Parallels Desktop 19 running Windows games and enterprise apps on a M2 Max Mac Studio
This year’s release of Parallels Desktop 19 promises better compatibility with Apple Silicon, MacOS Sonoma and Windows 11. In this article, I will explore how well Parallels Desktop continues to be as a platform to run Windows Games on a Mac. I am also quite curious to see how well it performs on my Mac Studio with M2 Max (12 Core CPU, 38 core GPU).
Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary 1 year subscription of Parallels Desktop 19 that I used to for this article.
Seamless Windows 11 installation experience with Parallels Desktop 19
This is my first experience with Windows 11 on an ARM-based device. Parallels Desktop made the whole installation process really simple and seamless. All I needed to do was to click on “Get Windows 11 from Microsoft” button and that’s it.
It then runs a completely unattended installation process till the EULA acceptance section. Once accepted, you now have Windows 11 installed on your Mac!
I do have to say that Windows 11 runs really well on a M2 Max Mac Studio. Granted, I do have 64GB RAM, 12 Core CPU and 38 core GPU configured on my Mac Studio. Thus I can easily give Parallels Desktop 19 as much as 32GB of RAM without chocking my main MacOS environment.
Windows Gaming on Parallels Desktop 19
First up, let’s run some of the usual benchmarks. Parallels Desktop 19 does not yet support DirectX 12. So it continues to only be DX11 games and benchmarks.
Unigine Valley Benchmark
The benchmark performance is pretty impressive, considering there’s two layers of emulation here. Firstly, the x86-based benchmark application is being emulated to support Windows on ARM, and then Parallels doing it necessary emulation to have both the app and the graphics emulated to run on the M2 Max. This time, I wouldn’t compare anymore with my previous look at Parallels Desktop 18 since I’ve changed my base machine.
Again, I can’t run newer benchmarks due to the limitation on DirectX 11 only. As you can see, Windows 11 on Parallels Desktop 19 does a decent job running the benchmark even when it needs to emulate and x86 app to ARM and then to MacOS and still run it faster than both an RX 6600 XT and RX 5700 XT on an Intel-based MacBook Pro.
Real world gaming
Fallout: New Vegas runs perfectly. I was able to get it to run with the Ultra settings at 1080p without any problems. The Mac Studio with the M2 Max with 12 cores CPU and 38 cores GPU hardly broke a sweat running this old Direct X 9 game. Just one thing to note. The version that I was able to run was from my GOG library. I also tried to install the same game from Epic Game Store and that version crashes as soon as the game loads.
I was also able to get Journey to the Savage Planet running quite well. This was with the settings all at high at 1440p resolution.
Unfortunately, most of the games I’ve tested thus far has not loaded and played well. It seems this isn’t new with running Windows on Apple M1 and M2 Macs. You can read the forum post here at Parallels of games that does not run well or at all using ARM emulation on Windows via Parallels Desktop. Parallels does have a page here that has a list of games that are confirmed to work.
When I tried to run Fallout 4, it just outright failed to load. This was at least still able to load on Parallels Desktop 18 on an Intel-based MacBook Pro. I’m assuming that Fallout 4 just does not like to run on an ARM architecture, despite getting it emulated.
Some other games such as Genshin Impact and Sable loads up but have missing textures in the game. Therefore, a lot of the in game world appears to be transparent. Unfortunately, this makes the game unplayable. You can see the missing textures in the 2 videos I posted below.
I would reach out to Parallels team and see if they are able to figure out a fix for these issues.
Outside gaming, Parallels Desktop still makes a good investment
As you can see, gaming now on Windows ARM on a Mac can be tricky. There’s just too many translation going on to make it an ideal platform now.
Having said that, if Windows is an environment you need to be on at work, Parallels Desktop 19 allows you to use a Apple silicon-based Mac. Here’s a video of me running UIPath Assistant on the Windows 11 VM on my Mac.
Windows 11 on my Mac using Parallels Desktop 19 has been pretty good. This is especially true with the new M1 and M2 powered Macs. It runs most of the windows apps flawlessly thus far. If you have enterprise applications that are Mac only, like UIPath Studio or Mendix Studio, undoubtedly Parallels Desktop is the way to go.
But if your primary reason is to run Windows games on the Mac, I’m on two minds. It seems that quite a number of Direct X 11 games would not run or would have missing textures in-game, therefore making it not quite playable. Most of the games that worked for me are relatively older games.
I would advise you try out the specific game you want to run with a trial license of Parallels Desktop 19 to make sure it runs well.
I’ll continue to test more games and will update this article along the way.