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

in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.


  • Reply 1 of 70
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 70
    foo2foo2 Posts: 1,077member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 70
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    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...
  • Reply 4 of 70
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 70
    I'm good with Fusion.
  • Reply 6 of 70
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 70
    ktappektappe Posts: 816member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 70
    finetunesfinetunes Posts: 2,065member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 70
    +1 for Virtual Box.
  • Reply 10 of 70
    Time needed to get from one major bug or annoyance to the next: Parallels 200% faster.
  • Reply 11 of 70
    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!
  • Reply 12 of 70
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 70
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 70
    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).
  • Reply 15 of 70
    sandausandau Posts: 1,230member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 70
    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!
  • Reply 17 of 70
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 70
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 70
    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.)
  • Reply 20 of 70
    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.....
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