VMWare Fusion 4 vs Parallels Desktop 7: A User’s POV

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22 Responses

  1. I have one comment in regards to VMWare Fusion’s full-screen mode.

    A major limitation to Lion’s build-in full-screen mode API is that it has no support for multiple monitors. When you put a Lion application into full-screen mode it takes up the entire primary monitor but all other monitors have a grey overlay displayed on them and are completely unused.

    VMWare’s full-screen mode on the other hand allows you to utilize multiple screens so you can have one virtual machine in full-screen mode on each monitor. I find this to be a far better solution than using Lion’s build-in API as I’m usually running multiple virtual machines at one time.

  2. Ken Ng says:

    Hmmm. Good point. But why not allow you to choose whether to use the lion full screen mode or normal? I personally prefer Lion’s Full Screen thus, prefer Parallels implementation, and Parallels allows me to turn off Lion’s full screen mode too if I wanted to.

  3. ozaz says:

    Thanks for the useful article.

    I’m interested to know which one is better for battery life of the host machine (i.e. which one uses less cpu during idle as well as during load).

    Also, what is the approx difference (in seconds) for suspend and resume between the two applications?

  4. Ken Ng says:

    On the note of battery life, I would have to say that generally, both are pretty much on par now that VMWare Fusion 4 has been released. However, on suspending and resuming, especially Windows 7 images, Parallels 7 is definitely the faster one. In terms of the actual time, it probably depends on the state of the guest image, but the fastest I’ve gotten on Parallels 7 was around 4-5 seconds for suspending and 5-10 for resuming a Windows 7 VM.

  5. Trevor says:

    Please learn the difference between “its” and “it’s”!

  6. Ken Ng says:

    Thanks for the English lesson. Haha. Has always been a slightly dyslexic that way. 🙂 I think I’ve corrected all the it’s and its.

  7. ozaz says:

    Approx what kind of times were you getting for suspend and resume with Fusion 4?

  8. Ken Ng says:

    Up to a minute sometimes more. But it’s hard to replicate the exact same scenario between the VMs on Fusion and Parallels. Still Parallels is definitely faster in many situations.

  9. Great article, really useful one. Thanks!
    Will Google +1 it)
    I have wrote few lines on the topic: http://www.totalapps.net/mac/virtualization-face-off-of-mac-os-x/
    your feebacks are welcome!

  10. Pew says:

    Actually, PD7 has awesome feature on new MBP models – when cable unplugged it suggests to turn on “Longer battery life” in VM settings and restart.
    From my experience it results in 2hrs longer work time (sic!).

  11. Ken Ng says:

    Awesome. I’m using a mid-2010 MBP, maybe that’s why I’ve not seen that option before.

  12. ozaz says:

    Did you spend time in Fusion 3 with the same or similar VM that you use in Fusion 4? If you did, do you think suspend/resume times are better or worse in Fusion 4 compared to Fusion 3? In Fusion 3 I am generally getting suspend times of less than 10 seconds and resume times of 10-20s, but I have a small-ish Win XP VM and generally no more than one application open in the VM when I suspend it.

  13. Bill H says:

    Thanks for the useful article. I am comparing both products for my own use and my findings seem a little different than yours. For example on my system (2011 Mini running Lion 10.7.3, 8GB, 2.5Ghz Core i5) Parallels 7 takes about 32 seconds to boot a Win7 VM, whereas Fusion 4 takes 18 seconds. Even more significant, is that I’ve found if I leave Parallels running in the background (idle), I’ll come back to the computer and find the Parallels VM process using most, if not all of the cpu, causing the machine to heat up & the fan RPM to increase. So far (knock on wood) I haven’t experienced this with Fusion. So I would have to say, at least on my system, and when running a Win7 VM, Fusion seems to perform better than Parallels.

  14. Ken Ng says:

    Interesting. Did you check if there are any CPU loading processes running in the Windows 7 VM on Parallels?

  15. Bill H says:

    At the time I don’t recall seeing anything going on in Windows. However I may end up eating my words on this. No sooner had I typed my comment about Fusion performing better than Parallels when I started noticing some serious sluggishness in Fusion! I was using it to search for old emails in Outlook, since I don’t yet have my email archive converted to Mac Mail. The searches were very slow, and even keyboard entry was lagging. And this morning I haven’t been able to replicate the previous issue with Parallels. Go figure!

    I’ll do more investigation … I need to get to the bottom of this before my eval copies expire…

  16. Ken Ng says:

    It can be tricky to figure out the root cause. One sure way to ensure great performance from VMs, no matter Parallels or Fusion, run the VM off an SSD. It really boosts the performance, especially since VMs has a huge dependancy on the VHD’s physical storage throughput.

  17. Bill H says:

    In an interesting twist, when my evals ended, i decided on Parallels after all. I did a full clean install, reinstalled Win7 in the VM, and things went well. I’ve been quite pleased with the function & performance since then. I guess something must have gotten messed up the first time around. Once things were working well with the re-install, I also moved the VM to my boot SSD. As you pointed out, that in itself makes a big difference in performance.

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