Sunday, August 26, 2007

Parallels vs. Boot Camp vs. Fusion

Alternatives how to run Windows (Windows programs)

So have you lost sight of all the options how to run Windows Vista or XP on your Intel Mac? Well, I have at first so I thought I'd give a little help to all those who lost sight. There are currently 4 alternatives to run Windows applications on your Mac if you are a proud Intel Mac owner.

Pros and Cons

Since I haven't tested out Crossover yet I'll focus on the first three alternatives. Boot Camp probably is the most common way to use Windows on your Mac, it being the cheapest alternative (free) and the oldest way. This is the only alternative that allows you to run Windows at native speed on your Mac. The downside to Boot Camp however is that you have to reboot your Mac to switch operating systems. I recommend using Boot Camp especially if you are a gamer and need the speed and Direct X support. You might be interested in using Bootchamp as well if you opt to use Bootcamp.
Next there is Parallels: it is the first virtualization software that reached final status. It's been around for quite a while now and it is probably the most spread among the 3 virtualization alternatives. Its GUI is pretty nice and it is fairly easy to install. It now even supports Boot Camp partitions. This means that Parallels can boot Windows using your Boot Camp partition if you already have installed Boot Camp and are a occasional Boot Camp user.
VMware's Fusion just recently reached its final status and is very similar to Parallels. It actually is almost the same from the feature list. The GUI seems more intuitive though in my opinion. A little annoyance with Fusion if you decide to use your Boot Camp partition however is that after you quit Fusion the Boot Camp volume isn't mounted anymore.

Performance and benchmarks

Now the question that users may pose is: Which of the alternatives is the best performance wise?
Well, obviously Boot Camp is. The surprise that is to mention is that however when you look at Parallels and Fusion you'll notice that Fusion seems to be snappier. This is exactly the feeling I got when trying both. Especially the starting process and boot process seem to be a lot faster on Fusion. Also quitting Fusion is a lot faster than quitting Parallels. Once you are in Windows however I couldn't detect any performance differences doing the usual stuff (surfing, iTunes, some office applications and chatting). However, there was a benchmark released lately that surprised me quite a bit. Apparently, Fusion is a lot faster and better in performance compared to Parallels (this is rather a surprise considering Fusion was in beta status just recently).

My recommendation

So my recommendation to you is: if you don't have a virtualization software installed yet (and you need one): use Fusion. The installation of Fusion is just as easy as Parallel's and the GUI is more intuitive and now there is even proof that Fusion is officially snappier than Parallels.

For more detailed benchmarks please check out
this link.



Anonymous said...

The reason for that speed difference is that Fusion allows you to use multiple cores whereas parallels only supports running on one core.

MB-switcher said...

Thank you for clarifying that.
It makes sense that Fusion is so much faster than Parallels.


Anonymous said...

Also Fusion allows you to run your boot camp partition (I am unsure if Parallels allows this) This is great because you can either run it on its own or in a Fusion window or full screen. Good luck to the switchers! MAC IS BAC! :)