TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Gaming Under Parallels 6

Volume Number: 27
Issue Number: 03
Column Tag: MacTech Labs

Gaming Under Parallels Desktop 6

By Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher

20 popular Windows games.
How playable are they?

Gaming Under Virtualization

One of the questions that we regularly get at MacTech is about running games in virtualization. Which games work well, how well they run, and what they look like are all common questions.

Over the past several weeks, we took a look at some of the most popular games. Based on ratings by IGN and other web sites, popularity, and more, we selected 20 games to evaluate using Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac. To test this, we assembled a team of game players and evaluated the playability of the game (not the game itself), measured frames per second, and attempted to video capture each one. The combination of these things will give game players a solid idea of what they are in for when playing these games under virtualization.

The Test Bench

All the tests were run on MacBook Pros running Mac OS X 10.6.5. The MacBook Pros have the benefit of a faster processor and additional graphics processing power.

4 GB MacBook Pro, Intel i5 processor ("Unibody MacBook Pro")
Specifically: MacBook Pro 15.4 in 2.53 GHz i5 4 GB/500 GB

The virtual machine was set up with Windows 7 and all current updates, 1.4 GB of virtual machine RAM, and 2 virtual CPUs. If the game would allow us to easily do so, we typically configured them to play in full screen mode.

Scores And Measurements

As our testers evaluated each game, they gave a score of playability. Since this type of scoring is subjective, we averaged the testers' scores for consistency. The games were scored according to the following scale:

1-3: Game not playable

4-6: Game playable but with significant issues

7-9: Game playable but with minor issues

10: Game a great playable experience

With that in mind, this is how our selected 20 games performed. 25% of the games were a great playable experience. Another 50% of the games were playable, but had minor issues. 15% were playable with significant issues. And, only 10% were not playable at all. When you consider what is going on under the hood (games being played under virtualization), these are astounding results.

Game a great playable experience

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Empire: Total War

Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars

MS Flight Simulator X: Gold Edition

Transformers: War for Cybertron

Game playable but with minor issues

Batman Arkham Asylum

Battlefield Bad Company 2

Borderland Game of the Year Edition

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Game of the Year Edition

Crysis Warhead


Dirt 2

Far Cry 2

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Mass Effect 2

Game playable but with significant issues

BioShock 2

Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Game not playable

Fallout: New Vegas

World in Conflict

Additional Measurements

For performance, we used a "Frames Per Second" measurement as determined by FRAPS (a Windows tool with low overhead on measurements which we've seen work well for this type of testing). The FPS measurements were taken over 60 seconds and tested multiple times. The most representative FPS score was taken.

Game Name Frames per Second Average Playability Score Video Link
Batman Arkham Asylum27.127.5Video
Battlefield Bad Company 228.587.0Video
BioShock 218.825.0Video
Borderlands Game of the Year Edition28.616.5Video
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Game of the Year Edition29.428.0Video
Call of Duty: Black Ops5.274.0Video
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 28.505.0Video
Crysis Warhead18.577.5Video
Dirt 229.178.3Video
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion48.6510.0Video
Empire: Total War70.2810.0Video
Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars29.9310.0Video
Fallout: New Vegasn/a1.0n/a
Far Cry 231.879.0Video
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light16.337.0Video
Mass Effect 233.128.0Video
MS Flight Simulator X: Gold Edition15.0210.0n/a
Transformers: War for Cybertron18.8710.0Video
World in Conflictn/a1.0n/a

Individual Game Notes

For each game we tested, our team commented on the playability of each game, in addition to the rating and video captures. These comments are typically the issues to expect, and the games are playable otherwise.

Batman Arkham Asylum (27.12 fps, 7.5 playability score)

General: The game looks excellent. Moving around is smooth, has good gameplay, and is easy to control the players.

Caveats: The game has occasional lag which at times can be significant, but is typically not a big deal. This is especially the case when loading new areas. Combat is a bit choppy but playable. The longest pauses typically happen before moves that break to a cut scene.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 (28.58 fps, 7 playability score)

General: The game is very playable, though can sometimes be slow.

Caveats: At times, slower frame rates result in some difficulty in aiming, but it's relatively minor. Cut scenes usually end with a lag as they switch out.

BioShock 2 (18.82 fps, 5 playability score)

General: While the character is walking around, the frame rate is solid.

Caveats: Frame rate slows during some cut scenes. There are major frame rate issues with intense action sequences reducing the playability of this game.

Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition (28.61 fps, 6.5 playability score)

General: Game play is smooth with only a little bit of lag here and there. At first, we found it difficult to set up resolutions and settings to properly display, but we were ultimately able to figure it out.

Caveats: After wrestling with it a bit, we were able to have the game take up most of the screen, but the colors were completely incorrect and much of the screen was white or washed out (somewhat monochromatic). Graphics details were fine however.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Game of the Year Edition (29.42 fps, 8 playability score)

General: The transitions between scenes were noticeably good. Most of the time the game played with very little lag, flowed very well, and had strong frame rates.

Caveats: There were times the lag was substantial. In these cases, if we restarted the game, it returned to excellent game play and fluidity of movement.

Call of Duty: Black Ops (5.27 fps, 4 playability score)

General: Game was borderline unplayable with frame rates regularly below 3 frames per second.

Caveats: Combat was impossibly laggy at times with substantial delays in shooting, moving, and controlling the player.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (8.5 fps, 5 playability score)

General: The game worked, but had a great deal of lag.

Caveats: It took a long time to start the campaign. Cut scenes were at normal speed, but there was a great deal of lag when moving. It took a while to transition to and from the main menu, and it was difficult to aim.

Crysis (29.15 fps, 7 playability score)

General: Very playable. When looking at the video, take note that the screen capture for the video shows lag, but the video capture made the lag much worse than it otherwise was.

Caveats: At times gets laggy and seems to pause. If you like what you see in the video, you'll be pleased with the game as that's the worst-case scenario.

Crysis Warhead (18.57 fps, 7.5 playability score)

General: Played well. Like the original Crysis, video screen capture made the lag worse, so take that into consideration when looking at the video.

Caveats: At times, the game would show black for a short period of time, and then return to normal.

Dirt 2 (29.17 fps, 8.3 playability score)

General: Cut scenes played well. Typically, the controls worked well and the graphics had minimal lag.

Caveats: At times during gameplay, frame rate would drop to 15-20 frames per second and controls were occasionally unresponsive and graphics would lag.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (48.65 fps, 10 playability score)

General: Overall, very solid gameplay. The frame rate was more consistent than on an Xbox 360.

Caveats: None.

Empire: Total War (70.28 fps, 10 playability score)

General: Worked perfectly.

Caveats: None.

Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars (29.93 fps, 10 playability score)

General: The game played absolutely flawlessly.

Caveats: We couldn't get it to play in full screen mode.

Fallout: New Vegas (n/a fps, 1 playability score)

General: Unplayable.

Caveats: Loads and shows cut scenes, but when game is about to start, mouse stops working and application quits with "FalloutNV has stopped working" error.

Far Cry 2 (31.87 fps, 9 playability score)

General: Colors and graphics look great, and it played smoothly most of the time.

Caveats: There was some lag at times,.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (16.33 fps, 7 playability score)

General: Plays fairly well, but there are minor lags fairly often.

Caveats: Occasionally, the lags become more severe and the game will lock for a few seconds.

Mass Effect 2 (33.12 fps, 8 playability score)

General: Ran fairly smoothly and consistently

Caveats: At times there was lagging in action sequences.

MS Flight Simulator X: Gold Edition (15.02 fps, 10 playability score)

General: The game was very playable and consistent. Despite the frame rate being only 15 frames per second. The controls worked quite nicely.

Caveats: None related to game play. We were unable to do a video capture on this game, but we don't consider this an issue and is not related to performance.

Transformers: War for Cybertron (18.87 fps, 10 playability score)

General: Looked perfect. Played impeccably.

Caveats: None.

World in Conflict (n/a fps, 1 playability score)

General: Didn't work at all.

Caveats: See general.


Clearly, if you are a hard-gamer gamer for the maximum gaming experience, you are going to turn to a souped up WinTel machine tuned specifically to gaming and running a game in virtualization is not a consideration.

If, however, you are a casual gamer looking to enjoy a Windows game and avoid the hassles of booting in native Windows under Apple's Boot Camp, then playing a Windows game under virtualization can be a great option.

Remember, you can set up your virtual machine to use the Boot Camp volume. This means that you can boot under Windows when you can do without the Mac OS, and want the maximum Windows performance.  Or, you can have the advantages of virtualization and still use the Boot Camp volume. One benefit to Parallels Desktop 6 is that you have the choice of being able to suspend a virtual machine even on a Boot Camp volume. (Of course, Boot Camp won't be happy if you don't shut it down first in Parallels before trying to boot again in Boot Camp.)

Of the 20 games we tested, about three quarters of the games played well (meaning a playability score of 7 or more). A quarter of the games played so well you forgot you were in virtualization.  If that's not impressive, I don't know what is.

About the author(s)...

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 [at]

Special thanks to our game testers: Mike Ambrose, Keegan Fitzpatrick, Adam Ginell, Max Shapiro, and Jordan Ticktin.


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

DEVONthink Pro 2.9.6 - Knowledge base, i...
DEVONthink Pro is your essential assistant for today's world, where almost everything is digital. From shopping receipts to important research papers, your life often fills your hard drive in the... 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
VueScan 9.5.60 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Civilization VI 1.0.0 - Next iteration o...
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is the next entry in the popular Civilization franchise. Originally created by legendary game designer Sid Meier, Civilization is a strategy game in which you attempt to... Read more
Adobe Flash Player - Plug-in...
Adobe Flash Player is a cross-platform, browser-based application runtime that provides uncompromised viewing of expressive applications, content, and videos across browsers and operating systems.... Read more
RestoreMeNot 2.0.4 - Disable window rest...
RestoreMeNot provides a simple way to disable the window restoration for individual applications so that you can fine-tune this behavior to suit your needs. Please note that RestoreMeNot is designed... Read more
Persecond 1.0.7 - Timelapse video made e...
Persecond is the easy, fun way to create a beautiful timelapse video. Import an image sequence from any camera, trim the length of your video, adjust the speed and playback direction, and you’re done... Read more
iShowU Instant 1.1.0 - Full-featured scr...
iShowU Instant gives you real-time screen recording like you've never seen before! It is the fastest, most feature-filled real-time screen capture tool from shinywhitebox yet. All of the features you... Read more
Spotify - Stream music, creat...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue puts... Read more
HoudahSpot 4.2.6 - Advanced file-search...
HoudahSpot is a powerful file search tool. Use HoudahSpot to locate hard-to-find files and keep frequently used files within reach. HoudahSpot will immediately feel familiar. It works just the way... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

5 Halloween mobile games for wimps
If you're anything like me, horror games are a great way to have nightly nightmares for the next decade or three. They're off limits, but perhaps you want to get in on the Halloween celebrations in some way. Fortunately not all Halloween themed... | Read more »
The 5 scariest mobile games
It's the most wonderful time of the year for people who enjoy scaring themselves silly with haunted houses, movies, video games, and what have you. Mobile might not be the first platform you'd turn to for quality scares, but rest assured there are... | Read more »
Lifeline: Flatline (Games)
Lifeline: Flatline 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: The Lifeline series takes a terrifying turn in this interactive horror experience. Every decision you make could help... | Read more »
Game of Dice is now available on Faceboo...
After celebrating its anniversary in style with a brand new update, there’s even more excitement in store for Game of Dice has after just being launched on Facebook Gameroom. A relatively new platform, Facebook Gameroom has been designed for PC... | Read more »
4 addictive clicker games like Best Fien...
Clickers are passive games that take advantage of basic human psychology to suck you in, and they're totally unashamed of that. As long as you're aware that this game has been created to take hold of your brain and leave you perfectly content to... | Read more »
Smile Inc. Guide: How not to die on the...
As if Mondays weren't bad enough, at Smile Inc. you have to deal with giant killer donuts, massive hungry staplers, and blasting zones. It's not exactly a happy, thriving work environment. In fact, you'll be lucky to survive the nine to five.... | Read more »
Oh...Sir! The Insult Simulator (Games)
Oh...Sir! The Insult Simulator 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
WitchSpring2 (Games)
WitchSpring2 1.27 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.27 (iTunes) Description: This is the story of Luna, the Moonlight Witch as she sets out into the world. This is a sequel to Witch Spring. Witch Spring 2... | Read more »
4 popular apps getting a Halloween makeo...
'Tis the season for all things spooky. So much, so, in fact, that even apps are getting into the spirt of things, dressing up in costume and spreading jack o' lanterns all about the place. These updates bring frightening new character skins, scary... | Read more »
Pokémon GO celebrates Halloween with can...
The folks behind Pokémon GO have some exciting things planned for their Halloween celebration, the first in-game event since it launched back in July. Starting October 26 and ending on November 1, trainers will be running into large numbers of... | Read more »

Price Scanner via

Worldwide Smartphone Shipments Up 1.0% Year o...
According to preliminary results from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors shipped a total of 362.9 million smartphones worldwide in the third... Read more
TuneBand Arm Band For iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Rel...
Grantwood Technology has added the TuneBand for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus to its smartphone armband series. The TuneBand provides a lightweight and comfortable way to wear the iPhone while running,... 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
21-inch 1.6GHz iMac on sale for $999, save $1...
B&H has the 21″ 1.6GHz Apple iMac on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Macs’ Superior Enterprise Deployment Cost Eco...
IBM’s debunking of conventional wisdom and popular mythology about the relative cost of using Apple Mac computers as opposed to PCs running Microsoft Windows at the sixth annual Jamf Nation User... Read more
12-inch WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for $50-...
B&H Photo has 12″ WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for $50-$70 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 12″ Space Gray 32GB WiFi iPad Pro: $749 $50 off MSRP -... Read more
Apple refurbished 12-inch 128GB iPad Pros ava...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 12″ Apple iPad Pros available for up to $160 off the cost of new iPads. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 32GB 12″ iPad... Read more
Apple refurbished iPad minis and iPad Air 2s...
Apple recently dropped prices on several Certified Refurbished iPad mini 4s and 2s as well as iPad Air 2s. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 16GB iPad... Read more
MacHTTP-js Preview Full-featured Web Server f...
MacHTTP.Org has released MacHTTP-js Preview for macOS, a full-featured Web server for 21st Century desktops and servers. MacHTTP-js is a modern take on the classic stand-alone, desktop computer Web... Read more
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 with S Pen Makes US...
Samsung Electronics America, Inc. has announced the release of the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 with S Pen in a highly mobile, lightweight tablet. “With an embedded S Pen, consumers can discover more ways to... 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
Software Engineering Intern: UI Applications...
Job Summary Apple is currently seeking enthusiastic interns who can work full-time for a minimum of 12-weeks between Fall 2015 and Summer 2016. Our software Read more
Security Data Analyst - *Apple* Information...
…data sources need to be collected to allow Information Security to better protect Apple employees and customers from a wide range of threats.Act as the subject Read more
*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* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 52812872 Houston, Texas, United States Posted: Oct. 18, 2016 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.