Running Virtual Machines on MacBook Pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by TripleD, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. TripleD macrumors newbie

    Feb 3, 2014
    Hi all,

    I'm currently in the position were I need a new demo laptop for work purposes, or more specifically a new laptop capable of running a Windows 2012 virtual machine.

    I'm currently running a Sony Vaio i7, 8GB RAM, 256 SSD, and it's well okay .. but the memory is an issue because the VM needs about 6Gb min which only leaves 2gb for Windows 8.1 to run, and run presentations. This means it does struggle to keep up!
    So I start looking into a laptop with 16GB RAM to help matters, and it brought me to the door step of a MacBook Pro.

    I've previously dabbled with Mac's but to no big extent, so my knowledge is very limited.

    After some researching I found that there are 3 VM software providers that are worth looking at.
    1) Virtualbox
    2) VMware Fusions
    3) Parallels

    I guess I just need confirmation or advice on which one is better. What are Macbooks like at running VM's. Do either of these programs allow USB dongles to pass through into the VM. And I guess ultimately, I built the virtual machine in Hyper-V, I don't really want to have to build it all again from scratch, I know a Hyper-V can be migrated to VMware Workstation, can this easily be migrated to any of the above software easily?

    Having looked at Dell's, HP's and Sony's offerings I'm not that much of a fan, I don't need a funky flip laptop that act's like a tablet with touch screen. I have an iPad for that! I just need a powerful laptop ... that well looks good.
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    The application you choose is really personal preference. You can download all three and try them, the two commercial apps offer demos and the of course Virtual Box is free.

    Here's my $.02

    1. Virtualbox: Its free so its the least expensive, but it is also the slowest and does not have the same features as the parallels and VMware.
    2. VMware: Very stable, excellent customer support and its updates are always rock solid. It's performance is inferior to Parallels, but feature-wise its they're virtually identical
    3. Parallels: Fasted running of the bunch, major updates tend to be buggy, poor customer support (at least its been my experience).

    I'd recommend VMware, I've had the best experience with them, as I mentioned it s a solid product and you cannot go wrong. As I said though, try all three out.

    As for MBP, I'd probably look to get 16gb, if 6gb was a tad too tight for your windows machine. Depending on how you'll use it, have you thought of running windows natively and not virtualized?
  3. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    Have you thought of simply upgrading the RAM in your windows box and saving a bunch of money?
  4. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN

    I'd recommend VMware also because it's more corporate-oriented and provides better support for large-scale deployment, as well as being more secure (being able to lock down a VM and set it to expire).

    Performance wise, it's about as good as Parallels as long as you don't play games.

    I'm not sure whether this is true or not, but I hear that VMware can offer more raw computing power compared to parallels.
  5. TripleD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 3, 2014
    Yup! but 8Gb is the MAX memory.
    I already upgraded the HDD to SSD to give me more performance, which helped a lot, but memory is now the limiting factor


    I have thought about running it natively, but the demo system needs to be portable just incase of an issue I can easily run it up on another device.

    I did look into installing Windows 8.1 natively (removing OSX Mavericks) but I couldn't find a decent post to say this could be done, that way I could keep hyperV and run it that way. Any HyperV and Mac posts when googling it seemed to have mixed reactions.

    Have been looking at the quad core 15" MBP with upgraded CPU, debating on the 512 vs 1Tb disk.

    VMware Fusion sounds like a plan, but as long as I can migrate the virtual machine between that an Parallels I'd be willing to give it a go.
  6. ml.sail1 macrumors regular

    Aug 23, 2010
    Though I do not have the most recent version of VM Ware Fusion, I can add my .02 on VM Ware vs. Parallels.

    I am currently using Parallels 9 with Windows 8.1 and it runs incredibly fast on my late 2013 rMPB (the 2.3GHz with 16GB of RAM and the 750m). I have Parallels set to shut down windows completely every time I quit it, as I have it running from my bootcamp partition (this way if I want to full resources of the computer for windows I can boot straight into windows). Even so, using Parallels it starts in about 7 seconds (to login) and shuts down in closer to 3 seconds. The PCIe SSDs scream in these rMPBs!

    Now not quite a fair comparison, but I also have VM Ware 4 running on an older early 2011 MBP, and even counting the HDD factor, it takes a good 5-7 minutes to start. This is also starting from a bootcamp partition, running windows 7.

    Regardless of which program you decide to go with, the PCIe SSDs will make working with VMs a dream. I highly recommend the rMBP.
  7. taz92 macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2010
    I am currently running a 2012 13 inch cmbp with the i7 dual CPU and I have windows server 2012 in boot camp and windows server 2012 R2 in parrallels. Currently I'm only running it with 8gb of ram installed and it is fast. However in parallels since it is virtual I can't add another VM to it so its just for me to add and test features. However in boot camp I have added another VM with win7 and it still running smooth so I can only imagine the performance I would have with a quad core i7 on the 15 inch or even when I upgrade my ram and slow HDD.
  8. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    With a PCIe SSD in my Macs (VMware Fusion 6 Pro), my Windows VM (Windows 8.1, 4 threads/2 cores and 4GB RAM assigned), boots up within 15 seconds. It's smooth and has way more crucial IT-oriented features in it than Parallels.
  9. Steve121178 macrumors 601


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
    I use VMware products and I can highly recommend VMware Fusion.

    If you are running a few VM's at the same time I would recommend an i7 CPU & 16GB RAM goes without saying.
  10. TripleD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 3, 2014
    Sounds like VMware fusion is the way forward. Liking the MBP over any of the Windows laptops at the moment.

    Can you bridge the USB ports on the MBP to run inside the VMware Fusions VM?
    I guess VMware Fusions VM's are portable to other VMware products like VM Player or VM Workstation?
  11. CptSky macrumors regular

    Feb 1, 2013
    Yes, you can connect USB ports to the VM (must have something connected as you can't just say port 1 is always forwarded to Windows).
    Yes, it's portable to other VMware products.

    I'm using VMware on my MBP since I bought it. Nice product. I tried Parallels, but it didn't make it and VirtualBox (although it works well on Windows) was buggy when I tried it on Mac OS X.
  12. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    That is more a matter of the hard drive than Fusion vs Parallels. My early 2011 takes about 17 seconds for Windows 7 with Fusion or Boot Camp with the factory SSD.

    Don't overlook the subforum:
  13. mrweirdo macrumors 6502

    Nov 21, 2005
    I'm planning on running an ocassional VM myself using VMware. Wondering if its better to go with 16gb or 8gb? I will probably only run one at a time as well.

    * Side note virtual machines running either xp or windows 7 on my black mackbook is painfull :D
  14. ml.sail1 macrumors regular

    Aug 23, 2010
    That is true, though I should have also mentioned that later on I also ran Parallels on that machine (Parallels 7) and it took closer to 1-2 minutes to start.
  15. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    Note that the 1TB SSD is much faster than the 512GB SSD, because the 1TB SSD uses a 4-lane PCIe channel, while the 512GB uses a 2-lane PCIe channel.

    The 1TB SSD can hit around 1GB/s in read/writes, while the 512GB SSD hits around 680MB/s write and 750MB/s read.
  16. Praxis91 macrumors regular


    Mar 15, 2011
    Here's a dumb question [the only types I seem to ever have :)]:

    I'm thinking about getting a MBP for work so that I can run W7 in Parallels (or bootcamp, if I must) since P is a VM, once I install W7, set up my work environment (programs, mydocs from flash drive, etc), will P always be using system resources, even when disabled?

    Or, do I "shut down" Parallels at the end of my work day, come home from work and use full OSX, then next day at work, boot up Parallels and then resume my previous environment and then using resources again?
  17. HolidaySeason macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2013
    VMware all day for me. Enterprise roots go a long way for me when it comes to productivity software. Plus you can bootcamp an image then spin it up as a VM for ad hoc work vs pure performance bootcamp.
  18. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    If the VM isn't running, then it's not consuming system resources.

    If the VM is running but idling, it will consume some resources, but not all.

    If you're using the VM, it'll consume resources based on what you're doing. You can limit how much resources the VM can use.
  19. willgreene99 macrumors regular


    Dec 16, 2010
    I have to promote VMware as I use this constantly all day for work.

    The feature that I find useful is that VMware Fusion will allow a pooling of memory so that even though I have assigned 4GB to one VM and 2GB to another; Fusion will dynamically adjust the memory that each vm needs based upon utilization.

    This helps to keep the vm's running as optimal as possible.

    I would recommend getting at least 16GB of memory as I do get some page swaps with only 8GB while running 2 or more vm's simultaneously.

    I have not tried running any games on it but as far as major software, such as MS Office and Oracle database and developer tools run very well without any issues.
  20. mneblett, Feb 3, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2014

    mneblett macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2008
    VMware vs. Parallels is like Ford vs. Chevy -- much religious fervor with little real distinction between them.

    When I was looking at VM software, VMware was the "leader," at least from a stability perspective. From at least the later versions of Parallels 8 it seems that was no longer much of an issue.

    I currently run Parallels 9 and Win 8.1. Why? Because I liked its integration with OSX better -- in other words, primarily because it "feels" better *to me*, such as quite seamless three-finger swiping between the two OSs, with files on one desktop being simultaneously available on the other desktop. (I primarily live in OSX, but prefer to use Word in its Windows form, and swiping to Windows but opening files on the 10.9 desktop is great).

    Does that mean Parallels 9 is better than the current version of VMware? Of course not -- it just means that after trials of both, I liked Parallels better.

    The number one thing to be wary of is users' preferences based on past experience -- like comments about past stability problems or past problems with cross-os interaction. My research made clear to me that such anecdotal experiences were essentially useless (even if well intentioned) -- the current versions of Parallels and VMware simply are not the old versions, so the old concerns are not the issues of today.

    p.s. I've had zero reliability issues with Parallels 9.

    p.p.s. 16GB is the key -- give the virtual machine and Windows room to breathe, or neither VM will be a great experience.
  21. TripleD thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 3, 2014
    Thanks to everyone for your replies.

    It's good to hear everyone's views and advice, I know a lot is down to personal preference so I'll trial all and see how I get on.

    I'll be taking my choice to get approval hopefully tomorrow.

    Again thanks ppl! :)
  22. user843 macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2011
    VMWare Fusion runs very well for me with 16GB RAM

    I have a MBP (Mid 2012) 15" i7 with 16GB RAM. I frequently run "Windows 8/Visual Studio 2013/SQL Server/IIS" using VMWare 6 and have no issues. The VM runs without slow downs and seems to run just like a native machine. I do not make use of Boot Camp. VMWare seems very stable and it is easy to get networking (i.e. VPN connections from within VM) and bluetooth to work with external devices. I tried Parrallels but it seemed buggy to me. It also tried to merge the Mac OS and Windows OS together which I did not want. The VMWare VM handles video and audio no problem and is great for .NET and Android development. The Android simulator also seems to run fine within the OS.

Share This Page