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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 this week continued the yearly upgrade cycle for its popular OS X virtualization software with the release of Parallels Desktop 11 (hereafter referred to simply as “Parallels 11”). For those unfamiliar with the virtualization software category, Parallels (and competitors such as VMware Fusion and VirtualBox) allows users to run Windows and other x86-based operating systems directly from within OS X, without the need to reboot using a tool like Apple Boot Camp. This type of software gives users the benefits of accessing applications that are not available for OS X while still maintaining easy, simultaneous access to Apple’s desktop operating system.

With the product category now quite mature — in addition to the 11th version of Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion is currently at version 7, and VirtualBox is at a regularly-updated version 5 — the focus of Parallels and its competitors has primarily been new features. We’ll take a brief look at the new Parallels 11 features later on, but we, like many users, are also interested in performance. Once relatively sluggish, each new round of virtualization software updates has inched the performance meter forward, to the point where some tasks are now nearing native speed. It’s this latter metric that we’ll be looking at today, as a continuation of our yearly VM performance benchmark analysis.

A new version of VMware Fusion is expected to be released shortly, and we’ll be sure to pit Parallels 11 benchmarks against Fusion 8 when the time comes. Until then, however, we’ll take a close look at what Parallels 11 brings to the table compared to its year-old predecessor, Parallels 10, and see how both compare to native performance via Boot Camp.

Regular readers will recall that Parallels 10, released in August 2014, didn’t offer much in terms of performance improvements over Parallels 9. While certain graphics tests and VM management functions fared slightly better in Parallels 10, the 2014 release was primarily a feature-focused one, with Parallels 10 offering deeper integration between Windows and OS X services, along with easier setup and configuration options. As you’ll see next, Parallels 11 arrives with its own share of new features centered around the new technologies in Windows 10 and the upcoming update for OS X, 10.11 El Capitan. Our goal was to determine if this focus on new features meant another year of negligible performance improvements, or if Parallels would return to its old form and deliver new heights in performance. Read on to learn what we found.

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.

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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?
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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.
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