OS X Parallels or bootcamp? which is better?

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by Dragoro, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. Dragoro macrumors 6502


    Nov 27, 2010
    Planning on using one or the other for games, but not sure which is better? Any help would be appreciated. Also, how easy is it to get windows updates using either? Just a matter of updating windows like normal?
  2. Jessica Lares macrumors G3

    Jessica Lares

    Oct 31, 2009
    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
  3. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    Gaming benefits from having direct access to the computer's hardware and claiming all its resources. But virtualization gets more effective every day, and it's awfully nice to be able to hot-key between Mac and Windows.

    If your Mac is a powerful model with lots of RAM, I'd say try virtualization and see if it does the job for you.

    I've always had better luck with VMWare Fusion than Parallels, incidentally. Parallels benchmarks a little better in various reviews, but everytime I've tried it there were issues. VMWare, by comparison, is entirely solid stuff.
  4. cluthz macrumors 68040


    Jun 15, 2004
    I've used virtualization before, but I don't anymore.
    Most games that will run in virtualization will run with Wine as well, and based on my previous experiences the games run better in Wine than in virtualization.
    However Wine is a bit harder to use.

    I do however use bootcamp too and this will always be the fastest way, only issue is that you have to reboot.
  5. Jeaz macrumors 6502


    Dec 12, 2009
    Here's how I'd rate the 3 different alternatives for playing Windows games:

    + easy to use, and very convenient. No rebooting, and you can even suspend sessions and restore in just seconds.
    - Low performance and then there's the problem with mouse movement and 3D games. Requires a Windows license.

    + Fiddly to get to work, but the games that do run, usually run very well. Even more convenient than virtualization for the games that work. No Windows license required.
    - Lots of games won't work this way. And requires a fair bit of know-how.

    + Best performance, easiest to use.
    - Requires rebooting and a Windows license. Also a separate partition on your hard drive.

    Personally, I'd love it if more games would work through WINE or virtualization, but in my experience it's rare to find a flawless experience, so I tend to go for the Bootcamp problem. The only issue with it, is that it requires that "extra mile" as you have to reboot and leave the comfort of OS X, which usually means that I play those games less than the ones I can play in OS X.
  6. Nightarchaon macrumors 65816


    Sep 1, 2010
    For games released in the last year or so, Bootcamp without a doubt, for games from three or four years ago, you usually get good results with Virtualisaztion , Wine sits bang in the middle, sometimes you can get modern games to run well under wine, but not as good as it would run under bootcamp.
  7. Jeaz macrumors 6502


    Dec 12, 2009
    Forgot to mention, if you want to go down the WINE road, portingteam.com is a good site for help and in many cases, ready-made WINE ports. You'll still of course need to buy the game and add it to the port, the ones at the site are just adapted to the specific game with the correct settings and all that.
  8. Dirtyharry50, Apr 14, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013

    Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000


    May 17, 2012
    Windows updates work fine in either case. No problems whatsoever in my experience using both options.

    Personally, I prefer to game on my iMac with these options in this order:

    Native ports (Feral, Aspyr, etc.), Blizzard, EA, etc.

    Wineskin/Boxer ports I do myself. I was resistant to try this at first thinking it would be too much trouble but really it isn't, for me at least. I enjoy doing them and get a certain feeling of getting away with something, running them on my iMac without reboots, etc. I've had very good experience with both options, but it has been with older games so far. It only took me a couple days of reading the instructions, using Wineskin and Boxer depending on the game and looking up on AppDB, etc. tips and whatnot for anything that didn't work out of the box. In most cases I did have to do some tweaking but I learned a lot about porting games using these tools in the process and enjoyed it actually. The results were excellent too. I am playing Halo Combat Evolved currently thanks to Wineskin without having to start a virtual machine or reboot.

    Windows XP with Parallels 8 for older games that run better on XP or don't run well on multicore systems. I set the VM up for single core. This works great for older titles that do not run flawlessly with Wine.

    Windows 7 with Parallels 8 for newer Windows games that require dual core CPU and are more demanding. However, I do think this option is limited by performance issues running in a virtual machine, the newer the game is, etc. For example, anything requiring DX 10 isn't going to run fast enough in probably most all cases even though Parallels 8 now supports DX 10. DX 11 is not yet supported at all. They have a lot of work to do with DX 10 performance-wise. This option is for when a newer title doesn't run flawlessly or close with Wine but will run well in a VM.

    Last up, when all else fails I will for now reboot into Windows 7 but I greatly dislike leaving OS X and bothering with this. I am currently working through a backlog of games that only work well this way and once I am done I will be deleting the bootcamp partition.

    I do not buy Windows games anymore. It's Mac or bust from here on in for me personally. I find that enough good new games are coming out for Mac now that I don't need Windows anymore but this is in part because I plan on buying a PS4 for anything coming up in the way of AAA games that isn't available as a native OS X release.

    Since I own the Windows licenses, I'll be happy in the future to have the option to use Parallels for the large library of games I own that run well in virtual machines. I might consider a Windows game in the future if there is no Mac version available only if I find out that it will run well with Wine using Wineskin. Otherwise, it simply isn't worth it to me. I did not buy a Macintosh so I could have an Apple computer running Windows 7. I hate rebooting.

    Did I mention I hate rebooting? ;-)

    Oh yeah, honest I am not a hateful guy generally at all but... I hate Microsoft too. I won't ever be purchasing another Windows license. I'm done with them.
  9. antonis macrumors 68020


    Jun 10, 2011
    +1 for the Wine. I've played the entire Skyrim (finished it) with Wine/Wineskin and it ran flawlessly. I've even made a bootcamp (got the original skyrim boxed game so I could install it on both sides) just to see if it would run faster and it actually didn't.

    Wine can be a no-go in some cases. But when it works, it has the best from both worlds (OS X environment, no windows license, better performance than virtualization). Using portingteam.com wrappers and reading instructions and workarounds helps a lot, too.
  10. oberus macrumors newbie

    Apr 12, 2013
    If you're playing recent games, then go with Bootcamp.
  11. macalec macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2012
    I would do bootcamp because you get the dedicated recourses. However it is interesting to note that if you put parralles on the mac side, it can run your bootcamp within mac. So you truly get the best of both worlds..

  12. TallManNY macrumors 601


    Nov 5, 2007
    Huh? I don't get that. You would load parralles and then run bootcamp through it?!? How would that work?
  13. doh123 macrumors 65816

    Dec 28, 2009
    The install of Windows on its own partition that you use to boot into natively (aka installed with Bootcamp), Parallels can boot it up in a virtual machine... so you can use that 1 install of Windows either in a virtual machine, or booting it directly, depending on your needs. VMWare Fusion supports this as well.
  14. Huntn macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    Bootcamp- least hassles, best performance.

    Updating Windows running on your Mac is practically the same as if it was running on a PC. What you have extra is an Apple Control Panel which will offer to update your drivers on occassion. These are the drivers that were installed in the Bootcamp setup. Apple makes or sponsors the drivers so Windows can interact properly with Apple hardware.
  15. TallManNY macrumors 601


    Nov 5, 2007
    Okay, I think I get it. So you can bootcamp like normal. Or you can use your windows install and run it through parallels. If you do that, you will still have the lag of running through a virtual machine, right? But you save yourself having to reboot and you don't have to buy a second license for this.
  16. imacken macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2010
    I've played Skyrim perfectly @ 2560x1440 in Steam on Parallels with no issues at all.
  17. jedolley macrumors 68000

    Sep 18, 2009
    It's not that simple, IMO.

    I have a Bootcamp partition but am too damn lazy to boot into it just to play games. IMO, even with recent release games, it depends on the game and on the machine you are using with Parallels... You can still game with Parallels just fine.

    For example, I have a 2012 27" iMac with 3.4GHz Core i7, 32GB RAM, and 2GB 680MX GPU. For Parallels I have it setup so that I am using 4 CPU cores, 12GB RAM, and 1GB GPU.

    Games that I have run via Parallels with no noticeable performance issues that I would consider "recent" games:

    Torchlight 2
    Path of Exhile
    The Old Republic

    Granted, other than Skyrim, those games aren't really demanding performance wise, but they are considered recent. Let's not assume recent games only consist of uber graphics FPS games.

    My advice is this... Take a look at your machine and the resources you have available that you can allocate to Parallels (i.e. CPU Cores, RAM, and GPU) and then take a look at the Windows games you are interested in playing. If your allocated resources are able to run those games, then go for it. If not then Bootcamp is your best option.

    With that said, I am aware that overall performance bootcamp is superior, but with most of the games I play, I just need acceptable with no noticeable performance issues. If I can get that, then I will play in Parallels.

    The ability to simply tab over to my Mac desktop when I am done or in the middle of my paused game, is something I am willing to sacrifice some non-noticeable performance on.
  18. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    What's better, a tennis racket or a golf club? Depends on what you want to do.

    With Bootcamp, your computer can be a Mac, then you reboot it and it becomes a PC, then you reboot it again and it is a Mac again. It's a PC running at full speed, but it can only be either a Mac or a PC at one time. To switch from a Mac app to a Windows app, you need to reboot.

    With Parallels, your computer is a Mac and a PC at the same time. You will want plenty of RAM because you need enough RAM for a Mac, _plus_ enough RAM for a PC, at the same time. But you have the huge advantage that you don't need to restart your computer to switch from a Mac app to a Windows app; switching forth and back happens immediately. Additional advantage when you have a Fusion drive, it works with Parallels as well.
  19. midego macrumors newbie

    May 22, 2011
    Almere, The Netherlands
    For "heavy" gaming eq. Battlefield I preffer to play on Bootcamp, but simple games as League of Legends or Counter-Strike: GO runs smooth on Mac OS
  20. nyGiants macrumors newbie

    Dec 19, 2006
    Have you considered VirtualBox? ... its free and supports all platforms! you can save the money and spend on other items :)

  21. Dagless macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    What graphics card do you have?
    On my ATi 6970 2gb iMac I can't get it to run at 2560x1440 without running on low. So I play at 1920x1080 with everything on medium to high (for a solid 60fps framerate).

    OP- Best one is Bootcamp.
  22. pukifloyd macrumors 6502a


    Jun 25, 2008
    +1 for bootcamp. It uses the resources for the games better.
  23. Radiating, Apr 17, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2013

    Radiating macrumors 65816

    Dec 29, 2011
    This is like asking: Which is better, a beat up Ferrari that's been gutted of all it's internal components, that you can have right now, or one that's brand new that you can have later.

    Of course Bootcamp is better in every measurable and conceivable way, the only reason that paralells exists is because it's more convenient than having to reboot into windows. It's less than half as fast though and is extremely wasteful. You can run graphic intensive games from 2 years ago on medium settings with paralells on a brand new MacBook Pro 15 (retina or classic). Anything beyond that and it will struggle very badly.
  24. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000


    May 17, 2012
    Might as well answer the OP with some real data. The most interesting benchmarks pertaining to this discussion can be seen by scrolling down on this page:


    There is no question that bootcamp performance is far superior in the tested games and that in particular, DirectX performance is not ready for prime time at all. The Parallels folks shouldn't even release it in its current state imo. It is not useful really with one possible exception: Halo 2.

    On the other hand, it is worthy of note that these same benchmarks also show performance levels might be acceptable for some, depending on game, in exchange for the convenience of not having to reboot. In other words, anything running 30+ FPS might be okay depending on the individual although I'd argue for 60 FPS being desirable for a shooter and necessary if you want to be competitive in an online FPS.

    In conclusion, Parallels definitely has its uses as part of a gamer's toolbox on a Mac but for the most recent cutting edge games that demand a lot of the hardware, there is no substitute for bootcamp. I use Parallels for less demanding games and love it for that but I wouldn't attempt the newest titles because I want better performance than it could give me for those.
  25. doh123 macrumors 65816

    Dec 28, 2009
    People are saying things in confusing ways....

    There is no such thing as "Bootcamp performance"

    When you install Windows using Bootcamp... its just a tool to help you set up a dual boot. When you are running Windows by booting directly into it... its just normal Windows on a normal PC like any other Windows computer.. the way Windows was made to run.... of course it will be faster.

    Running Windows in a virtual machine is running Windows installed through a program pretending to be a computer.... you have a huge extra layer of work going on there as the program has to make in software a whole computer system for Windows to run on... since its not running directly on the real hardware.

    Hardware taking care of something vs software taking care of something... normally hardware is always MUCH faster. This is why you buy things like a GPU to process graphics and don't use software rendering.

    so it comes simply down to what is better for you?

    If "better" for you is maximum game frame rates and graphics settings... then running a normal Windows PC for a Windows game is of course the fastest and easiest (this is also known as Bootcamp).

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