Parallels Desktop 7 vs. 6: Should you upgrade?
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Parallels Desktop 7 vs. 6: Should you upgrade?

By the Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher

MacTech Labs puts the new Parallels Desktop to the test to answer this question.

The Upgrade Question

One of the most frequent questions we've been getting recently is "Should I upgrade to Parallels Desktop 7?" We decided to take a quick look and put Parallels Desktop to the test by comparing the new version 7 to version 6 (the previous version). This comparison is only about speed, and not about features.

The test was done on the current model MacBook Pro. Specifically, the MacBook Pro 15-inch 2.0GHz Intel Core i7, with 4GB of RAM, 500GB 5400RPM hard drive, and the dual graphics processor configuration (Intel HD Graphics 3000 and AMD Radeon HD 6490M). The test was performed on Mac OS X "Lion" 10.7.1 with all the current updates from Apple applied. The current versions of Parallels Desktop 6, and Parallels Desktop 7 were running Windows 7 with all current updates applied.

General Virtual Machine Performance

We wanted to see how the virtual machine performed in several areas. These included: launching the virtual machine with a full Windows boot, suspending the virtual machine, launching from suspend, compressing files, File IO, and,of course, graphics.

In most cases, Parallels Desktop 7 was noticeably faster than Parallels Desktop 6.

What was faster?

  • Suspending the virtual machine was more the twice the speed.
  • Launching the virtual machine from suspend was almost twice as fast.
  • Compressing files, normally a difficult item to improve, took 8.8% less time to complete.
  • File I/O (285MB file folder duplicate on the virtual hard drive) took 21% less time to complete.
  • Overall Graphics (3Dmark06 Score) was about 10% faster.
  • Many of the individual graphics measurements were significantly faster (HDR/SM3.0, Vertex Shader, Shader Particles, and small triangles)

What wasn’t’?

  • Launching the virtual machine with a full Windows boot was nearly identical.
  • Some individual components of graphics were slightly slower.

3DMark06/Graphics Performance

If you've never heard of 3DMark, it's the most popular 3D game performance benchmark. Specifically, "3DMark06 is a PC benchmark suite designed to test the DirectX9 performance of your graphics card.” A 3DMark score is an overall measure of your system's 3D gaming capabilities, based on comprehensive real-time 3D graphics and processor tests." Often, PC gamers will use 3DMark06 to tune their gaming platform. See .

The most important result is the "3DMark Score," which is an aggregate score that judges the overall 3D graphics performance. As you may remember from previous benchmarks, Parallels Desktop 6, and version 5 before it, were very fast. Parallels Desktop 7 builds on that platform with additional graphics speed increases. In some cases, some tests took 1/3 less time to complete. And, overall, Parallels Desktop 7 is about 10% faster than Parallels Desktop 6 in graphics.


In answer to the question "Should I upgrade to Parallels Desktop 7?". In short, the answer is a resounding yes. There’s a feel to the environment that is just smoother across the board, and the faster suspend and resume are always welcome.

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