2015 VM Benchmarks: Parallels 11 vs. Fusion 8 vs. VirtualBox 5
Futuremark’s 3DMark is the latest in a long line of industry-standard gaming benchmark suites. 3DMark offers a range of tests that can evaluate the performance of everything from a low-power tablet to a $15,000 quad-SLI gaming PC, and it looks at a CPU’s ability to handle gaming-related physics calculations in addition to pure GPU performance.
3DMark offers multiple tests of increasing complexity that support DirectX 9, DirectX 10, and DirectX 11. However, Fusion 8 and Parallels 11 only support up to DirectX 10, allowing us to run only the entry-level and mid-range 3DMark tests. Of note, VirtualBox technically supports up to DirectX 11, and its graphics driver reports that compatibility to the guest OS, enabling access to the higher-end tests. Graphics performance, however, is so poor in VirtualBox at these higher levels that it is unusable for any practical purpose.
We’ll start with Ice Storm, the lowest-end 3DMark test that uses DirectX 9 APIs.
As we noted in our Fusion 8 benchmarks earlier this week, VMware made graphics performance a major goal of this new release, and that work pays off with Fusion 8 enjoying a significant lead over Parallels 11 in GPU-focused portions of the Ice Storm test. The CPU-bound physics test, however, reveals the much closer competition between these two products, with Parallels narrowly beating Fusion and both approaching near-native performance.
The next test, Ice Storm Extreme, is another DirectX 9 benchmark that runs the same basic script as the standard Ice Storm test above, but increases the resolution to 1080p and utilizes higher quality textures and lighting effects, making it harder overall on the GPU.
When confronted with a more demanding DirectX 9 scenario, Fusion 8 still easily wins, but sees its margin over Parallels 11 fall from about 46 percent to just under 25 percent. Again, we see that Parallels has a slight edge over Fusion when it comes to CPU-focused physics calculations.
The Cloud Gate benchmark is a DirectX 10 test, and the most advanced 3DMark benchmark that’s compatible with our virtualization software.
As expected, neither platform offers anywhere near native performance when it comes to the still-developing DirectX 10 APIs, but Parallels’ implementation of the feature gives it about a 3 percent lead over Fusion 8.
The introduction of DirectX 10 support in Fusion 8 means that we no longer need to rely on older benchmarks in order to have cross-compatibility between the various Parallels and Fusion updates. Since we included it in our individual looks at Fusion 8 and Parallels 11, however, here’s how the two compare in 3DMark06 performance, although this will likely be the last year that this benchmark is included in our testing suite.
The performance margins are much closer in 3DMark06 than they were in the Ice Storm tests, with Fusion performing better in terms of pure graphics power and Parallels taking the lead in CPU-focused tests. Of note, our VirtualBox VM would not complete the 3DMark06 test, and so it is omitted from the results.
Table of Contents
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9. Video Encoding
10. File Transfers
11. USB 3.0 Speed
12. Virtual Machine Management
13. Battery Life
14. Mac Pro: Gaming
15. Mac Pro: CPU