I decide to choose two virtual machines. VirtualBox and Parallels.

Issue: Which of them good enough for visualization tasks? (GPU, games)

I want to install on my Macbook Pro 2011 more RAM: 4gb -> 8gb.
After that I want to install on virtual machine Win7 or Win8 with 4-5gb RAM.

As GPU I have AMD Radeon HD 6770M 1024 МБ

So, which of (VirtualBox or Parallels) give me more visualization performance?

  • Are there reasons only VB/P are in play? Also, if you don't define performance, than anyone can pick which graphics library or game they wish to optimize for. This is OK - but you'll get more detailed answers if you don't leave your performance measurement criteria so vague. – bmike Apr 14 '13 at 12:42
  • No, not only VB and Parallels. @bmike your choice? – gaussblurinc Apr 14 '13 at 14:08

In my experience the graphical performance of Parallels is better than VirtualBox. I tested it running different versions of Ubuntu and Windows 7.

For simple tasks VirtualBox is sufficient and it's free. But if you want to play games Parallels might be the better choice.

An alternative could be the cheaper VMware Fusion, but I never tested it.

But there are trial versions available of both Parallels and VWmare (VirtualBox is free anyway), so you could test what performs best in your use cases before you buy anything.

  • The free trials seems like a no brainier. Install the always free version and see how performance is. Then install one paid solution and see if its worth the cost. – bmike Apr 14 '13 at 12:45

It depends on what kind of thing you want to do, but neither will be a good enough option.

If doing GPU-intensive work, your best and probably only option is BootCamp, and then Parallels.

VMWare Fusion would work, but it's slightly behind Parallels. VirtualBox is worst, but it's free.

As for whether you want Windows 7 or 8, it really depends, Windows 8 start up a lot faster, but consumes quite a lot more resource than Windows 7 until I turened off some useless services.

Here's a link you can check out if you like to see some benchmark result.


And here's a even better one that compares all three virtualization software against Boot Camp.


  • 1
    I find VMware quite capable for engineering visualization needs. Are you saying all versions of VMware are behind all versions of parallels? I know parallels benchmarks better than others on some GPU tasks for immersive gaming - but I've not seen benchmarks where one beats the other in all GPU tests. – bmike Apr 14 '13 at 12:47
  • @bmike Generally, Parallels performs better than VMWare. There might be some hits and misses for both applications, but in most cases, Parallels do better. But Boot Camp is still the best in all cases. – Shane Hsu Apr 14 '13 at 17:01
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    I've evaluated both at several points in the past 5 years - and for my use, the speed difference in both was negligible (<5%). However, the cost to operate and maintain parallels was much higher for me. Parallels generally charges more for each upgrade, VMWare generally releases upgrades for free or substantially less cost - so my preference has been VMWare due to cost/toolset advantages rather than choosing Parallels for DirectX support. That being said, Parallels was first to the punch and I know many people that swear by it for many good reasons. – bmike Apr 14 '13 at 17:28
  • @bmike I actually played StarCraft II with both virtual machines, and the difference was pretty noticeable. That's why I recommend Parallels over VMWare for GPU work. – Shane Hsu Apr 14 '13 at 20:07
  • @bmike But that's true, their difference was quite small in terms of CPU work or benchmark result. – Shane Hsu Apr 14 '13 at 20:08

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