Parallels performance hit vs BootCamp

Andyk5

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How much of a performance hit (in %) am I looking at if I run a CPU and RAM intensive Windows program in Parallels versus in Bootcamp on the 2.7Ghz,16gig, 512ssd 15 MBPr?
 

UnknownSouljer

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I think you may not have a fundamental understanding of what Bootcamp is vs what Parallels is.

Bootcamp is just Apple's branding of running and installing Windows (or any other operating system) natively. This then is no different than if you installed Linux and Windows on the same PC and dual booted. The only tools added to Bootcamp by Apple then is simply a step-by-step process of doing this, in order to make it easier.

Parallels is virtualization. This means that it will share system resources between the two operating systems. I'm not so good at explaining these things, so I'll let Wikipedia do that.

Wikipedia article on virtualization said:
Hardware virtualization or platform virtualization refers to the creation of a virtual machine that acts like a real computer with an operating system. Software executed on these virtual machines is separated from the underlying hardware resources. For example, a computer that is running Microsoft Windows may host a virtual machine that looks like a computer with the Ubuntu Linux operating system; Ubuntu-based software can be run on the virtual machine.


The virtual machine by its very nature has more overhead than running natively. If you expect to game via virtual machine, you can go ahead and put that to rest for anything made within the last 10 years +/-. I have run VMware/Windows 7 to run some GOG games though. That's more or less fine.

However if you want to do general computing tasks in the virtual machine that is more than doable. How fast or slow it will be will depend on how many resources you assign to the virtual machine. Keep in mind you still have to run OSX as the underlying operating system so you can't assign everything to the virtual machine. Assigning 2 cores, and 4GB of RAM can make the experience smooth and workable enough. I've been finding however that OSX is better for me at general computing tasks. The people that will really benefit from Virtual Machines are people that need to do development (programming) in other operating system environments and those that need OS specific programs that are not available on other OSs. 3D Studio Max is one such example.
 

Andyk5

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Thank you for your detailed reply. I have a fairly good understanding of Virtual machines and dual boot systems. I have used and set up 10+ virtual machines and currently have VMware on my desktop hosting Linux and OSX. I just never owned a Mac, neither used the Parallels application. I do need to have a way of running Windows since there are couple programs that do not have Mac equivalents. It will be given to me through work IT if I go with a Mac so I do not have the say on if I want Parallels or VMware. I maybe be able to talk them in to making the system dual boot with Windows if needed though. Which is why I asked what the performance hit on a Parallels virtual machine would be versus running native windows. I do understand that it depends on the resources you assign to it, but I also know assigning half the resources does not necessary make it half as powerful. There is overhead and software emulation that goes in to play. I wanted to find out about that. If parallels made full use of the ram and CPU that it has assigned to it and basically can split the resources split in half, I would go with that, if not I may consider the dual boot.
Ps: I don't play games, at least on my work computer.
 

UnknownSouljer

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Thank you for your detailed reply. I have a fairly good understanding of Virtual machines and dual boot systems. I have used and set up 10+ virtual machines and currently have VMware on my desktop hosting Linux and OSX. I just never owned a Mac, neither used the Parallels application. I do need to have a way of running Windows since there are couple programs that do not have Mac equivalents. It will be given to me through work IT if I go with a Mac so I do not have the say on if I want Parallels or VMware. I maybe be able to talk them in to making the system dual boot with Windows if needed though. Which is why I asked what the performance hit on a Parallels virtual machine would be versus running native windows. I do understand that it depends on the resources you assign to it, but I also know assigning half the resources does not necessary make it half as powerful. There is overhead and software emulation that goes in to play. I wanted to find out about that. If parallels made full use of the ram and CPU that it has assigned to it and basically can split the resources split in half, I would go with that, if not I may consider the dual boot.
Ps: I don't play games, at least on my work computer.

The overhead is the tricky part of the equation. You're right in saying that half the resources doesn't mean half the performance. I'm not sure it is easily quantifiable. The most tricky part about it is the fact that all the hardware is virtualized using specialized drivers.

An option you may not have considered (or not known about) is that you can install Windows via Bootcamp and still load it (as in the partition) in VMware (I'm sure Parallels has a similar function). In other words, boot native when you need it, VM when you don't. There are tradeoffs in this method however. Some of the specialized virtualization features won't work, like you won't be able to use save/frozen states. But it's a good compromise overall.
 

StryderxX

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I use Parallels every day on my rMBP. It works perfectly with everything except applications that need video hardware acceleration. I configured my Windows 7 VM with 30gig of hard drive space, 4 gig of ram and 2 cores. I have no complaints.
 

Andyk5

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Does Parallels use a seperate virtual machine for every individual window that it is running or, it runs one Virtual machin that powers many individual applications. I know it has two modes where you have the full desktop view and the individual window view which makes it look like a native OSX application. I am asking about the second option.
 

sniggle

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It's the same VM. The latter is called "coherence" mode and all it does is essentially chop the framebuffer around the application, shove it in a native OSX window and then allow you to position it wherever you want. In my opinion it doesn't work smoothly enough to use and I prefer everything to be it a single desktop view.
 

mope54

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I used to use Parallels but I never updated it to the latest versions and prefer VirtualBox now

It lacks that coherence mode (which I wasn't particularly impressed with) and the ability to boot a native partition (like Parallels can) so if those features are important then they may be worth the cost.
 

Terpfen

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It's the same VM. The latter is called "coherence" mode and all it does is essentially chop the framebuffer around the application, shove it in a native OSX window and then allow you to position it wherever you want. In my opinion it doesn't work smoothly enough to use and I prefer everything to be it a single desktop view.

Parallels 9, currently in beta testing, supposedly improves performance in Coherence mode.

Personally, I'm OK with just running a Parallels session in its own Spaces window.
 

dextr3k

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Parallels 9, currently in beta testing, supposedly improves performance in Coherence mode.

Personally, I'm OK with just running a Parallels session in its own Spaces window.

I am doing that with vmware, i just 4 finger swipe left/right to switch between osx and windows. it is great.
 

thepawn

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I run a Win7 instance in coherence while I work from home, it works rather well though I wish they'd update the graphics again. Generally that's where you'll see the hit, graphics performance...the rest of the VM functions quite well depending on how much priority/cpu/ram you give it, but the video takes a bit of a hit in coherence it seems... I've used both VMware Fusion and Parallels and I still prefer Parallels. (been using it since v5)
 

Terpfen

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Parallels 9 is now available for upgraders. Just bought it; I'll let you know if I see any performance improvements.

Edit: There does seem to be some mild performance enhancements. My VM does load quicker from its shutdown state (not its suspended state), and in-VM activities do seem a little more responsive, even RDP. Can't comment on 3D performance.
 
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sniggle

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I really hate how they save some of these improvements for a major version number bump and charge you another $50 to get them. I understand they need to make money but I think these costs are a little high for upgrades. Hell, we'll get an entire major OS upgrade for probably $20 when Mavericks comes out. I'd be fine paying that for Parallels too, but not $50.

I might start using VirtualBox soon since I don't even utilize the coherence and I can easily set up my own file sharing between operating systems.
 

Grentz

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Personally I like Fusion, and it works great for normal applications.

I dont try and game or do anything crazy resource wise on it though.
 

CEpeep

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Personally I like Fusion, and it works great for normal applications.

I dont try and game or do anything crazy resource wise on it though.

Fusion is great. It's faster than Parallels in most benchmarks and it's compatible out-of-the-box with VMs from any other version of VMWare.

I think a lot of people are just on Parallels because it came to market before Fusion and they don't know that VMWare has a Mac version since it's not sold in the Apple Store and they don't do as much advertising.
 

Terpfen

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I really hate how they save some of these improvements for a major version number bump and charge you another $50 to get them. I understand they need to make money but I think these costs are a little high for upgrades. Hell, we'll get an entire major OS upgrade for probably $20 when Mavericks comes out. I'd be fine paying that for Parallels too, but not $50.

I might start using VirtualBox soon since I don't even utilize the coherence and I can easily set up my own file sharing between operating systems.

I don't think $50 for the ability to run basically any OS you want without buying new hardware is overpriced at all.

Now, VMWare's enterprise prices… THAT is overpriced.
 

sniggle

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I don't think $50 for the ability to run basically any OS you want without buying new hardware is overpriced at all.

Now, VMWare's enterprise prices… THAT is overpriced.

It's $50 for an upgrade from the previous version. All it seemingly changed is some fixes to support Mavericks and improvements to Windows 8 support as well as some increased disk speeds. I have no problem with their $80 cost for a non upgrade fresh install, but $50 for an upgrade with a fairly weak changelog is a bit steep.
 

Terpfen

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It's $50 for an upgrade from the previous version. All it seemingly changed is some fixes to support Mavericks and improvements to Windows 8 support as well as some increased disk speeds. I have no problem with their $80 cost for a non upgrade fresh install, but $50 for an upgrade with a fairly weak changelog is a bit steep.

People still think that the advertised features are the entirety of the changelog? Really?

I'm also not sure why you think paying $30 less for what you describe as a "fairly weak changelog" is better than paying full price for the same thing.
 

sniggle

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People still think that the advertised features are the entirety of the changelog? Really?

I'm also not sure why you think paying $30 less for what you describe as a "fairly weak changelog" is better than paying full price for the same thing.

To be clear: it costs 63% of the full retail price to get incremental improvements for existing customers. All I'm saying is that it seems to be priced a bit high, especially for those that own the immediately previous version. Granted, there could be more changes than what they advertise, but those will be even less important than the main bullet points and could probably have existed in a standard patch.

Not trying to derail this thread, just pointing out my opinions on the pricing for those trying to make a decision on buying Parallels. They do tend to have sale periods and coupon codes that make the price a bit more reasonable. I have enjoyed the product quite a bit, but if you don't really care about coherence mode then you may want to check out VirtualBox.
 

Terpfen

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To be clear: it costs 63% of the full retail price to get incremental improvements for existing customers. All I'm saying is that it seems to be priced a bit high, especially for those that own the immediately previous version. Granted, there could be more changes than what they advertise, but those will be even less important than the main bullet points and could probably have existed in a standard patch.

Put another way, existing customers get a 40% discount. Why is this a disincentive to upgrade? It isn't. The alternative is just to not buy the product, which is always an option and is what you seem to be advocating. Go for it, but don't try to present a discount as a less desirable option than paying full price in the same thread where you praise Parallels for offering their product on sale quite often.

Not trying to derail this thread

Your first post in this thread derailed it by changing the topic from performance to perceived value.
 

mope54

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I haven't found any downsides to virtualbox and it's free

has anyone else experienced anything that would be a downside to choosing virtualbox?
 
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I had issues with VirtualBox being able to drag & drop file transfers from host to virtual machine like VMware could...but that was years ago.

I just use Fusion as I already am running VMware on the Windows side, and ESXi, so I already have images made up for XP, 7, 8, 2008R2, 2012...for me using Fusion was a no-brainer. I just wish there was a Mac vSphere client.

If I were doing it just for personal use, and starting from scratch, I'd certainly give VirtualBox a shot, as it wouldn't cost anything.
 

mope54

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I just found instructions on how to boot a native partition from within virtualbox
 
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