TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Head-to-Head: Parallels Desktop for Mac vs. VMware Fusion

Volume Number: 25 (2009)
Issue Number: 04
Column Tag: Virtualization

Head-to-Head: Parallels Desktop for Mac vs. VMware Fusion (cont.)

How do VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop for Mac stack up?

by Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher

Start | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Application Performance Tests

In many cases, applications today, perform so well and so fast, even under virtualized environments, that anyone would be pleased for small documents and activities. We focused our efforts on larger tasks that were not only large enough to measure, but will also stress the systems to some extent.

For Microsoft Word, we took a very large document and did a global search and replace of about 95,000 items. For Microsoft Excel, we ran a macro that generated a large quantity of random numbers, and filled cells with them. And, for PowerPoint, we had the application render slides with transitions as quickly as possible (all the other PowerPoint tests worked too fast to measure).

  • Word Global Find & Replace

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 4% faster (range: 0.5 seconds slower to 6.5 seconds faster, fastest: 34 seconds)

    • Vista: Parallels Desktop 9% faster (range: 14 seconds slower to 21 seconds faster, fastest: 42 seconds)

  • Excel Macro Test

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 14% faster (range: 0.5-1.6 seconds faster, fastest: 5.5 seconds)

    • Vista: Parallels Desktop 13% faster (range: 0.3-1.3 seconds faster, fastest: 4.5 seconds)

  • PowerPoint View slide transitions

    • XP: VMware Fusion 2% faster (range: 0.2 seconds slower to 0.2 seconds faster, fastest: 5.5 seconds)

    • Vista: Both performed almost the same (range: 4.7-5.6 seconds)


    Figure 6: Windows Application Performance

    Many web pages are simple enough that they load very quickly. So, to test the speed of Internet Explorer, we created a large, complex page in HTML loaded from a local LAN server. The page was very long, but used only common HTML elements, (no JavaScript, etc.). But, for whatever reason, VMware Fusion took significantly longer ... sometimes, an order of magnitude longer--across the board. As a result, we removed this test from the overall analysis (the average of averages ... or more technically, the geomean of geomeans) so that it wouldn't skew the overall results.

    The tests performed used the same web page ... with and without SSL.

    • Internet Explorer Load complex web page

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 82% faster (range: 40-60 seconds faster, fastest: 9 seconds)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop 91% faster (range: 79-126 seconds faster, fastest: 9 seconds)

    • Internet Explorer Load complex web page (SSL)

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 80% faster (range: 40-60 seconds faster, fastest: 11 seconds)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop 84% faster (range: 54-80 seconds faster, fastest: 10 seconds)


    Figure 7: Internet Explorer Application Performance

    Footprint Tests

    One of the most interesting things in the virtualization market is how little overhead virtualization takes today compared to what it used to. To assess this, we measured in a variety of ways. Specifically, we focused on CPU usage (overall for the Mac), real memory usage (overall for the Mac), and how long the battery would last. CPU and memory usage were measured using "top" (a command line tool that's part of UNIX with a minimum of 50 continuous samples averaged for the result).

    We ran three CPU usage tests. The first test was to boot Windows and let it sit for a few minutes to finish up its startup activities. Once done, CPU use was measured while both the Mac OS X and Windows were sitting idle. The next test studied the same thing except both Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook were launched and left sitting idle. The last test explored CPU usage while playing a DVD.

    (Note: For testing the playing of a DVD, we had a bit of a challenge. Parallels Desktop supports the default application for playing DVDs that comes with Windows (Windows Media Player), but we had problems with WMP under VMware Fusion. Their web site also talks about these issues. As a workaround, VMware suggests the open source VLC Player, but we had trouble getting VLC Player to work in Parallels Desktop. It was important for both virtualization environments to use the same application, so we used Media Player Classic for the tests.)

    For the two idle tests, both virtualized environments did very, very well with only 2-5% of the CPU being used. So, while one may be 1/3 or more faster, it's not a significant difference to the user in real terms.

    • CPU use for sitting idle (in %)

      • XP: Parallels Desktop used 1/3rd less CPU (range: 1-8% CPU use)

        Vista: Parallels Desktop used 1/3rd less CPU (range: 1-9% CPU use)

    • CPU use for VM sitting idle with both Word/Outlook (in %)

      • XP: Parallels Desktop used 1/5th less CPU (range: 1-8% CPU use)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop used 1/7th less CPU (range: 1-10% CPU use)

    • CPU use for play DVD (in %)

      • XP: About the same (range: 3-33% CPU use)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop used 1/25th less CPU (range: 3-36% CPU use)


    Figure 8: Virtual Machine CPU Usage

    The memory footprint was done for two idle tests, similar to the CPU usage tests above. Here, however, the differences were more meaningful, and would be noticeable to the user. Take note, we're looking at both 1GB and 2GB virtual machines here.

    • Real Memory use for sitting idle (in MB)

      • XP: Parallels Desktop used 48% less RAM (range: 716-1748 MB less)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop used 21% less RAM (range: 274-1125 MB less)

    • Real Memory use for VM sitting idle with both Word/Outlook (in MB)

      • XP: Parallels Desktop used 39% less RAM (range: 527-1567 MB less)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop used 21% less RAM (range: 257-1109 MB less)


    Figure 9: Virtual Machine Memory Usage

    Take note, Parallels is doing something interesting here with memory allocation: Parallels Desktop only takes memory from Mac OS X when Windows needs it. In other words, if you have a 2GB virtual machine, it will initially take less than 2GB of memory from the Mac, until you've opened enough application or documents that Windows needs the RAM. By contrast, VMware Fusion appears to allocate all the memory for the virtual machine at launch.

    For the exhaust battery test, we ran an "endless loop" macro in Excel that generated random numbers. When approaching the end of battery, Parallels Desktop will pause the virtual machine, and ultimately, the Mac will go into a hibernate mode saving off where things are at. VMware Fusion will suspend the virtual machine before sleeping.

    • Exhaust Battery: Endless Macro in Excel

      • XP: Parallels Desktop battery usage lasted 8% longer (9 minutes longer for 99 min total)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop battery usage lasted 9% longer (9 minutes longer for 92 min total)


    Figure 10: Virtualized Machine Battery Performance

    File and Network IO Tests

    Originally, we ran file copy tests on all the environments. In analyzing the results, we realized that there was a huge problem. Mac OS X and Windows were interfering, in a good way for typical users, with the results. Both Mac OS X and Windows have some pretty sophisticated caching schemes, but they also made File and Network IO tests unpredictable. As just one example, sometimes a MacBook was faster than a Mac Pro, and other times it was not. In the end, we tossed out the several hundred test times, and re-tested.

    Due to time constraints, the retests focused solely on the MacBook Pro. To avoid the interaction problems with Mac OS X and Windows, we tested using data set sizes that were about the same size as the physical memory, or larger. This prevented the Mac and Windows from any type of caching. The data sets we copied from one location to another were 3.7GB total (two 1.85GB files because we needed to stay below the 2GB file limit).

    The same set of files was used for all the copies so that you can see the differences between the different methods of copying. (Most of which were in the same relative time frame, except for copying to a USB Flash Drive. See the chart.)

    Networking was done via the default NAT setup in both virtualized environments, and the defaults for disk setup for each application were used as well.

    Here were the results:

    • File copy - duplicate on local virtual hard drive

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 31% faster (75 seconds faster, fastest: 165 seconds)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop 43% faster (137 seconds faster, fastest: 181 seconds)

    • File copy - to local Mac hard drive

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 11% faster (18 seconds faster, fastest: 149 seconds)

      • Vista: VMware Fusion 8% faster (14 seconds faster, fastest: 181 seconds)

    • File copy - from local Mac hard drive

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 36% faster (94 seconds faster, fastest: 167 seconds)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop 42% faster (134 seconds faster, fastest: 182 seconds)

    • File copy - to LAN Server

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 35% faster (113 seconds faster, fastest: 213 seconds)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop 16% faster (36 seconds faster, fastest: 186 seconds)

    • File copy - from LAN Server

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 28% faster (70 seconds faster, fastest: 176 seconds)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop 14% faster (27 seconds faster, fastest: 168 seconds)

    • File copy - to USB Flash Drive

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 6% faster (53 seconds faster, fastest: 774 seconds)

      • Vista: Parallels Desktop 4% faster (37 seconds faster, fastest: 859 seconds)

    • File copy - from USB Flash Drive

      • XP: Parallels Desktop 15% faster (52 seconds faster, fastest: 300 seconds)

      • Vista: VMware Fusion 8% faster (22 seconds faster, fastest: 283 seconds)

    Or, said much better on a graph, it looks like this:


    Figure 11: Virtual Machine File and Network I/O Performance



    Start | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
  •  

    Community Search:
    MacTech Search:

    Software Updates via MacUpdate

    Google Chrome 96.0.4664.55 - Modern and...
    Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more
    Bartender 4.1.21 - Organize your menu-ba...
    Bartender lets you organize your menu-bar apps by hiding them, rearranging them, or moving them to Bartender's Bar. You can display the full menu bar, set options to have menu-bar items show in the... Read more
    CleanMyMac X 4.9.3 - Delete files that w...
    CleanMyMac makes space for the things you love. Sporting a range of ingenious new features, CleanMyMac lets you safely and intelligently scan and clean your entire system, delete large, unused files... Read more
    ffWorks 2.6.4 - Convert multimedia files...
    ffWorks, focused on simplicity, brings a fresh approach to the use of FFmpeg, allowing you to create ultra-high-quality movies without the need to write a single line of code on the command-line.... Read more
    Thunderbird 91.3.2 - Email client from M...
    As of July 2012, Thunderbird has transitioned to a new governance model, with new features being developed by the broader free software and open source community, and security fixes and improvements... Read more
    Adobe Photoshop 23.0.2 - Professional im...
    You can download Photoshop for Mac as a part of Creative Cloud for only $20.99/month (or $9.99/month if you have purchased an earlier software version). Adobe Photoshop is a recognized classic of... Read more
    VirtualBox 6.1.30 - x86 virtualization s...
    VirtualBox is a family of powerful x86 virtualization products for enterprise as well as home use. Not only is VirtualBox an extremely feature rich, high performance product for enterprise customers... Read more
    Merlin Project 8.0.2 - Project managemen...
    Merlin Project is the leading professional project management software for OS X. If you plan complex projects on your Mac, you won’t get far with a simple list of tasks. Good planning raises... Read more
    XMind 11.1.2 - Mind mapping and project...
    XMind is a mind-mapping tool based off of the same open-source project as XMind Pro. It supports the same map structures and 100% compatible with XMind. It has new themes, some with more muted tones... Read more
    WiFiSpoof 3.7 - Change your WiFi MAC add...
    WiFiSpoof quickly and easily allows you to change your WiFi MAC address via hot-key or the system menu bar. Version 3.7: Fixed a potential issue with displaying current network on macOS Monterey... Read more

    Latest Forum Discussions

    See All

    5 futuristic games like PUBG New State
    The biggest flex of PUBG New State is its futuristic background. The new battle royale game is set in 2051. It has a new map, Troi, and also has a future version of Erangel. The weapon customization, drones, and other new features make it a new-... | Read more »
    TouchArcade Game of the Week: ‘Jump Jerb...
    I love games that don’t mess around. No frills or fluff, just “Here’s what I am and here’s what you get." That’s the vibe I get from Jump Jerboa from self-described “mostly solo" developer Chinykian. This is a minimalist one-button platformer that... | Read more »
    SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Date Night Bowli...
    Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for November 26th, 2021. In today’s article, we look at the rest of the releases for the week. There are a couple of good games in today’s batch, and we’ve got summaries of the whole lot... | Read more »
    Musical 2D Platformer ‘One Hand Clapping...
    Bad Dream Games’ One Hand Clapping was originally a project demo at the University of Southern California and it has evolved into a full game that blends music with 2D platforming. It was previously revealed for PC and consoles and it is also now... | Read more »
    Best Black Friday 2021 iPhone and iPad G...
    Just like last year, many retailers have been discounting and price matching games and hardware well before Black Friday. The App Store has some great deals on iOS games that are available right now and more that will likely start showing up in the... | Read more »
    SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘DoDonPachi Resur...
    Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for November 25th, 2021. Today is Thanksgiving in America, so many of you will be off work or school. In Japan, it is just Thursday, so I must work as usual. In spite of the holiday,... | Read more »
    The Best Black Friday Nintendo Switch eS...
    Hello, friends. It’s that time of the year again. The most magical of times, when over a thousand Nintendo Switch games get discounts on the eShop that make them very hard to resist. Unless you’re enormously wealthy, you’re going to have to make... | Read more »
    Lineage2M: 4 Reasons to Be Excited About...
    With staggeringly beautiful visuals and fast-paced gameplay, Lineage2M is high on everyone’s list of most anticipated mobile games before the end of the year. The upcoming Lineage title is set to land for PC and mobile devices on December 2nd so,... | Read more »
    New ‘My Time at Portia’ Update Adds Supp...
    Last week, a new content update for My Time at Portia ($7.99) from Pathea Games was announced. The game released on mobile a few months ago thanks to Pixmain and it is a pretty great conversion. | Read more »
    Out Now: ‘Super String’, ‘Ghostbusters A...
    Each and every day new mobile games are hitting the App Store, and so each week we put together a big old list of all the best new releases of the past seven days. Back in the day the App Store would showcase the same games for a week, and then... | Read more »

    Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

    Black Friday Sale: Get an 11″ M1 2TB WiFi iPa...
    Amazon has the 11″ M1 2TB WiFi iPad Pro, in Space Gray, on sale for $1648.99 shipped as part of their Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2021 sale. Amazon’s price is $250 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price... Read more
    The best Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2021 deal...
    Apple has a full line of 2020 13″ M1 MacBook Airs available and in stock today, Certified Refurbished, starting at only $849 and up to $190 off original MSRP. These are the best deals on 13″ MacBook... Read more
    Expercom offers $40 discount on AppleCare+ wi...
    Take $40 off 3-year AppleCare+ Plans ($209, regularly $249) when purchased alongside new 13″ M1 MacBook Pros at Apple reseller Expercom. All models are in stock today: – 2020 13″ MacBook Pro M1 CPU/... Read more
    Black Friday Clearance Deal: 21″ iMacs for on...
    Amazon has recently-discontinued 2020 21″ 2.3GHz Intel-based dual-core i5 iMacs (8GB RAM/256GB SSD) on clearance sale for only $879 shipped. Their price is $220 off original MSRP, and it’s the lowest... Read more
    These wireless carriers will give you a free...
    Apple’s wireless partners are offering several deals on iPhone 13 orders right now. If you’re an existing customer or willing to switch carriers, you can get a free iPhone 13 this Black Friday/Cyber... Read more
    This 10.2″ Apple iPad is on sale for $319 for...
    Apple’s new 9th generation 10.2″ is in short supply this Black Friday 2021 weekend, largely due to global supply constraints. Of all the Apple resellers we track, only one is reporting stock of the... Read more
    The best Black Friday 2021 Apple Pencil sales...
    Apple resellers are offing Apple Pencil models for 20%-23% off MSRP as part of their Black Friday 2021 sales. These are the cheapest Apple Pencils for sale this weekend: 1 – Amazon has Apple Pencils... Read more
    Black Friday 2021: Take $20 off Apple Watch S...
    Amazon has Apple Watch Series 7 models on sale today for $20 off MSRP including free shipping. Their prices are the lowest currently available for Series 7 Watches for Black Friday 2021: – 41mm Apple... Read more
    Black Friday Only! Get last year’s 4-core Mac...
    B&H Photo has last year’s Intel-based 3.6GHz 4-core Mac mini on clearance sale for only $429 for Black Friday 2021 only. Their price is $370 off original MSRP for this mini, and it’s the lowest... Read more
    Black Friday 2021: Get an M1 Mac mini for as...
    Looking for the cheapest Mac with an Apple M1 processor this Black Friday 2021? Apple’s Mac mini starts at $699, and resellers are offering models on sale this weekend for as low as $589 and up to $... Read more

    Jobs Board

    *Apple* Mac IT Support Specialist - Randstad...
    Apple Mac IT Support Specialist **job details:** + location:Worcester, MA + salary:$40 - $45 per hour + date posted:Thursday, November 11, 2021 + job type:Contract + Read more
    Senior Software Developer - *Apple* (iOS/tv...
    **SUMMARY** Hulu's Apple team is seeking an experienced Senior Software Engineer with a passion for mobile applications to join our team in Seattle. Our highly Read more
    *Apple* Management Engineer | Information Te...
    Job postings Apple Management Engineer | Information Technologist II Share this: + + + + + | More (http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=250&username=pageup) Back to Read more
    Department Manager- Tech Store (Full-time, Ge...
    …+ Provide on-site support for in-shop repair on a variety of Apple computers and peripherals using advanced computer and electronic repair techniques and Read more
    *Apple* / Macintosh / Jamf / Adm Systems Adm...
    …Administration **Duties and Responsibilities** + Configure and maintain the client's Apple Device Management (ADM) solution. The current solution is JAMF supporting Read more
    All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.