- Comparison of VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop
Represented by their respective products, VMware and Parallels are the two major commercial competitors in the Mac consumer virtualization market. Both products are based on hypervisor technology and allow users to run an additional 32- or 64-bit x86 operating system in a virtual machine alongside Mac OS X on an Intel-powered Mac. The similarity in features and functionality between VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop for Mac has given occasion for much comparison.
VMware Fusion 3.1 (4.0 is now released, this chart is out of date)
Parallels Desktop 7
Installing Windows on Mac Easy Install with Automatic Windows Setup Yes Yes Run off existing Boot Camp partition Windows XP (32-bit), Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit), Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit) Windows XP (32-bit), Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit), Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit) Allows suspending of VM running off the Boot Camp partition No Yes Import Physical Windows PC to VM Yes Yes Import Boot Camp partition to VM Yes Yes Full Support for Windows 7 Yes Yes Import Third Party VMs (Parallels, VMware, VirtualPC for Mac) Yes Yes Mac Support Higher Synthetic screen resolutions in Full-Screen mode without scrolling (e.g. Run Windows in 1920x1200 mode on a 1440x900 monitor) Yes No Migrate Windows 2000 PC to Mac Yes Yes Migrate Windows XP to Mac Yes Yes Migrate Windows 7 to Mac Yes Yes Migrate Linux to Mac No Yes Migrate PC over wireless network Yes Yes Migrate PC over Ethernet Yes Yes Migrate PC over FireWire Yes Yes Migrate PC over USB No Yes Windows documents migration to appropriate folders to Mac No Yes Migration of the Internet bookmarks and settings from Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome on PC to the default browser on the Mac. No Yes Comes with Video Tutorials to help Windows Switchers on Mac No Switch to Mac Edition Running Windows Apps on Mac Run Windows apps like Mac apps (Unity/Coherence) Yes Yes Exclude Dock in Unity/Coherence Yes Yes Windows application folder in Dock No Yes Windows Start Menu in Dock No Yes Windows application folder in menu bar Yes No Windows Start Menu in menu Yes Yes Always On Application Menu available to launch Windows apps at any time Yes Yes Quit Individual Window applications Yes Yes Use Command ` to switch between open windows in a Windows app Yes Yes Assign Windows applications to a Mac OS X Space Yes Doesn't keep windows from app together Shared Folders to access Mac files/folders from Windows Yes Yes Access Windows tray icons in Unity Yes Yes Arrow icon in the Mac menu bar for customizing Windows tray icons in Coherence. No Yes Progress for downloads and other operations is displayed on the Windows 7 applications icons in the Dock. No Yes Windows 7 Jump Lists are supported for Windows applications in the Dock: view your recent documents by right-clicking the application icon in the Dock. No Yes Grouping of all windows of a single Windows application under the same application icon in the Dock. No Yes Active screen corners No Yes Launch Windows or Mac internet applications from hyperlinks Yes Yes Windows applications can be set as the default applications for handling CDs and DVDs inserted into the Mac. No Yes Enable Apple Gestures to work with Windows applications No Yes Enable Apple Magic Mouse Gesture support with Windows applications No Yes Enable Apple Remote to work with Windows applications No Yes Launch Mac applications from any Windows file (Shared Applications/SmartSelect) Yes Yes Automatically mount storage and network devices to guest OS Yes Yes Suspend/Resume To Where You Last Left Off Yes Yes Pause VM if no application running to reduce Mac OS load. No Yes Mirrored/Remapped Desktop, Music, Documents, and Pictures Folders Yes Yes Contextual menu items "Run on Mac" and "Show in Finder" for Shared Folders No Yes Remapping Windows Keyboard Shortcuts to Mac Shortcuts Yes, completely customizable Yes, completely customizable Keyboard shortcut (F6 or Fn + F6) for hiding/showing Parallels Desktop and all its windows. No Yes Virtual Links - aliases to Mac OS files from Windows virtual machines Yes Yes Copy/Paste Text between Windows / Mac Yes, Plain and Rich (RTF) Text up to 4 MB Yes, Plain and Rich (RTF) Text Drag and Drop Text between Windows / Mac Yes, Plain and Rich (RTF) Text up to 4 MB No Drag and Drop Files Between Windows / Mac Yes Yes Copy/Paste Graphics between Windows / Mac Yes Yes Passthrough "Driverless" Printing to Mac Printers Yes Yes Making Windows Safer on Mac Single Snapshot support Yes Yes Multiple Snapshot support Yes Yes AutoProtect Automatic Snapshots Yes Yes TimeMachine backups can be synced with SmartGuard snapshots, to reduce the space required for backups. No Yes Automatically revert VM to start state upon termination No Yes Virtual machine encryption with AES algorithm for better security of your data (empowered by AES-NI hardware support on i5 and i7 CPUs) No Yes Mac OS Parental Controls are automatically applied to the virtual machine for managing children’s computer usage No Yes Windows AntiVirus & AntiSpyware Included 12-month subscription to McAfee VirusScan Plus. User Prompted to Install 3-month subscription to Kaspersky Internet Security. User Prompted to Install Mac OS AntiVirus Included No 3-month subscription to Kaspersky Anti-Virus for Mac. User Prompted to Install Lock down application and virtual machine settings to prevent changes No Yes Isolated Virtual Machines No Yes Designed for Mac (Fit and Finish) Optimized for Lion No Yes Optimized for Snow Leopard Runs on 64-bit kernel, 64-bit VMM, 64-bit helper application, 32-bit GUI Runs on 64-bit kernel, 64-bit VMM, 64-bit helper application, 64-bit GUI UI Built from Ground Up for Mac Cocoa and GTK+ frameworks Nokia Qt library with Carbon and Cocoa frameworks. Welcome Screen to Simplify Initial Setup Yes Yes Mac-like Settings and Preferences Windows Yes Yes Apply different colors to virtual machines to find them in Finder or in the virtual machines list No Yes Customizable Toolbars Yes Yes Default virtual machine to launch on application startup Yes Yes Virtual Machine Library Yes Yes Live View of Running Virtual Machines in Library/Settings Yes Yes Live View of Running Virtual Machine in Dock No Yes Startup in Last View Format Yes Yes Reduce the virtual hard disk size as its unused space grows Yes Yes Apple Help (Searchable with Mac Design) Yes Yes Single File Virtual Machine Packages Yes Yes QuickLook/Cover Flow Integration Yes Yes Mount Running Virtual Machines in Finder No Yes Mount Stopped Virtual Machines in Finder Yes Yes Use iSight in OS X and Windows No Yes Advanced Platform 32-bit Guest Operating Systems Yes Yes 64-bit Guest Operating Systems Yes Yes Multi-CPU virtual machines Up to 8 processors per VM & Multi Core (as of VMWare Fusion 3.1) Up to 8 processors per VM & Multi Core Virtual CPU supports AES-NI when running on i5 and i7 CPUs No Yes Maximum RAM per virtual machine 8 GB 8 GB Support for IPv6, the next-generation version of the Internet Protocol, in shared, bridged and host-only networking. No Yes Windows Aero (WDDM for Windows Vista and Windows 7) Yes Yes DirectX 3D Graphics Support DirectX 9.0c with Shader Model 3 DirectX 9.0Ex with Shader Model 3 OpenGL 3D Graphics Support for Windows Vista & Windows 7 guest OS OpenGL 2.1 (as of VMWare Fusion 3.1) OpenGL 2.1 OpenGL 3D Graphics Support for Windows XP guest OS OpenGL 2.1 OpenGL 2.1 OpenGL 3D Graphics Support for Linux guest OS No Open GL 2.1 Multiple monitor/display support Up to 10, each display is separate unique display to Windows Up to 10, each display is separate unique display to Windows Hardware Assisted Video/Movie Playback Yes Yes Maximum video RAM per VM 288 MB 1 GB USB 2.0 passthrough support Yes Yes Support for external surround sound 5.1 USB or FireWire devices work simultaneously in Mac and the virtual machine. No Yes 64-bit Native Engine 64-bit VMM, 64-bit kernel extensions, 64-bit helper application, 32 GUI 64-bit VMM, 64-bit kernel extensions, 64-bit helper application, 32 GUI Power Management/Battery Passthrough Yes Yes Bluetooth support (as USB device) Yes Yes Firewire passthrough support No No Virtual IDE Controller Yes Yes Virtual SCSI Controller Yes Yes Virtual SAS Controller Yes Yes, using software emulation in guest OS Shared Smart Card Yes Yes Low Level Access to Network Interfaces (promiscuous mode / WiFi monitor mode etc.) Yes No Advanced Tools Virtual Disk Management Yes, Integrated in Settings Editor Yes, Standalone tool Resize Virtual Disks Yes Yes Advanced Network Management Requires modifying networking scripts Yes Control VMs with Scripting option Yes Yes Supports Intel VT-x hardware virtualization engine Yes Yes Network (PXE) Boot Yes Yes Run More Operating Systems on Mac Run Multiple Operating Systems at One Time Yes, run up to 20 with available memory Yes Supported x86 Operating Systems Over 140 operating systems Over 60 operating systems Run Linux virtual machines Yes Yes Linux Easy Install with Automatic Setup Yes Yes Linux virtual machine support Window resize, time sync, shared folders, drag and drop Window resize, time sync, shared folders Run Linux apps like Mac apps with Unity/Coherence Yes (Ubuntu and Red Hat with Gnome) Yes Run Mac OS X Server virtual machines Yes Yes Import VHD Test Drives Yes Yes Run Virtual Appliances Over 1200 available Fewer than 100 available iPhone/iPad mobile client Allows to work with remote VM on iPhone/iPad No Yes Allows user to connect over internet No Yes
Minimum system requirements
Requirement Product VMware Fusion 3.1 Parallels Desktop 7 Host OS Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later; Mac OS X 10.6 or later Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later; Mac OS X 10.6 or later; OS X 10.7 or later RAM 1 GB (2 GB Recommended) 1 GB (2 GB Recommended) Disk space for product 700 MB 450 MB
2007 Benchmark tests
On August 16, 2007, CNET published the results of several benchmarks in which Fusion demonstrated better performance than Parallels Desktop for Mac in SMP-aware applications, which Fusion supports while Parallels does not. It should also be noted that Boot Camp is a tool for natively booting Windows XP on Intel Macintosh and is not a virtualization product. This comparison is of limited value today, as both products have had 2 major upgrades since then.
This comparison was tested on an eight-core, 2.66 GHz MacPro running Mac OS X 10.4.10, Parallels Desktop 3.0 for Mac (build 4560) and VMware Fusion 1.0 (build 51348). Fusion and Parallels were both set to 1,024 MB of system memory and a 32 GB hard disk. Fusion was set to 128 MB of graphics memory, and Parallels Desktop for Mac was set to 64 MB of graphics memory (the maximum for each at that time).
2008 Benchmark tests
In Volume 24, Issue 02 of MacTech, the editors published the results of one-step and task tests between VMware Fusion 1.0, Parallels Desktop 3.0 and Boot Camp and used a PC running Windows XP as a baseline comparison in a native PC environment.
- One-step Test: After clicking the mouse or pressing a key, this test requires no further human action.
- Task Test: This tests the interaction between Mac OS X and the virtual environment and requires multiple tests throughout the process.
MacTech found that the faster the physical host computer, the more similarly Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion performed. MacTech did not test multiple processor performance. The following graphs displays the results in seconds. Shorter bars indicate faster performance.
Each test was run on a MacBook (2 GB RAM; 1.83 GHz Core Duo processor), a MacBook Pro (4 GB RAM; 2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo processor) and a Mac Pro (4 GB RAM; Quad Core configuration with two 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors). MacTech tested Parallels Desktop 3.0 for Mac Build 5160 and VMware Fusion 1.0 Build 51348. All tests were done on clean host systems with new installations of Mac OS X 10.4.10 and Office installations and included all of the most up-to-date patches. No third party software was installed other than Mac OS X, VMware Fusion, Parallels Desktop, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Adobe Reader and Microsoft Office.
2009 Benchmark tests
In March, 2009, Volume 25, Issue 04, MacTech  published the results of a new series of benchmark tests that compared the performance between VMware Fusion 2.0.1 and Parallels Desktop 4.0 for Mac (build 3540), both running Mac OS X 10.5.5.
In most of MacTech’s tests, Parallels Desktop performed 14-20% faster than Fusion; however, Fusion ran 10% faster than Parallels Desktop when running Windows XP 32-bit on 2 virtual processors.
OS/Environment Result Windows XP, 32-bit, 1 Processor Parallels Desktop runs 14% faster Windows Vista, 32-bit, 1 Processor Parallels Desktop runs 14% faster Windows XP, 32-bit, 2 Processors VMware Fusion runs 10% faster Windows Vista, 32-bit, 2 Processors Parallels Desktop runs 20% faster Windows XP, 64-bit, 2 Processors Parallels Desktop runs 15% faster
The tests were performed on the White MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac and MacPro. Both Fusion and Parallels Desktop were optimized for virtual machine performance. MacTech’s test included launch and CPU tests, File and Network IO, Footprint, Application Launch, Application Performance and 3D and HD Graphics. In many cases, tests were performed after both Adam and Successful launches and were timed using a stopwatch.
Test Suite Performance Winner Windows Launch Performance Parallels Desktop for Mac CPU Parallels Desktop for Mac, except for 2 of the 14 tests Footprint on Mac Parallels Desktop for Mac Application Launch VMware Fusion Application Performance Both products did well, except for IE where Parallels Desktop is 80-91% faster 3D and HD Performance Dependent on game1, video and Windows environment.
1 3D Games tested were Civilization IV: Colonization and Portal. In Civilization, Parallels Desktop has faster FPS (Frames Per Second) and performed better on slower machines while Fusion has better, more detailed graphics. Fusion has difficulty showing the startup video, but Parallels Desktop's graphics are not as rich. When running Portal, Fusion is faster but its graphics are visibly lighter, while Parallels Desktop has better graphics and visual details.
Cross-platform task tests
MacTech’s cross platform tests timed how long it took users to perform multi-step tasks that moved data between Mac OS X and Windows. VMware Fusion, which is designed for increased isolation from the host, requires more manual steps to move data between the host and the virtual environment. Parallels Desktop, which is designed to run transparently with the Mac OS X host, requires fewer steps to perform the same tasks. Therefore, Parallels Desktop was faster.
Networking and file I/O tests
Parallels Desktop occasionally displayed lag anomalies while VMware Fusion's virtual drive performance was very close to that of a physical drive. VMware Fusion preferred a bridged connection for reliable performance, and Parallels Desktop was consistent regardless of the type of virtual network adaptor used.
Simultaneous use of VM and host OS
Parallel Desktop 5 always uses wired memory for hosted OS, while VMWare Fusion 3.0 uses active memory that can be swapped. Giving better performance to hosted VM, this leaves less memory to host OS programs and causes more swapping if you use VM and host OS programs at the same time.
2010 Benchmark tests
In 2010 MacTech, Volume 26, Issue 01, published the results of a new series of benchmark tests showing a performance advantage for Parallels Desktop 5 across all subcategories, with an average of 30% faster.
ITPro's November 2010 performance testing results were mixed, with Parallels being slightly faster, overall.
- Comparison of platform virtual machines for a list of related virtualization software products
- Desktop virtualization
- Microsoft Virtual PC
- Platform virtualization
- Virtual machine
- x86 virtualization
- ^ a b Begun, Daniel (2007-08-17). "Inside CNET Labs: Windows virtual machine performance on the Mac". CNET. http://crave.cnet.com/8301-1_105-9760910-1.html. Retrieved 2007-10-04.
- ^ Ticktin, Neil. "Virtualization Benchmarking How do Boot Camp, Parallels Desktop, and VMware Fusion stack up?". MacTech. http://www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/Vol.24/24.02/VirtualizationBenchmark/. Retrieved February 2008.
- ^ Ticktin, Neil. "Head-to-Head: Parallels Desktop for Mac vs. VMware Fusion". MacTech. http://www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/Vol.25/25.04/VMBenchmarks/. Retrieved March 2009.
- ^ http://www.mactech.com:16080/articles/mactech/Vol.25/25.04/VMBenchmarks/index-001.html
- ^ http://www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/Vol.25/25.04/VMBenchmarks/index-002.html
- ^ http://www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/Vol.25/25.04/VMBenchmarks/index-003.html
- ^ Ticktin, Neil. "Head-to-Head: Parallels Desktop for Mac vs. VMware Fusion". MacTech. http://www.mactech.com/articles/special/1002-VirtualizationHeadToHead/index-001.html. Retrieved March 2010.
- ^ http://www.itpro.co.uk/628492/head-to-head-parallels-desktop-6-vs-vmware-fusion-3/4
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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