Virtualization on macOS: Parallels vs VMware Benchmarks

Currently there are two main commercial players in the virtualization market on macOS providing type-2 hypervisors, Parallels and VMware. These products allow one to run additional operating system instances on top of their current OS, providing the host system has the necessary resources available. For example, a user with a MacBook may want to run apps that are only available on Windows, alongside their Mac apps. Running an instance of Windows 10 in a virtual machine on top of Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion allows them to do that.

Type-2 hypervisors, like Parallels and Fusion on Mac, VMware Workstation on Windows, or VirtualBox on both platforms, are those that run on top of a base desktop or server operating system such as Windows or macOS. Type-1 hypervisors run on bare-metal, without a thick operating system in between, and include Microsoft’s Hyper-V and VMware’s ESXi. In general, type-1 hypervisors provide better performance, but have much more specific hardware requirements. Generally, type-2 hypervisors will also provide extra integration features, such as sharing host folders with guest VMs, or displaying an app running in the guest VM right on the host desktop, as if it was running right on the host OS. Rather than a feature comparison though, this test will focus on performance of the guest virtual machines.

For this test, I used an iMac from Late-2013 (see specs below) running macOS Mojave (10.14.2) to test out which of the type-2 hypervisors provided better performance. First, I installed VMWare Fusion 11, created virtual machines running Windows 10 version 1809, and ran a series of benchmarks to test virtual machine performance. After the tests on Fusion were completed, the VMs were destroyed and Fusion completely removed from the system. Next Parallels Desktop version 14 was installed, VMs created to identical specs, and the same benchmarks run in the same order.

iMac 27″ (Late-2013) Host Specs
CPU Intel Core i7-4771; 4-core/8-thread; 3.5GHz / 3.9GHz turbo; 8MB L3 cache; 84W TDP
RAM 24GB DDR3-1333
Storage 500GB SATA SSD
GPU Nvidia GTX 775M 2GB GDDR5 – 1344 CUDA cores; 256-bit memory bus; Kepler architecture

Continue reading “Virtualization on macOS: Parallels vs VMware Benchmarks”