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Parallels 7 faster then VMware Fusion 4 in most tests, says MacTech

Monday, November 7, 2011

Parallels Desktop 7 generally runs faster than VMware Fusion 4, particularly in graphics, according to a report by MacTech Magazine. The report also showed that Parallels Desktop 7 used less battery power than VMware Fusion 4 on MacBooks. It wasn't a runaway win for Parallels, however, as VMware Fusion 4 ran faster than Parallels Desktop 7 in a small number of the tests, and tied Parallels in some other others. MacTech did not, however, compare features or ease-of-use of the two products.

MacTech ran a variety benchmark and real-world application tests of the two virtualization programs on five different Mac models with varying amounts of RAM. The Macs used Mac OS X 10.7.1 as the host OS and Windows 7 as the guest OS running in a virtual machine. The benchmark tests all ran in the Windows 7 virtual machine.

In the article, MacTech's Neil Ticktin described the overall results, which are displayed in the pie chart:

"When we look at the "big picture" of all the top-level test results, Parallels is the clear winner. If you count up the general tests (including the top 3D graphics scores), Parallels won 60% of the tests by 10% or more. And, if you include all the tests where Parallels was at least 5% faster, as well as the balance of the 3DMark06 graphics tests, Parallels increased the lead further. In other words, Parallels Desktop 7 beat VMware Fusion 4.0.2 in 74.9% of the general tests we ran, and Parallels was double the speed or more in almost a quarter of the top-level tests.

If you focus exclusively on 3D graphics, as measured by 3DMark06 version 1.2, Parallels won by an even larger margin. Specifically, Parallels won 71% of the tests by 10% or more, and was also a bit faster on an additional 8% 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."

Ticktin also described where VMware Fusion 4 is faster than Parallels Desktop 7:

There are a handful of places where VMware Fusion consistently was faster than Parallels Desktop. For example, doing a full Shut Down of Windows 7 was faster in VMware Fusion. And, there were a couple of test configurations for File I/O tests and application launches that VMware was definitely faster, but Parallels was also faster in other instances of similar tests.

Overall, of the top-level tests, VMware Fusion won 7.8% of the tests by at least 10%. For the 3D tests, VMware Fusion never beat Parallels, but tied about 20% of the time. There's no doubt that VMware Fusion 4 is significantly better in graphics than version 3.1, but it still has not caught up to Parallels Desktop.

MacTech also found that Parallels also used less battery power:

Parallels Desktop has new power management features that stretch your battery life. On the MacBook Pro, we saw about 25% more battery time on an idling virtual machine (which results in 81 additional minutes of use) than we did on VMware Fusion in the same test.”

Ticklin is careful to note that MacTech did not consider the features or ease of use of the two programs:

To be clear, this article is not a product review; it's a benchmarking analysis. You should use it as part of your decision combined with other factors, such as product features, user interface, which OS you want to run, graphics capabilities and support to make your product choice.

You can read about the features of the two products in our First Look articles for Parallels Desktop 7 and VMware 4. Recently, Parallels added ability to run Windows 8 Developer Preview, a feature that VMware Fusion 4 always had.

MacTech has tested earlier versions of Parallels Desktop in VMware Fusion in the past, and Parallels has usually been faster in most tests. Parallels Desktop 7 and VMware Fusion 4 both shipped in September and were major updates for both products.

(Quoted text and graphic used with permission from MacTech.)

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