MacTech Labs: Virtualization Benchmarks, January 2013
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

MacTech Labs: Virtualization Benchmarks, January 2013

Virtualization Benchmarks

By Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher

Head-to-Head: How do VMware Fusion 5 and Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac compare?

Why Virtualization?

In 2005, Apple announced the switch of the Mac platform from PowerPC to Intel processors (the first Intel-based models were available in early 2006). This introduced some interesting opportunities for the Mac, including the ability to run operating systems other than Mac OS X on a Mac. This includes not only your everyday Windows 7 or 8, but also other 64-bit OSes including Linux and more.

You may already understand your options for running Windows on a Mac, but in case you don't, your first choice is to decide between Apple's Boot Camp, and a virtualization product like VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop for Mac. With Apple's Boot Camp, you can run Windows 7 natively, but you have to reboot every time you want to switch between OS X and Windows. In addition, you can only use one OS at a time, it's designed for Windows not Linux, and it doesn't have support for Windows 8 or even XP. Despite a speed advantage for some things, that's not particularly convenient. For that reason, MacTech recommends a virtualization product for most users.

In addition, virtualization gives "switchers" (those switching from Windows to Mac) more comfort because they can use their old applications and more easily get to their old data. It gives all Mac users the ability to use some critical piece of software not available on the Mac. For example, your job may require you to run Internet Explorer, the Windows version of Outlook, or some other possibly vertical market software that your corporate systems support. Or, you may simply want to play a Windows game not available on the Mac.

With virtualization, like you'll see in Parallels Desktop for Mac or in VMware Fusion, you can run Windows alongside OS X, getting the best of both worlds. For many, this may mean running Windows in a "window" on your Mac. Both VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop also have the ability to run Windows applications even more transparently or full screen, but we'll leave that for another discussion.

Your final option is to use Parallels Desktop for Mac or VMware Fusion to access/use your Boot Camp volume rather than a virtual hard disk. This gives you the option of sometimes booting Windows natively, and other times, using the volume for virtualization. As the performance of doing this has improved so much, this has become a viable option for users.

The Big Question

So which virtualization product do you go with? Which solution is faster? Should you run Windows 7 or 8? One virtual processor or more? Can you run OS X in a virtual machine? In short, there are different answers for different people; it all depends on your needs. More and more, virtualization can accommodate whatever your needs might be.

To tackle this problem, MacTech has once again undertaken a huge benchmarking project. We often wait, as we did this year as well, for a patch or two after major upgrades to give time for major new versions to shake out because it often has impact on the testing. This is similar to the virtualization benchmarking projects that MacTech undertook in past. In both cases, as with other MacTech benchmarks, we tested performance of the types of things that everyday users typically do. In this case, it was not just testing the raw performance of the Windows OS, but also commonly used Windows applications. Like last time, based on reader feedback, we paid attention to 3D graphics and gaming. We also looked at how well the products performed supporting the new Retina screens.

The goal was to see how VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop performed, under Windows 7 and Windows 8. Furthermore, we wanted to see some of the differences with different Mac models with different graphics and processor types.

To be clear, this article is not a product review; it's a benchmarking analysis. The article's purpose is to assess performance (including issues we found if something didn't work as expected), and not product features, user interface, etc. You should use your assessment of features, user interface, and support in conjunction with this article's benchmarking results to make your product choice.

Before you ask why other solutions and products were not included, let's answer that. This benchmark project is already huge with thousands of collected data points crossing four guest OSes (Windows 7, Windows 8, OS X Lion, and OS X Mountain Lion), five models of computers with mechanical hard drives and SSDs, and over 60 tests each run 3-5 times for most of the environments. There were several thousand tests to be completed, many with a stopwatch. That's all before a single word of this article is written!

To add even one product would increase this huge test matrix by 50%. As a result, we focused on the two leading commercial virtualization products that come with support. These two products also have free trial versions that you can compare against other solutions (i.e., try before you buy).

One thing to note, however, is that open source and other free products may not be for everyone, especially non-technical users. For many, these offerings can be difficult to understand and install, and they do not have technical or product support behind them. Obviously, users can reach out in forums and the community, but if you don't understand something, you won't be able to pick up the phone and call support the way you can with a commercial product. If that works for you, great! If not, as is the case for most users, then a commercial product is likely your solution.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Fantastical 2.3.2 - Create calendar even...
Fantastical 2 is the Mac calendar you'll actually enjoy using. Creating an event with Fantastical is quick, easy, and fun: Open Fantastical with a single click or keystroke Type in your event... Read more
PCalc 4.4.4 - Full-featured scientific c...
PCalc is a full-featured, scriptable scientific calculator with support for hexadecimal, octal, and binary calculations, as well as an RPN mode, programmable functions, and an extensive set of unit... Read more
Alfred 3.2.1 - Quick launcher for apps a...
Alfred is an award-winning productivity application for OS X. Alfred saves you time when you search for files online or on your Mac. Be more productive with hotkeys, keywords, and file actions at... Read more
OmniPlan 3.6 - Robust project management...
With OmniPlan, you can create logical, manageable project plans with Gantt charts, schedules, summaries, milestones, and critical paths. Break down the tasks needed to make your project a success,... Read more
Backblaze 4.2.0.990 - Online backup serv...
Backblaze is an online backup service designed from the ground-up for the Mac. With unlimited storage available for $5 per month, as well as a free 15-day trial, peace of mind is within reach with... Read more
AppDelete 4.3.1 - $7.99
AppDelete is an uninstaller that will remove not only applications but also widgets, preference panes, plugins, and screensavers along with their associated files. Without AppDelete these associated... Read more
Apple GarageBand 10.1.4 - Complete recor...
The new GarageBand is a whole music creation studio right inside your Mac -- complete with keyboard, synths, orchestral and percussion instruments, presets for guitar and voice, an entirely... Read more
Adobe Lightroom 6.8 - Import, develop, a...
Adobe Lightroom is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $9.99/month bundled with Photoshop CC as part of the photography package. Lightroom 6 is also available for purchase as a... Read more
iMazing 2.1.3 - Complete iOS device mana...
iMazing (was DiskAid) is the ultimate iOS device manager with capabilities far beyond what iTunes offers. With iMazing and your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod), you can: Copy music to and from... Read more
Little Snitch 3.7.1 - Alerts you about o...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activity As soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Galaxy on Fire 3 and four other fantasti...
Galaxy on Fire 3 - Manticore brings the series back for another round of daring space battles. It's familiar territory for folks who are familiar with the franchise. If you've beaten the game and are looking to broaden your horizons, might we... | Read more »
The best apps for your holiday gift exch...
What's that, you say? You still haven't started your holiday shopping? Don't beat yourself up over it -- a lot of people have been putting it off, too. It's become easier and easier to procrastinate gift shopping thanks to a number of apps that... | Read more »
Toca Hair Salon 3 (Education)
Toca Hair Salon 3 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Winter comes to Darkwood as Seekers Note...
MyTona, based in the chilly Siberian city of Yakutsk, has brought a little festive fun to its hidden object game Seekers Notes: Hidden Mystery. The Christmas update introduces some new inhabitants to players, and with them a chance to win plenty of... | Read more »
Bully: Anniversary Edition (Games)
Bully: Anniversary Edition 1.03.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.03.1 (iTunes) Description: *** PLEASE NOTE: This game is officially supported on the following devices: iPhone 5 and newer, iPod Touch... | Read more »
PINE GROVE (Games)
PINE GROVE 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A pine grove where there are no footsteps of people due to continuous missing cases. The case is still unsolved and nothing has... | Read more »
Niantic teases new Pokémon announcement...
After rumors started swirling yesterday, it turns out there is an official Pokémon GO update on its way. We’ll find out what’s in store for us and our growing Pokémon collections tomorrow during the Starbucks event, but Niantic will be revealing... | Read more »
3 reasons why Nicki Minaj: The Empire is...
Nicki Minaj is as business-savvy as she is musically talented and she’s proved that by launching her own game. Designed by Glu, purveyors of other fine celebrity games like cult favorite Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, Nicki Minaj: The Empire launched... | Read more »
Clash of Clans is getting its own animat...
Riding on its unending wave of fame and success, Clash of Clans is getting an animated web series based on its Clash-A-Rama animated shorts.As opposed to the current shorts' 60 second run time, the new and improved Clash-A-Rama will be comprised of... | Read more »
Leaks hint at Pokémon GO and Starbucks C...
Leaked images from a hub for Starbucks employees suggests that a big Pokémon GO event with the coffee giant could begin this very week. The images appeared on Reddit and hint at some exciting new things to come for Niantic's smash hit game. | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

12-inch Retina MacBooks, Apple refurbished, n...
Apple has restocked a full line of Certified Refurbished 2016 12″ Retina MacBooks, now available for $200-$260 off MSRP. Refurbished 2015 models are available starting at $929. Apple will include a... Read more
Holiday sale: 12-inch Retina MacBook for $100...
B&H has 12″ Retina MacBooks on sale for $100 off MSRP as part of their Holiday sale. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 12″ 1.1GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook: $1199 $100... Read more
Apple refurbished 13-inch MacBook Airs availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $849. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/8GB/128GB MacBook Air: $849 $... Read more
Apple refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: - 21″ 3.... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free: -... Read more
Back in stock: Apple refurbished Mac minis fr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac minis available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Twenty-Five Years Of Apple Laptops – A person...
Among many other things, the often tumultuous 16th year of the new century marked the 25th anniversary of Apple laptop computers, not counting the optimistically named 16-pound Mac Portable of 1989.... Read more
Landlordy iOS App Adds Support For Appliances...
Riga, Latvia based E-protect SIA is releasing major update (version 1.8) to its Landlordy app for managing rental business financials on the go. Landlordy is iPhone and iPad app designed for self-... Read more
Holiday sale, Apple iMacs for up to $200 off...
B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ Apple iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $2099 $200 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB Fusion iMac 5K: $... Read more
Holiday sale: Mac minis for $50 to $100 off M...
B&H Photo has Mac minis on sale for up to $100 off MSRP free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $449 $50 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac mini: $629 $70 off MSRP - 2.8GHz Mac mini: $899 $... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Trumbul...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Philade...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- San Ant...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Products Tester Needed - Apple (Unit...
…we therefore look forward to put out products to quality test for durability. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.