2016 - VMware Fusion vs Parallels vs...

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by phrehdd, Dec 2, 2016.


2016 round up of virtual machine Hosts

Poll closed Dec 12, 2016.
  1. Parallels

    13 vote(s)
  2. VMware Fusion

    28 vote(s)
  3. Other (Virtual Box etc.)

    13 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I am just curious as to what folks here are using for hosts for virtual Windows (7-10) machines here and if they found any challenges or peculiarities.

    I'll start by saying that the Parallels interface is more "Mac friendly" and that Fusion is more streamline if not Spartan in appearance.

    One negative for Fusion so far, is that upon opening either Win 7 or Win 10 virtual on a 2015 rMBP, the temp immediately jumps up by about 20 degrees F. Parallels does not seem (set up the same with 2 of 4 core and 8 of 16 gig RAM) to suffer the same spike of energy consumption that is somewhat maintained causing the fan to run faster. - anyone else notice this as well?

    For now, I would probably on mere handling find that I would recommend Parallels (though I prefer the Fusion experience) to the typical Mac user.

    Your thoughts and experiences as well as opinion on the Black Friday/cyber Monday deals both companies had. (Parallels offered more software while VMware gave slightly more discount).
  2. Mugwumper macrumors regular

    Jan 19, 2008
    Temecula, CA
    In the distant past, I had both Parallels and Fusion because I couldn't figure out which one I liked. ;^) Now I'm solely on Fusion as I can run their software on both my iMac and MacBook Pro with one license. Struggled mightily with upgrading from Win7 to Win10 (updating Windows never completed, and some issue with graphics I never understood), and finally gave up and did a clean install of Win10 on the MBP. Will probably do the same on the iMac in the next week or so.
  3. Oldmanmac macrumors 6502

    Mar 31, 2012
    Started out with Parallels 7. When they went to P8 I decided to give Fusion a shot. Stayed with them thru F7, F8, & F8.5.
  4. phrehdd thread starter macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I believe that Parallels is cosmetically more appealing to Mac users so I am with raised eyebrow (so far) seeing how more people use Fusion. One thing I don't like about Parallels is their upgrades are not only a touch expensive at times but noted cases where one is practically forced to upgrade as they make sure it wont run on a later version of Apple's OS.
  5. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    in exile
    I was a fan of Parallels early on when I first switched over from Windows to OS X. But definitely NOT a fan of their contrived upgrade policy that basically turned it into a subscription fee.

    I ditched Parallels in favor of VirtualBox. I run everything from MS DOS up to Windows 7 in VB VMs and they worked great.
  6. Beachguy macrumors 6502a


    Nov 23, 2011
    I've been a Fusion user since I went Mac years ago. One thing I like is I can take my VMs and run them on my Mac platforms, my Windows ones, and my Linux ones. I can do that with VirtualBox, but it feels a tad less smooth and more difficult to mold to my wishes- however, it is still a fine product. It's just my second choice is all.

    I tried Parallels and just didn't like how it worked. Of course, your mileage etc. etc.
  7. LaMonte macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2016
    --- Post Merged, Dec 5, 2016 ---
    I have used both, Parallels is a hair better for higher end games. But I use VMWare Fusion 8, because I can use on multiple computers, Parallel can only be used on one. They are both good program.
  8. iccb macrumors member


    Dec 27, 2009
    I have used Parallels for years, also tested Fusion 8. There are no big differences on my use.
    Just bought Parallels 12. I buy new version every two years and it's ok to me.
  9. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    I'm a Parallels user who will probably be switching to Fusion at the next forced upgrade because of Parallels' licensing model. I could cope with a (not too expensive) upgrade every 2-3 years (seemed like it needed upgrading after every second OS X upgrade) but it looks more and more like they're moving towards subscriptions. Last straw was moving some of the networking options into the (subscription only) "Pro" edition.

    The corresponding features in Fusion also require their "Pro" edition, but at least that's a one-off, price difference, upgrade.

    If you just have one or two annoying bits of obscure windows software that you need from time-to-time, but that aren't your "daily driver" apps, try VirtualBox first. It lacks the performance, polish and slick MacOS integration of the others but it might get the job done. If you just want to spin up Linux VMs for server-side/web development, virtualbox is perfect for the job (although, in that case, you might also want to check out Docker).
  10. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Both offer trials, give both a shot and see which one fits your needs the best.

    Also, consider VirtualBox, though is lacks some of the features of the other two, its free.
  11. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    I like Parallels the most. It is the most Mac friendly VM solution when running Windows. I like VMWare and Virtualbox for sharing VMs on other platforms though.
  12. ivanwi11iams Contributor


    Nov 30, 2014
    Kennesaw, GA
    And here I was about to post something like this. Thanks!
    I'll be trying VMWare over the next few days. I've been testing Parallels; yes, it works, but sometimes I feel it is a little overpowering.

    Well, we'll see how VMWare does over the next few days...
  13. phrehdd thread starter macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Please let folks here know your opinion on your experience with VMWare and what you like about each of those two offerings and what you don't like.
  14. ivanwi11iams Contributor


    Nov 30, 2014
    Kennesaw, GA
    I will for VMWare, once I start using it.
    For Parallels, switching between full screen and none full screen, seemed annoying at times. But, that could have simply be me. But, creating VMs and launching them, seemed rather straight forward and simple. I monitored my processing power often while using Parallels, and my iMac (2TB, i5, 16GB) hardly blinked...

  15. Euroamerican macrumors member


    May 27, 2010
    I have been using VMWare Fusion for the last few years and I really don't have anything bad to say about it at all. Of course, I don't like having to pay for upgrades for it any more than for anything else. I have not studied the situation with Parallels upgrades that some find distasteful.

    I did consider both Parallels and Virtualbox at the time of my purchase decision, but did not test either one of them. I had plenty of advice about Parallels from coworkers who deployed it in our corporate environment though.

    If I had to choose something currently, I would probably test Virtualbox first. That is because it is free and I hear it is good enough. I'm back on the "spend money only if really need be" plan, so I'd have to really be sold on VMWare to pay for it.

    Notes on my use: I do not play games in VMs, except I did do test runs of some legacy Windows XP compatible games in a VMWare instance back a few years ago when I first got Fusion.

    I create "pure" VMs in that I don't want features from the host OS to bleed through into the VMs themselves. Other than having a few folders set up for sharing files into the VMs, I don't want ANY features or menus or even "looks and feels" to bleed through.

    I do use VM for business in the following way: I create a VM of each Windows version I do support work for. I then test install software and use the VMs to mimic/recreate issues that my users report to me.
  16. burne macrumors 6502


    Jul 4, 2007
    Haarlem, the Netherlands
    I ditched VirtualBox for Parallels. None of my VM's run a Microsoft operating system. The linux disk driver for VirtualBox used to be very, very bad. It corrupted disks, causing the ext3/4 driver to remount readonly, essentially killing your VM.

    After weeks I saw a good deal on Parallels, bought it, and never turned back. These days I run a bunch of VM's on my macmini at home, doing stuff like my mail, website and some work-related stuff.
  17. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    in exile
    sorry to hear that you've had so many issues with VirtualBox. I'm currently running Linux Mint 18 Mate in VirtualBox... no issues at all... works fine. #shrug

    The issue that I have with Parallels is that if you stay current with macOS then you'll be paying an annual upgrade fee for the updated version of Parallels.
  18. ivanwi11iams Contributor


    Nov 30, 2014
    Kennesaw, GA
    Well, wouldn't you know, my Windows Server 2012 R2 VM, just died in Parallels. It won't boot, and won't boot into a safe mode of sorts. And to think I've not done anything major to it, like add features and roles.

    Ugh! Good thing this was merely for testing and learning...
  19. rTHIS macrumors newbie


    Dec 2, 2016
    do you guys have any kind performance issue with virtualbox on late 2016 macbook pro? my virtualbox machines are very slow (windows and linux), this is very strange, because i've never had an issue with virtualbox.
  20. Tech198, Dec 9, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016

    Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    I picked both VMWare fusion and "Other" because VMWare offers EXSi as well as the main goal.

    Where as it seems Parallels is more acting like a bunch of more features rolled up into a virtualization product. instead of the main goal.

    VMWare does have a few options as well which could be unnecessary, but Parallels by far has many more i gotta disable... For that reason, my choice is VMWare.

    Performance is still pretty good in Fusion,, Windows Guests are the main performance.. but run OS X as a guest and it all goes to hell

    Although it's usable, even at with "Use full screen for Retina display" checked to make use of the non DPI. :p Fusion doesn't use for double scaling (Yes.. everything is super small) even at full screen

    refresh rate in Guest OS X feels almost like booting "Safe boot" on Mac , excluding the visible refresh lines
  21. burne macrumors 6502


    Jul 4, 2007
    Haarlem, the Netherlands
    Still running a version from 2014 on Sierra, without a problem. Likewise, version 8 lasted a long, long time.

    Burnes-Mac-mini:~ ruben$ prlctl -v
    prlctl version 10.4.0 (29337) rev 0
    Burnes-Mac-mini:~ ruben$ sw_vers
    ProductName: Mac OS X
    ProductVersion: 10.12.1
    BuildVersion: 16B2555

    I'm not sure what version 11 and 12 adds, but it must have been windows stuff, otherwise I would have remembered.
  22. phrehdd thread starter macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I might be incorrect here but it seems that those that have commented here in general are a bit more savvy than the typical home (Mac) computer user. I was expecting Parallels to be the leader of the pack and pleasantly surprised at the results thus far and happier with the comments here.
  23. someoldguy macrumors 68000

    Aug 2, 2009
    i'm currently using Fusion on my new to me late 2013 rMBP 15" . I've got an install of Win. 7 32 bit running on it , primarily to access a few CAD programs I occasionally use .Installed and set up real easily. Running inside a 10.9.5 install . No problems so far , but it's only been installed for around a month . I've played around with Virtual Box and it runs fine and it's free . But it took a while to set up and seemed to be maybe a bit slower than Fusion and Parallels . Had Parallels some years back and didn't particularly care for it . No particular reason , sometimes you get a piece of software you don't like but use because it solves a problem for you. So I didn't upgrade when I updated OSX.
  24. KevinX3 macrumors newbie


    Nov 30, 2016
    Absolutely yes with Parallels. I like parallels coherence mode better, but if you create a macOS VM you will see:
    1. The VM creates a 65Gb drive
    2. The Drive is of type expanding
    3. It is a GUID partition
    There is NO WAY I CAN FIND to change the drive (partition) size before it is created. If you know how, please post a response.

    I tried literally for a week to resize the partition (you can resize the drive NOT the partition). Found a Parallels KB article that said cannot resize a GUID partition in Parallels.

    Now that's what I call the perfect storm from Mr Parallels:
    • Here's a 65Gb GUID partition
    • You cannot change the size until you get into the installation process
    • Disk utility keeps saying success when you change the size (it's just BS'ing you)
    • Oops, Parallels doesn't know how to change a GUID partition
    So I am now converting everything to fusion. Fusion does indeed allow you to change a GUID partition (or at least the partition they create when you create a macOS VM.

    And as an aside I tried to import my 256Gb macOS VM to parallels. Both times it finished (after about 4 hours) then said there was an error and pointed me to how to fix a Windows partition, absolutely wonderful.
  25. KevinX3 macrumors newbie


    Nov 30, 2016
    EDIT: I managed to get a 256Gb macOS VM and restore my TimeMachine backup into a Parallels VM, no thanks to Parallels who do NOT support resizing HFS+ partitions (EVEN WHEN YOU CREATE THE PARTITION). I'm trying to be polite, but these guys are idiots.

    Anyway, the trick I found is to convert the drive to coreStorage, resize using DiskUtil and revert from coreStorage to HFS+, that worked. Some real world findings (Note: I have the VMs on a USB3 drive for the moment - which is quite eye opening):

    1. Startup is really slow and the screen painting is manic from size to size, left to right
    2. Running an application is almost impossible, it's that slow
    3. When I type a (say) URL in Safari, the echo lags by up to .5 second (that's a lot)
    4. The Dock is not visible and when I leave the cursor at the bottom of the screen it just doesn't appear
    5. Bottom line: UNWORKABLE from a USB 3 drive
    Fusion OTOH:
    1. Slow to start with some screen painting issues, but nothing like parallels
    2. Running an application is fine (not as fast a native, but some actually are - they are likely cached)
    3. Typing echo keeps up with my typing, no lag
    4. Dock popup is instantaneous
    5. Bottom line: Perfectly WORKABLE, after a while impossible to tell it's a VM
    Note: Both VMs have:
    1. Running from the same USB 3 drive
    2. The same restored macOS
    3. Same CPUs (2) and memory (4096kb)
    4. Same Graphics memory (512Mb)
    5. Same disk size (256Gb)
    6. Operating on their own, i.e. only one VM running
    7. MBP 11,4 i7 2.2Ghz (Turbo 3.4Ghz IIRC) 16Gb RAM 256Gb SSD
    I am sure parallels would be workable if the VM was on my SSD, Windows VMs were on my mid-2012 MBP with only 8Gb RAM (only one VM at any given time obviously), but on the USB 3 drive totally unworkable. The Fusion VM, absolutely acceptable, there are times when you can forget it's a VM running from a USB 3 drive.

    That further leads me to the Fusion camp, not only can I run different guest OS, but I can run those Guest OS on different Host OS. Far more flexible and looking at the way things perform when tusing slower media, Fusion seems to be better written (just IMHO).

Share This Page