Virtualization Benchmark Showdown – Parallels 10 vs. Fusion 7 vs. VirtualBox
Hardware, Software, and Testing Methodology
For the following benchmarks, our tests were primarily performed on a 3.5GHz 6-core 2013 Mac Pro, with 64GB of memory and dual 3GB AMD FirePro D500 GPUs. The battery life tests were performed on a 2011 15-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.3GHz CPU, 16GB of memory, 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6750M GPU, and Samsung 840 Pro SSD.
The guest operating system for all tests is 64-bit Windows 7 Professional and, despite the impeding release of OS X Yosemite, our host operating system had to be the officially supported and stable OS X Mavericks. Both operating systems were updated with all relevant patches as of early September.
Our Windows 7 virtual machines were configured with 2 virtual CPUs, 8GB of memory, and 512MB of GPU memory. In addition, all options in each virtualization app to maximize guest operating system performance were enabled. There is not always a direct equivalent in each app for options of this nature, but examples include telling the virtualization software to prioritize the guest OS, disabling unnecessary UI effects such as Coherence/Unity, and using a pre-sized virtual disk as opposed to an expanding disk.
In terms of virtualization software specifics, we tested Parallels 10.0.0 (27675), Fusion 7.0.0 (2075534), and VirtualBox 4.3.14, all of which were the most recent versions available when testing began. Parallels has just released an update to version 10.0.2 (27712), but it arrived too late for inclusion in these benchmarks. We are re-running certain tests on this new build, however, and will post an update if there is a measurable difference in performance.
Most tests below were performed three times on each platform, and the results were averaged. As is standard policy at TekRevue, if any result in a series deviated by more than 5 percent, additional tests would be run until the source of the variance was discovered. In the case of this benchmark showdown, however, this was not an issue.
While most tests were performed three times, some were performed with greater or fewer iterations as dictated by the testing software and conditions. These exceptions are noted in the applicable test description. Some the charts on the following pages pack a lot of information into a relatively small space. If you have trouble reading a particular chart, just click or tap on it to load a full-sized image.