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Parallels 11 Benchmarks vs. Parallels 10 and Boot Camp

Posted by Jim Tanous on August 20, 2015
parallels 11 benchmarks

parallels 11 macbook pro

Hardware, Software, and Testing Methodology

Our tests this year were performed on a Mid-2014 15-inch MacBook Pro, sporting an Intel Core i7-4870HQ CPU at 2.5GHz, 16GB of RAM, a 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M GPU, and a 512GB PCIe flash storage drive. As mentioned, Parallels 11 advertises support for OS X El Capitan, but we were reluctant to perform tests on beta software, so our host operating system for the Parallels 10 and Parallels 11 VMs was OS X Yosemite 10.10.5. When El Capitan launches to the public later this year, we’ll conduct some additional tests to see if there’s a performance difference, and we’ll update this article if we find one.

While Parallels 11 supports a wide range of operating systems, most users will likely use the software to run Windows. Considering the relatively positive reception to Windows 10, not to mention Parallels 11’s advertised support for the new OS, we decided to base our tests on Microsoft’s latest and potentially greatest version of Windows, specifically Windows 10 Pro 64-bit.

We wanted to test Parallels 11’s performance not only as it compared to its direct predecessor, but also as it compared to native performance. We therefore configured a Windows 10 partition via Boot Camp, and ran all tests on each implementation of the operating system: Boot Camp, Parallels 10, and Parallels 11.

Regarding our choice to use the 64-bit version of Windows, it’s true that the 32-bit version can be easier to virtualize and therefore may offer slightly better performance in certain circumstances. Unfortunately, the latest version of Boot Camp requires the use of a 64-bit version of Windows, so we elected to use the 64-bit version in our virtual machines as well for the sake of consistency.

Each of our Windows 10 virtual machines was configured for maximum performance, with 8 assigned virtual CPUs, 12GB of RAM (the maximum recommended amount in order to ensure that enough is reserved for OS X), and 1GB of graphics memory configured for Parallels’ DirectX 10 support. While we touched on the new Parallels 11 features earlier, all features that could possibly impact performance were disabled, and the VM was configured for maximum performance in the Parallels settings.

All operating systems and testing software were updated to their most recent versions as of the date of this article. More information about each benchmark application or test can be found on its respective results page.

As is standard practice here at TekRevue, all tests, unless otherwise noted in the results, were performed three times for each Windows installation, and the results were averaged. Our normal procedure in the event of a discrepancy greater than 5 percent is to re-run the tests until the issue can be identified. That was not necessary for these tests, however, as all results from each iteration were within the acceptable range of deviation.

You can browse the results of each test in order by clicking the “Next” or “Previous” buttons, below, or you can jump directly to a specific test by selecting it from the Table of Contents. We had to pack a lot of information into the results charts on the following pages, and they may be difficult to read when viewed on small screens. If you have trouble reading the data, you can access a full size version of any chart by clicking or tapping on it.

Table of Contents

[one_half padding=”0 5px 20px 0″]
1. Introduction
2. Parallels 11 Feature Overview
3. Hardware, Software, and Testing Methodology
4. Geekbench
5. 3DMark (2013)
6. 3DMark06
7. Cinebench R15
[/one_half]

[one_half_last padding=”0 0px 20px 5px”]
8. PCMark 8
9. Passmark PerformanceTest 8.0
10. x264 Encoding
11. x265 Encoding
12. File Transfers
13. Virtual Machine Management
14. Conclusions
[/one_half_last]

8 thoughts on “Parallels 11 Benchmarks vs. Parallels 10 and Boot Camp”

Asheesh says:
Hi Jim! Thanks for the detailed article however.

I have bought a Macbook Pro (i7, 16 GB, 500 GB) and have got a Parallels free. I want to use MS Visio and Project which only run on Windows. I wanted to check if there would be considerable difference in performance if i were to use in MS Visio and Project on Parallels, instead of using Boot Camp?
Also, i am planning to buy the Office 2016. Should i be buying the Mac Version or the Windows version (that has Access and a couple of other softwares at the same price ) and run it on Parallels?
Much appreciate your guidance.

Reply
Jarrel Benedict says:
Hi! I’ve used Visio on both Boot Camp and Parallels and there aren’t substantial performance difference although it appears to run a little (and I mean a little) faster on Boot Camp (probably because Boot Camp utilizes all of the Mac hardware–RAM, CPU–at its disposal. For the Office Suite, I recommend the Windows version. It comes with more software and features. You can search for a spec comparison of the different versions of Office 2016 to see the difference among them.
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wimver says:
I’ve been a Parallels 9 user and was about to upgrade to VMWare Fusion 8 after reading several reviews. Also because I did not like it I had to pay to upgrade my Parallels license if I wanted to upgrade Mac OS to OS X El Captain… I don’t like this kind of “you have to”‘s. So I was holding my credit card ready in my hand, ready to pay for Fusion 8. Especially with their Parallels to VMWare upgrade offering. But I thought: let’s try it fist; so I installed the trial of Fusion 8… This was so disappointing for me… First I imported the existing Parallels virtual machine and converted it which went really smooth. But then… Starting up time: disappointing by all means. I first thought: OK, maybe VMWare tools have to be installed first; but no: even after rebooting several times: boot-up time kept on being disappointing. Then… opening a Visual Studio project: disappointing. I’m not even talking about compiling some code: very disappointing. It just took so much much much longer time then it did in Parallels 9! So now; I just upgrade to Parallels 11: I love it! Boot-up time, Visual Studio performance, … I love it. It’s even better than Parallels 9. The only thing I don’t love is that I had to upgrade. But for my point of view it’s obvious: Parallels beats VMWare Fusion.
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Yiannis Tsentas says:
How to Install Windows 10 from iso on old MacBook running El Capitan

http://tsentas.net/install-windows-10-from-iso-on-old-macbook-running-el-capitan/

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Simon Cook says:
I’m not upgrading Parallels any more. I’ve always done it begrudgingly as they withhold updating old versions for new OS compatibility so if you stay current with your OS X installation you are forced to upgrade every two years. But now they have reduced the capability on Parallels Desktop 11 with only 8GB VMs to try to force users to an expensive subscription model, it is the last straw for me and I’ll be switching to VMWare. I run Revit for uni and it is useless with 8GB of RAM and as a student being forced to a pro subscription edition is outrageous.
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Bob Kresek says:
WARNING BEFORE UPGRADING. In the past, Parallels would allow a limited number of activations on one license, such that you could install it on your desktop and laptop. They have changed that policy with Parallels 11, so that you only get one computer activation per license. So if you have multiple computers, you might want to hold off as long as possible before upgrading unless you want to purchase a license for each machine. I have heard that VMware allows three machines per license, so you might want to look at that before purchasing Parallels.
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batmobil says:
Great feature, thorough and interesting. I have been using Parallels 10 for a long time, and I did notice the performance increase in Parallels 11 during regular usage (Windows 7/64 on MacBook Pro i7/16GB RAM early 2015), so the improvements translates to more than just numbers. 🙂
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WillCroPoint says:
Don’t you think that the Parallels 11 “graphics engine” may be optimized for Metal and might get quite better results on El Capitan?
Reply
TekRevue says:
It’s possible, but I think they would have pointed that out in either their marketing materials or press briefing. Either way, we’ll definitely test Parallels 11 further on the final version of 10.11 and publish results if they’re notably different.
Reply

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