Parallels video performance suddenly took a dive

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by luciphercolors, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. luciphercolors macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Hi all,

    I recently went legit with my copy of Parallels 6 (thanks MacUpdate bundle!) and part of the reason for buying in to it was to use it for gaming without rebooting. I have a 15" Mid-2010 MBP.

    A quick timedemo benchmark with the UT3 Benchmark tester, set to CTF-Coret_bot, with the graphics settings set to 5 @ 1440x900 averages 40-50 FPS in bootcamp. That same benchmark averages 4-5 FPS in Parallels.

    Complicating matters is the fact that I recently upgraded the hard drive (750gb WD 7200RPM) and copied the old HD over with Carbon Cloner and Winclone. Both Windows XP and OSX run fine on the new setup, though I had to redefine the hard drive for Parallels and the Parallels Tools install on XP became screwed up, necessitating an uninstall+reinstall.

    Since then, 2D windows performance feels slightly laggy and 3D gaming performance dropped like a brick. Windows says its running on the Parallels Video Adapter, the VM settings show 3D being enabled, and I've assigned it all 4 logical cores and 1.5gb RAM.

    Before, I tried getting Dungeon Keeper II working -- which it did, sort of -- and performance in that feels similarly chunky. Both games act like they are being starved for memory.

    Anyone else experienced this? I've been combing Google and UT3 performance is supposed to be at-or-near BootCamp, yet this is not the case for me. My apologies if this has been already resolved.
     
  2. alust2013 macrumors 601

    alust2013

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    #2
    Gaming in a VM sucks in general, there really isn't much you can do about that. There really is no way to make it good, as running the virtual machine is pretty resource intensive already, without the game.
     
  3. luciphercolors thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    Ok... but then how does one explain this:

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/reviews/2010/09/parallels-desktop-6-the-ars-review.ars/6

    Also, weren't there supposed to be a bunch of hypervisor-type optimizations in the Intel i-series chips?
     
  4. lewdvig, Mar 20, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2011

    lewdvig macrumors 65816

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    #4
    I reviewed Fusion, Parallels and Virtual Box a few years ago at NBR and they were all terrible back then for games. Not sure where the suddenly comes from.

    Sorry dude.

    [edit] I just read the review and am shocked how much Parallels has improved since version 3
     
  5. lewdvig macrumors 65816

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    #5
    Those test results at ARS were crazy.

    Maybe they were run on the Mac Pro (which obliterates our MBPs):

    Mac Pro dual quad-core Nehalem Xeon 2.66 GHz
    24GB RAM
    120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo SSD system drive with separate HD RAID disk for virtual machine disks
    Radeon 4870/Geforce GTX 285 testing scenarios
    Dual NEC WUXi 2490 Spectraview monitors
    OS X 10.6.4 64-bit kernel with graphics update
    Windows 7 64-bit VM specs:
    8 cores
    8GB RAM
    256 MB VRAM and 3D acceleration and vsync enabled
     
  6. alust2013 macrumors 601

    alust2013

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    #6
  7. lewdvig macrumors 65816

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    #7
    I think I might buy Parallels 6 now.

    The test machine ARS used was a minimum of twice as fast as my MBP. They got some impressive scores for sure - with high details and high resolutions (although the videos seem jerky to me).

    The 4870 is faster than our 6750M (double the shaders, double the memory bandiwdth, faster clock speeds). In 2008 Windows Core 2 Quad systems that card was good for 18,000 (12*10) in 3dmark06 without overclocking - the CPU in the MP used by ARS was way faster.

    But games should be playable on our rigs at 900p or 720p in Parallels. Based on the ARS tests, I would expect 20-25 min in UT3. Maybe higher.

    Check your VM settings. Make sure 3D is enabled. I would set VRAM to 512. Two cores. 2 GB RAM. You have to balance settings between the host and guest operating system. You are starving the host unless you have more than 4 GB.

    Also make sure your 6750M is turned on.
     
  8. luciphercolors thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #8
    Its a geforce 330M but yeah, gfxCardSwitcher says its on.

    Your guys' replies are interesting. I might write the Ars reviewer for some details
     
  9. alust2013 macrumors 601

    alust2013

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    #9
    Also, if you have 4GB RAM, a VM will run pretty slow regardless.
     
  10. lewdvig macrumors 65816

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    #10
    OK that explains it.

    You are comparing a dual core laptop with medium/low end GPU...

    to an 8 core (16 if you count HT) monster workstation. That was probably $5,000-6,000 worth of computer in its day.

    The 330m is about 33% of the GPU in the test 2009 MBP rig, and your CPU is less than 1/4 of the MBP CPU. You also have much less RAM.

    I think your scores are correct. You need to scale the settings down.

    The new 2011 15" with 6750M should be 2-2.5x the performance due to the CPU and GPUs.
     
  11. luciphercolors thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Fair enough. I was under the impression that the performance hit was minimal under VM stuff now

    Also, I don't think the 330M is that bad a chip. I haven't tested it extensively but it handles most of the stuff I throw at it without skipping a beat. FPS on my AMD quad-core 8gb Radeon 4850 Windows 7 desktop @ 1920x1080 seems pretty close to how this laptop plays games at 1400x900

     
  12. lewdvig macrumors 65816

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    #12
    It's not bad. It does what it was designed to do. Even the power-hungry gaming noetbook GPUs from that generation like the GTX 350M and GTX 360M are a far cry from a desktop 4870.

    The 330M is 33% of a 4870 and about 40% of a 4850. The benchmarks don't lie.

    That said, it does seem like you have a problem. You UT3 score should be higher.
     
  13. luciphercolors thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #13
    40% of the performance needing to fill ~60% of the screen space. Not a bad tradeoff. I can't complain :)

    Re: "your scores should be higher"... any ideas? I am new to Macs but am a longtime Windows junkie/hacker. I've exhausted the majority of my ideas on that front

    Edit: how does Parallels handle OpenGL compared to DirectX translation? I think Unreal3 engine still has OpenGL support, but it's hidden. Wondering if that might boost FPS to be a bit more consistent/playable
     
  14. doh123 macrumors 65816

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    #14
    the drivers use stuff from Wine basically to do an on the fly DirectX to OpenGL translation.... OpenGL stuff will most likely run faster than DirectX stuff because that extra step is removed. Windows in a VM cannot use DirectX direct to the graphics card... not until they invent a graphics card to handle VMs right like that.
     
  15. lewdvig macrumors 65816

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    #15
    I downloaded a trial of parallels 6 - I have UT3 on steam so I will give it a go.

    Over at www.portingteam.com you can find Wine and Cider wrappers for an assortment of PC games. These wrapper generally work better than VM in my experience - and they are free so no harm in trying.
     
  16. lewdvig macrumors 65816

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    #16
    ugh... So I tried running Mass Effect 2 while UT3 was downloading on steam.

    After taking forever to convert my boot camp to a parallels VM, the VM crashed twice. This is still painfully slow on a 4 GB notebook IMO. When I finally got everything working I had an under-RAMed Mac and an under-RAMed Win7 installation.

    3Dmark06 would not run - DX error. So I rebooted the VM.

    After reboot tried booting Mass Effect 2. My load was on the Firewalker mission. Locked about 10 secs after starting the mission. Had to reset my MBP.

    Anything WINE (other than DA2) sucks on these 6750M notebooks right now.

    So I am deleting Parallels. I don't think I have the patience to help you. Sorry man.

    I am back to hating on VM solutions.
     
  17. luciphercolors thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
    No worries. I appreciate the effort
     
  18. doh123 macrumors 65816

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    #18
    I've been playing several games on the 6750 in Wineskin. The problem is the auto switching, not the GPU. use gfxCardStatus and force your GPU the way you want it before ever launching the game. If I make sure everything is closed, force it to the 6750, then launch a game... it runs great. Several games work fine if i force it on the Intel as well, but the 6750 is much better. If I leave on dynamic switching, or the Intel, and start a game... then try to switch to the 6750 (or let it do it on its own of course) then the 6750 will fail to work, or work right, or will be extremely slow (slower than the Intel).

    I thought this was a Wineskin problem at first, but I found that I have some native games doing the same things... so I'm pretty sure its just the auto switching.... so overall, most games will run fine if you force the 6750 on before trying to start the game.
     

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