TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Head-to-Head: Parallels Desktop for Mac vs. VMware Fusion

Volume Number: 26
Issue Number: 01
Column Tag: Virtualization

Head-to-Head: Parallels Desktop for Mac vs. VMware Fusion

How do VMware Fusion 3 and Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac compare?

By Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher

Start | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Overview

We won't keep you in suspense. When we look at the major subgroups of our comprehensive test suite, Parallels is the clear winner running each group of tests 5-127% faster than VMware's solution. Overall, Parallels Desktop 5 runs 30% faster with Windows XP, and 43% faster with Windows 7, than VMware Fusion 3.0.1. Or see the graph if you are more visual (take note that on this graph, shorter is faster).

Figure 1: Overall Virtual Machine Performance

There are places that VMware Fusion is faster than Parallels Desktop 5. Of the 25 different graphics tests and scores, we saw definite patterns where VMware Fusion was faster in some tests related to High Dynamic Range rendering (HDR), Perlin Noise, and Pixel Shader (see the detailed 3DMark results to see these). However, Parallels was faster on the balance (the vast majority) of the graphics tests (including the 3DMark overall scores), and more importantly, didn't have many of the issues that VMware Fusion did. (See the graphics section below for more details.) That said, even with these specific individual tests running a bit faster, the graphics experience from a user point of view was noticeably faster (and therefore more visually appealing) under Parallels Desktop 5. The measurements that best represent the overall gaming experience show Parallels performing 81% faster under Windows XP, and 127% faster under Windows 7.

Figure 2: Overall Graphics Performance

Another way to look at this is with 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. Those tests that could not be run due to lack of support from the virtualization software are shaded gray. (Note: Not all tests were run on all configurations, hence the empty cells.)

Figure 3: Test Results Matrix with Coloring

One thing to note. Both of these products are faster than their prior versions. In addition, the disk footprint (e.g., disk space used) was significantly lower for both. See MacTech articles evaluating each against their prior versions:

http://macte.ch/vmware3

http://macte.ch/parallels5

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 the information so you can 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 Windows 7. If you want to see more detail for single vs. multiple processors, 32-bit vs. 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 both host and guest OS 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.

Start | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

 
Community Search:
MacNews Search:
See All
view counter

view counter
view counter
view counter
view counter
view counter
view counter

How to get started with live.ly
One could be forgiven for thinking that there are already plenty of streaming video apps out there. It's just that the App Store charts would insist that you're mistaken. [Read more] | Read more »
Rodeo Stampede: Guide to all Savannah an...
A "gotta catch 'em all" joke seems appropriate here, even though we're talking animals in Rodeo Stampede and not pocket monsters. By now you've probably had plenty of rides, tamed some animals and built yourself a pretty nice zoo | Read more »
Is there cross-platform play in slither....
So you've sunken plenty of hours into crawling around in slither.io on your iPhone or iPad. You've got your stories of tragedy and triumph, the times you coiled four snakes at one time balanced out by the others when you had a length of more than 30,000 and some little jerk swerved in front of you at the last second. [Read more] | Read more »
Rodeo Stampede guide to running a better...
In Rodeo Stampede, honing your skills so you can jump from animal to animal and outrun the herd as long as possible is only half the fun. Once you've tamed a few animals, you can bring them home with you. [Read more] | Read more »
VoxSyn (Music)
VoxSyn 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $6.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: VoxSyn turns your voice into the most flexible vocal sound generator ever. Instantly following even subtle modulations of pitch and spectral changes of your voice VoxSyn creates signature vocal sounds far beyond traditional vocoding. | Read more »
Catch Battleplans on Google Play from Ju...
Real-time strategy title Battleplans is due for release on Google Play on June 30th, following its release for iOS systems last month. With its simple interface and pretty graphics, the crowd-pleaser brings a formerly overlooked genre out for the masses. [Read more] | Read more »
iDoyle: The interactive Adventures of Sh...
iDoyle: The interactive Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - A Scandal in Bohemia 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Books Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Special Release Price $1.99 (Normally $3.99) | Read more »
Five popular free apps to help you slim...
Thanks to retail and advertising, we're used to thinking one season ahead. Here we are just a week into the summer and we're conditioned to start thinking about the fall. [Read more] | Read more »
How to ride longer and tame more animals...
It's hard to accurately describe Rodeo Stampede to people who haven't seen it yet. It's like if someone took Crossy Roadand Disco Zoo and put them in a blender, yet with a unique game mechanic that's still simple and fun for anyone. [Read more] | Read more »
Teeny Titans - A Teen Titans Go! Figure...
Teeny Titans - A Teen Titans Go! Figure Battling Game 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Teeny Titans, GO! Join Robin for a figure battling RPG of epic proportions!TEENY COMBAT | Read more »
All contents are Copyright 1984-2010 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.