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Benchmarks: VMware Fusion trounces Parallels

updated 05:45 pm EDT, Thu August 16, 2007

Fusion vs. Parallels

In a new set of benchmarks comparing SWsoft's Parallels Desktop 3.0 for Mac, Apple's Boot Camp 1.3 Beta, CrossOver Mac 6.0 from CodeWeavers and VMware's Fusion, Boot Camp (as a native Windows environment) unsurprisingly shows the best performance overall, but VMWare's Fusion shows a dramatic advantage over other virtualization solutions, including Parallels. The tests, performed on an eight-core, 2.66GHz Mac Pro running Mac OS X 10.4.10, show VMware completing a set of multimedia multitasking routines in about a quarter of the time of Parallels; 874 seconds vs. 3,260 seconds. Photoshop CS3 performance was almost twice as fast under Fusion relative to Parallels Desktop, completing a series of tasks in 271 seconds vs. 516 seconds.

One of Fusion's primary advantages in the test is that it takes advantage of two CPU cores, while Parallels only takes advantage of one.

We recently published an in-depth look at Fusion along with commentary from Pat Lee, product manager of at VMware. Lee said that VMware generates "less overhead, and puts less strain on your Mac than other solutions." Lee also said that only VMware supports more than 1.5GB of RAM in a virtual machine (in fact, it supports up to 8GB).

Designed to rival Parallels' "Cohesion" functionality, VMware's Unity let's users run Windows applications like Mac applications. They can be minimized to the Dock, and adhere to other Mac-compliant application standards. You can also drag and drop files from the Finder to a Windows app running under Unity. For instance, if you are running Outlook in Windows, you can drag an attachment to into a newly created email message.

by MacNN Staff



  1. adrian_milliner

    Joined: Dec 1969


    i concur

    I've been a Parallels user from the beginning, but I've now completely switched to VMWare Fusion for reasons of stability and performance...

    Parallels now needs to concentrate on quality and polish and stop trying to get as many buggy features in as possible.

  1. TheSnarkmeister

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Yes, but...

    Yes, Parallels was a little slow, but it was innovative and they moved fast into the market. I would have stayed with them if they had only bothered to provide even a modicum of service. As it was, they wouldn't even bother to return e-mails or phone calls when you were trying to give them money for upgrades, let alone when you actually needed tech support.

  1. Tralthamidor

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Parallels probably has the worst support in the industry. And it's a program that when things go wrong you can lose a lot. No response to emails or phone calls. I finally called the sales line and was told that the main office is in Moscow which causes serious delays. No excuse though as they probably made 10's of millions and won't open a real support center in the US where I assume the majority of sales come from...-

  1. aubin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not entirely fair test

    I think VMWare is likely to be faster, based on my experience with the software, but for this to be a proper benchmark, it should have been more controlled. I would have preferred to see how it worked with 1 core so we could see the actual optimization of the software.

    Most Macs are dual-core, not eight-core, so it's also not terribly useful for the zillion people on MacBooks either.

  1. chefpastry

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Fusion networking slower?

    I tested both Parallels (1.4GB of RAM because it wouldn't work with 1.5GB) and Fusion (2GB of RAM and one CPU core) on my Mac Pro (3GHz 4-core, 14GB RAM). I primarily used them with a usenet news reader called Newsbin Pro. I found that Parallels would max out my downstream bandwidth while Fusion would not. Also, when mounted my Bootcamp partition (the same partition that Parallels and Fusion used) in OS X and tried to play videos, it would stutter with Fusion and never did with Parallels.

    Fusion crashed on me a few times after leaving it up and running for about 3 days. Parallels also has some bugs to work out... It has problems handling memory and can not boot when I assign 1.5GB to my VM. It works when I assign 1.4GB to it, but if I quit and try to re-launch Parallels, it won't boot because of the same memory issue.

    In my opinion, both are still still need a few more bug fixes...

  1. makesense

    Joined: Dec 1969


    junk v professionals

    Parallels and its support have evolved into lousy. VMWare has professional support that have specifically researched some matters I brought to their attention. I finally gave up trying to get any response from Parallels regarding my confusing license situation and the reasons it trashed my bootcamp operating system.

  1. KennyL

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Parallels Support

    I agree. Parallels is by and large an ok product. But God forbid you require any assistance. E-mail responses (if any) are brief and never helpful.

    NOTE TO VM/FUSION: Create a Parallels Migration Tool and you'll make money hand over fist.

  1. mike3k

    Joined: Dec 1969


    A switcher

    I also started using Parallels from the beginning and switched to VMware. I always thought VMware felt faster than Parallels and it definitely didn't slow down my entire system the way parallels does. Parallels also feels too much like a hack.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    real pc

    Why don't you just spend the $1.95 to buy a real pc, and get stick of gum along with it. I guess its not really that simple anymore, not if fusion is giving you cut and paste with your mac apps (plus if you have a laptop)...but for now I'm happy having a real pc to go with the, and really not all that expensive.

  1. wadesworld

    Joined: Dec 1969


    VMWare all the way

    I started with Parallels, but it became slower and slower. Now, if I load up Parallels, it locks my machine for about 5 minutes and then works at glacial speeds when it finally starts responding.

    VMWare is a thing of beauty. It works exactly as advertised. Once the extend their snapshot functionality to allow multiple snapshots, they'll have everything.

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