OS X Parallels for Gaming ?

Washac

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Jul 2, 2006
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Before anybody jumps in, yes I know and understand Bootcamp is the better option and have used it but want to give Parallels a fair shot before I possibly return to Bootcamp.

So my question is can anybody suggest or recommend any Parallels settings to get the best out of it for gaming ?
 
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Nov 28, 2010
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located
I use PD 9 and run Windows 8.1 on it to play some games sometimes.
Now I have tried Battlefield 3 and it runs quite good on 1920 x 1200 with High Detail textures.

I have a four core i7 desktop CPU and the GTX 670 GPU, and have the Windows 8.1 machine set up to use 4 of the 8 available cores (I guess PD sees Hyperthreading a bit differently) and gave it 8 GB of RAM of my 32 GB of RAM available, and under the Video settings I gave 1 GB of RAM, but that was the maximum anyway.

It plays fine, but sometimes you have to look around a bit to load the map better and have a smoother experience.

I played many games in virtual machines, as I didn't want Windows as another primary OS in my computer (hell, I recently deleted a 3 TB HDD with Windows 8 I used twice or so in the past six months).

Something like BF4 would however not run I suppose.
 

Ainze

macrumors regular
Feb 28, 2010
120
8
Ignore the nay-sayers. You definitely can game in a virtual machine under Parallels, and sometimes very well. You'll have to test each game to see how it runs under your own configuration, but many will run fine. I personally use 4 methods of gaming - Native, Virtual, Wine, and Bootcamp - and each has it's pros and cons, it just depends on the specific game.

Max out the CPU cores, RAM, and VRAM option is all I can think of, and then use lower setting on the game itself.
Don't necessarily do this. Leave some headroom for your Mac OS!

You probably won't see any benefit going above 2 cores, 4 max. 8GB RAM will probably do fine for any game, but always leave several GB free for Mac OS. You can probably max out VRAM. Enable 3D acceleration and VSync, and set Mouse and Keyboard to game settings. Beyond that, best to see how you get on and come back for more specific advice if needed.
 

0098386

Suspended
Jan 18, 2005
21,553
2,886
Ignore the nay-sayers.
Yes ignore what everyone else is saying even though they're right.

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Your best bet for gaming on a Mac is to dualboot with Bootcamp if you want to run games from the last 4, 5 years onwards with any reasonable settings. If there's no OSX port, of course.

Overall it depends what games you want to run. If it's classics then you'll be fine!
 

Dirtyharry50

macrumors 68000
May 17, 2012
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182
I'd agree that Parallels cannot replace the bootcamp option. It simply can't in terms of compatibility and performance.

However, that doesn't mean Parallels can't be a great asset for a gamer on a Mac. As also mentioned above, it is great for classics such as most GOG games. I found it more convenient to setup and mod Planescape Torment, Icewind Dale and Icewind Dale 2 there for example. I have them running with widescreen mods, etc. in a Windows XP virtual machine with Parallels 8 and they work like a charm. I also tried Painkiller and Serious Sam II, which despite being from 2005 I think it was, both support widescreen resolutions and they run perfectly with Parallels in that same WinXP VM.

Not everything will work though. I tried a Prince of Persia game, a relatively recent one but I forget which (sorry) and that ran at a glacial pace even though it is nowhere near being a new game. So it does vary some but overall for older games I find it more convenient at times that using Wine or for GOG MS-DOS titles, more convenient than moving them into Boxer since they just install and work in a Parallels VM.

I have not tried more recent stuff but it is my understanding that some games work just fine although you will need to back the settings off some compared to running with bootcamp. This is going to vary a lot of course according to your own system specs and how much resources you allocate to the virtual machine.

By the way, again going back to classics, you probably know that some oldies don't like multiple core CPUs. It is very convenient to switch the VM to single core as desired for such titles to run perfectly.

I would not dismiss Parallels as worthless out of hand at all as some do. It most certainly has its uses and offers added convenience for a Mac gamer, particularly one who also plays classics.

For me who is currently using version 8, they are offering an upgrade to version 9 now that includes a free upgrade to version 10 when that comes out. I'm sure this will be timed with the release of Yosemite. I am going to buy into this. I find it very useful personally even though it does not eliminate all reboots. It most certainly does offer me added convenience and does eliminate some reboots.

One last thing of note. Parallels does not currently support DirectX 11. So any games requiring that are out. I see it as a non-issue though personally. Anything that new is better run in bootcamp I think. In version 8 that I have, DirectX 10 support was experimental. From what I understand it was improved in version 9 but that's all I can tell you about that. Again, from a performance standpoint I'm not sure if it is a moot point or not. DirectX 9 support is generally really good though.

Hope that helps. For me it is one more tool in the kit along with Boxer, Wine and as a last resort bootcamp although personally I always go for native games and have a lot of them now so I'm focused on those. It's awesome not needing to care about compatibility, etc.
 

Washac

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Jul 2, 2006
2,431
86
Thanks all advice taken, it would be used for mostly the older RPG type games. Although if any newer must have ones come along and I really must use Bootcamp then I will reinstall it on another drive, not on my main one.
 
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Ainze

macrumors regular
Feb 28, 2010
120
8
Yes ignore what everyone else is saying even though they're right.

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Your best bet for gaming on a Mac is to dualboot with Bootcamp if you want to run games from the last 4, 5 years onwards with any reasonable settings. If there's no OSX port, of course.
Even though they're right? I have many games running great in Parallels that prove that they're wrong. That's evidence vs. some random comment.

And I never said Bootcamp wasn't the best option for newer games. I said ALL methods had pros and cons, and I use a combination of ALL methods. Bootcamp's main con? Restarting the machine. I can get no useful work done until I boot back into Mac OS.

Just to further clarify my support of whatever happens to be the best method, these are some games I'm currently playing:
Bootcamp - Watch_Dogs, Assassin's Creed IV
Crossover - Supreme Commander
Parallels - TR (Anniversary & Legend), Command & Conquer (Various newer entries), Assassin's Creed (older entries)
Native - Tomb Raider, Bioshock Infinite

And yes, I'm playing TR Anniversary in Parallels, even though there's a native version. Why? It hasn't been updated recently enough to support some features properly. I tried in Crossover and other Wine, with slight complaints with the controller. Parallels? Flawless at full settings, and now I don't need to reboot with Bootcamp. And so I ask you, what's so wrong with that?
 

Dirtyharry50

macrumors 68000
May 17, 2012
1,769
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Even though they're right? I have many games running great in Parallels that prove that they're wrong. That's evidence vs. some random comment.

And I never said Bootcamp wasn't the best option for newer games. I said ALL methods had pros and cons, and I use a combination of ALL methods. Bootcamp's main con? Restarting the machine. I can get no useful work done until I boot back into Mac OS.

Just to further clarify my support of whatever happens to be the best method, these are some games I'm currently playing:
Bootcamp - Watch_Dogs, Assassin's Creed IV
Crossover - Supreme Commander
Parallels - TR (Anniversary & Legend), Command & Conquer (Various newer entries), Assassin's Creed (older entries)
Native - Tomb Raider, Bioshock Infinite

And yes, I'm playing TR Anniversary in Parallels, even though there's a native version. Why? It hasn't been updated recently enough to support some features properly. I tried in Crossover and other Wine, with slight complaints with the controller. Parallels? Flawless at full settings, and now I don't need to reboot with Bootcamp. And so I ask you, what's so wrong with that?
Excellent points. I roll the same way you do. As you say, why not take advantage of all the available tools at our disposal? For a lot of games, Parallels is a great solution.

----------

Thanks all advice taken, it would be used for mostly the older RPG type games. Although is any newer must have ones come along and I really must use Bootcamp then I will reinstall it on another drive, not on my main one.
I think you'll be very pleased with it for that.
 

AxoNeuron

macrumors 65816
Apr 22, 2012
1,241
844
The Left Coast
I'm sure you could do it...but why on earth would you want to? Just make a Windows bootcamp partition and game on that. That way, you aren't using so many computer resources to run OS X and Windows at the same time, in addition to the game.
 

Ainze

macrumors regular
Feb 28, 2010
120
8
I'm sure you could do it...but why on earth would you want to? Just make a Windows bootcamp partition and game on that. That way, you aren't using so many computer resources to run OS X and Windows at the same time, in addition to the game.
As I said in my last post, I can't get my work done in Windows. Any gaming solution that allows me to stay in Mac OS also allows me to flit between gaming and any other activity I may need to perform. And why wait to reboot every time? If I thought that for every moment I would have to choose between my Mac being a computer or a games console, I would have just bought a separate games console.

As for resources, my Mac easily has those resources to spare. I can run several virtual machines simultaneously with no trouble, so why not? I did pay for it all. Unused resources are wasted resources.

Bootcamp is an excellent resource and I clearly use it so I know what it has to offer. But I always consider it the last resort because of how it is the option that puts the biggest cramp on my productivity. I understand why some people consider it the only real way to play a Windows game on Mac, I really do, but I have too much going on in my life to use it very often. Want a real Bootcamp fact? My Bootcamp games are the least played of all. I can't often find the time to leave Mac OS. Not true for everyone, I know, but certainly true for me. When Feral released their port of the new Tomb Raider, I was able to make my way through the game about four times faster than when I played the Windows version.
 
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garnerx

macrumors 6502
Nov 9, 2012
443
194
As I said in my last post, I can't get my work done in Windows. Any gaming solution that allows me to stay in Mac OS also allows me to flit between gaming and any other activity I may need to perform.
Out of curiosity, what useful work would you be doing while playing something like Assassin's Creed 4? I could understand that you might want some sort of turn-based strategy game running in a window to play in your downtime between checking emails or whatever, but a giant action adventure that demands dozens of hours of undivided attention is a different matter.

I keep the Mac side of things exclusively for work and reboot into Windows for games. The boot-up process is under 15 seconds - in fact the slowest part of it is shutting down OS X, if I don't just hit the reset button.
 

Ainze

macrumors regular
Feb 28, 2010
120
8
Out of curiosity, what useful work would you be doing while playing something like Assassin's Creed 4?
Good question. No, I'm not putting my full attention into both simultaneously. It's when something comes up and I suddenly need to deal with an issue. The kind of situation where you'd want to pause a game for 1-30 minutes, take care of some things, and then carry right on. Dealing with quick problems isn't very easy when you have no choice but to completely drop out of game, reboot, and then set up the relevant documents and programs before you can even start.
 

garnerx

macrumors 6502
Nov 9, 2012
443
194
I guess you can alt-tab between the Parallels area and the desktop - something you can't always do in native Windows (I hate it when games override the alt-tab feature). Definitely a win for virtual machines there.
 

Hastings101

macrumors 68020
Jun 22, 2010
2,110
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I'd recommend you use Boot Camp instead but Parallels is pretty decent for gaming in my experience. Just keep in mind that you're going to be playing on much lower settings or the game may not even be playable, especially if the game is over a couple of years old.
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
12,777
5,588
Hong Kong
Of course you can, if your machine is powerful enough (e.g. The new Mac Pro with dual D700), you can even play some 3D games smoothly with 4k resolution in parallel.

You want to do that with your W3520 + HD6870?
 

Dirtyharry50

macrumors 68000
May 17, 2012
1,769
182
Of course you can, if your machine is powerful enough (e.g. The new Mac Pro with dual D700), you can even play some 3D games smoothly with 4k resolution in parallel.

You want to do that with your W3520 + HD6870?
I can tell you have tested Parallels gaming extensively. How is it on a Mac Pro by the way? That must be quite nice considering how well it plays many games for me on an iMac.

You might want to scroll up and see post #8 I think it is where the OP mentions how he plans to use it primarily, which it should work very nicely for much of the time.
 

Anim

macrumors 6502a
Dec 16, 2011
614
22
Macclesfield, UK
I'm a gamer and tried Parallels Desktop and VMWare Fusion trials. Surprisingly they were OK but you had to mess about quite a bit, some games wouldn't work etc but the games I play really did need every ounce of native power to be fluid so in the end installed Bootcamp and not looked back. For office apps it was great to stay in OSX and quickly do an export of something via a windows app.

Either way you decide, you can test it using the trials. You need a Windows DVD regardless.

Anim
 

apolloa

macrumors G5
Oct 21, 2008
12,247
7,699
Time, because it rules EVERYTHING!
I tried this, man I tried it. But it just failed for me. I was trying to get Crysis 1 to run though haha. But on my 2012 MacBook Pro which was the top model at the time, it just doesn't work very well, the games would load up fine but with frame rates of like 5 fps, with all settings at their lowest.

So from my experience I only ever got gaming to work on my Mac in Windows by dual booting into Windows. But of course newer hardware may yield better results, as stated above.

I have seen videos before of older Mac Pros playing games fine in a Windows VM environment.

If you have. Six core new Mac Pro with dual D700s then at I cannot see why it won't run Battlefield 4 maxed out in a VM, not sure about at 4k resolution, but surely it would run fine at 1080p resolution? That would be my dream setup I think, saves having to boot out of OSX plus you can run it in a Window so have your email etc still open.
 
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insane79

macrumors 6502
Aug 20, 2008
276
1
Just want to say i was confused between this & bootcamp, finally i bite the dust & went dual boot with windows 8.1 via bootcamp, i have no words how well my previous steamplay games are playing now on windows 8, exceptional performance specially if you have an nvidia card in your mac. I would recommend bootcamp to the OP as once its done its just a boot away & the games run spectacular on windoze. I guess it has all to do with the coding & drivers , sad we mac gamers have no option but to go the the darker side for new games & better performance in them.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
17,039
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The Misty Mountains
This is simple, I can buy Parallels for $80 and get lesser performance or Windows 7 for $60 and get the best possible game experience over a spectrum of games on my 2011 MBP (see signature). Dealing with windows does require more effort but I'm willing to put out the effort for a better frame rate or possibly still play a game, that parallels can't handle.