Drobo 5N2 NAS Review: Your 2024 Buyer‘s Guide

Hi there! As an IT professional who has evaluated countless NAS solutions over the years, I‘m excited to share my in-depth review to help guide your buying decision on the Drobo 5N2. This 5-bay desktop NAS continues to be a smart choice in 2024 for home users and small offices needing lots of storage capacity and smooth network performance.

In the following sections, we‘ll take an under-the-hood look at what gives the 5N2 its capabilities before measuring how it stacks up to alternatives on the market. I‘ll share key metrics and testing results that provide quantifiable insight into real-world use. Finally, I‘ll offer my candid advice on who can benefit most from the 5N2 along with where it falls short compared to more powerful Drobo NAS.

Let‘s dive in!

What is the Drobo 5N2? Overview of Capabilities

The Drobo 5N2 sits in the sweet spot between basic consumer-grade NAS devices and rack-mounted enterprise storage systems. Key attributes make it well-suited to intensive media storage and backup applications:

  • Powerful Quad-Core Processor: Provides smooth 4K streaming, quick backups & fast file transfers
  • BeyondRAID Data Protection: Drobo‘s smart RAID alternative guards against drive failures and maximizes total capacity
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet: Link aggregation boosts max speeds above 200 MB/s so multiple users can access data quickly
  • Accelerator Bay for mSATA SSD: Hot file caching drastically improves access times compared to HDDs alone

With the ability to hold up to five 3.5" SATA hard drives plus an SSD for caching, the compact Drobo 5N2 delivers speed, capacity, and connectivity on par with NAS costing hundreds more. It‘s ideal if you have lots of photos, videos, or large files that multiple people need to access from around your home or office network.

Next, let‘s open the hood to see what kind of horsepower the 5N2 is packing…

Drobo 5N2 Hardware & Specifications Deep Dive

The Drobo 5N2 runs circles around generic external hard drive enclosures thanks to its quality components and clever engineering:

Robust Marvell Processor
: Multi-core muscle crucial for simultaneously streaming media, running apps, and transferring files across the network without lag

Abundant Connectivity
: Two Gigabit Ethernet ports allow connecting to multiple networks with the option to double bandwidth via bonding

Ample Memory
: 2 GB of DDR3 keeps the OS and apps running smoothly during intense activity

Let‘s see how the 5N2 measures up spec-for-spec to other 5-bay NAS systems:

SpecificationsDrobo 5N2Synology DS1520+QNAP TS-453D
CPUMarvell Armada, Quad 1.6 GHzIntel Celeron, Quad 2.0 GHzAMD Quad 2.0 GHz
Memory2 GB4 GB2 GB
Drive Bays5 x 3.5” SATA HDD5 x 3.5” SATA HDD4 x 3.5” SATA/SATA SSD
M.2 SSD CacheYes (SATA)NoYes (NVMe)
Max Capacity~64 TB~150 TB~56 TB
RAID TypesBeyondRAIDSynology Hybrid, SHRSingle Disk, JBOD, 0/1/5/6/10
Network Ports2 x 1 GbE2 x 1 GbE2 x 1 GbE

The quad-core Marvell Armada XP processor holds its own against rivals, keeping the 5N2 feeling fast. All three systems have enough RAM to comfortably support 20+ users without choking. For directly attached storage, the 5N2 excels with support for much larger SATA hard drives up to 16TB each.

Let‘s shift gears to exploring how these impressive specs translate to real-life speed and responsiveness.

Performance Benchmarks & Speed Tests

According to independent testing from trusted third-parties like NASCompares and StorageReview, the 5N2 demonstrates excellent throughput speeds:


| Performance Benchmark |

Drobo 5N2

| DS1520+ | TS-453D |
| Max Read Speed | 201.6 MB/s | 224 MB/s | 251 MB/s
| Max Write Speed | 118.3 MB/s| 189 MB/s| 217 MB/s


These figures indicate the 5N2 keeps pace with advanced rivals nearly twice the price when reading files across the network thanks to link aggregation on its dual Ethernet ports effectively doubling throughput.

Real-world testing confirms the Drobo handles 4K video streaming, large file backups, and general access speedily. Compared to a basic single-bay NAS, the 5N2 feels exponentially quicker thanks to its powerful quad-core chip. If equipped with an mSATA SSD for caching, everyday tasks feel especially snappy.

In summary, performance won‘t be your bottleneck with smooth sailing ahead for media streaming, Time Machine backups, or working in Lightroom. Next let‘s explore which usage scenarios are best suited to the capabilities of the 5N2.

Ideal Use Cases for the Drobo 5N2 NAS

With its balance of strong data protection, expandable storage, and hassle-free management, the Drobo 5N2 earns top marks for:

Personal Media Server
: Thanks to smooth 4K streaming and an intuitive interface via apps like Plex, the 5N2 makes an ideal hub for centralizing all your movies, music, and photos.

Small Business Shared Storage
: Link aggregation provides growing teams speedy access to files without forklifting in an enterprise SAN.

Prosumer Photo Backup
: Ensure huge Lightroom libraries are safe from disasters with ample capacity and advanced BeyondRAID protection.

Essentially, the 5N2 fits the bill for settings requiring NAS-level performance, capacity, or availability versus basic external drives. Next let‘s cover the best deals available if you‘re ready to take the plunge!

Where to Buy the Drobo 5N2 NAS

The Drobo 5N2 launched with a list price around $950 but routinely goes on sale:

{{}}Drobo 5N2 NAS 8TB Bundle{{}}

For the best value, I recommend choosing a diskless unit then purchasing compatible hard drives like WD Red or Seagate IronWolf models specifically engineered for 24/7 operation.

With the 5N2 hardware plus five quality NAS-optimized 4TB hard drives, you can build a robust 20TB NAS system for under $900 if you catch a good sale. That‘s just pennies per gig — an tremendous value!

The Final Verdict: Who Should Buy the Drobo 5N2?

The Drobo 5N2 earns a strong buy recommendation for home media buffs or remote workers needing a responsive network storage hub. If you handle lots of large files, this versatile NAS delivers the uptime and capacity needed for smooth streaming and quick backups.

Compared to fully-fledged rack servers, the 5N2 lacks compute capabilities for hosting virtual machines or databases. Lacking 10GbE connectivity or SSD caching also places a ceiling on performance for extremely demanding environments.

Nonetheless, I rank the Drobo 5N2 among the top five-bay NAS systems on the market in 2024 based on:

✓ Cost per TB value proposition
✓ Real-world speed sufficient for typical SMB workloads
✓ Data protection and resilience equivalent to RAID 5/6
✓ Drobo‘s legendary ease-of-use

If 8+ bays or pure SSD storage better fits your workload, consider upgrading to one of Drobo‘s premium business-oriented models. Otherwise, putting the 5N2 at the center of your home or small office network earns my seal of approval. Feel free to reach out below with any other questions!

[Your Name] IT Infrastructure Specialist

What Does the Future Look Like for the Drobo 5N2?

Given the 5N2’s 2017 release date, some may wonder if it’s still a smart investment going into the future. While a newly updated SMB NAS may eventually succeed it, I expect the 5N2 to remain well-supported and technologically relevant for at least 3-5 more years.

My industry experience tracking Drobo firmware updates gives me confidence they will extend the lifespan of existing hardware with regular performance optimizations, compatibility updates, and new features. We can count on improvements like:

  • Faster processors or networking as prices drop, allowing simple board swaps
  • Support for larger 20TB+ hard drives hitting the mainstream
  • Expanded OS, hypervisor, Docker, and protocol support
  • More apps and 3rd party integrations with smart home ecosystems

Absent any major hardware flaws, the 5N2 benefits from Drobo’s focus on ease-of-use over pushing users to upgrade at the first sign of age. Only when capacity or interface ceiling are reached would a successor likely emerge.

If the unthinkable happens and Drobo folded, this NS complies with industry standards, meaning drives could be migrated to another chassis. So you can invest worry-free!

Related Reading to Take Your NAS Knowledge Further

If this review helped demystify buying NAS storage, be sure to check my similar guides to picking the right gear:

WD My Cloud vs My Book Live: Which Personal Cloud is Best in 2022?

Asustor vs QNAP NAS : How To Pick the Best Brand for Your Needs

SSD vs HDD Lifespan: How Long Do They Really Last?

Frequently Asked NAS Newbie Questions

Here are answers to some common questions for those new to buying networked storage:

What is the difference between a NAS and a DAS?

A direct attached storage (DAS) device like the Drobo 5D3 connects directly to a computer as a massive external drive rather just your network. This allows faster speeds but it can only be accessed by a single machine at once.

What does BeyondRAID do vs a normal RAID?

BeyondRAID automatically distributes and protects files across disks without needing to pick RAID levels. If a drive fails, just swap it out without lengthy rebuilds. Overall capacity also grows as you mix-and-match drives.

Will the Drobo 5N2 work with Mac, Windows, and Linux?

Absolutely! Centralized protocols like SMB, AFP, NFS fully support all major operating systems for true cross-platform file sharing.

What steps should I take to migrate data to the 5N2?

I advise using the freeware CBL Data Migration app if moving data from another NAS or external drive. It makes transferring terabytes of data easy with block-level synchronization!

I hope this Drobo 5N2 review has you feeling 100% confident in choosing the right NAS! Let me know if any other questions pop up.

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