Podcast #421 - iPhone 7, Drobo 5C, Intel FPGAs and more!

Subject: Editorial | October 13, 2016 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: XG-U2008, western digital, video, stratix, ssd, podcast, nvidia, msi, kaby lake, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iphone, Intel, drobo, asus, apple, 5c

PC Perspective Podcast #421 - 10/13/16

Join us this week as we discuss our review of the iPhone 7, the Drobo 5C, Intel FPGAs and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:22:35

  1. Week in Review:
  2. Today’s episode is brought to you by Casper!
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan: UE Boom 2
    2. Jeremy: Hee hee, you really want Win7?
  5. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Drobo

Introduction and Packaging

The Drobo 5D launched a few years ago and continues to be a pricey solution, running close to $600. This was due to added complexity with its mSATA hot data cache and other features that drove the price higher than some potential buyers were happy with. Sure the cache was nice, but many photographers and videographers edit their content on a faster internal SSD and only shift their media to their external storage in bulk sequential file copies. These users don’t necessarily need a caching tier built into their mass storage device - as they just want good straight-line speed to offload their data as fast as possible.

With new management and a renewed purpose with a focus on getting lower cost yet performant products out there, Drobo relaunched their base 4-bay product in a third-generation form. We tested that unit back in December of 2014, and its performance was outstanding for a unit that typically runs in the mid-$200 price range. The price and performance were great, but things were a bit tight when trying to use Dual Disk Redundancy while limited to only four installed drives. A fifth bay would have certainly been handy, as would USB-C connectivity, which brings me to the subject of today’s review:


I present to you the Drobo 5C. Essentially a 5-bay replacement to the 4-bay 3rd gen Drobo. This will become the new base model Drobo, meaning there will no longer be any 4-bay models in Drobo's product lineup:

Drobo 5C lineup.png

Read on for our review of the new Drobo 5C!

Drobo Launches 5C - 5-bay USB 3.0 Type-C (Type-A) Direct Attached Storage Solution

Subject: Storage | October 4, 2016 - 08:30 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, Type-C, Type-A, hdd, External, Drobo 5C, drobo, DAS, 5-bay

We looked at the third-gen 4-bay Drobo over a year back, and while the performance and price were great, it was held back by its limited number of drive bays. Drobo fixed that today:


The new Drobo 5C is basically an evolution of the 4-bay model. Performance is similar, which justifies the choice to stick with USB 3.0 (5 Gbit), but we now have a Type-C port on the Drobo side (a Type-C to Type-A cable is included to cover most potential users). The added bay helps users increase potential capacity or alternatively select BeyondRAID's Dual Drive Redundancy mode without as much of an ultimate capacity hit compared to its 4-bay predecessor.

Drobo 5C lineup.png

The Drobo 5C supersedes the old 4-bay unit in their lineup.

The new Drobo 5C is available today for $349, with drive package deals offered direct from Drobo. Drobo is also offering a limited-time $50 discount to 2nd and 3rd gen 4-bay Drobo owners (valid until 11 Oct 2016). I have confirmed here that a disk pack from a 4-bay model can be moved directly to the new 5-bay model with no issue.

We have a full review of the Drobo 5C coming, but we have a few questions out to them that need answering before our article goes live.

Full press blast after the break.

Source: Drobo

Podcast #405 - AMD RX 480 Hands-on, 32-core Zen rumors, VBIOS scandal and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 23, 2016 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: Zen, western digital, video, vbios, SM961, sli, Samsung, rx 480, radeon, podcast, My Passport Wireless Pro, msi, GTX 1080, evga, drobo, be quiet, asus, amd, 960 PRO

PC Perspective Podcast #405 - 06/23/2016

Join us this week as we discuss an AMD RX 480 hands-on, 32-core Zen rumors, the ASUS/MSI VBIOS scandal and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Kaspersky Labs!

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Josh Walrath

Program length: 1:33:07
  1. Week in Review:
  2. This episode is sponsored by Kaspersky Labs!
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Allyn: devCalc Pro - Engineering Mode calculator for iOS
  5. Closing/outro

Drobo Updates 5D to Turbo Edition 5Dt

Subject: Storage | June 21, 2016 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, Thunderbolt 2, raid, hdd, drobo, DAS, BeyondRAID, 5Dt, 5D

Today Drobo updated their 5D, shifting to Thunderbolt 2, an included mSATA caching SSD, and faster internals:


The new 5Dt (t for Turbo Edition) builds on the strengths of the 5D, which launched three years ago. The distinguishing features remain the same, as this is still a 5-bay model with USB 3.0, but the processor has been upgraded, as well as the USB 3.0 chipset, which was a bit finicky with some earlier implementations of the technology.


The changes present themselves at the rear, as we now have a pair of Thunderbolt 2 (20 Gb/s) ports which support display pass-through (up to 4k). Rates speeds climb to 540 MB/s read and 250 MB/s write when using HDDs. SSDs bump those figures up to 545 / 285 MB/s, respectively.


Another feature that has remained was their Hot Data Cache technology, but while the mSATA part was optional on the 5D, a 128GB unit comes standard and pre-installed on the 5Dt.

The Drobo 5Dt is available today starting at $899. That price is a premium over the 5D, but the increased performance specs, included SSD, and Thunderbolt connectivity come at a price.


The current (updated) Drobo product lineup.

Full press blast after the break.


DroboAccess Enables SSL Encrypted Remote File Access for Drobo 5N and B810n

Subject: Storage | April 19, 2016 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: SSL, remote access, NAS, DroboAccess, drobo, B810n, 5N

We are currently testing a round of Drobos here at PC Perspective, and Drobo recently rolled out a new feature that I thought would be better written up as a quick news post. This is a remote access feature that applies to the NAS-style models, specifically the 5N and B810n, and leverages the Drobo Apps capabilities of these devices. If you are a current 5N or B810n owner, you can update your Dashboard application and firmware to unlock this newly announced ‘DroboAccess’ feature.


DroboAccess falls under the ‘myDrobo’ category of Drobo Apps. These are apps developed and supported by Drobo (as opposed to coming from a third party). With Drobo more involved in the end-to-end aspect of this process, they were able to work some additional magic into their implementation:

Drobo Access-42-.png

After a Drobo owner registers their device, they can install any/all of the supported apps (DroboAccess, Koken, and Wordpress). Upon registering, each app prompts for a public URL (a subdomain of .mydrobo.com). Drobo handles the behind-the-scenes registration of a 2k SSL certificate which is installed in the chain, which means that any browser access to the new subdomain is over an SSL (HTTPS) end-to-end encrypted connection. Drobo has set up a relay server that manages incoming internet connections to the 5N or B810n. Home NAT routers are not an issue as the device running the app maintains an outbound link to the same relay server. This eliminates any custom router configurations / port forwarding necessary on the user-side of things, and that free SSL cert keeps prying eyes out of the data coming across the wire. I stepped through this process myself and it was about as simple and seamless as it could possibly be. Once set up, I could browse to (chosen subdomain).mydrobo.com from any internet-connected browser and see the files on the B810n:

Drobo Access-45-.png

The interface is similar to what you’d see from other remote access apps (Dropbox, etc). There is also an iPhone and Android app available, but Drobo has chosen to charge $0.99 for this app - an odd choice given the vast majority of remote file access companion apps are free downloads. I spent some time with the iOS app and while functional, I found it a bit clunky in its current form. As an example, sending a photo to DroboAccess from the iOS Share Menu gave an ‘Upload to’ prompt with no ability to choose a destination folder (images were simply dumped in the root, which is *not* mountable on the local network - only subdirectories of root are mountable on the LAN). This means that you would have to log into the Drobo via web browser to access those uploads and move them to shares so they would be visible to local SMB-connected machines.


In testing browser access, I discovered a few more issues:

  • The data throughput rate appears to be capped at 8 Mbps by the myDrobo relay server.
  • Downloading files >2GB failed silently, resulting in a 0-byte file placed on the host.

…so while things are a bit rough around the edges right now, the setup was quick and painless, which was Drobos initial goal for this feature roll out. We’ve fed back our findings thus far, and I suspect the other parts should receive more polish and tweaking over the coming weeks. I’ve include Drobo’s press blast for DroboAccess after the break.

Source: Drobo

Drobo Launches B810i 8-Bay Dual iSCSI SAN

Subject: Storage | February 23, 2016 - 08:05 AM |
Tagged: DroboPro, drobo, B810i, B800i

Today Drobo (makers of the original DroboPro and newer Drobo 4-bay Gen3) have launched an update to their B800i iSCSI SAN device:


The B810i comes with several improvements over preceding products in the line:

  • Performance
    • 180MB/s reads / 110 MB/s writes (across a pair of iSCSI enabled Gigabit Ethernet ports).
  • New 64TB max volume size
    • Drobos previously were limited by a 16TB maximum volume size, meaning that additional volumes were required to fully utilize >16TB of HDD storage present.
    • This volume size is being backported to some of the previous Drobo models, first with the 5D and most recently the 5N.
  • Data Tiering
    • SSDs installed as part of the array are automatically assigned to caching duties.
    • Cache performance is claimed 5-10x faster than the 'cold' HDD tier.
  • Cache Pre-heat
    • Metadata describing the contents / duplicated data in the cache is also saved to the array, meaning the cache can survive a reboot of the device.
  • Accelerated self-healing
    • Drobo claims rebuilds are now 8x faster. This is due to increased parallelism taking place during that process.
    • This is in addition to Drobo rebuilds that have only ever needed to re-duplicate the data present (and not all disks front to back as with traditional RAID).
  • BeyondRAID

Along with this launch, Drobo is running a promotion where sales by 4/30/2016 will receive two free 2TB HDDs as part of the $1699 purchase of a B810i.

The B810i replaces the B800i in the current Drobo lineup:


We're working on a round of NAS / SAN pieces here...


...along with an ioSafe 1515+, which would have collapsed the desk if I had it tried to fit it into this picture. That 75 lb beast will have to stay on the floor :).

Source: Drobo

Podcast #331 - Hardware Picks of the Year, Acer's 1080p G-SYNC Display, a new Drobo and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2014 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: video, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, Lian Li, LG, Intel, gigabyte, g-sync, freesync, drobo, bitfenix, asus, amd, acer, 850 EVO

PC Perspective Podcast #331 - 12/31/2014

Join us this week as we discuss our Hardware Picks of the Year, Acer's 1080p G-SYNC Display, a new Drobo and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:54:53

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
      1. Ken is an idiot, don't try to use the Hyper 212 Evo in the Air 240.
  2. News items of interest:
  3. PC Perspective Hardware Picks of the Year
    1. Graphics Card of 2014
      1. GTX 980
      2. Winner: GTX 970
      3. R9 285
      4. GTX TITAN Z (lulz)
      5. R9 295 X2
      6. Runner-up: GTX 750 Ti
    2. CPU of 2014
      1. Winner: Core i7-4790K
      2. Pentium G3258
      3. Core i7-5960X
      4. Core M 5Y70 (Broadwell-Y)
      5. AMD AM1 Athlon 5350
      6. AMD A8-7600 Kaveri APU
      7. Tegra K1
      8. Runner-up: Athlon X4 860K
    3. Storage of 2014
      1. Samsung 850 Pro
      2. Winner: Samsung 850 EVO
      3. Crucial MX100
      4. Runner-up: Intel P3700
      5. 6TB HDDs
      6. Intel SSD 730 Series
      7. Silicon Motion SM2246EN (Force LX, Angelbird ssd wrk, Adata 610)
    4. Case of 2014
      1. Winner: NCASE M1
      2. Runner-up: Corsair Carbide Air 240
      3. Fractal Design Define R5
      4. SilverStone Raven RVZ01
      5. PHT Ultra Low-Profile HTPC Case
    5. Motherboard of 2014
      1. Runner-up: ASUS Crossblade Ranger FM2+
      2. ASUS Z97 Deluxe
      3. Gigabyte Z97X Gaming G1 Black Edition
      4. X99 Deluxe
      5. Winner: Z97 Maximus VII Formula
    6. Price Drop of 2014
      1. Winner: AMD R9 290X/290
      2. R9 295 X2
      3. Good Displays
      4. GTX Titan Z (lulz)
      5. Runner-up: SSDs (again)
      6. Gasoline
    7. Best Trend of 2014
      1. Variable Refresh Rate Monitors / Tear-free Gaming
      2. Smart Watches
      3. Runner-up: PCIe/NVMe storage
      4. Gigabit Internet
      5. Custom Watercooling
      6. Winner: 21:9 Monitors
    8. Worst Trend of 2014
      1. Smart Watches
      2. Locked GPU Voltages
      3. DDR4
      4. Winner: 840 Evo Performance Issues
      5. Runner-up: G-SYNC Monitor prices
      6. Curved Displays
      7. GPU Mining BitCoins
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!


Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Drobo


Drobo is frequently referred to as ‘the Apple of external storage products’. They got this name because their products go for the simplest possible out-of-the-box experience. Despite their simplicity, the BeyondRAID concept these units employ remains extremely robust and highly resistant to data loss in even the most extreme cases of drive failures and data loss. I reviewed the DroboPro 8-bay unit over 5 years ago and was so impressed by it that I continue to use one to this day (and it has never lost data, despite occasional hard drive failures).

Over those past 5 years since our review of the DroboPro, Drobo (then known as Data Robotics) has also had a bit of an Apple story. Their original CEO started the company but was ousted by the board in late 2009. He then started Connected Data in 2011, quickly growing to the point where they merged with Drobo in 2013. This was not just a merger of companies, it was a merger of their respective products. The original Transporter was only a single drive unit, where Drobo’s tech supercharged that personal cloud capability to scale all the way up to corporate environments.

Many would say that for that period where their original CEO was absent, Drobo’s products turned more towards profitability, perhaps too soon for the company, as the products released during that period were less than stellar. We actually got a few of those Drobos in for review, but their performance was so inconsistent that we spent more time trying to figure out what was causing the issues than completing a review we could stand behind. With their founder back in the CEO chair, Drobo's path was turned back to its roots - making a good, fast, and low cost product for their customers. This was what they wanted to accomplish back in 2009, but in many ways the available tech was not up to speed yet. USB 2.0 was the fastest widely available standard, aside from iSCSI over Gigabit (but that was pricey to implement and appeared in the DroboPro). Nowadays things are very different. USB 3.0 controllers are vastly more compatible and faster than they used to be, as is SATA controller hardware and ARM microcontrollers. These developments would ultimately enable Drobo to introduce what they wanted to in the first place:


This is the third generation 4-Bay Drobo. The 4-Bay model is what started it all for them, but was a bit underpowered and limited to USB 2.0 speeds. The second gen unit launched mid 2008, adding FireWire as a faster connection option, but it was still slower than most would have liked given its $500 price tag. This third generation unit promises to change all of that.


USB is once again the only connectivity option, but this time it’s USB 3.0. There have previously been other 5-bay Drobos with this as an option (Drobo S, S gen 2, 5D, Mini), but many of those units saw compatibility issues with some USB 3.0 host controllers. We experienced some of these same frustrating incompatibilities first hand, and can confirm those frustrations. Drobo is putting that behind them with a revised chipset, and today we will put it all to the test.

Read on for our full review of the new Drobo!

Drobo 5D and Drobo Mini with Thunderbolt Available for Pre-order, Final Pricing Announced

Subject: Storage | July 25, 2012 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, redundant storage, drobo mini, drobo 5d, drobo

We covered the new Thunderbolt-equipped Drobo units last month, and they are looking like promising additions to the company’s lineup. Both Drobo units were slated for a July release, and they are right on track. You can now pre-order the Drobo 5D and Drobo Mini from a number of retailers including Amazon, NCIX, B&H Photo, and Tiger Direct among others.

For the uninitiated, the Drobo 5D is a five bay Drobo S with upgrades. It features USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt interfaces as well as an mSATA SSD to improve performance. Like the predecessor, it will accept standard 3.5-inch desktop drives. You can pre-order it now for $849.

The Drobo Mini on the other hand forgoes desktop drives to achieve a much smaller form-factor. It will accept up to four 2.5-inch laptop hard drives (or SSDs if you want crazy speeds). The Drobo Mini is further able to connect to your computer using either USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt. Like the Drobo 5D, it has an integrated mSATA port (not included). You can pre-order this little redundant storage system for $649.

You can find more information about the new Drobo products on the company’s website. The full press release is available here..

Source: Drobo