Gaming Under Parallels Desktop 6
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Gaming Under Parallels Desktop 6

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

Crysis

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
Crysis29.157.0Video
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.

Conclusion

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] mactech.com

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

Together 3.4.6 - Store and organize all...
Together helps you organize your Mac, giving you the ability to store, edit and preview your files in a single clean, uncluttered interface. Smart storage. With simple drag-and-drop functionality,... Read more
Monosnap 3.1.0 - Versatile screenshot ut...
Monosnap lets you capture screenshots, share files, and record video and .gifs! Capture: Capture full screen, just part of the screen, or a selected window Make your crop area pixel perfect with... Read more
Cocktail 8.5.1 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Vienna 3.0.6 :5eaf312: - RSS and Atom ne...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more
Kodi 15.1.rc1 - Powerful media center to...
Kodi (was XBMC) is an award-winning free and open-source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user... Read more
Bookends 12.5.8 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Access the power of Bookends directly from Mellel, Nisus Writer Pro, or MS Word (... Read more
Chromium 44.0.2403.125 - 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 44.0.2403.125: This release contains a number... Read more
iMazing 1.2.2 - 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
Audio Hijack 3.2.0 - Record and enhance...
Audio Hijack (was Audio Hijack Pro) drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio... Read more
FontExplorer X Pro 5.0.1 - Font manageme...
FontExplorer X Pro is optimized for professional use; it's the solution that gives you the power you need to manage all your fonts. Now you can more easily manage, activate and organize your... Read more

You'll Want to Keep an Eye Out for...
If you're the kind of person who had fun hunting down and completing all the codex puzzles in Assassin's Creed 2, then are you ever in for a treat. The Guides looks like it's going to be a very robust collection of similarily odd, seemingly... | Read more »
Vivid Games has Announced Real Boxing 2...
The original Real Boxing was a pretty impressive bit of fisticuffs, but if the trailer Vivid Games is showing off for GamesCom is any indication Real Boxing 2 is going to be even better. [Read more] | Read more »
PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX - Tips,...
[Read more] | Read more »
Card King: Dragon Wars - Tips, Tricks an...
[Read more] | Read more »
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX has brou...
Bandai Namco has released Pac-Man Championship Edition DX on iOS and Android, which features the classic arcade gameplay that we've all grown to love. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX can be enjoyed in much shorter bursts than the arcade versions... | Read more »
Cosmonautica (Games)
Cosmonautica 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Cast off! Are you ready for some hilarious adventures in outer space? | Read more »
Rescue humanity from a Demon horde in An...
Angel Stone is Fincon's follow up to the massively successful Hello Hero and is out now on iOS and Android. You play as a member of The Resistance, a group of mighty human warriors who have risen up in defiance of the Demon horde threatening to... | Read more »
Gallery Doctor (Photography)
Gallery Doctor 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Free up valuable iCloud and iPhone storage with Gallery Doctor, the only iPhone cleaner that automatically identifies the... | Read more »
You Against Me (Games)
You Against Me 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A simple game… You. Me. Claim, steal, lock, score, win! | Read more »
Yep, it's True - Angry Birds 2 is O...
The not exactly rumors were true and the birds are back. Angry Birds 2 has come to the App Store and the world will... well I suppose it'll still be the same, but now we have more bird-flinging options! [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

PDF Element Tool Kit For PDF For Windows 10,...
South Surrey, British Columbia based software developer Wondershare has posted an interesting infographic tracking the development of Microsoft’s flagship Windows operating system over the years,... Read more
27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $81 off MS...
Adorama has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2218, $81 off MSRP, including a free copy of Apple’s 3-Year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more
Back-to-School with Tablet and Smartphone Acc...
Belkin helps you prepare for the coming school year with a wide variety of the latest mobile and tablet accessories to outfit both grade school and college students. The line-up includes charging... Read more
11-inch MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSR...
Best Buy has 11-inch MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: - 11″ 1.6GHz... Read more
iPad Air 2 on sale for up to $100 off MSRP
Best Buy has iPad Air 2s on sale for up to $100 off MSRP on their online store for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices available for online... Read more
Sale! 13-inch MacBook Pros on sale for $100 o...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Pros on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.5GHz/500GB MacBook Pro: $999.99 save $100 - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina... Read more
Sale! Save $100 on 13-inch MacBook Airs this...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $899.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model.... Read more
Worldwide Tablet Market Decline Continues, Ap...
The worldwide tablet market declined -7.0% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2015 (2Q15) with shipments totaling 44.7 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data... Read more
TP-LINK TL-PA8030P KIT Powerline Featuring Ho...
Consumer and business networking products provider TP-LINK is now shipping its TL-PA8030P KIT AV1200 3-Port Gigabit Passthrough Powerline Starter Kit that expands your home’s network over its... Read more
Apple refurbished iPad Air 2s available for u...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iPad Air 2s available for up to $140 off the price of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 128GB... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
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
Infrastructure Engineer - *Apple* /Mac - Hil...
Infrastructure Engineer - Apple /Mac Job Code: 1608 # of openings: 1 Description Our fortune 500 client is looking to hire an experienced Infrastructure Engineer to join Read more
Executive Administrative Assistant, *Apple*...
…supporting presentation development for senior leadership. * User experience with Apple hardware and software is preferred. Additional Requirements The following list Read more
*Apple* Bus Company is now hirin - Apple Bus...
Apple Bus Company is now hiring school bus drivers in the Pettis County area. Class B CDL preferred. Free training provided. No nights or weekends required. Flexible Read more
*Apple* Certified Mac Technician - Updated 6...
…and friendly, hands-on technical support to customers troubleshooting and repairing Apple /Mac products with courtesy, speed and skill. Use your problem-solving skills Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.