5C now has a right-angle connector at the end. This causes extra tension on the cable (and probably power connector) as the chord is pulled at an angle a bit before running straight out the back and down behind my computer desk. I really don’t care for this, but if you put your Drobo at the far back of a desk (where the power cable would then point directly down), you may prefer this.
Drobo 5C right-angle power connector.
LED Status Lights. Since the front panel no longer covers the bottom row of status lights, the lights are brighter than the rest of the LEDs behind the panel. If I set the Drobo 5C brightness to 5, and have it next to a 3rd generation Drobo also set to 5, the blue LEDs on the 5C are much brighter because they are no longer being filtered out through the clear plastic of the face plate. It also means the 5C lights behind the faceplate are dimmer than the ones below it.
Drobo 5C (left) with brighter blue lights versus 3rd gen (right) with lights behind the face plate.
Can’t See LEDs. And, if your Drobo 5C sits a bit lower, the bottom row of blue LEDs can be hidden below/behind the face place. As I look down at the 5C and 3rd gen models, I can clearly see the front panel blue status LEDs on the 3rd gen, but cannot see the bottom row on the 5C. When sitting at a lower level, I can see them both. Not a big deal, but a change. I first noticed this when I walked in to where my computer is, and thought the 5C had locked up since all the blue capacity lights were off (or so I thought).
Drobo 5C (left) has recessed bottom lights, versus 3rd gen (right) that showed them through the face plate.
If they used the same power connector as they did on previous power supplies, and had kept the enclosure design the same, I would not have anything to gripe about.
Face plate. There was one thing I did like, which I had not noticed before. In the previous photo, notice how the green drive lights on the 3rd generation (right) can be seen through the face plate. The black face plate is a bit transparent, and I had never noticed this until taking these photos. The 5C face place is opaque.
Drobo (3rd gen) transparent drive indicator lights.
Drobo 5C opaque drive indicator lights.
I expect I will have a few more things to say about this new Drobo (file copy speed, for example) so…
More to come…