Drobo Mini

Drobo has been around for awhile in the consumer/enterprise RAID game.  With traditional RAID setups, it is [ideally] necessary to keep drives in an array of the same manufacturer, same spindle speed, and same capacity in order to function properly.  The Drobo technology allows for the mixing and matching of hard drives in a single array to form a single logical drive.  For me, this is intriguing because it provides a platform to give old hard drives new life.  With my new computer setup, I needed a backup drive for music recording.  I had a couple old 2.5" laptop hard drives sitting around from previous laptop upgrades and decided to give these a spin (pun not intended hehe) in the Drobo Mini.  The Drobo mini is a 4-bay 2.5" disk enclosure with thunderbolt and USB 3.0 ports that allows you to insert 1 to 4 2.5" laptop size hard drives and form a "mini" (in form factor) RAID array.  When I received mine, I followed the instructions on the box and inserted a 160 GB drive, a 320 GB Drive, and a 500 GB drive.  After downloading the Drobo dashboard software and plugging in the power supply and thunderbolt cable (all of which is supplied....hooray for manufacturers supplying their products WITH thunderbolt cables) with my 2013 Mac Pro, I had everything formatted and up and running in about 5 minutes.  Everything was pretty straightforward and the Drobo dashboard has a pretty nice layout...also displays all the information about each of your drives individually etc etc.  As a nerd and LED lighting enthusiast, it has a really cool lighting scheme on the front and the build quality seems excellent.  The only weird thing was after plugging in the power cord, it requires a twist (kinda odd), and I haven't quite gotten a hold of the power button (do you press it or hold it?).  Otherwise so far so good.  The other downside...doing a 5gb stress test with the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, it was only clocking in at ~100mb/s read/write.  This is MUCH slower than my thunderbolt Promise Pegasus R4 (version 1, RAID 5...~500mb/s read/write) and slower than my eSATA Sans Digital box (RAID 10, ~200-300mb/s read/write).  My previous post containing specific details about my other RAID storage arrays can be found here.  I'm not 100% sure what RAID level the Drobo initially formatted (I think I was doing RAID 5...or at least that's what I wanted) but I may have to look into this further with the Drobo Dashboard software.  I imagine that having a software-based RAID setup with mixing and matching, you pay the price with speed.  I've also read that even though it has Thunderbolt (TB 1) AND USB 3.0 ports, it functions as a TB OR USB drive.  You can't use both ports simultaneously.  Minor thing in my mind but some people have complained about it online.  In summary, so far the Drobo Mini does what it's supposed to, has nice build quality, and is user friendly....albeit slow when it comes to transfer speeds. I bought my Drobo Mini here.

Disclaimer:  I’m not endorsed by any companies or websites mentioned herein.  All equipment was purchased by me personally and I received no compensation from anyone for writing this post.


For the past year, I have been shooting primarily with a Nikon D800e and a Hasselblad H4D-40.  Both of these cameras are relatively high megapixel cameras (36 and 40 respectively) and allow for large beautiful prints.  The "problem" with making large prints is not only are they expensive, but imperfections in the source image become more apparent.  You also start thinking more critically about brightness and color as you spend more money on larger prints (for yourself of for clients).  

I've always liked the Cinema Displays from Apple.  I have two older 20" Cinema Displays, one 24" LED Cinema display, and one 27" Thunderbolt Display (NOT to be confused with the 27" Cinema display, which connects via mini-display port ant lacks thunderbolt).  The monitors themselves look sharp from a form factor perspective and always display rich, vivid, colors.  There are a couple issues I have with them though.  Lately my issues with them are growing and growing.  First, they are expensive.  Second, they lack modern connectivity.  The Thunderbolt display does in fact have a thunderbolt port which is nice (and I believe at the time of writing is the only thunderbolt monitor on the market....LG announced one at CES back in January but it has not been released yet) and allows for the monitor to function as a dock so to speak, but the inclusion of USB 2.0 ports vs USB 3.0 ports is ridiculous.  Third, I always find that they have a slightly yellow/greenish tint to them.  The 24" Cinema Display I have I even had Apple replace the display because of the tint issue at a cost of >$600 (thankfully it was under Applecare and I didn't pay a dime).  Last, they are very reflective...I find it hard to do some things in lab with my 24" because of how reflective they are.  

For all of the above reasons I looked into different monitors for my new 2013 Mac Pro.  I wanted wide color gamut monitors with a matte display and even backlighting that were amenable to calibration.  I found two that really peaked my interest: the NEC PA272-BK-SV and the Eizo CG277.  In the end I went with the NEC simply because it was cheaper (and on sale when I bought it...the Eizo is BRAND new but I expect prices to come down in the future).  Unlike the Eizo, it has an external calibration sensor (basically an NEC-branded X-Rite i1display pro from what I can tell), but otherwise shares similar specs.  So far I really like the monitor.  It plugs in to the Mac Pro with a [supplied] mini-display port to display port cable (mini-display port plugs in to thunderbolt port on mac, display port plugs in to monitor).  After plugging it in, installing the supplied SpectraView II software, and plugging in the [supplied] colorimeter, I had it up and running and calibrated in about 5 mins.  Very quick and painless.  So far I'm a big fan!  I was hoping I could use the supplied software and colorimeter to also calibrate my other displays, but unfortunately only certain NEC displays are supported (minor bummer).  The only other downside is that I imagine I will have to run a USB cable from the monitor to the computer if I want to use any of the USB ports (also USB 2.0 unfortunately) on the monitor itself.  I will amend my thoughts in the future if I experience any issues.  

I bought my NEC monitor here

Disclaimer:  I'm not endorsed by any companies or websites mentioned herein.  All equipment was purchased by me personally and I received no compensation from anyone for writing this post.  

HighPoint RocketStor

Not going to lie, I'm a big fan of hard drive docks.  Having something I can simply plug naked drives (2.5" or 3.5") into for copying files, making bootable clones, etc without having to deal with a bunch of individual enclosures is great.  Even though I love my 2013 Mac Pro so far, the form factor also means you're going to have to be using lots of external storage.  I recently came across one thunderbolt dock solution that I thought I'd give a try: the HighPoint RocketStor.  It is a dual-drive (accepts 2.5" or 3.5") hard drive dock that connects to the computer via a single thunderbolt (thunderbolt 1) connection.  I picked up one of these guys for music recording.  I bought two SSD drives to use with it.  Samsung 840 SSDs have been on sale lately, so I picked up a 120gb version (for storage of audio samples) and a 500gb version (for storage of audio files during recording).  Both drives mounted like they should in the dock, the dock turns on when the computer turns on, and the dock turns off when the computer turns off.  Using the Blackmagic disk speed test, I'm getting ~500mb/s read/write times from both drives out of the dock with a 5gb stress test.  Looks perfect for my needs....so far, so good.


Works exactly like it should


Expensive compared to USB 3 docks

Feels a little cheap and plasticky 

Only one single thunderbolt port (must be plugged in at the end of a thunderbolt chain)

I bought my dock here.  Hard drives here and here.  

Disclaimer: I am no way endorsed by any of the companies or websites mentioned in this post.  All equipment was purchased by myself and I did not receive any compensation for writing this post.