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ADK 5500 Workstation

System optimized for DV, HD editing By John Virata

ADK Systems, out of Alexandria, Kentucky is a specialist system builder that started out with DAWs and later added digital video editing, gaming and other systems to its complement of offerings. The company recently sent a new system for review targeted at video editors. With ample storage (8+1 hard drives in a single enclosure) and Intel dual Quad Core 1.86GHz Xeon CPUs. Housed on a Supermicro X7DAL E motherboard, this machine is ideal for those working with DV, HDV, and HD media. The beauty with going with specialist system integrators is the fact that they concentrate on building systems for specific tasks, in this case video editing, and they know the ins and outs of their systems and the software that runs on them, tweaking their systems for optimal performance.

Top tier vendors tend to have general specialists selling you a system either over the phone or the Internet, and don't necessarily know the applications that you are going to load on the system, though they'll be happy to sell you a seat. So do the smaller systems integrators serve their customers better than the big system builders? Maybe, and Maybe not. Smaller system builders should be focused on customer service because that is what the bigger companies oftentimes lack. They can't compete on economies of scale, and if they anger their customer, the customer will take their business elsewhere. With that being said, let's take a look at the latest machine ADK has sent to check out.

Front view

The ADK 5500 system is a loaded for bear, Windows XP Professional-based content creation behemoth that is well put together and is as fast as most of the other latest systems (as of 12/2006) that DMN has tested. It features ample storage capacity with room for nine hard drives inside. Although not a pretty thing to look at, it is pretty imposing, weighs a ton (at least 75+ lbs) and is all business black. It is a machine that is built for speed. To keep everything cool inside the Chenbro SR107 case, ADK has placed no less than five user controllable fans inside the system case, not including the power supply fan.

Fan control

The fans are Delta Electronics brushless models, each tool-less design models that enable you to remove them for cleaning fairly easily. One is located in the rear, right above the six memory banks (four of which are filled with 1GB memory modules) to exhaust heat out the back while one each is located in front of the hard drive banks to keep the hard drives cool at all times. Switches are located next to the fan units so the user can turn the fans up or down depending on how hard the system is being pushed.

Inside the Chenbro. The majority of the wires are segregated in their own compartment, as is the power supply and hard drives.

Each CPU is cooled by a dedicated heat sink and Vantec Stealth 20db fans which can also be user adjusted depending on taxation of the system. That makes five fans in the system. You would tend to think that with all the hard drives and fans in the system that cable clutter would be at a maximum. In fact it is at a minimum as any cabling has been mitigated from the main board area. The hard drive cables are located within their own area, and all the cabling to the power supply has also been cordoned off from the main motherboard area, so cabling is neat and organized and not cluttered at all. This is the way ADK keeps everything clean inside the box.

The eight hard drives are also compartmentalized while the system drive is off to the side.

Internal expansion is provided by two PCI X slots, a single x16 PCI Express slot, and a single x8 PCI Express slot, while communications to the network are achieved via 2GB Ethernet LAN. The front of the unit features just two USB 2.0 ports and space for three optical drives, of which one space is filled with a DVD R/RW drive. The rear of the system houses the typical ports ( microphone, headphone, speaker, Ethernet, keyboard, mouse, serial port) and adds four USB 2.0 ports and a pair of six pin IEEE 1394 ports via an add on card.

Results in minutes: seconds
After Effects Version used:   7.0
ADK Intel dual Quad Core  running at 1.86GHz, 4GB RAM, Windows XP Pro 
32-bit ($5166) 
After Effects : Animation .02
After Effects : Data Project .31 
After Effects : Gambler  .13 
After Effects : Source Shapes .57 
After Effects : Virtual Set .55 
TotalBenchmark1  46 seconds 
TotalBenchmark2  10 minutes 14 seconds 
CineBench 9.5  single CPU benchmark 309 CB-CPU

CineBench 9.5  rendering multiple CPU 

multiprocessor speedup

1436 CP CPU 


Adobe Photoshop Guassian Blur  7.34 seconds 

The ADK system is loaded with more than the necessary hardware to run the latest creative media applications, thanks in part to its RAIDed storage system, 4GB RAM and plenty processing power. On the After Effects tests that we run here at DMN, the system completed the animation test in two seconds, the Data Project test in 31 seconds, the Gambler test in 13 seconds, Source Shapes test in 57 seconds, and the Virtual Set test in 55 seconds. On the Photoshop test, which involves applying a Gaussian blur with a radius of 6.3 on a 9.51MB image, the ADK completed the task in 7 seconds. On the CineBench 9.5 test, which tests 3D performance, the ADK scored a 309 CB-CPU on the single CPU Rendering benchmark, 1436 on the multiple CPU rendering benchmark, and a 4.65x OpenGL multiprocessor speedup. TotalBenchmark1 was completed in 46 seconds while Totalbenchmark2 was completed in 10 minutes 14 seconds.

First Impressions
Want a fairly fast HD editing system with tons of storage? Have ADK build you one to your specification. ADK has done its homework with this system, providing ample cooling via the user adjustable fans, taking advantage of the server platform by including eight hard disk drives in a dual RAID 0 configuration, and ensuring there is ample RAM expansion with the six memory slots. Editing video and especially uncompressed 12-bit HD or uncompressed 10-bit SDHD video takes a lot of processing and storage power and it tasks the system like no other DCC application. ADK has thought ahead and built its machine on another platform that tasks CPUs and storage, a serverboard in a server case. Make no mistake, this system weighs close to 100lbs, and it has the horsepower to match that weight. At $5,166, the price is right for an SD/HD editing workstation. The company offers full custom configurations with the latest editing systems, including hardware support for everything ranging from the Matrox and Canopus solutions to the Decklink and Bluefish HD editing hardware solutions. They will plug right into this system, and ADK will configure, test, and ensure a turnkey system with your choice of configuration. I highly recommend you check them out. For more information, visit

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at
Related Keywords:ADK Systems, ADK 5500 , video editing workstation


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