BootCamp or VMWare/Parallels?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Alex-Sykes, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. Alex-Sykes macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2012
    Derby, United Kingdom
    I'm starting university in September to do Computer Science. My rMBP is due to be delivered tomorrow and I've only just got round to installing Windows 7 onto my 2009 iMac, which isn't exactly the most powerful system, but it seems to cope well running Windows 7 within VMWare. Due to the course I will need access to both the Windows platform and Mac OS X.

    My question is with my new Retina MacBook Pro what would be the pros and cons with going with one method over the other?
    I'm taking a high powered gaming computer to University with me but I might occasionally use the system for gaming, but more important is the need for a Windows platform on the system that is stable (at least to Windows standards) and will not hinder me.

    Thanks for any assistance that you can provide!
  2. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Then I'd take VMWare Fusion as my suggestion for you. Why?

    • I'm using it since version 2
    • Very stable
    • Snapshots can get you back on track if Windows crashes
    • Very well integrated with OS X technologies.
  3. whiteonline macrumors 6502


    Aug 19, 2011
    California, USA
    I am using both Boot Camp and Parallels - can use my boot camp install through parallels or directly into boot, depending on need.
  4. lixuelai macrumors 6502a

    Oct 29, 2008
    Since you are a CS major I am going to assume you have basic knowledge of terminology.

    Boot Camp = running Windows natively.
    VMware Fusion/Parallels = running Windows virtualized.

    You can run Fusion/Parallels by either having it boot from the Boot Camp install or by creating an OS image within OSX. The benefit from running from Boot Camp is that you do not have to go through OSX to access the Windows install if you choose not to. The benefit of OS images is that some advanced features of virtualization like snapshots etc may not be available.

    Anyway I personally like to use Fusion/Parallels to boot from a Boot Camp Windows install as it allows me to access most Windows apps within OSX while booting into Windows for the few apps that doesn't run so well virtualized (typically games).

    As for Vmware Fusion vs Parallels I have both and find Fusion to be more reliable and the sandboxing seems better. I never have issues with OSX being slow while running a virtual machine via Fusion but Parallels often cause OSX to be less responsive when running demanding apps in the virtualized environment. On the flip side Parallels has much better 3d acceleration than Fusion. So much so it is incomparable.

    I personally use Parallels atm on a Boot Camp install.
  5. VFC macrumors 6502a

    Feb 6, 2012
    SE PA.
  6. StormBlade, Jul 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2012

    StormBlade macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2012
    I would definitely go with boot camp because it would use up much less resources=run faster=Allow more resources to be used by your software.
  7. Slivortal macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2012
    I always recommend virtualization, whether it be through VMWare/Parallels/Virtualbox (the latter is open source, so that's pretty cool).

    The reasons for this are that first, you can set each virtual machine full-screen in a different Space. The cool thing about this, is that with a three finger swipe, you can instantaneously navigate through your operating systems. No hassle whatsoever.

    The second part is that drivers are a lot easier. Instead of having to try and get your computer working with the full hardware suite, VM drivers are rather easy in that they only need to access the coding relating to the hardware that already exists in your host OS (OSX).

    As a computer scientist, I find Virtual Machines to be essential. It should be noted however that Linux is generally far more useful than Windows and OSX because it's more Unix-like (OSX is also *nix, but some of the Terminal commands are very strange). Usually my workspace consists of my host machine, my favorite Linux flavor as a VM, and a third VM second containing Windows or an experimental OS/Linux distro that I'm testing out.

    One thing that should be noted is that I hope you chose to get the 16GB of RAM. Because while you can virtualize off 8GB, you don't get some of the insane setups, like 8/4/4 for a host and 2 VMs, or 6/4/3/3 for a host and 3 VMs.

    (I'm a virtualization addict).

    On a different note, I have a question for readers - is there any way to handle core attribution on OSX? Because if I could set up my VMs in different cores, that would be pretty awesome.
  8. Rajpdx macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2012
    I applaud your defiance Sir!


    Agree about the spaces and swiping - that's very useful.

    I typically do a bootcamp install and then use Fusion to access the bootcamp partition - gives me the option to run natively if I need it.

    As for Linux v Darwin and Unix - Interesting fact - Darwin (OSX) actually conforms to the Unix standards whilst Linux varies from it and is "Unix like"

    Well I thought it was interesting anyway.
  9. dbam987 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2007
    Virtual All The Way

    Virtualization software has dramatically improved over the past few years. The difference maker is the SSD drive along with ample RAM, and a CPU capable of virtualization support such as the Core-i7.

    In short, the MBP+R will handle running VM's very well and should handle your projamming needs with ease.

    On my MBP 13" (2010), it handles running Win7 quite well as a virtual machine. I loaded it with an SSD drive and maxed out its RAM to 8 GB. It can run Windows 7 along with Visual Studio in a virtual world very well. Not bad for a 2 year old laptop!
  10. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2010
    For your situation I'd recommend the virtual machines.
  11. StormBlade macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2012
    The aim of Mac Rumours is not to correct people's spelling/grammar as long as you understand the other persons message (although I did correct it).
  12. Rajpdx macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2012

    If I was being mean I wouldn't have referred to you as Sir.
  13. Alex-Sykes thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2012
    Derby, United Kingdom
    Through my university I get free membership and software from VMWare and Microsoft, so that would mean there are no issues on obtaining the software for both.

    I noticed that whilst running Windows 7 through virtualisation on my iMac the ability to swipe back and forth between OSX and Windows was completely hassle-free. For that reason running Windows through a Virtual Machine would likely be the best choice. It's worth noting my iMac only uses 1GB of the 4GB of RAM for the Windows VM and is still very responsive.

    Noticing that the RAM was non-upgradeable after purchase I thought it a no-brainer to go for 16GB of RAM, therefore the additional RAM will come in most handy with running different virtual platforms.

    On that basis I haven't had any experience with Parallels, I noticed on reviews that Parallels came on top over VM Fusion, anyone who's had experience with both notice any major advantage? I'm aware of the 3D acceleration difference between Fusion and Parallels from reviews but I doubt this will be an issue.
  14. StormBlade macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2012
    It's alright my good court jester:D
  15. eagandale4114 macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2011
    Bootcamp then virtualize it. You get the best of both worlds.

    EDIT: 500th post. :)
  16. Rajpdx macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2012
    Hey! That's what I said :)

    Congratulations on the 500th post.

    Comiserations on the 500th post (couldn't find anything better to do!).
  17. Ope macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2012
    I've been reading up on which VM to use for a while and I'm still unsure. Part of me feels that I might even need it ... gamingwise Steam is available (TF2).

    Any one think I should VM these applications or have suggestions on alternatives? MS Office (is the Mac version as good?), KMPlayer/PotPlayer (find it more powerful than VLC), Zune (can I tell iTunes to play files but NOT write or update them?), WinRAR, Daemon Tools. Those are the ones just off the top of my head.
  18. jcpb macrumors 6502a

    Jun 5, 2012
    MS Office on Windows > *, including Office:mac. Run that app via VM.
  19. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    I totally agree with jcpb. Office for Mac sucks. I have both and Office 2011 (for Mac) is much worse than both Office 2007 and obviously 2010. It is slow, has issues and bugs still, misses features and offers a bad GUI with a badly half hearted implementation of the Ribbon. It can work for you if you standards are low but it really sucks with big documents and collaborative work.
    Chances are if office for Mac is good enough for you you could make due with iWorks or Open Office just fine.
    I regularly start the VM for Office 2010 because I cannot stand 2011.
    VLC is what I use I see no need for anything else. It plays anything and has the awesome horizontal scrolling on Macs.
    iTunes you can tell it a few things. The biggest limitation is that it wants the library in one place. I don't know zune. I only used Foobar2000 and WMP in Windows. Both are much better than iTunes. iTunes is a good store but not really a great player or music manager. It works though for the most stuff. I think Zune player isn't much different.
    I use none of these but run both local and online music of Spotify. Classify apps and such in Spotify, Radio, ... are just awesome for only enjoying music.
    WinRAR there are a number of alternatives. None exactly great. Some miss simple password support. Little repair capabilities. I found "The unarchiver" to be at least quite okay and easy to use.
    I also use the inbuilt one in Pathfinder. That is a finder alternative much better than finder. Finder is really poor compared to Windows Explorer.
    Deamon Tools. There isn't quite the same thing but virtual discs apps exist. I had one installed once but I forgot the name. You hardly ever need them in OSX. There are dmgs and never any isos worth opening in OSX.

    In general install BetterTouchTool and Alfred those are imo the must have apps in OSX that make it a much better system and there really is nothing truly comparable in Windows. Launchy just doesn't cut it IMO.

    Actually Windows 7 is more stable than OSX. The opposite is an old myth that doesn't die. It takes less to crash OSX opposed to Win7. The myth comes from older Windows Versions or idiots that come in contact with the click all install all syndrom on Windows.
    From 2 years on this forum I can say that this isn't just my experience.
    Parallels often came on top with Fusion in Performance often trailing a bit behind. I tried both and Parallels is the consumer product that lives of such benchmarks. Parallels only exists for OSX users and its GUI is more OSX. VMWare is the enterprise grade big boy. It preserves more of the Windows GUI and is just way less buggy and more stable.
    I would always take VMWare and steer clear of Parallels. If one needs that bit of extra speed (the differences are rather small today) people should use bootcamp. No VM is really good for gaming. VMWare is stable and hassle free. Parallels is for those that fall for the latest bling feature and care less about stability.

    If you use Windows for Games. Use bootcamp and virtualize the partition. You get all the RAM, all the CPU and most importantly native Windows Dx11 graphic drivers.
    The VM is for running 2D apps and stuff. It really gets you crappy GUI performance if you have too many Windows open but unity mode basically works just as if those Windows windows would be Mac apps.
    Office 2010 ie runs way faster and better in unity than office 2011 native on Mac. As if you'd run it on a 10 times faster notebook. Excel+Word together with linked content and it feels like a 1000 times faster notebook with the VM Office.
    If you never need Games or bootcamp don't use bootcamp. You get snapshots and can suspend and resume the VM which saves battery life but keeps it readily available. A VM booted from bootcamp doesn't allow those things.
  20. steve-p macrumors 68000


    Oct 14, 2008
    Newbury, UK
    I wouldn't recommend bothering with bootcamp unless trying to run games. Virtual machines have a number of advantages:

    • No need to allocate a large fixed size amount of space up front. VM dynamic disks can grow when needed
    • Ability to suspend VMs and resume them later
    • Easy VM backup in Time Machine (best not allow it to back up while the VM is running though)
    • VMs can be snapshotted to restore them to a previous state if something goes wrong
    • VMs can be used in a mode where the guest application windows can be mixed in with the OS X windows rather than just inside one VM window, thus making it easy to run OS X and non-OS X apps simultaneously, copy and paste between them, etc
    • VMs can share OS X folders making it easy to use both the VM and OS X apps on the same data
    • VMs can even share applications with OS X, meaning to run a non-OS X application not only do you not have to reboot, but you don't even have to start the VM - it's automatic

    Bootcamp has many drawbacks, and only one real advantage - absolute performance. But consider this. I run Windows 7 64 bit in a Parallels VM on my MBP. Compared to my work laptop, which is also i7 with SSD and native Windows 7, the VM in Parallels boots faster and runs everything I use faster than the actual Windows machine. So unless you really need 100% performance, say for gaming, or you don't have much RAM, I would recommend using the virtualisation route rather than bootcamp.
  21. Ope macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2012
    jcpb, dusk007 and steve-p, thanks to you both,very comprehensive notes. VM Fusion sounds more in line with what I want, for now I just want to use a few windows apps side by side in OSX. Office is MUST for me!!!

    Regarding iTunes, all my music is in the same place, I generally use MediaMonkey to manage tags, etc so iTunes will just be a music player, I don't want it to start adding/removing song data. I will have a look at VLC again,it just didn't seem as refined as PotPlayer/KMPlayer last I checked, however it may have improved.

    Quick question, is iTunes music still DRMed? I'd buy from Apple rather than Amazon if there is no DRM.
  22. jcpb macrumors 6502a

    Jun 5, 2012

    A lot of the music I buy are just regular .m4a and can be played back on any audio player app that accepts AAC files. Some, however, are .m4p and have to be burned onto a CD and rip that, or have its DRM nuked with a piece of software (don't know the name offhand).

    I'd say Amazon's music service is better than iTunes for DRM-free music.
  23. Slivortal macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2012
    Weren't all of iTunes' files converted into iTunes+ (.m4a)? I was pretty sure there weren't any mp4 left, but I could be wrong.
  24. Nde macrumors 6502a


    Feb 12, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Like another poster, it depends. It is like Pepsi vs Coke or ATI vs Nvidia. One is always better and the another will catch up. I personally use both and I like VMware more. I manage 400 server VMs and 1,200 VM Workstations at work and it is a no brainer to stick with the same product.

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