TweetFollow Us on Twitter

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

Volume Number: 26
Issue Number: 01
Column Tag: Virtualization

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

How do VMware Fusion 3 and Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac compare?

By Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher

Start | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

After installing the game through Steam (http://store.steampowered.com/), we tested the game by measuring frames per second while running a consistent demo mode.

In short, the speed difference in FPS was noticeably faster in Parallels Desktop when compared to VMware Fusion. As expected, both environments took advantage of the extra graphics hardware of the MacBook Pro and Mac Pro, but Parallels took greater advantage of it. See the graph.

Here were the results:

  • Portal, Frames Per Second in demo mode

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 130.4% faster (28.5 frames out of 50.26 average FPS)

    • Windows 7: Parallels Desktop 498.3% faster (94.4 frames out of 113.39 average FPS)

  • Civilization IV: Colonization, FPS in demo mode

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 52.6% faster (18.2 frames out of 52.73 average FPS)

    • Windows 7: Parallels Desktop 45.2% faster (13.7 frames out of 44.12 average FPS)

  • Quake Wars, FPS in demo mode

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 28.1% faster (4.1 frames out of 18.92 average FPS)

    • Windows 7: VMware unable to run. Parallels ran game fine.

Figure 21: Gaming Performance

Gaming Conclusions

Our advice? There's no doubt, Parallels Desktop 5 is a huge leap forward not only from Parallels Desktop 4, but also all versions of VMware Fusion.

If gaming is your primary reason for a virtual machine, then figure out what games you want to play, double check the online discussions about them, and go for it. Furthermore, you may want to use a virtualization setup that allows you to share a Boot Camp volume with your virtual machine so that you can have even greater performance when you want it.

Either way, we were pleasantly surprised at just how well these games played in Parallels Desktop 5. And we highly recommend the games we looked at and tested here.

Overall Conclusions

There are additional conclusions that we can extract from the results as well. Specifically, we looked at the differences between XP and Windows 7, as well as multiple virtual processors and 64-bit Windows 7.

XP vs. Windows 7

In our last virtualization benchmarking article, there was a significant difference between running Microsoft XP vs. Vista. Now, the difference is much less significant. In fact, while XP continues to be faster for most things, it's probably not enough to matter. You should make your choice based on which OS you want or for compatibility reasons. That said, anecdotally, we find XP under virtualization to be snappier … and definitely less annoying to run.

Multiple Virtual Processors and 64-bit

There's a big push right now for multiple virtual processors, and 64-bit Windows. While there are times that you may need them, most people will not.

Multiple virtual processors are helpful for when you have a computationally intensive application, and you need to split the work. The types of applications that you normally would need this for include video, Photoshop, CAD, etc... Frankly, if speed is that important to you, you should be asking yourself about whether to run the app native on your Mac instead of in a virtual machine. Sometimes, like for CAD, you may not have an option.

64-bit is another issue. Primarily, the big benefit here is that you can address a lot more memory. For most virtualization users, this is likely not relevant. Many Windows applications and drivers still are not 64-bit compatible. This is the future of where Windows is going, but it's not necessary for most users, especially under virtualization.

That said, we wanted to give you a look at what performance looked like for both of these for both IO and virtual machine performance. As you can see, while there's some difference, you have to judge if it's enough to be worthwhile. For most, 32-bit XP is likely adequate.

Figure 22: Multiple Virtual Processors, 64-bit Performance

Conclusion

Both VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop for Mac are excellent products, and both allow you to run Windows XP and Windows 7 quite well (except for graphics in VMware Fusion under 7). In the end, your decision as to which product you should take into account what's most important to you: speed, footprint, graphics capabilities, features, user interface, OS you want to run, and more all come into play.

While the Windows Vista "penalty" that we saw in prior tests is now mostly gone (presumably because both Windows 7 made improvements as well as both of these virtualization products), we would advise that you stick with Windows XP given that it runs slightly better overall (not to mention how much less annoying it is).

When it comes to whether you should use multiple processors or 64-bit virtual machines that depends on your use. If you have a real need for either, and can articulate a reason for it, than use them. They do work well. That said, if you don't have a specific need, then don't bother, it's not worth it; just stick with 32-bit Windows XP (or Windows 7) on a single virtual processor.

Many people have the feeling of "more is better," but when it comes to RAM in the virtual machine, that is not necessarily the case. More RAM means longer virtual machine launch times, suspends and resumes. For most users, 512MB to 1GB of virtual machine RAM will work best. Use more than that only if you really know you need it.

Here's how things look in general terms for each of the test suites that we ran:

Figure 23: Chart: Performance Winner in Each Test Suite

In the majority of overall averages of our tests, Parallels Desktop 5 is the clear winner running 30% faster than VMware Fusion 3.0.1 with Windows XP, and 43% faster with Windows 7. And, the difference is even more apparent when looking at graphics. If gaming, graphics, and 3D are your thing, you have no choice. Parallels Desktop 5 has so much better graphics support, and is so much faster in most of the comparisons, there's simply no contest.

One thing is clear: virtualization for the Mac works well. Really well—even for casual gamers. Even with that, given the track record, I expect we'll see it keep getting better and better.


About the author...

Neil is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of MacTech Magazine. Neil has been in the Mac industry since 1985, has developed software, written documentation, and been heading up the magazine since 1992. When Neil does a benchmark article, he likes to test the features that people will use in real-life scenario and then write about that experience from the user point of view. Drop him a line at publisher@mactech.com

Start | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

RoboForm 9.4.1 - Password manager; syncs...
RoboForm is a password manager that offers one-click login, mobile syncing, easy form filling, and reliable security. Password Manager. RoboForm remembers your passwords so you don't have to! Just... Read more
Paragon NTFS 15.10.559 - Provides full r...
Paragon NTFS breaks down the barriers between Windows and macOS. Paragon NTFS effectively solves the communication problems between the Mac system and NTFS. Write, edit, copy, move, delete files on... Read more
FileZilla 3.63.0 - Fast and reliable FTP...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. The FileZilla Client not only supports FTP, but also FTP over TLS... Read more
BusyCal 2023.1.1 - Powerful calendar app...
BusyCal is the powerful, flexible, reliable calendar app for macOS. It's packed with time-saving features and compatible with all leading cloud services including iCloud, Google, Exchange, and more.... Read more
HandBrake 1.6.1 - Versatile video encode...
HandBrake is a tool for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs. Features Supported Sources VIDEO_TS folder, DVD image or real DVD (unencrypted... Read more
Luminar AI 1.5.5 - Powerful, adaptive, c...
Luminar AI is the new full-featured image editor that adapts to the way you edit photos. Over 300 essential tools to fix, edit, and enhance your photos with comfort. The future of photo editing is... Read more
Apple Safari 16.3 - Apple's Web bro...
Apple Safari is Apple's web browser that comes bundled with the most recent macOS. Safari is faster and more energy efficient than other browsers, so sites are more responsive and your notebook... Read more
Thunderbird 102.7.0 - Email client from...
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
MarsEdit 5.0.2 - Quick and convenient bl...
MarsEdit is a blog editor for OS X that makes editing your blog like writing email, with spell-checking, drafts, multiple windows, and even AppleScript support. It works with with most blog services... Read more
Vienna 3.8.5 :5ac6c328: - RSS and Atom n...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

‘Of Two Minds’, a Psychoanalytical FMV G...
We are truly in the renaissance of full-motion video games since the genre first arrived in the late ’80s and early ’90s before dying an ugly death due to the poor quality of those gaming experiences as well as the poor quality of the actual video... | Read more »
SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Goldeneye’ Comin...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for January 26th, 2023. The big news is that Goldeneye for Nintendo Switch Online finally has a release date, and it’s soon as it could be. We have a ton of new releases to go through... | Read more »
Previously Cancelled Co-Op City Builder...
Back in August of 2021 developer Supercell formally announced Everdale to the world, a cooperative city building game that had already been in a smaller form of beta testing under a different name for at least a year prior. That announcement kicked... | Read more »
Burgeon and Flourish are releasing an FM...
Game development can take a while, with bugs, reworks and good old-fashioned arguments delaying things. However, the upcoming FMV game Of Two Minds may have the longest source material to game delay of all time, being a huge 30 years in the making... | Read more »
‘Rocket League Sideswipe’ Season 7 Launc...
After the launch of Season 6 and Season 5, our our 2021 iPhone Game of the Year Rocket League Sideswipe saw a bit of a delay for its newest season. | Read more »
SteamWorld Quest and Heist Are Discounte...
Thunderful Games recently announced SteamWorld Build for PC and console platforms, as the newest entry in the long-running franchise. A demo for it is currently available on Steam. To celebrate the announcement, both SteamWorld Quest ($2.99) and... | Read more »
Out Now: ‘Devolver Tumble Time’, ‘Madnes...
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 »
SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Risen’, ‘The Exc...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for January 25th, 2023. In today’s article, we have several new releases to check out. That’s pretty rare for a Wednesday, so let’s relish it. Let’s mustard it, while we’re at it. We’ve... | Read more »
Honkai: Star Rail prepares to open its d...
HoYoverse has announced the launch of the final closed beta on iOS and Android for its upcoming space RPG Honkai: Star Rail. Players can enjoy the latest entry in the acclaimed Honkai franchise and get an early look at some new in-game features... | Read more »
‘Dragon Quest the Adventure of Dai: A He...
Following its launch back in 2021, Square Enix announced that Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai: A Hero’s Bonds (Free) for iOS and Android will be shutting down. | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple has clearance 27-inch 5K iMacs in stock...
Apple has a full line of Certified Refurbished 2020 27″ 5K iMacs available starting at only $1169 and ranging up to $810 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, shipping is free,... Read more
Price drop! Apple has M1 Mac mini in stock fo...
Apple has dropped prices on clearance M1-powered Mac minis in their Certified Refurbished section to a new low starting price of only $469. Each mini comes with Apple’s one-year warranty, and... Read more
The Latest Rumors and Potential Features of a...
The rumors are flying and speculation is running rampant around the possibility of a new Apple iMac Pro. It is expected to be a powerful computer in Apple’s lineup, and people are already asking what... Read more
New low price: Apple Studio Display for $1399...
Amazon has Apple Studio Displays on sale for $200-$150 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free: – Studio Display (Standard glass): $1399.99 $200 off MSRP – Studio Display (Nano glass): $1749 $... Read more
Week’s Best Apple Deals: Clearance 14-inch M1...
With the introduction of new M2 Pro and M2 Max-powered 14″ MacBook Pros, Apple and its retailers have dropped prices on standard-configuration 14″ MacBook Pros with M1 Pro CPUs by as $570 off... Read more
$150 discounts on Apple 24-inch iMacs with 25...
Amazon has Apple’s 24″ M1 iMacs with 256GB of SSD storage on sale for $150 off MSRP. Their prices are currently the lowest available for new iMacs among the Apple retailers we track: – 24″ M1 iMacs (... Read more
Apple Education is offering $100 discounts on...
Need a new Apple MacBook for school? Whether you’re a student, teacher, or staff member, you can use your .edu email address when ordering at Apple Education to take $100 the price of a new 13-inch... Read more
Find the best deals on Apple gear using our a...
Our Apple award-winning price trackers are the best place to look for the lowest prices and latest sales on all the latest Apple gear. Scan our price trackers for the latest information on sales,... Read more
Comparison: Apple iPhone 14 camera versus iPh...
The release of the Apple iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro was met with much anticipation, as Apple continues to evolve its iPhone lineup and design. One of the most exciting aspects of these two devices... Read more
Price drop! Clearance M1 Mac mini now only $5...
B&H Photo has Apple’s base Mac mini with an M1 Apple Silicon CPU in stock today and on clearance sale for $150 off MSRP, only at $549. Free 1-2 shipping is free to many US addresses. Their price... Read more

Jobs Board

Device Portfolio Manager - *Apple* - DISH (...
…in our Retail Wireless journey. The successful Device Portfolio Manager - Apple will work cross-functionally to develop, oversee and execute a device roadmap Read more
Senior STE / *Apple* / OTT / Streaming Serv...
…and perform tests to validate large-scale content operations and releases. As an Apple STE, you'll partner with the content and streaming teams to ensure smooth Read more
Senior *Apple* STE / Entertainment Industry...
…user base, you will collaborate with the content and streaming teams as an Apple STE. Ideal candidates have a go-getter attitude as you'll conduct exploratory tests, Read more
Beauty Consultant - *Apple* Blossom Mall -...
Beauty Consultant - Apple Blossom Mall Location:Winchester, VA, United States (https://jobs.jcp.com/jobs/location/191170/winchester-va-united-states) - Apple Read more
Omnichannel Associate - *Apple* Blossom Mal...
Omnichannel Associate - Apple Blossom Mall Location:Winchester, VA, United States (https://jobs.jcp.com/jobs/location/191170/winchester-va-united-states) - Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.