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Parallels, VMware, VirtualBox or Boot Camp: Best virtualisation tool for Mac

Cliff Joseph | Oct. 13, 2015
Apple's Boot Camp allows you to install Windows on your Mac so that you can switch between the Mac's own OS X operating system and Windows whenever you want.

PC Performance

As we've mentioned, running Windows as a virtual machine on your Mac does require a fairly fast processor along with plenty of memory and storage. And even then your virtual machines will never run as fast as Windows using Boot Camp, as they're having to share your Mac's computing power with OS X itself. However, years of fine-tuning have allowed both Parallels Desktop and VMWare Fusion to run fairly smoothly on most recent Macs that have dual-core Intel processors. During our tests we did find that our virtual machines initially started up a little more slowly when using VMWare Fusion, but once the virtual machines were up and running properly Fusion and Parallels produced very similar scores when running the productivity tests in the PCMark 8 benchmarking software.

We wouldn't attempt to try and play and 3D action games using either program, but they can both handle routine productivity tasks, such as running the new Edge web browser or Windows versions of Microsoft Office, smoothly enough that they feel perfectly usable on a Mac. And, if you have one of the more powerful Mac Pro or MacBook Pro models, you may even be able to run some heavy-duty graphics and CAD tools, such as AutoDesk.

Macworld verdict

The smart graphical interface of Parallels Desktop is very attractive, especially to newcomers who may not have used virtualisation software before. In contrast, VMWare's focus on corporate computing may make Fusion seem a little less welcoming for first-time users. Even so, the two programs provide very similar features and performance when running Window virtual machines, and we'd happily recommend them both to anyone that needs to run a few Windows apps on their Mac. However, the slick integration of Mac and Windows features, and headline-grabbing features such as its trick with Cortana means that Parallels wins when it comes to sheer eye-catching presentation.


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