The new version 12 of Parallels Desktop For Mac has a new configuration option. In the configuration panel > Hardware > CPU & Memory > Advanced Settings > Hypervisor is a popup menu for:

  • Hypervisor
    • Parallels
    • Apple

Which one do I should I be using when running macOS Sierra as the guest OS?

What exactly is the difference, the pros-and-cons of each?

The Parallels app Help has no mention of this new setting.

6 Answers 6


From About Parallels Desktop system extensions on macOS Big Sur (and later), October 2020:

At WWDC20, Apple was quoted as saying that “System Extensions improve the reliability and security of macOS, and deprecated kernel extensions will not load by default in macOS Big Sur”. Eventually, to make Parallels Desktop fully compatible with the new macOS Big Sur 11.0, Parallels Engineering has gone through years of engineering work of rebuilding Parallels Desktop and its features using the new macOS system APIs. This extensive and time-intensive development resulted in the all-new Parallels Desktop, explicitly designed to work and integrate with new macOS Big Sur technologies, and at the same time, deliver performance and productivity improvements to benefit Parallels Desktop customers.

[... snip ...]

For now, our team continues to work on supporting both Parallels and Apple hypervisors and continues collaborating with Apple on implementing the rest of Parallels Hypervisor features to Apple Hypervisor. We recommend using Apple hypervisor, and if you notice any difference between Apple and Parallels hypervisors for your use case, please let us know.

(Emphasis mine)

TL;DR: Security changes in MacOS have motivated Parallels to build on top of Apple's native system APIs.


This post in Parallels Forum clearly states to use Parallels Hypervisor:

Hi, Apple hypervisor comes short of the following matters comparing to the Parallels hypervisor:

  • Performance: slower on VM startup and shutdown

  • Stability: may crash more frequently

  • Functionality loss: no PMU, nested virtualization, thermal monitoring, energy profiling

Parallels Hypervisor is the best one.

By PaulChris@Parallels, a Parallels Support person.

  • 2
    Does it say why? Please avoid posting (basically) link-only answers as the idea of an answer is to explain the "why" - and "how", if necessary - behind why your answer is correct.
    – tubedogg
    Oct 6, 2016 at 4:35
  • 1
    As Tubedogg says, you should quote or summarize content linked in an Answer. Also, that linked post claims the Apple hypervisor is slower to startup/shutdown, crashes more, and lacks features such as power & thermal monitoring. No citations, no explanations, no upsides mentioned. Why would the Parallels team add support for the Apple hypervisor if it is so lame? Oct 7, 2016 at 16:02
  • Note that the rest of the comments in the linked post seem to heavily prefer Apple hypervisor for exact features mentioned above.
    – sudocracy
    Aug 24, 2020 at 20:31

The Apple Hypervisor is a user-centric lightweight hypervisor that Apple provides so developers don't have to write kernel extensions (KEXTs). From everything that I have gathered, this is primarily for a dev environment

From the Hypervisor documentation on Apple Developer:

The Hypervisor framework provides C APIs for interacting with virtualization technologies in user-space, without the need for writing kernel extensions (KEXTs). As a result, apps created using this framework are suitable for distribution on the Mac App Store.

The Parallels Hypervisor is a more robust Hypervisor that isn't "user centric." Meaning that it can be invoked at the OS level, not just at the user level. You also get much more robust features like the Adaptive Hypervisor Technology that allows you to allocate CPU resources across the host and guest VM's

My take...

If you are looking to run a Window 10 VM for testing or a specific app, then either Hypervisor will probably work just fine.

If you are looking to load up a Linux host for dev work that you want accessible whether or not you are at your machine, you probably want the Parallels Hypervisor.


Apple are in the process of reducing a developers ability to introduce kexts (kernel extensions) onto your device. They are doing this because software houses that rely on kexts have as a rule proven more than capable of producing sub optimal systems capable of destabilising a Mac. Both VMware and Parallels use kexts; both companies products are easily capable of destabilising a Mac and both companies produce sub optimal software. I have used both VMWare (Fusion) and Parallels on a Mac; out of the two I found Fusion to be the most stable.

CPU usage across both products? Well, Windows if you leave it to 'idle' has a nasty habit of updating. So that's going to bugger up any preconceived ideas of which system is the most efficient. I've seen some 'framework' virtualisation applications cropping up and I have to say slim is best; when they weigh in at around 20mb instead of nearly half a gig, I think that speaks for itself. Veertu Desktop was the first to come onto the App Store and weighed 13MB. Parallels Desktop "Lite" is 234MB?!? Why? Veertu Desktop was a little crude, but it ran like Usain Bolt with NO evidence of ANY hypervisor instabilities. It's a real shame they didn't finish the job off.

The hypervisor framework (released in Yosemite, around 3 years ago), will enable software suppliers to get virtualisation products into the Mac App Store. The framework is not for developers, it is a mechanism to be used by developers to get you the products you want. There are quite a number of free products now appearing that support this framework. As a developer I cannot wait to see more virtualisation products to come out that I can run Windows on (for software development). I look forward to kext free virtualisation. The compromise is likely to be a reduction or removal of gimmickry that burdens the host system. So, no fancy window skins; who's interested in that anyway? No 'side by side' (the hidden windows desktop); again not interested I always run in a window or full screen. No accelerated gaming, though I'm not sure on that one. But, if you seek a gaming machine go native or build one. I seek stable, optimised, fast and efficient virtualisation. Currently neither VMWare or Parallels supply this.

I was considering trying out Parallels Desktop Lite; but if it's bug free and works, why do I need a £60 per yer subscription? By European law, if the product is buggy I'm entitled to a fix; I shouldn't have to pay for it. I'm not keen on companies whose business model is to bind me into a subscription because they're providing me with buggy bloated software.

(@basil) update: this is parallels lite running high sierra high Sierra client in parallels lite

  • As for MS Windows, my Question referred only to macOS as the guest. Sep 13, 2017 at 19:34
  • It doesn't matter which OS you choose to use the hypervisor is a hardware abstraction layer. It's efficiencies or deficiencies will be common and devoid of the clients demands. Sep 13, 2017 at 19:38

From my own experience on a retina Macbook Pro 15' 2015 An idling Windows 10 VM running VS 2015 on VMWare Fusion is around 100% CPU the same on Parallels Hypervisor is around 50~60 with Apple Hypervisor, it's about 20%.

Crashes and lockups happen more or less as frequently whatever vm software or hypervisor I use.

You should try either setting and check what fits better for your use.


My take is that these technologies evolve very rapidly, so it's best to try these things out on your own.

Perhaps in 2017 Apple Hypervisor is faster, but now perhaps it is the other way around. For me, as of July 2021 Parallels Hypervisor led to less memory usage and a faster computer.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .