Experiences with performance running a Parallels or VMs on rMBP with 16GB vs 8GB RAM?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Starfyre, Sep 30, 2013.

  1. Starfyre, Sep 30, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013

    Starfyre macrumors 68030


    Nov 7, 2010
    For anyone with an rMBP... what has it been like running VMs? I keep seeing how 16GB is a must when running them, but would 8 be neough?

    Looking for experiences people have had with this sort of thing. Ideally 16GB is the best option, but is it really going to be a noticable performance hit if I decide to run say an Ubuntu VM or run parallels desktop or VMWare with 8GB saving $200?
  2. rocknblogger macrumors 68020


    Apr 2, 2011
    New Jersey
    If your workflow is to go back and forth between the VM and OSX then yes, you would benefit from 16GB. If on the other hand you fire up the VM do your thing and then shut it down then 8GB will be enough. It also depends on what apps you're running natively in OSX. If they're memory intensive then you will see a difference in performance also.

    All depends how you want to run it and what your needs are.
  3. Starfyre thread starter macrumors 68030


    Nov 7, 2010
    Would run VM with say 4GB of RAM, most likely switch back and forth between a programming environment like Eclipse, to playing some Windows only games. (Depending on others experiences and workflows, it would be great to know if there is any noticable benefit to be had with a 16GB in your or others situation)
  4. MyMac1976 macrumors 6502


    Apr 14, 2013
    running one VM I don't notice a difference between my MBP with 8GB and my MP with 48GB
  5. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    You need 16GB if you run multiple VMs at the same time. You will do more then fine with 8GB for years to come, unless you work with some large data sets.
  6. Count Blah macrumors 68040

    Count Blah

    Jan 6, 2004
    US of A
    I depends on what you are doing in OS X and windows. 4 Gigs each is not a lot.
  7. hutch34 macrumors member

    Jul 21, 2012
    If you're just doing programming in an IDE on the Windows side then the 8GB will be more than enough. Before I got my rMBP I would run a Windows 8 VM on my Air that only had 4GB of RAM total, and didn't notice any significant slowdown unless I really pushed it.

    However, if you're doing any kind of gaming, definitely get the 16GB of RAM.

    I WILL say, that my pageouts on the Air were enormous, so something to avoid obviously, but if I had had 8GB of RAM I think it would have paged out far, far less.
  8. agaskew macrumors 6502

    Dec 3, 2009
    Get 16Gb, don't skimp now and regret it in a year or two.
  9. Count Blah macrumors 68040

    Count Blah

    Jan 6, 2004
    US of A
    Plus, I'd imagine the resale of a 16 would be MUCH higher than the 8, in a couple years.
  10. Rick-ITA macrumors regular

    Sep 12, 2013
    I've some questions about VM.

    I need to use a quite old and very light application (kind of tex editor), but I need to jump up and down between this application and other programs in OSX.

    I need a VM only for this and I was thinking, to save in both SSD memory and RAM, to install windows XP instead of 7.

    Am I correct with this choice?
  11. agaskew macrumors 6502

    Dec 3, 2009
    If the app runs OK in XP then yes, XP is much lighter to run in a VM than Windows 7
  12. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    One size does not fit all. As has been stated several times in this and other threads, it all depends on what you're specifically doing. The VM's themselves probably aren't dictating the memory requirements as much as your specific usage of the VM's.
  13. 3lite macrumors 6502a


    Nov 7, 2011
  14. Count Blah macrumors 68040

    Count Blah

    Jan 6, 2004
    US of A
    VM = virtual machine. It's a way to run other operating systems in a native operating system. There are a couple major players in this space - VMWare, VirtualBox, Parallels. They all offer advantages/disadvantages over the others. You'll probably hear parallels used a lot because it allows you to run windows apps in OS X a little differently than the others.

    On my MBP, I have ubuntu and mint using virtualbox and a windows 8 partition under bootcamp, and will be using parallels in the next day or two, and point it at that windows bootcamp partition.
  15. 3lite macrumors 6502a


    Nov 7, 2011
    I see. So 8 RAM isn't good enough to switch between OS X and Windows? I've heard people doing this on MBA's without much issue and MBA's cut off is 8 RAM.
  16. mneblett macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2008
    Depends entirely on the workload.

    I have 8GB on my late '08 MBP. I have no issues running OSX ML w/5GB and Parallels/Win 7 w/3GB -- but my Win program demands are not "intense."
  17. Yahooligan macrumors 6502a


    Aug 7, 2011
    Here is what my 16GB rMBP running a RHEL6.3 VM with 2GB memory allocated to it looks like with nothing else running. It works just fine with other apps running, too, such as Firefox, Outlook, etc. The Linux VM doesn't do much that's memory or CPU intensive, either.


    Attached Files:

  18. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    I can run on 8 gb for weeks, running multiple apps, and never see a page out. As soon as I fire up Parallels andWindows, the page outs start. More recently, I started XP and ran one VB program that processes an Access database. Very low memory usage. Wrapped up in Lynn than 30 minutes. Went from 0 page outs to 1.7 gb.

    Only saving grace is a fast SSD.
  19. ColdCase, Oct 1, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    You also get a lot of RAM usage when you have several tabs or pages open on your browser. I can bust 16GB easily with one parallels VM with windows 8 and IE plus Safari open with a few tabs, especially if any have video content or adds. But page outs/ins are not as much an issue when you have a SSD.

    So as others are saying, check the aps that you use and see how much RAM they like. I don't game, but some of those need some RAM to run well.
  20. The Unseen macrumors member

    The Unseen

    Jun 24, 2012
    Naples, Italy
    I have a 15'' Late 2011 MBP with 8gb of Ram, an SSD with Mac OSX 10.8.5 and when I run my VM with VmWare with Windows 7 (4gb ram)I have some slowdown.
    If I run only Vmware, all goes fine, but if I run software also in Mac OSX (usually Safari with lot of tabs, Xcode, Preview, sometimes Photoshop, and others)I can clearly notice that it would be way more better to have 16Gb, because the responsiveness goes deep down.
  21. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    I have 16GB in a 13" MBP, Parallels/Win 7.

    16GB means for me that I can really just run pretty much anything and not have to worry really. Set and forget; hassle free and no extra 'managing' required.

    Get tech out of the way - buy the 16GB. :cool:
  22. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Dec 14, 2007
    I ran windows giving it as little as 2GB with parallels 7 and 8. Worked fine. I have an rMBP with 16 GB and it runs just as well. If you're gaming get the extra memory.

    I think the whole page out thing, when you're using an SSD, is of no consequence.

    I have found that Parallels 9 has some memory issues seems like after extended use I need to reboot the mac.
  23. Starfyre thread starter macrumors 68030


    Nov 7, 2010
    Why are they not an issue? I thought the page outs had to do solely with RAM? Is it true that if you have lower memory and you end up getting page in/out the SSD gets written/read from which could shorten its lifespan faster? So having high amount of RAM lessens the need for the SSD to be read/write from?
  24. Xgm541 macrumors 65816

    May 3, 2011
    Paging is a lot faster on SSD's than traditional HD's. You havent indicated what you'll be doing with the VM. Hence, paging may not be an issue.

    I believe 8gb is and will be fine for the next couple of years, for most of what we do with our rMBP's. Of course some people will need more but I'd rather save on the crazy apple RAM prices :D.

    ALSO - paging does effect SSD lifespan because each bit of space on the SSD has a limited number of read/write cycles, BUT

    "Every modern SSD has a far, far, far longer expected life than it'd be practical/useful for. As in, if you wrote continuously as fast as you could, the drive would be good for 10-12 years. As in, if you wrote 5-10GB/day like a "heavy" user does, they'll be good longer than you will be alive.

    Worrying about "SSD life expectancy" is FUD from people that haven't done math or research since SSDs were invented"

    That quote is from http://lifehacker.com/every-modern-ssd-has-a-far-far-far-longer-expected-li-826840082

    and if your SSD fails, it will certainly not be the read/write cycles performed that'll kill it.
  25. FrozenDarkness macrumors 65816

    Mar 21, 2009
    Ram is still an order of magnitude faster than ssd

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