We’re back with the final component of our yearly analysis of virtualization software for OS X. We’ve already looked at the recently updated offerings from Parallels and VMware, and now it’s time to compare them directly.
Today, we’ll be looking at a performance comparison of Parallels Desktop 11, VMware Fusion 8, and Oracle’s VirtualBox 5. Although Parallels and Fusion are more popular options for OS X users looking to run Windows and other x86 operating systems on their Macs, we always like to keep an eye on VirtualBox to see just how well this free open source alternative can keep up with its commercial competitors.
Part of our goal with this analysis is not to simply determine which virtualization solution is the fastest, we also want to see how they compare to “native” Windows performance on the same hardware. We’ve therefore run all applicable tests in Boot Camp as well, which gives us an idea of how close these options are to eliminating the need for something like Boot Camp altogether, at least for certain tasks.
Also new this year is the addition of a “high end” host for some tests. As we’ll describe in more detail in the next section, all of our tests were performed on 2014 15-inch MacBook Pro, a system that we consider to be in the “mid-to-high” range of Mac configurations. But we were also curious about just how well Fusion and Parallels would perform if given access to clearly “high-end” resources. We therefore ran select CPU- and GPU-focused tests on a 2013 Mac Pro, and we have those numbers available in their own dedicated section later on.
Our benchmark tests and results are divided into the sections identified below. You can browse all results in order by using the “Next” and “Previous” buttons below, or you can jump directly to a specific test using the Table of Contents, which is found at the bottom of every page. Some tests required that we cram a lot of data into a single chart, and some of these charts may be difficult to read on smaller or low-resolution screens. To see any chart in its full-sized Retina glory, just click or tap on it to load the full image.