Parallels Smacks Down VMware in Mac Virtualization Testing

Dave Courbanou

November 3, 2011

3 Min Read
Parallels Smacks Down VMware in Mac Virtualization Testing

Attention all Mac VARs and fanatics: Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion have gone head to head in a benchmark throwdown performed by MacTech Labs. The victor? Parallels Desktop for Mac. Read on for the benchmark numbers and some perspective …

Why are we reporting on virtualization software tech specs? Because as Macs become more popular and find their way into the enterprise and SMB, ensuring cross-platform support is often important. Sometimes running desktop virtualization software is the best way to make the most of IT budget constraints or compatibility issues. The two biggest popular contenders in that arena right now are Parallels Desktop for Mac and VMware Fusion. Both offer nearly the exact same features, and both companies have been after each other’s user base. But MacTech Labs has given both of them a complete benchmarking workout across five different Apple systems, with tests including 3D graphics, virtualization speed for Windows 7, application launching, Internet Explorer 9 benchmarks and virtualizing OS X Lion on top of Lion.

The results are long and numerous, but in nearly every instance, Parallels Desktop for Mac delivered more performance than VMWare Fusion. Here’s what you really need to know:

  • On 3D Graphics with 3D Mark06 3D: “Parallels won by an even larger margin. Specifically, Parallels won 71 percent of the tests by 10 percent or more, and was also a bit faster on an additional 8 percent more of the tests, and tied on the rest. In other words, Parallels Desktop 7 beat or tied VMware Fusion 4.0.2 in all of the 3D graphics tests we ran.”

  • On Internet Explorer 9: Using Microsoft’s own IE9 benchmarks, “… [a]cross the board, Internet Explorer 9 performed significantly better on Parallels Desktop than it did on VMware Fusion — in some cases, almost 90 percent more.”

  • On Power Consumption: Of the MacBooks tested, the amount of power consumption when virtualization was running but idle was clocked. Parallels garnered “81 more minutes of battery life on the MacBook Pro.” That’s a huge chunk of time and productivity back.

  • Conclusion: “Parallels Desktop 7 beat VMware Fusion 4.0.2 in 74.9 percent of the general tests we ran, and Parallels was double the speed or more in almost a quarter of the top-level tests. “

MacTech Labs didn’t vigorously test virtualized OS X Lion on top of OS X Lion, but said both Parallels and VMware were on par with each other. But the other numbers speak for themselves — Parallels is killing it right now. The bigger overall picture? According to MacTech Labs, virtualization on a Mac is more than a novelty, it’s something that works “really well.” If you’ve been hesitant to use such technology in your SMB or enterprise, perhaps MacTech Lab’s extensive review could change your mind, especially if consumerization of IT hasn’t.

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