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Parallels takes virtualization speed crown in head-to-head with VMware

post #1 of 71
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In a comprehensive set of benchmark tests, virtualization competitors Parallels Desktop 5.0 and VMware Fusion 3.0 were examined head-to-head, finding Parallels to be an average of 30% faster than VMware.

MacTech Magazine, in an exhaustive series of tests spanning eight pages, came to several main conclusions after putting VMware Fusion 3 and Parallels Desktop 5 though its gauntlet of benchmarks. While both virtualization programs are excellent products, Parallels Desktop was the clear winner - running an average of nearly 30% faster than its competitor over the course of the test suite. Parallels largest gains can be seen in graphics, gaming, and 3D performance.

"If gaming, graphics, and 3D are your thing, you have no choice. Parallels Desktop has so much better graphics support, and is so much faster in most of the comparisons, there's simply no contest," writes MacTech.

Speed should not be the only determinant in deciding on virtualization software, however.

"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."

Improvements in Windows 7 as well as in virtualization technology can account for a diminishing "Vista penalty" in performance versus WIndows XP. While Windows 7 performs better than its Vista predecessor, MacTech still recommends sticking with Windows XP due to the fact that it still outperforms Microsoft's latest OS in virtualization tests.



Regarding the allocation of RAM in a virtual machine, more is not always better. MacTech found that more RAM actually leads to longer launch times, suspends, and resumes. It recommends 512MB to 1GB of VM RAM under normal circumstances.
post #2 of 71
Parallels 5 is definitely an improvement over 4. Aero is fully supported and the machine runs fast and start up quick. I did a trial of Fusion, but it did not click with me for some reason, but as always they one up each other with every release so Fusion 4 is gonna be better the parallels 5 when it comes out. Not much difference really, except for release schedule.
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post #3 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

MacTech found that more RAM actually leads to longer launch times, suspends, and resumes. It recommends 512MB to 1GB of VM RAM under normal circumstances.

512MB to 1 GB are not normal for my usage. I wonder about the relative performance when 2-4 GB memory are assigned to the VM; and how their Linux performance rates.
post #4 of 71
Shame they didn't compare virtualbox. It would have provided a datapoint as to how much better PD or VMWare was in comparison to Sun's free vm. Or not better in some areas...
post #5 of 71
I love VirtualBox. I bought VMWare Fusion, but between bouncing between multiple machines, and sick of trying to dig out my license code for Fusion, I found VirtualBox alleviated a lot of headaches.
post #6 of 71
I'm good with Fusion.
post #7 of 71
Add me to the list of those asking "What about VirtualBox?"

Having used all 3, I found that VirtualBox has been getting better and better, is completely free, and in general I feel like it "gets out of my way" most of the 3 solutions.

I am not saying it's faster...I don't really know. I would have liked to see it compared for exactly that reason. But now I'm thinking I may have to play with Parallels 5.
post #8 of 71
I don't buy it. We're having terrible performance issues with Parallels whereas VMWare and VirtualBox hum along fine. (All on XP, all allocated 1Gb of RAM.)

VirtualBox lacks video drivers with enough resolution choices (no 16:9 ratios), but VMWare also has issues with locking down the Windows install too much with its tools (no way to auto-login). So none of the choices are perfect.

For occasional use, VirtualBox is certainly the way to go.
post #9 of 71
I have to agree with the sheff and ghostface's posts. Currently running Fusion 2 and Windows XP so I can run Office 2007 on my 17" uMBP 2.93 GHz with a 256GB SSD. When I did the research, Fusion 2 had a slight edge over Parallel 4. Although it seems that a lot of comments for each was a matter of personal preference to the users. I don't plan on upgrading to either Fusion 3 or Parallel 5, if it works and it's not broke then why switch. Also staying with Windows XP and Office 2007.

As for VirtualBox, I'm sure that they have made improvements over the last year, but when I was reading which to go with, they were dead last and had some problems.
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post #10 of 71
+1 for Virtual Box.
post #11 of 71
Time needed to get from one major bug or annoyance to the next: Parallels 200% faster.
post #12 of 71
I upgraded to Parallels 5 and it is a pleasure to use. Hey, I can put my MacBook Pro to sleep and Parallels will be up and running virtually instantly. Try that with Windows machine!
post #13 of 71
Speed is fine and all, but I feel like I'm paying to beta-test Parallels' product for them. I use Fusion when I want to get work done.
post #14 of 71
I watched a co-worker spend a week on support with Parallels and never was able to get his existing Windows machine ported over to parallels from his Dell. He downloaded the VMWare trial and was up and running in one night.

I've moved 3 Windows boxes onto Fusion and it's been smooth sailing, no reason to move to parallels that I can see.

Seriously... Parallels is not as mature as VMWare's product.
post #15 of 71
I'm just glad there is more than one option and that it looks like it will stay that way for the forseeable future. The competition between Parallels and VMWare is what has made the products as good as they both are (not to mention the free and also competitive Virtualbox).
post #16 of 71
Parallels for me. I'm running XP in coherence with 3gb ram with 2 cores and it runs smoothly. Having an i5 is very nice with 6gb ram so for me its perfect. start up and shutdown is amazingly fast including suspend in about 4 seconds.
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post #17 of 71
Tried to install VirualBox on Leopard, a year ago, but the installation procedure crapped out on me, and froze, forcing a restart. Uninstalled VirtualBox. Nevertheless, since then VirtualBox refuses to start its installation process on my system. Apparently some corrupt VirtualBox auxiliary file still remains somewhere on my system, blocking a new installation. Can't find it, though.

Been using VMware Fusion 2 since. Ran an exhaustive Windows 7 trial of 5 weeks on it, last summer. Worked like a charm. Win7 dissappointed though. And that was before Snow Leopard!
post #18 of 71
I tried Parallels because I read it was faster. But I had a lot of problems and got really terrible support. Finally gave up on them and went back to Fusion. Fusion works well.
post #19 of 71
How does performance and reliability for these virtual machines compare to running WIndows in Bootcamp? Basic question I know, but I haven't seen it addressed recently.
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post #20 of 71
As a consultant, I've worked with both for my clients.
VM seems to be smooth-sailing and virtually bug-free compared to Parallels.
(Haven't tried this latest Parallels, though.)
post #21 of 71
I also wonder about how much faster a bootcamp install is.

The thing that convinces me that Fusion might be a better option is that it can run your bootcamp partition as a virtual machine - searching the Parallels website for bootcamp returns a grand total of 0 results.....
post #22 of 71
Those results are surprising to me. I own both, and found Parallels to be a lot faster in 3D than VMWare until I installed the 3.0.1 update and then I couldn't really tell them apart. But looking at the site they really did test 3.0.1 so maybe they just play more demanding games than I do under the VM. There are some I wouldn't even try.
post #23 of 71
To control USB-based devices from Windows applications from the Mac, the only viable solution os Fusion. Parallels simply does not deliver.
post #24 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

Parallels 5 is definitely an improvement over 4. Aero is fully supported and the machine runs fast and start up quick. I did a trial of Fusion, but it did not click with me for some reason, but as always they one up each other with every release so Fusion 4 is gonna be better the parallels 5 when it comes out. Not much difference really, except for release schedule.

What about Crossover for the Mac? This is the most interesting of all the solutions. You don't even need windows to run programs. I would be interested in seeing a new review of it.
post #25 of 71
I've been using Parallels since version 3 and it's been able to run a Boot Camp installation as a virtual machine since at least then. In fact, that's how I've got my Mac Mini configured. IIRC, I think it spots you've got a Boot Camp partition when you install Parallels and offers to set it up as a VM.

I've never had a problem with USB devices either. When I plug one in, it simply asks me if I want to connect it to my Mac or the virtual machine. I've not found one that doesn't work yet.

I will admit I've not tried Fusion, but I've used VMWare Server on Linux and I much prefer Parallels. I suspect, however, that's not a fair comparison.

I've run a lot of quirky Windows stuff under Parallels, but I've not tried playing any games. Recently, I've had a hankering to reply some old classics like Half Life 2 and Halo. Given sufficient RAM and a Core 2 Duo processor, what are my chances of getting something like decent performance?
post #26 of 71
I've also looked at Crossover, but it doesn't seem to do very well when it comes to running Access, which is one of the dreaded Windows apps that I still need to run occasionally.
post #27 of 71
+1 VirtualBox

VirtualBox is, in my opinion, a great peace of software, in price value (FREE).
Of what I read in posts above, there are some people who forgot to install the 'Virtualbox Guest Additions',
when installed it will run 3D (not to well though) and it automaticly adjusts the resolution when you change the window size or go to full screen,
that meens it runs the native resolution of my external display (23" 1920x1080) and the native resolution of my MacBooks display (13" 1280x800).
VirtualBox Guest Additions also adds automatic mouse-over selection.
But it even adds more additions wich I'm not going to describe, it would be to long of a read.

When choosing support for the USB-ports in virtualbox's setup, it will run it great.
I use it to update en synchronise my navigation-system (windows only, Navman).

I use VirtualBox for almost 2 years now!
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post #28 of 71
I dropped Parallels at version 3. It crashed regularly, and the last time I tried it it froze both the VM and OSX for 5+minutes, just thrashing disks in Windows. Eventually I rebooted.

And Parallels support is laughable - major bugs were being reported in their support forums (which were not linked to on their site) and they just ignored them. Ignoring bugs in favour of new features is not the way to build software (see: Microsoft).

Fusion has run flawlessly for me ever since, not a single issue in the 5 or so VMs I've created. I don't know what VMWares support is like as I've never had to use it.
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post #29 of 71
For some reason, I get precisely opposite results during my own tests. VMWare Fusion is consistently smoother, faster, less memory intensive and more reliable in all operations than Parallels Desktop on the same converted virtual configuration (Win7RC).

And, by the way, CodeWeaver's Crossover runs ~245% faster than any of them, because it uses no virtualization whatsoever (thus gets native speed, like BootCamp), and as a bonus, requires no Windows license. As for software compatibility, while most properly designed software runs just fine, check the database at Codeweaver's or WineHQ (Wine being the runtime behind CrossOver's easy to use UI) for some tips.
post #30 of 71
Parallels naysayers remind me of the VW naysayers. Claiming that "VW's have electrical problems" based on old history. While I think Parallels was a little buggy in the begninnig, I have found Fusion wanting repeatedly. I've kept both products updated and continued to try Fusion because of the continued praise in Mac Forums. But you know what, I don't see it. Identically configured, Fusion is slower and uses more resources then Parallels. In fact at idle Parallels uses less processor then Safari so I don't even suspend it anymore. Other pet peeves, Fusion doesn't have a pause function. It's networking takes more tweaking, especially when switching networks on the fly or waking from sleep.

The final straw for Fusion came after I installed my Computrainer software onto Fusion. I have an external 32" monitor and fully intended acquiring an old PC to run the software. This program simulates hills and wind on a bike trainer and requires a minimal processor and Direct X support. I figured what the heck, I'd try it on my 13"MBP even though it lacks a dedicated graphics card.

Fusion could barely run the program. When I tried to play a DVD simultaneously the whole system choked.

I Installed the same program in Parallels figuring it was a hardware limitation. To my surprise Parallels ran the program without a hitch. Not only does it run the program flawlessly, I can watch DVDs or iTunes videos on the second screen. This is a MBP with integrated graphics! Parallels saved me a PC purchase.

To me the ONLY thing that Fusion has over Parallels at this point is their modified start menu.
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post #31 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwheadon View Post

I watched a co-worker spend a week on support with Parallels and never was able to get his existing Windows machine ported over to parallels from his Dell. He downloaded the VMWare trial and was up and running in one night.

I've moved 3 Windows boxes onto Fusion and it's been smooth sailing, no reason to move to parallels that I can see.

Seriously... Parallels is not as mature as VMWare's product.


… Parallels is not as mature as VMWare's product - for YOU.

Parallels has been working great and trouble free for me, for some 3 years.

Have I tried the others, to see if they might be better, faster or anything, no. But then, why try something else if it works for ME.

I will say, there is one annoying issue with Parallels, and that is, when in use, I can't get my open button to work for the CD tray, but that is a small issue, that hasn't caused my headaches.

The old saying goes "if it ain't broke, then don't replace it, or is it don't fix it"
post #32 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Throg View Post

I've been using Parallels since version 3 and it's been able to run a Boot Camp installation as a virtual machine since at least then. In fact, that's how I've got my Mac Mini configured. IIRC, I think it spots you've got a Boot Camp partition when you install Parallels and offers to set it up as a VM.

I've never had a problem with USB devices either. When I plug one in, it simply asks me if I want to connect it to my Mac or the virtual machine. I've not found one that doesn't work yet.

I did not mean using a USB pendrive for instance. I meant using USB dongles (copy-protected software) and --mainly-- also to control machines via USB with Windows software. Machines that capture data in the lab for hours or even days non-stop. There is the Fusion difference. I love it. Fusion never fails. Parallels auto-quits and even reboots the Mac, ruining the lab experiments. It is a real nightmare!
post #33 of 71
Ditto. These figures are interesting but I gave up on Parallels after all of my images were corrupted the last go around. (And the one before that.) How many times would you like to completely re-build your OS, Office and other apps not to mention lost data? Consequently I would never think of letting Parallels anywhere near my Boot Camp partition. Fusion works for me. Parallels has been way too needy.
post #34 of 71
I've used both since day one and at one time VMWare was better. I agree with the results, Parallels 5 is way ahead at the moment. The RAM comment is interesting as I have recently been adjusting on a MacBook and a Mac Pro to see what works best. I found 756MB is the sweet spot on the MacBook which only has 2GIGs and I am still trying to figure out on the Mac Pro which has 6 GIGs of RAM. I was running at 2 GIG in Parallels but I will try dropping it to 1 GIG after reading this and see.

Regarding rebuilding etc. xts33, I keep a copy of a perfectly set up and running Windoze 7 in Parallels and VMWare and any time the one in use gets corrupted I delete, duplicate the backup to ensure i still have one and run one of them. This only takes a few minutes and way faster than starting over. BTW by 'corrupted' I mean Windoze is screwed up not the VM as such, that has never happened to me using either VMWare or Parallels but XP and Vista is another story. 7 so far seems a lot better and I only use for two things, never surf the web or use Mail in M$ side so it is pretty clean.

I am still unsure if using 2, 4 or more cores is better or not on Mac Pro.
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post #35 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toyin View Post

Parallels naysayers remind me of the VW naysayers. Claiming that "VW's have electrical problems" based on old history.

While that's true, I'm not prepared to shell out for a Parallels upgrade "just in case" it's better than it was, or "just in case" they are actually taking any notice of their support forums, any more than I'd buy a WV "just in case" they're not making crap cars any more. Plus, products' history stays with them, rightly or wrongly. Toyota are going to find that out in a few years' time....

Reports indicated that PD3 was even worse than 2 when it was released, which is when I jumped ship. I don't know if it's improved since then, but I've found Fusion a superior product and I'll stick with it.

As with so many other things different people have different experiences, but for me Parallels is a case of once bitten, twice shy.
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post #36 of 71
We use VMWare Fusion with out corporate customers and it works perfectly. We use the entire range of VMWare virtualisation tools and at this time Parallels is of no interest to our customers.

Having used both VMWare 3 and Parallels 5 on an quad core xeon and dual quad core (nehalem) MacPro there is little performance difference however Fusion has proved far more stable in our lab tests where we have multiple xp clients running along with a server 2008 vm for application testing. (all running on the same Mac Pro)

Parallels seems to be targeted more towards the home user rather that corporate and this is reflected in their focus on running games etc.
post #37 of 71
Can VirtualBox virtualise a Bootcamp partition?

I'm on VMWare 2 still, because I got a cheap offer for 1 and a free upgrade to 2.

To be honest, it does everything I need. I tried a demo of three, but having Aero there just seemed to make everything slower. I can live without it.
post #38 of 71
Interesting. I use VMWare 3.0 because I can move my images between my Mac and my Dell ( Company Computer ). Hopfully, this will give VWMare a kick in the rear to improve performance....
post #39 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by columbus View Post

Can VirtualBox virtualise a Bootcamp partition?

I'm on VMWare 2 still, because I got a cheap offer for 1 and a free upgrade to 2.

To be honest, it does everything I need. I tried a demo of three, but having Aero there just seemed to make everything slower. I can live without it.

I'm not sure about that, but one of the nicest features of VirtualBox is the ability to install Windows on EXTERNAL drives, thus preserving Macintosh purity.

Why is it we never see VirtualBox compared head to head to Fusion and Parallels? Could it be because it's free and advertisers aren't paying for reviews?
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post #40 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffharris View Post

Why is it we never see VirtualBox compared head to head to Fusion and Parallels? Could it be because it's free and advertisers aren't paying for reviews?

I don't think that many care about a product that is free but well behind on features and capabilities. You can always do your own test.
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