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

Overview

We won't keep you in suspense. In the majority of overall averages of our tests, Parallels Desktop is the clear winner running 14-20% faster than VMware Fusion. The one exception is for those that need to run Windows XP, 32-bit on 2 virtual processors, VMware Fusion runs about 10% faster than Parallels Desktop.

Here are the overall conclusions, but you should really look at more of the detail to understand what works best for you. (Note: In all cases except battery life, when looking at the graphs in this article, take note that shorter bars are better.)


Figure 1: Overall Results, Parallels Desktop vs. VMware Fusion

For 32-bit Windows OSes, running under a single virtual processor (the default when you create virtual machines in either product, and therefore, the most commonly used configuration), Parallels Desktop runs both XP and Vista 14% faster than VMware Fusion. (Comparing 3 types of VM launch times, compression, transcoding MP3, 7 types of file and network IO, 3 types of application launches, and 3 application performance tests.)

For 32-bit Windows OSes, running under two virtual processors, VMware Fusion runs XP 10% faster than Parallels Desktop, and Parallels Desktop runs Vista 20% faster than VMware Fusion. (Comparing 3 types of VM launch times, compression, transcoding MP3, 3 types of application launches, and 3 application performance tests.)

For 64-bit Windows Vista, running under two virtual processors, Parallels Desktop runs 15% faster than VMware Fusion. (Compares 3 types of VM launch times, compression, and transcoding MP3.)


Another way to look at this is the color-coding on the results matrix. Green cell coloring means Parallels Desktop was faster than VMware Fusion. Blue cell coloring indicates VMware Fusion was faster than Parallels Desktop. Darkest coloring means faster by 10% or more, medium coloring indicates 1-10% difference, and lightest coloring means less than 1% difference. (Note: Not all tests were run on all configurations, hence the empty cells.)


Figure 2: Test Results Matrix with Coloring
(Note: This is not intended to be read, but to give you an overview of results
by coloring. See the ftp site for the spreadsheet.)

One thing to note: VMware Fusion was several times slower than Parallels Desktop in the Internet Explorer tests (across the board), so we removed IE from the overall analysis to avoid skewing the overall results. See more on this in the Internet Explorer section below.

The Test Suite and Results

In the sections below, we'll walk you through what we tested, and the results for each. These tests are designed to arm you with information to help you make the best decision for your type of use.

For each set of results, you can see the analysis for each model of computer for XP, and for Vista. If you want to see more detail for multiple processors, 64-bit, or on an individual Mac model, you can review the spreadsheet for those details.

For the launch tests (launching the VM, Windows, and Applications), we had the option of an "Adam" test, and a "Successive" test. Adam tests are when the computer has been completely restarted (hence avoiding caching). Successive tests are repeated tests without restarting the machine in between tests, and can benefit from caching. Both mimic real use situations.

The tests used were selected specifically to give a real-world view of what VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop are like to run for many users. We eliminated those tests that we ran which were so short in time frame (e.g., fast) that we could not create statistically significant results, or that had imperceivable differences.

For some of the analysis, we "normalized" results by dividing the result by the fastest result for that test across all the machine configurations. We did this specifically so that we could make comparisons across different groups, and to be able to give you overview results combining a series of types of tests, and computer models.

Instead of a plain "average" or "mean", overall conclusions are done using a "geomean", which is a specific type of average that focuses on the central results and minimizes outliers. Geomean is the same averaging methodology used by SPEC tests, PCMark, Unixbench, and others, and it helps prevent against minor result skewing. (If you are interested in how it differs from a mean, instead of adding the set of numbers and then dividing the sum by the count of numbers in the set, n, the numbers are multiplied and then the nth root of the resulting product is taken.)

For those interested in the benchmarking methodologies, see the more detailed testing information in Appendix A. For the detailed results of the tests used for the analysis, see Appendix B. Both appendices are available on the MacTech web site.

Launch and CPU Tests

There are three situations in which users commonly launch a virtual machine:

  • Launch the virtual machine from "off" mode, including a full Windows boot
  • Launch the virtual machine from a suspended state, and resume from suspend (Adam)
  • Launch the virtual machine from a suspended state, and resume from suspend (Successive)

For the first test, we started at the Finder and launched the virtualization application, which then immediately launched the virtual machine. The visual feedback is fairly different between Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion when Windows first starts up. As a result, we focused on timing to the point of actually accomplishing something. In this case, we hovered over the Start button and launched Internet Explorer. The test ended when the home page (a very small locally served page which loaded fast in all environments) was rendered.

The primary difference between the last two types of VM launch test is that the computer is fully rebooted (both the virtual machine as well as Mac OS X) in between the "Adam" tests. The successive tests are launching the virtual machines and restoring them without restarting the Mac in between.

Successive tests benefit from both Mac OS X and possibly virtual machine caching, and are significantly faster. But, you may only see these types of situations if you constantly launching and terminating your virtual machine.

We noticed that while doing these tests, results wildly varied even within the same test machines. To be fair, we did these tests multiple times, and took the best results for each product.

End result for each of these sets of tests (geomean across Mac models) is:

  • Launch the virtual machine including a full Windows boot:

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 11% faster (the actual range was 3-8 seconds faster, fastest test: 44 seconds)

    • Vista: Parallels Desktop 31% faster (range: 9-28 seconds faster, fastest: 32 seconds)

  • Launch the virtual machine, and resume from suspend (Adam)

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 7% faster (range: 1-9 seconds faster, fastest: 23 seconds)

    • Vista: Parallels Desktop 10% faster (range: 1 second slower to 10 seconds faster, fastest: 27 seconds)
  • Launch the virtual machine, and resume from suspend (Successive)

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 22% faster (range: 0-3 seconds faster, fastest: 4 seconds)

    • Vista: Parallels Desktop 17% faster (range: 0-1 seconds faster, fastest: 4 seconds)


Figure 3: Windows OS Launch Performance

Clearly, machines with more memory took far longer to restore, so if you are going in and out of a VM often, you may want to think about using less RAM, not more. In fact, you should just use as little as you need anyway for the best experience under either virtualized environment. (We suggest 1GB for most people.)

There are two CPU performance tests that are commonly run as part of benchmarks, and that we did here as well. These include:

  • Compressing files using the built-in Windows compression tools

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 15% faster (range: 0-3 seconds faster, fastest: 6 seconds)

    • Vista: Parallels Desktop 12% faster (range: 0-2 seconds faster, fastest: 8 seconds)

  • Transcoding an MP3 to a .wav file

    • XP: Parallels Desktop 30% faster (range: 2-6 seconds faster, fastest: 7 seconds)

    • Vista: Parallels Desktop 6% faster (range: 0-1 seconds faster, fastest: 9 seconds)

As a matter of interest, we used compression instead of decompression, because with today's fast computers, decompression is actually much closer to a file copy than it is to CPU work. Compression requires the system to do a good amount of analysis to do the compression, and is therefore a better measurement of CPU.


Figure 4: Virtual Machine CPU Performance

Application Launch Test

Here, we tested two of the most common applications used in virtualized desktop environments: Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook. Most applications, including these, launch very quickly with the worst performance being under Vista for Adam launches.

Similar to the OS launch tests, an Adam launch is one where Windows has been completely rebooted, and then given a few minutes to finish its startup process. A successive launch test is done repeatedly without restarting Windows.

Here are the results:

  • Microsoft Word Adam Launch

    • XP: VMware Fusion 8% faster (range: 2 seconds slower to 1 second faster, fastest: 3 seconds)

    • Vista: Parallels Desktop 33% faster (range: 3-6 seconds faster, fastest: 8 seconds)

  • Microsoft Word Successive Launch

    • XP: VMware Fusion 17% faster (range: 0-0.5 seconds faster, fastest: 1.4 seconds)

    • Vista: VMware Fusion 30% faster (range: 0.2-1 seconds faster, fastest: 1.7 seconds)

  • Microsoft Outlook Successive Launch

    • XP: VMware Fusion 1% faster (range: 0.3 seconds slower to 0.25 seconds faster, fastest: 3.4 seconds)

    • Vista: Parallels Desktop 13% faster (range: 0.15-1.2 seconds faster, fastest: 2 seconds)


Figure 5: Windows Application Launch Performance



Start | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

calibre 2.69.0 - Complete e-book library...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
Evernote 6.9.1 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
jAlbum Pro 13.5 - Organize your digital...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. You can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly... Read more
jAlbum 13.5 - Create custom photo galler...
With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly, with pro results - Simply drag and drop photos into groups, choose a design... Read more
Google Chrome 53.0.2785.143 - 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
Chromium 53.0.2785.143 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. Version 53.0.2785.143: [Security Fix] High CVE-2016-... Read more
QuickBooks 2015 16.1.7.1524 R8 - Financi...
Save 20% on QuickBooks Pro for Mac today through this special discount link QuickBooks 2015 helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track... Read more
Sierra Cache Cleaner 11.0.1 - Clear cach...
Sierra Cache Cleaner is an award-winning general purpose tool for macOS X. SCC makes system maintenance simple with an easy point-and-click interface to many macOS X functions. Novice and expert... Read more
Default Folder X 5.0.7 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click on... Read more
Safari Technology Preview 10.1 - The new...
Safari Technology Preview contains the most recent additions and improvements to WebKit and the latest advances in Safari web technologies. And once installed, you will receive notifications of... Read more

Pumped BMX 3: Beginner tips and tricks
There’s a whole lot more to Pumped BMX 3 than meets the eye. Your goal is to perform a wide array of sweet flips and tricks, but that’s easier said than done. It takes well practiced timing and coordination, and the game doesn’t really explain that... | Read more »
Cybird’s latest release - BFB Champions...
Launched in the UK in early September, BFB Champions’ newest update is loaded with great new features, and looks set to outshine the original version by taking it out of soft launch and giving it a new lease of life. | Read more »
3 apps to boost your focus
As someone who works from home, my workspace is a minefield of distraction. Cats, tasty snacks, the wind blowing past my window, that cleaning that I suddenly can’t put off any longer. If I let distraction takes its course, I find that soon half... | Read more »
Pumped BMX 3 (Games)
Pumped BMX 3 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The final instalment of the smash hit #1 rated BMX game is here! Following on from the insane success of Pumped BMX 2, Pumped 3... | Read more »
4 games like Burly Men at Sea to inspire...
Burly Men at Sea is out today and it looks a treat. It tells the tale of three Scandinavian fishermen who leave the humdrum of their daily lives to go exploring. It’s a beautiful folksy story that unfurls as you interact with the environment... | Read more »
3 reasons you need to play Kingdom: New...
Developed by a tag team of indie developers - Thomas "Noio" van den Berg and Marco "Licorice" Bancale - Kingdom is a vibrant medieval fantasy adventure that casts players as a king or queen who must expand their empire by exploring the vasts lands... | Read more »
JoyCity have launched a brand new King o...
Great news for all of you Game of Dice fans out there - JoyCity have just released a brand new limited edition pack with a really cool twist. The premise of Game of Dice is fairly straightforward, asking you to roll dice to navigate your way around... | Read more »
Burly Men at Sea (Games)
Burly Men at Sea 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Burly Men at Sea is a folktale about a trio of large, bearded fishermen who step away from the ordinary to seek adventure. | Read more »
3 tips for catching the gnarliest waves...
Like a wave breaking on the shore, Tidal Rider swept its way onto the App Store charts this week settling firmly in the top 10. It’s a one-touch high score-chaser in which you pull surfing stunts while dodging seagulls and collecting coins. The... | Read more »
The beginner's guide to destroying...
Age of Heroes: Conquest is 5th Planet Games’ all new turn-based multiplayer RPG, full of fantasy exploration, guild building, and treasure hunting. It’s pretty user-friendly as far as these games go, but when you really get down to it, you’ll find... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

CAZE Annouces New Zero 5 Case for Jet Black i...
Hong Kong basd CAZE has announced Zero 5 case for iPhone 7/ 7 Plus, one of the world’s thinnest clear hard cases, measuring just 0.5 millimeters. CAZE has been producing and improving the Zero 5... Read more
Nest Egg Inventory App for iOS Offers Conven...
Campbell, California based Winprogger LLC has announced the release and immediate availability of Nest Egg – Inventory 4.1.22, an important update to their easy-to-use, yet comprehensive inventory... Read more
Factor4, LLC Launches Apple iOS and Android G...
Factor4, LLC, which offers gift and loyalty services to the SMB marketplace, has released free mobile applications that enable merchants to process via all Apple and Android devices. The Apple and... Read more
15-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for $200...
B&H Photo has 15″ Retina Apple MacBook Pros on sale for $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1799 $200 off MSRP - 15″ 2.5GHz Retina... 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
Check Apple prices on any device with the iTr...
MacPrices is proud to offer readers a free iOS app (iPhones, iPads, & iPod touch) and Android app (Google Play and Amazon App Store) called iTracx, which allows you to glance at today’s lowest... Read more
Apple price trackers, updated continuously
Scan our Apple Price Trackers for the latest information on sales, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers. We update the trackers continuously: - 15″... Read more
Apple refurbished 2016 13-inch MacBook Airs a...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $849. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 2016 13″ 1.6GHz/8GB/128GB MacBook... Read more
1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $449, save $50
Adorama has the 1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $50 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini (Apple sku# MGEM2LL/A): $449 $50 off MSRP To purchase a mini at... Read more
Apple refurbished 2015 13-inch MacBook Airs a...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $759. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB MacBook... Read more

Jobs Board

Systems Architecture Prototyping - *Apple*...
Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple . If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Akron,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Hardware Design Validation Engineer - *Apple...
Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple . If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more Read more
Systems Architecture Prototyping - *Apple*...
Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple . If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- South B...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.