Jump to content
RESET Forums (homeservershow.com)
  • One of hot topics of recent was the release of the new Lian-Li EX-503B which in essence, is a multi-drive external storage box.  Realizing that many people including me are looking for different solutions to back up their servers, I was very intrigued by this particular device.  Why you ask, well, several reasons.  For starters it sported a USB 3.0 port, supported all types of RAID (0,1,5,10, JBOD, port replication, and held 5 drives.  So the next obvious question is: Is this a Drobo killer?  The short answer is not really, as this is really a completely different product.  To clarify, let me try and differentiate the two products and then we can get into how good this unit is.


    P1010736  P1010748








    P1010744   P1010747




    EX-503B vs Drobo


    Although we all want to compare the two, the truth is they are after different segments of the market.  I believe the Drobo is aimed at a total, do all, be all, storage solution where as the EX-503 wants to be your storage expansion and wants to do it well.  The major differences between these two devices is the Drobo gives you a ton of software, built in utilities, gives you flexible expansion, but it does it a price.  That price is not only dollars but speed.  In the other corner, you have a device like the EX-503B which does not offer utilities, not much in software except to setup the RAID, limited expandability, but it offers it as a much lower cost and performance that is unrivaled from any external unit or NAS I have ever seen.  In short, it does not try to be an all in one solution but rather offers us a way to expand our storage or backup our systems, and it does that extremely well.






    This device has one purpose in life and that is to expand your storage and do it without a performance penalty.  The way I view this box is for those who need to store or backup large amounts of data and want to do without giving up the performance.  I believe this is the ideal box to attach to a server for backing up or synching large amounts of data quickly and cost effectively.  Make no mistake, it will not offer you the software suite of something like the Drobo or Synology, which in most cases is not needed in a WHS backup application, but what it will offer you is a place to backup your WHS data either locally or to remove to an offsite backup location, and it will do it faster than any other solution I have ever seen.


    The Box


    The first you notice when you pull it out of the box is that the construction of this device is unmistakably Lian-li.  The brushed aluminum finish and esthetics of the unit are outstanding with excellent attention to detail.  When you open the drive door you can quickly see that this thing was designed to keep things cool not only for the hard drives, but the overall unit as well as the built in controller.  When you look inside you see the 140mm fan which is positioned directly behind the hard drives themselves.  When you power on the unit, the air flow is stellar with enough air moving to handle even the hottest Caviar Black drives which great spacing for air flow in between drives.  As you would expect, the fan is almost silent despite moving a ton of air.






    To insert drives you do have to mount them in a bracket first.  I would have liked it better if they made it completely tool-less, however considering the market this playing in and that you could be moving this unit around, is probably not a show stopper.  Once inserted, the drives are locked in place by a small plastic slider clip which securely keeps drives from sliding out which helps as you toss this in your car and move it offsite.






    There are two ways of setting up your storage box.  The first is using their software which is no more than a JMicron utility that lets you configure the box with the drive/RAID configuration you need.  The software is very easy and straightforward but as I mentioned earlier, very limited.  It does RAID setup and it it does it well.  It will not however, support RAID expansion.  Depending on what you are using this for, that may or may not be a problem.  For me it was a non issue as I am using this for backup so if I needed to expand it, I could just pull out the drives, install larger drives, and rebuild the backup as I do not plan on using this as primary storage, after all, we are the home server community.  If you have an existing array of say 3 drives, you will need to either create a separate array or you delete the array and rebuild it with 5 drives.  This is not unique to this product and affects most of the products in the market segment.  What was interesting is that the array was built in about 8 secs with three drives.  I ran some speed tests, copied data to it, then I deleted the array, added two more drives, and recreated the array again it was ready to go in about 10 secs.  Pretty impressive for building an array.  As a side note, the software can be installed on any computer and once the unit has been configured it can be moved anywhere so you do not have to worry about installing stuff on your server.


    Also, if you do not want to install software at all or if for some reason you cannot install the software, there is a switch in the back that lets you set the drive configuration that you want.  After setting the desired configuration, pressing and holding the “activate” switch for 15 secs build and creates that array.




    JMicron 1  JMicron 2


    Hardware Switch




    Back Panel-Book 


    Lian-Li back Panel


    USB 3.0 Performance


    One of the things that concerned me most when I first heard about this unit, is, would it perform.  I have tried and seen many of these storage boxes only to be disappointed with sub-standard performance.  I have no interest in spending money on a device that gets 10-15 megs/sec.  If I was going to use this box as expanded storage for my home server, than I wanted some real performance especially since it was on a USB 3 interface.  I am certainly happy to report that this device did not disappoint in terms of performance.  It exceeded my expectations for a device like this and rivaled the performance of most servers.  Transfers over the network were constant at ~104 Megs/sec with peaks of 115.  Transfer within the local machine appeared to be limited only by the machines ability to write and hovered between constantly above 100 Megs/sec.  As you can see from the benchmarks, write performance rivals some SSDs.  Overall, the performance of this device is stellar and in terms of server expansion, it is really the perfect match.  It is roughly 3-8x faster than NAS boxes such as the D-Link unit, Synology, or Drobo, and approximately 20-80% faster than USB 3 standalone drives.


    Lianli atto  lian-li 8T ATTO






    In short, this is a great device for the right application and the form and finish is stellar.  This unit is certainly not for everyone.  If you need a suite of utilities, direct network attachment, and a more robust drive expandability than you should not get this box.  If however you are looking for expanded storage or server backup, than look no further.  This unit will not disappoint.  If you believe what they claim on their website, it will accept drives up to 6T each so it should be a bit future proof.  When 3T drives become a bit more affordable, this will be a great match and give you 12T of storage/backup in a small form factor.




    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Can i ask? Your onboard raid 5 with same drives is getting R/W around? if different wonder why? might be good podccast fodder :)
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Im using one of these at the moment. I have whsv1 virtualized using esxi (in a pc-q08b) and this box attached as direct storage. Whs can see the individual drives and can add them to the pool, without installing any software. Main issue is that ESXi 4.1 only supports usb2 so it can be a little bit slow sometimes. vSphere5 will fix this as it is supposedly going to support usb3 devices :)
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    thanks so much for the writeup pcdoc. As I said elsewhere, I'm very interested in this box as it appears to be the thing I've been searching for for several years now. If only we could actually get some. I think I'm looking at getting 2 of them. And while it may not be a Drobo Killer for some, for me it really is, because Drobo was just about the only other box that seems to do what I'm looking for.
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Hi Fredload, Are you in the US? if yes you can call Ascent Technologies at 732-906-8080, This is the company I just ordered mine from and I got it in one day, I have been told they are the east coast dist and also supply FrozenCPU with this product. If you want to order from FrozenCPU I have been told they will have some very soon. Hope this helps,
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now

  • Our picks

    • RT6600ax tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router   Provide ultrafast and secure wireless connectivity to your home or office with support for the expanded 5.9 GHz spectrum,* combined wireless throughput of 6.6 Gbps, and a secure network infrastructure backed by the intuitive Synology Router Manager (SRM).
        • Like
      • 6 replies
    • I throw this out every once in a while.  Is anyone interested in writing up "semi-formal" reviews here on the forums?  I say semi-formal because they don't have to be pro level, just a good attempt at telling the story about the gear.  Something you have purchased lately.  You don't have to go buy stuff, just incorporate what you have already have purchased.  Hit me up with any questions.  You never know where it will lead!
        • Like
      • 5 replies
    • D-Link has dropped a couple of new products and additions to their lineup of smart home gear.  Hold on because there is a lot of gear!
      Let's start with cameras.  D-Link has new Wi-Fi cameras, the Full HD Pan and Tilt Pro Wi-Fi Camera (DCS-8302LH) and Full HD Indoor and Outdoor Pro Wi-Fi Camera (DCS-8526LH).  These are not just new, and good looking cams, they can now perform people detection and glass break detection.  The new cameras also feature expanded ways for customers to save video, including ONVIF Profile S, which enables custom storage and streaming options to personal NAS devices, built-in storage microSD capacity up to 256 GB, as well as free and paid cloud storage options. 

      This year's camera models include both an indoor and an outdoor model. The outdoor model features a spotlight and siren that can be triggered when motion is detected, deterring potential intruders. The indoor model pans around to give a full 360-degree view of any room and tracks motion. Both include two-way audio. 
      Full HD Pan and Tilt Pro Wi-Fi Camera is the model (DCS-8302LH), available in Q2, 2020, and retail pricing will be $99.99.
      Full HD Indoor and Outdoor Pro Wi-Fi Camera is the model (DCS-8526LH), available in Q3, 2020, and retail pricing will be $119.99.
      One of my favorite products is Wi-Fi.  D-Link has a whole lot of new products coming including Wi-Fi 6, Mesh, Alexa and Google Assistant integration, IFTTT, Parental Controls, and more!

      There are so many new SKU's that I can't make heads or tails of them!  I'm going to be speaking with D-Link more this week and will sort all of these out. I do want you to see all they are offering and what the release date and projected retail pricing will be.

      AC1900 Scalable Mesh Wi-Fi Router (COVR-1900-US), Q1 2020, $119.99
      AC1750 Mesh Wi-Fi Router (DIR-1750-US), Q1 2020, $99.99
      AC1900 Mesh Wi-Fi Router (DIR-1950-US), Q1 2020, $119.99
      AC1750 Mesh Wi-Fi Range Extender (DAP-1755-US), Q1 2020, $99.99
      AC1950 Mesh Wi-Fi Range Extender (DAP-1955-US), Q1 2020, $109.99
      Smart AX1500 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X1560-US), Q1 2020, $119.99
      Smart AX1800 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X1870-US), Q2 2020, $139.99
      Smart AX2400 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X2460-US), Q3 2020, $159.99
      Smart AX5400 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X5460-US), Q1 2020, $279.99
      AX1800 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender (DAP-X1870-US), Q2 2020, $129.99
      AX1800 Whole Home Mesh System (COVR-X1872-US), QX22020, $269.99
        • Like
      • 0 replies
    • RESET Merch Shop
      Get ya Merch here!  I've created a T-Shirt shop with the famous RESET paperclip. I've pasted that clip on just about everything so you can wear it around town!  Cable bags, Coffee Mugs, T-Shirts, and more. 
      or you can get it it via
      Here is the main design.

      Below is a part of the order that I put in!  

      The Heather Grey above is the Extra Soft version and it is awesome.  I highly recommend the softness!    The "Chili Red" is the Tri-Blend and probably my favorite feel and color.

      This is the Zip-Up Hoody, Heather Indigo, Sponge Fleece, Men's, Large.  In my podcast I couldn't remember what style it was but it is Sponge Fleece. It's REALLY soft on the inside. Soft outside as well. The only problem is with the zip up hoody the logo is on the back. Regular hoody, it will be on the front.
      or you can get it it via
      Thank you for supporting this community. Everything you purchase will help keep the lights on the hard drives spinning.
      • 0 replies
    • OneDrive Personal Vault and expandable storage
      Microsoft's OneDrive has a few new features and options worth pointing out.  Personal Vault and Expandable Storage.
      Personal Vault is a protected area in OneDrive that can only be accessed with a strong authentication method or a second step of identity verification, such as your fingerprint, face, PIN, or a code sent to you via email or SMS. 
      Personal Vault gives you an added layer of protection for your most important files, photos, and videos—for example, copies of documents such as your passport, driver’s license, or insurance information—should someone gain access to your account or device.
      Plus, this added security won’t slow you down. You can quickly access your important documents, photos, and files with confidence wherever you are, on your PC, OneDrive.com, or your mobile device.

      Beyond a second layer of identity verification, Personal Vault also includes the following security measures:
      Scan and shoot—Using the OneDrive app, you can scan documents or shoot photos directly into your Personal Vault, keeping them off less secure areas of your device, like your camera roll.
      Automatic locking—No need to worry about whether you left your Personal Vault or your files open—both will close and lock automatically after a period of inactivity.
      BitLocker encryption—On Windows 10 PCs, OneDrive automatically syncs your Personal Vault files to a BitLocker-encrypted area of your local hard drive.
      Restricted sharing—To prevent accidental sharing, files in Personal Vault and shared items moved into Personal Vault cannot be shared.
      Taken together, these security measures help ensure that Personal Vault files are not stored unprotected on your PC, and your files have additional protection, even if your Windows 10 PC or mobile device is lost, stolen, or someone gains access to it or to your account.
      Expandable Storage
      If you are and Office 365 Subscriber you get 1 TB of OneDrive storage space with all the other Office goodies like Word, Excel, etc.  I know personally that I have gone over the 1TB limit and have always wanted to be able to add additional storage to my account.  Now you can!

      Pick and option and keep on hoarding, errr, I mean saving! Cancel anytime, upgrade at any moment.
      • 2 replies
  • Create New...